The Breast Cancer Diaries | Part 9Laura Ann Miller
Tuesday March, 1, 2022 | Strong and Courageous
“…Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him.” -Deuteronomy 30:19, 20
I’m listening. I’m holding fast to Him. When I feel scared and weak. Less than brave…
I’ve received texts and cards from family and friends telling me how strong and courageous I am. My beautiful cousin gave me a bracelet with little silver dots and dashes, morse code for strong and fearless.
But I don’t often feel that way on this journey. Am I a Breast Cancer Fighter? I feel a more like a Breast Cancer Participant. I’m here. I’ve signed up for all the appointments. I’m following protocol. I take the medications. I shaved my head… I count off the days in my mind till this is over.
I pray the bracelet more like an S-O-S, Please Lord, send strength and courage.
I know I’ve made it this far by the prayers lifting me up and the grace of God seeing me through. I keep hearing this message on my journey, strong and courageous…
My Aunt reminded me again with a gift, celebrating the finish of my four rounds of the harder chemo-
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I talk with my sweet girl about healthy choices and healthy eating… I don’t want her to have to ever have to go through this journey in life. “It’s okay mom. If it happens, I’ll be brave like you.”
I want to tell her, I’m not brave.
I’m hesitant and unsure of myself on most days. Unsteady in this battle. But I’m learning…
In answered prayer
Day by day
Little by little
But trying it out
Wherever I go
Wednesday | March 2, 2022
I’ve been thinking about those last four rounds of chemo and all the congratulations I got for finishing them. I wanted to celebrate it too. I wanted to believe it really was worth celebrating, but all I could do was cry when Mike picked me up and I got in the car that day.
Strong and courageous, where were you? I felt like I was failing in not celebrating.
But today these words from writer Emily P. Freeman showed up in my inbox-
“There are more ways to finish than strong.
Finishing strong is a good way to be.
But so is just plain finishing regular.”
Those four rounds –I just plain finished regular. It’s OK. Grace.
Insurance Note: My critical claims insurance representative called to talk to me about future benefits should I ever need them. But she took care to explain it in a way so as not to jinx me with future cancer. Her way of putting it. We’ll find out if this worked if I never get cancer in my toes.
Talking about cancer is hard. Even for those who help with cancer insurance. For some reason this whole conversation made me smile. If my toes ever do get cancer, I won’t blame her.
Friday | March 4, 2022
I made it through my new chemo medication today. I was nervous, but the sadness and fear I faced over this two weeks ago did not return. I put together two playlists with all the song recommendations from family and friends. I turned up the worship music during my treatment and it brought me so much peace. I tried to sew a new scarf during my time, but I didn’t get too far because the medication they gave made me sleepy.
Mike picked me up four and half hours later. No tears this time, just joy for making it through.
I feel a difference in this medication. I didn’t crawl into bed as soon as I got home. I was able to eat today and haven’t felt nauseous. A good consolation for having to go to the hospital twice a week now. One week down, eleven more to go.
Monday | March 7, 2022
Hope is an anchor for the soul.
I woke up with this verse running through my mind. I’m thankful for ever-present hope, even in my sleep…
I’m feeling great with small bouts of awful sprinkled in. Those are hard, but not as hard as feeling down for seven days. I’m thankful this new medication really is easier than the first part. I was so afraid to face another aspect of this treatment. There’s no guarantees going forward except Jesus with me. I have this week and it’s good.
Mike and I talked about this pause in life and what God is showing me. What is His plan through all of this? Where do my hopes and dreams fit?
If you know me, part of that dream has been writing and publishing children’s books. There’s been a pause with wins and obstacles and alternate routes in life taken since my first four little books came out years ago. I’ve wondered in this pause what I should focus on, what I should give up.
We talked about friends who inspire us in pursuit of their own dreams and creativity. And dreams looking different. Maybe it’s ok to let some of the old vision go and imagine dreams in a new way. Mike reminded me that God granted my specific dream years ago with those first books. He reminded me how each and every appointment we drive to for these cancer treatments, we drive past the Barnes & Noble where I first saw those little books of mine sitting on a shelf. I can be proud and thankful for achieving that dream. I can dream new dreams. They don’t all need to look the same.
So today I’m reflecting on it all.
Dreaming new dreams.
Thursday | March 10, 2022
These days aren’t all bad days.
They couldn’t be or I would drown in sadness or fear.
I’m reflecting on the goodness I’m finding here.
Life was on fast forward when I got this diagnosis. Thanksgiving and Christmas were on the way. Plans at school for things to come…
I remember the meeting I had with my boss, I wanted to tell her, before I knew for sure myself, something might be wrong. I wanted her to have a heads up and be able to prepare… I am a part of such a special class. I couldn’t imagine how cancer would fit in.
I remember saying with tears in my eyes, This is such bad timing. She so wisely reminded me God’s timing is never bad.
And now I’m here at home in this part of life I look at as the pause on the play button.
I took leave from work at school for these chemo treatments. And I don’t go out much because of all the side effects and a weak immune system.
My world has become small and quiet. But filled in a different way.
I am with my family. I get to enjoy them more than ever. Lazy mornings, breakfasts together when I feel good, afternoon lunches with Mike when he comes home in the middle of the day to check on me. They comfort me when I need it. And they keep me laughing, every single day.
I spend more time with Jesus in reading and in prayer for others.
I get to chat with my friend in the middle of the day on school days!
Phone calls with my mom and sister too. Texts with my Aunt…
I bought pretty fabric at a craft store to make my own scarf and watched YouTube videos on how to sew a rolled hem.
I have time to write and take photographs.
I learned how to use an eyebrow pencil!
And there is the goodness of our church and school community! I can’t fully express the feeling of gratitude for the care our family has received.
There is a card we received and on the front it says, “Sometimes there are no words.” And I’ve thought about that a lot on this journey. I am an introvert and I often worry about saying or doing the wrong thing…
But our community of friends and family is teaching me how to care for others when there are no words.
I’ve read it before, but this hit my heart fresh. This is what we’ve been given when there were no words-
““When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
We have been texted, visited, prayed for, clothed, and fed!
The cards and care packages and meals have been overwhelming.
I am the least of these! So undeserving of this love and goodness, but cared for extravagantly.
These aren’t the bad days. These are the good days filled with love and purpose. I am learning.