I recently read an excellent blog post entitled, One Thing Cancer Can't Change. I'll give you the link at the end, but stay with me for now.
The author, Dawn, talks about a little girl who, when she's asked how old she is, replies, "I'm me."
"How old are you?"
The author brings out the thought that this little girl had actually said something profound. It didn't matter how many years she had lived--she was still "Me". And that applies to cancer too. A diagnosis of cancer doesn't change who we are.
From the moment I received a diagnosis of cancer, so much changed about me.
- I had to stop nursing.
- I went from being hyperactive to hypoactive overnight.
- My priorities changed radically.
- Many relationships changed, some for the better--others not.
- My dreams for the future changed. Would I still have a future?
- My emotions changed. At times I was an emotional wreck as I bounced around on the cancer rollercoaster.
- My interests changed.
- I stopped drinking coffee 10 times a day (really!) and started to drink rooibos tea.
- Even my choice of reading material and television programs changed.
But I remained "Me".
I have to admit there were times I didn't recognise "Me". I reacted in ways unlike the "Old Me". (Or was I reacting like the "Real Me"?) Things that brought me joy before, now bored me. One of my hobbies of creating cards for others morphed into collecting cards from others. But deep down, in the hidden recesses of my mind, I was still "Me".
- I still loved, and I still needed to be loved.
- I continued to encourage those around me, even as I craved their encouragement that I was doing well--even when I knew I wasn't.
- I enjoyed company, although I often grew tired and longed for them to go home.
- My husband and my kids remained the centre of my universe, even though that universe had shrunk, and my world had spun off its axis.
I was still "Me".
I am now approaching 15 years post-diagnosis. It's a great feeling. Cancer no longer rules my thoughts 24/7. But I have to admit, it's never far away. My soon-to-be-published book, Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, has seen to that. I have had to spend much time looking back, remembering, wondering at my reactions and thinking about my experiences in the cancer valley. But it's no longer with that sense of unreality, This can't be happening.
Nevertheless, 15 years later, I'm still "Me".
As I thought about this article, it struck me that there was one other person that cancer didn't change. It didn't change God.
- He was still there, in control--although sometimes it didn't feel like it.
- He never stopped loving me, and--when I allowed Him to--He guided me.
- He was always there when I turned to Him, which often didn't happen as often as it should.
- He still had a plan for my life, and that was encouraging, if difficult to grasp. (At least He believed I still had a life!)
- He continued to lead me in the way I needed to go, even if at times He had to hold onto my hand tightly--like you do to a squealing toddler.
Yes, God remained God.
Many things did change:
- I used to be a practicing nurse--now I'm an active author.
- I was once an involved pastor's wife--now I'm married to a retired pastor.
- I was a parent of three. Thanks be to God, I am still a parent to three, in fact I have now gained another three through their marriage to the original three. And there are at times it feels as if they are beginning (or trying) to parent me!
- I was a grandparent to two babies. I am now a grandparent to two almost-adults, and two more small children. Some things continue to grow, in spite of cancer!
Yes, many things changed. But the little girl has it right. I am still "Me". And God is still "God". Even cancer couldn't change these. And as long as those two constants remain, life has meaning.
What is the Big 'C'?
One Thing Cancer Can't Change