Yesterday I celebrated my 49th birthday. There was a time when I would cringe at the thought of being 49, despite the fact that I have a couple of friends who have crossed over the half century mark. As with many birthdays, I reflected on the past year. What a ride it’s been! Last year I didn’t enjoy my birthday. I’d just found out about the mass on my ovary and, despite being 7 weeks from confirmed diagnosis, I knew I had ovarian cancer. I was worried and obsessing over everything. I analyzed every pain and twitch. I poured over research and websites. I stopped living and started planning for what I thought would be the end of things. The picture above shows me on my birthday last year. My husband told me that I looked sick last year. He said I look “healthy and vibrant” this year. Good thing, since that’s how I feel.
I am amazed at what I’ve been through in the past year and have managed to not only survive, but thrive! My life is a testimony to what God can do when you reach the end of your rope and have only Him to hang onto. It’s a living example of what it means to be surrounded by people (who are too innumerable to mention) who refuse to allow you to give up even when you want to give up yourself.
In the last year I have learned that I can survive major surgery, a life threatening blood clot, chemotherapy, self injections of blood thinners, more blood tests that I thought were possible, a port insertion, too many trips to doctors to count and more scans than a body should have to endure while homeschooling two boys, keeping the house of a semblance of a schedule and continuing to write. I have learned that chemo is a double edged sword. While it saves your life, it takes your memory. It kills the cancer and numbs your hands and feet. And I will find out today just how much damage it did to my eyes (I have floaters which appeared when chemo started and are getting worse). I have done all this while wrestling with the effects of instant menopause without the benefit of being able to have any hormones to help with the adjustment.
I am a warrior in teal. I want to make teal as prominent as pink. I posted on FB that since it’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I was going to try to wear teal every day (today, my only teal is my wrist band, all my teal clothes are in the wash). I wear it for those who walked before me and paved the way and for those who will inevitably come behind me. I wear it for my oncologist, his incredible staff and the nurses and aides at the OPCC at Good Sam who saved my life. I wear it because my Dad would wear it and say no one else’s daughter should ever have to go through what my daughter went through. I wear it to show my mom that I’m just as stubborn as she is and that I got my strength to endure from her. I wear it to honor my husband who had to walk a path that no partner should ever have to walk, but did so with the strength and courage to carry both of us. I wear it for the two boys I am proud to call my sons, who were forced to grow up in ways that young children shouldn’t have to, but did so without complaint. I wear it for my friends who called, brought meals, sent cards, took care of children, sat with me, cried with me and prayed for my family. Their presence in my life cannot be defined.
I wear teal because God has a mission for me that I need to grab hold of and claim. I wear teal because I survived. I don’t know what the future holds. Life is so fragile and never goes according to plan, no matter how much we put toward that goal. Keeping God in the midst of chaos is what anchored me to life.
As I look forward, I still face monthly blood work for Coumadin. I face quarterly CA125 testing and exams and semi-annual CT’s. And yes, I do get concerned. I will become apprehensive before seeing my oncologist knowing that despite the odds, I still might have to face the Beast again. I look forward to entering a clinical trial for my oncologist in hopes that I can help him determine ways to beat back the Beast. And I will wear teal for my visits.
So as I reflect on my 48th year and look forward to number 49, I will wear teal and smile. I have been through so much and come out stronger for it. I wear teal as a reminder and to show I am better for my experience. And, I look good in it.