through the valley

Wow. The things you learn in a matter of months… life sure is crazy. It’s been almost two months since I’ve last updated my blog and honestly, that’s because I’ve been so caught up in everything that’s going on that I felt almost too exhausted to think about all of it and then put it into words. But since I found a little bit of quiet time, I figured I could try.

It is now August 14, 2018, and that means I am now finished with the tough(er) chemo, the “red devil” as some call it or “AC”, and now I’m going in for my fourth Taxol treatment this Thursday. I will have a total of 12 Taxol treatments and they are given weekly, so, you do the math. If all goes according to plan, I should be finished with chemo sometime in October! I’m so ready to be done with chemotherapy…

So, what have I learned, exactly? Having cancer and going through treatment is a very unique experience and I can genuinely say that I never imagined my life being what it is today. In a way, I feel as though this season of my life is the greatest lesson that I will ever learn. There is a multitude of things that I could go on and on about, but here are a few:

  1. Do Not Rely On Anyone But Yourself & God
    Hear me out. Yes, it is such a blessing to have others in your life that offer you support, but I’ve learned that the more you rely on others, the more you allow disappointment to enter into your life. If someone wants to be there for you, they will. This is also a word of advice for anyone that has to deal with doctors, nurses, etc. because you are your only advocate! If you want something done or need something answered, it’s you that has to make it happen, not anybody else. And of course, my strength, hope, and faith would be non-existent without the everpresent love and promises of our awesome God.
  2. You Become Hyperaware of Your Body
    Every little ache, pain, and/or change regarding your own body becomes center stage. I worry, genuinely worry, whenever something as little as an ache in my elbow occurs because the first thing I think of is “is the cancer spreading!?” and let me tell you: it’s exhausting. With aches and pains aside, I’ve watched my body transform in ways I never thought I would (at least at age 26). I’ve seen my eyes look tired and worn out, my nailbeds gradually changing color (thanks, chemo), my hair falling out (all over), my eyebrows thinning, my eyelashes slowly disappearing, skin changes—the list goes on. Not to mention the hot flashes, too!
  3. Your Mind Is A Battlefield
    Every day I have to decide if I’m going to allow myself to sink into the deep, dark hole of depression or if I’m going to seek Christ and allow Him to carry me through the valley that He set out for me. Usually, I choose the latter, and it’s not an easy task. It is very difficult to trust in God when you are experiencing ultimate hardship in your life. I ask Him all the time why? Why is this happening to me? Why aren’t You listening to me? Why do you allow this to happen? The mind is a powerful thing. So easily we can succumb to our own destructive thoughts and I am guilty of doing so. However, I’ve used this season of my life as a tool to build my faith and walk with Christ so that I may seek His purpose in my pain. I can choose to lie down and let this take over me, or I can choose to stand up and walk with Him… and I’ll choose to stand and walk every day.

Those are just a few things that I’ve learned so far that have really meant a lot to me so far during this time in my life, but I know that as time goes on, I will continue to learn more and more. I will face tremendous struggles, disappointments, and fears every single day, but I will also learn how to tackle them with grace, with faith, with strength, and with patience.

It may seem like my life is totally consumed by cancer at the moment—and that’s because it’s true. Yes, my life revolves around having cancer right now, but that’s not to ignore the fact that my life revolves around healing. My life revolves around learning and growing from what may be the hardest time of my life. During this time, I’ve not only grown closer to Christ, but I’ve grown closer to those that I love. I’ve developed a deeper relationship with my fiancé than I ever thought I would… but let me be the first to say that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. We don’t wake up every day totally stoked about life. Nope. Somedays, we have to fight. We have to argue. We have to dig deep into those tough conversations in order to get to the other side. I truly believe with all my heart that God wants my fiancé and me to weather this storm together so that we can see what it means to be truly devoted to each other. I’ve never witnessed true love or the power of true love until I was in the middle of a storm with the one the I love. It is not easy to show grace and patience in the middle of a storm—the storm being “battling” cancer or can be an argument. Either way, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of heart to do so and I’ve been blessed enough to have a partner that shows me that every single day no matter the circumstance.

You may have noticed that I put “battling” in quotation marks…

I’ve come to the realization that I do not like saying that I (or anyone else) am “battling” cancer; that I am “fighting” cancer. I do not like the phrase “[Insert Name Here] lost their battle to cancer” No. This is not a win or lose situation. We are not soldiers. We are not athletes. We are human beings. Whether or not a person is healed and/or lives to tell the tale, does not mean that he or she lost or won. And I’ll just leave it at that 🙂

Thanks for reading and I hope at least one thing resonated with you!

Love, Taylor

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” — Psalm 23:4

Note: See that the above psalm reads through the valley—we will not be there forever.

6 thoughts on “through the valley

  1. Judy

    Taylor, my daughter is going through the exact treatment right now, and in Pittsburgh also!! My daughter is 40 with 2 children, 10 and 5. It is so good to read your blog. It helps me to understand more of what she is going through. Like you, her husband is so strong and supportive as is her immediate family and church family.

    I will add you to my prayer list. You are not alone in this fight. 💗

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    1. taylor + tell Post author

      Hi Judy! I’m sorry to hear that your daughter is also going through this tough time, but I genuinely hope that she is doing well and staying strong, as it’s our only choice! It makes me SO happy to know that my blog is helping you understand more about her journey thus far. She is very blessed to have an amazing partner (and mother!) through all of this—support is very important in times of darkness. Thank you for adding me to your prayer list, that is so thoughtful. Please let your daughter know that she is welcome to contact me at any time if she would like to talk! Love to you & your daughter.

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  2. Joanna E Graham

    Hello. I was Dx with Inflammatory BC (rare and aggressive) in May 2016 and finished all my treatment in May 2017. I had 6 rounds of chemo, a single mastectomy and a whole bunch of radiation treatments! None of it was fun, but I survived–so that is all that matters. In June 2017, I moved back to Pittsburgh to be closer to my family and so my high school sons can go to school with their cousins. It is wonderful being back in Pittsburgh! Just today, I went to see my oncologist as I go every 3 months for my first 3 years. It does get easier, but it still is a constant fear in my mind. I have my “high anxiety” days which I have learned to recognize them and express them to others (especially my husband) so they know. I have learned to appreciate every day and I always, thank God everyday when I wake up and every night when I go to bed. I have been through many dark valleys in my life, but my journey with BC was one of the toughest. However, there is life after treatment. Just a different normal and it does indeed take time to adjust. I applaud you for writing this blog–I enjoy reading it! Keep up your positive outlook. My favorite saying during my treatment was (and still is) “Everything will be OK”. Simple and yet, profound. So, I pass this to you–Everything will be OK. Keep writing and I will keep reading and praying.

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    1. taylor + tell Post author

      Hi Joanna! Thank you for sharing your experience and I am so happy to know that you are doing well! I can absolutely relate to that constant fear of the unknown, but my peace resides & derives from our loving God 🙂 I am thankful to Him for bringing you THROUGH your valleys, too! Stay well & take care.

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  3. Sarah V

    I hope you can see the light st the end of the tunnel! You’re almost done 🙂 hang in there, you’ll soon go down from 20 hot flashes a day to only 4 (LOL!) you got this girl!

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