Yesterday was World Cancer Day. The purpose of this day is to create worldwide awareness and invoke action towards finding a cure. I'm not certain such a goal is even remotely achieved by a yearly acknowledgment, but there's a day designated for just about everything it seems. In fact, a quick google search revealed that this day is also shared with Homemade Soup Day. Who seriously comes up with these things?
Anyhoo, I've found that tangible testimonies and legitimate research and resources are far more helpful--and hopeful-- than a simple day designation and trending hashtag. I've also found that awareness doesn't always include the seemingly insignificant realities of cancer life. You know, anything outside of being grateful to be alive.
The big picture of cancer life is one common goal--to hopefully not die while also maintaining a decent quality of life. Everything in-between isn't always talked about because it's personal and vulnerable. Those details can seem silly to those that are fortunate enough to not be able to relate and can feel shameful to those that can.
I'm currently counting down to a dream come true of a vow renewal for my husband and I. A literal blessing from God, as He placed this gift on the hearts of so many beautiful strangers that are graciously making this a reality for us. I still can't believe it's happening at times, but I'm truly so grateful and honored to tears.
The in-between of this beautiful gift from God has recently been difficult for me, though. If I wasn't being honest here, I would fail to normalize that I'm human and fail to give God deserved glory. I'm a child of God, endlessly loved and saved, yes, but still flawed, filled with emotions and a desire for more than what life is currently dishing out.
A few weeks ago, I began taking targeted therapy pills in hopes of slowing cancer progression. Like most pharmaceuticals, it comes with a cost--a new diagnosis, side effect, etc. Well, in my case I currently have a gnarly rash (among other things) that has appeared on my chest, back and face. It looks much like teenage acne and feels like a sunburn (oh, the irony). While my care team has prescribed many ointments and other possible solutions, it's still very present.
I had a facial scheduled for today that I was really looking forward to. Not that I believed it would eliminate the rash or acne, but my hope was that it would hydrate and calm my skin (and anxiety). Apparently the spa double booked and made a human error, so I didn't get a facial after all.
I literally cried for over an hour after this. Silly? To anyone that's not had cancer--absolutely.
To those that see me and understand, this blog post is for you.
Having cancer often changes perspectives for the diagnosed, which is a blessing. However, it still doesn't take the sting out of wanting that "normal" quality of life where you just want to partially feel like the old you. I personally want to feel feminine again because it reminds me of how seemingly sweet life was before it no longer was.
It can be challenging when you no longer have hair from chemo, you're covered in a rash or acne and your abdomen mysteriously looks like you're 6 months pregnant. Or when the sleep deprivation is starting to age you, your nails are literally falling off and you hug toilets more than you'd like to acknowledge. Feeling pretty or like the old you seems so far out of reach when you constantly feel unwell or worse, like you're dying.
But still being alive when the odds are stacked against you is what's most important, right? We shouldn't be worried about vanity, right? Probably. The reality, though, is that we are sometimes. We're still human. We're still grieving. We're still hanging onto hope.
I personally not only want to be alive, but I also want to feel--and look--alive.
Today, as I sobbed out of sadness and anger, I asked God for a break. I'm not sure if that's even how that interaction should have gone down. After all, God is the reason I'm still alive and He's blessed my socks off since being diagnosed with cancer. But I'm going to be real with you all--after all I've been through in the last 2.5 years, I don't think it's asking too much to want to feel pretty during my vow renewal ceremony. I also don't think that God is mad that I'm coming to him with the good, the bad, the ugly and the in-between. In fact, I believe that He has broad shoulders and that's exactly what He wants.
Within an hour or so of my meltdown, my sweet friend and cancer buddy, Nechie, text me to see if I was home. Now, she is well aware of our vow renewal and the condition of my skin and other side effects I'm experiencing. However, she knew nothing about my scheduled (not!) facial or its debacle.
Would you believe that she sent me amazing skincare products from Sephora and had them delivered within hours of my heart-to-heart with God? Yup! That's how God, good friends and Instacart roll!
I'm not certain these products will cure or improve my skin in time for our big day, but I am certain that God is good, He hears our cries and He cares. I'm also certain that He speaks to us through others and can use us to support each other this side of heaven in tangible, loving ways. Receiving these products at such a time made me feel heard, seen and loved.
I once read that someone, somewhere, is depending on you to do what God has called you to do. So anytime someone crosses your mind or you feel that tug to love on or bless someone, do not ignore it! It's almost always a prompting from God and an opportunity to serve.
While yesterday may have been National Cancer Day, remember it was also National Homemade Soup Day. Likewise, we can go to God with the big things and the seemingly insignificant things--they both matter.