I can’t take credit for this post…I
borrowed stole it from a blogging friend over at Mainely Hopeful. It perfectly captures my feelings in this moment.
After a 7 month whirlwind of mammogram, ultrasounds, biopsies, surgeries, heart scan, bone scan, IVF, chemotherapy, radiation, uncertainty, fear and exhaustion I am cutting you loose.
Obviously this relationship was doomed to fail from the beginning. I never even respected you enough to call you by your favorite title.. “the Big C”. You’re nothing but a little c to me.
I’m over you. I’m not taking your calls. Oh sure, our mutual friends at the Cancer Center will want to get together periodically and reminisce about our relationship. I’ll humor them. It’s the least I can do after how hard they fought to get me away from you. Eventually they will grow bored and our visits will be fewer and further between until you will be nothing but a footnote in my book of life.
So long, c. It’s not me, it’s you.
And with that the “heavy” cancer treatment chapter in my life is closed. Hallelujah. Please pass me a martini.
I went to an improv comedy show last night in a cramped, hot, sweaty little pub and it was…AWESOME! I had no idea Groningen had an English speaking theater group or that there was a weekly improv show on Mondays at O’Caellaigh’s. If you’re in the area check out “Stranger Things Have Happened“.
First, I have much respect for any person that would get up in front of a group of random strangers and attempt to build a show around the suggestions tossed out from the crowd. Some of the ideas are just absurd. But that is what makes it funny. I love watching how the sketches unfold…seeing the adaptability and creativity of the performers put to the test.
I was talking with one of the performers after the show about the foundational principle of improv. You can never say…no or block a suggestion. Your response to any idea or change in the story line has to be “yes…and”. You have to accept the change…and then add something to it. Here’s the example wikipedia gave me for this concept:
Often considered the main rule of Improv, all it says is that you are not allowed to negate other people’s statements. Instead, add on to them.. For example, here is an example of a scene where “Yes, and…” is not used:
- 1: Alright, are you ready to tee off?
- 2: What are you talking about? We’re not on a golf course, we’re at a basketball court!
The scene is instantly killed by negating what player 1 said. Here’s an example of “Yes, and…” used correctly:
- 1: Alright, are you ready to tee off?
- 2: Yeah, but I’m pretty nervous. It’s the last hole, and I’m ahead by 2 strokes.
Player 2 has now added on to the scene, and developed a problem and a place for the scene to go.
Interesting, huh? I’ve decided that life is a bit like an improv show…you may have an idea of the direction it is headed but unexpected things will get added to it. You can’t necessarily change the additions but you can change how you respond to it. Will you block the change…or say “yes, this is now part of my story…and this is how I will build on it.” It doesn’t mean that saying “yes” is easy, but by being able to say it keeps your life moving forward.
My blogging has been a bit sporadic lately because life took another major turn and I have once again been trying to pick up the pieces and recover my “new new normal”. I changed the tagline of this blog to “Living for Jesus…dealing with breast cancer and life.” Because while I feel like I am in the twilight of this breast cancer battle that is only a small part of what I am trying to reinvent. Many people have told me how strong I am through this…and while I know I’m strong…I’m not THIS fucking strong. But God is.
When I first moved to the Netherlands I was asked frequently if I was “religious”. Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that because I believe in God but don’t think that “religion” has done a very good job of representing him on this earth. I don’t believe in a church or an institution…I believe in a good, loving and personal God. A God who knows me. A God who won’t prevent bad things from happening (obviously) but will support, love and restore me through them.
Faith to me is a recognition that there is a longing in my heart for “something”. In college I tried to fill that “something” with an engineering degree or partying. And while there were some fun times I would wake up in the morning and know that there was “something” more than what I was choosing. No amount of hobbies or career aspirations or relationships or money or travel or would fill that “something”. Only God. I heard a story about a God that created the heavens and the earth…but knows every hair on my head (heh, that’s not too hard for Him right now )…not a God of condemnation…but a God that knows all the dark places in my life and loves me anyway. A God of grace. A God that wants me to know him as intimately as he knows me. This God filled that “something”.
Now that I’ve written a few things that God is to me…here are a few that he isn’t:
- A political party
- A license to spew hateful words or condemnation
- A crutch for when bad things happen…I promise if you put your full weight on a crutch that isn’t real you will still fall on your face
- A free pass to the “good life”…or feeling that if things aren’t easy it means God doesn’t exist or doesn’t care
- God is not a cosmic vending machine there to solve all your problems, in the way you want them to be solved in the timing you want.
So if you are looking at my life from the outside…dealing with cancer…navigating a relationship crisis…in a foreign country…please know I get out of bed and write a blog post only because I am being upheld by his righteous right hand.
PS – On a health update I only have 4 more radiation appointments left!! Wahoo…I’m done on Thursday.
I will admit that this blogging adventure has been interesting for me. Writing is not something I am passionate about and initially this space was started to help keep family and friends informed on my health journey. It has morphed into a place where I can pour out the pain and strength and beauty and peace I find along the way. Being a “blogger” is another interesting identity I have had to adapt to this year…I honestly never thought I had anything to say that people would want to read. Apparently I do.
I have received the “One Lovely Blog” award from another beautiful blogger in Seattle, Jen, of Keep the Calm. It seems to be a Pay it Forward acknowledgement of writing that has touched you. I am honored that she selected me because her eloquence, sincerity and calm amidst the trials life has thrown at her is inspiring. I admire that she breaks plates and gives herself space to express that painful side but returns to a place of embracing and living life in the present moment. Seriously humbling, thank you.
Apparently there are rules to receiving this award. I need to write a post linking back to the person who nominated me, I need to tell 7 things about myself, and I need to pass this award on to other lovely blogs by linking to their site and notifying them.
- Fall is my favorite season and the time I feel most nostalgic for home. What I would give for a cup of coffee and a stroll around Greenlake amidst the changing trees.
- I adore musicals. Singing in the Rain is my favorite and Glee is an absolute guilty pleasure…alright maybe not so guilty.
- Berries are their own food group to me. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries…truthfully I
could have eaten them by the bucketful.
- I have my table set even when I don’t have a dinner planned. It’s a fun design project but it’s more than that. It’s the promise of future dinners and the reminder of joyful memories in the past. My current tree of life table:
- I prefer Ikea because my favorite part is putting the furniture together…apparently I’ve been like this forever just ask my mom.
- I’ve found that when things seem bad for me my best defense is a generous spirit. It’s tough to feel too sorry for yourself when you are thinking about others.
- OK this one’s a doozy. This has been an immensely difficult year and there are things both Jonathan and I need to heal from. For now our healing journeys are taking us to different places…I will stay in the Netherlands and he will head back to the US. The intensity of emotions associated with this has colored most of my posts for the last 3 months but I haven’t wanted to explicitly write about it. The future is unknown but this is the best step for both of us right now.
Wow…OK. Are you back with me? Deep breath. Now on to the fun stuff…blogs I enjoy.
Blessings in Disguise – Rachel is wonderfully uplifting and has the best collection of Pinterest quotes ever. I appreciate her faith and continued desire to find the “blessings in disguise”…sometimes those suckers are really well hidden.
Chemo Brain – Anne Marie is a tireless voice crying for people to recognize the true face of Breast Cancer in the midst of a pink ribbon blitz. Her blog is informative and funny and I have learned so much from her. She inspires me to help inform others.
Mainely Hopeful – Susan is witty and real. She’s been a couple months ahead of me in this process and been a real encouragement. Actually she was the first person to follow my blog before it was really established. She’s even had her own personal pain as the cancer treatment was coming to a close. Someday I’d like to have an actual drink with her.
The New Normal – The New Normal is a blog by my bud Alex Moore who is redefining his life after discovering a Brain Tumor last year. We’ve known each other since college and he’s been a real hero through his struggle. I will proudly wear my grey for you.
I don’t want to…but I have to pick one to pass this on to. I guess I will pick “Blessings in Disguise” because for the last 2 months I feel like Rachel has been writing only for me.
There are a lot of things I don’t recognize about my life right now. As I think back over the past 6 months it feels like everything has turned upside down and twisted itself inside out. I look in the mirror and see my face with thinning eyelashes and eyebrows – I did manage to keep some of them during this. With the right makeup and a wig I can look more normal but I feel like I am hiding what is underneath. I have adapted to the bald look…I appreciate that I have a nice head…I hate the stares from strangers because I have chosen to not cover it up. It takes courage to walk out in public as a bald woman, knowing you didn’t choose this but it happened none the less.
Yes, while I have adapted to the bald look it is still not me…and right now my life feels just as foreign as my lack of hair. It has been forced upon me and I don’t recognize myself in it yet. But my hair is growing. I imagine my life coming back to me much like my chemo hair. I want to go from bald to luscious flowing locks in an instant – not that I had that to begin with. That is not how it works. Instead, I check every morning to see how my peach fuzz is coming along. Did it grow any longer? Did it get any thicker? It will come in grey and probably kinky. A far cry from my brown stick straight strands before. Eventually, with time, my hair will settle into a new normal. My life will settle into a new normal that I can’t predict now…I will just check in with it every morning and attempt to be patient with the process.
If you’re curious about how the hair grows back this is an interesting video. I love this girl’s smile and the fact that she documented this…I am probably a couple weeks before she started filming.