It has been around nine months since I have been blessed enough to continue to live my life after cancer. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that looks like, but so far… it’s actually pretty complicated. I’m sure many other cancer survivors will tell you that your life will never be the same as it once was, but isn’t that true for everyone?
Each day, we make decisions that change the course of our lives. Everyday events that are in and out of our control change us and life as we know it and then suddenly, what was once the present is now the past. In regards to my life and cancer, everything that I went through just last year is now in the past. That’s not to say that none of those events have permanently changed me or scarred me, but I get to continue to live my life even though. That’s the thing—we get to do things. Nothing is promised to us and we are not entitled to anything in this life. My life (and your life) could change in a matter of seconds. It could change now, today, tomorrow, the next day, or the next day, or the next day.
Not a day goes by where I wake up and think, “I had cancer last year but that’s in the past and it’s over now and it will never happen again, so move on!” No. I also don’t let it prevent me from living my life in a way that is fulfilling to me, but it’s in those times of extreme hardship where I have learned the most about myself and about God. I’ve learned the hardest and most important lessons of my life in times of trial. I can’t, and I won’t, forget how the events of last year have molded me into who I am right now. You cannot see light without darkness.
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So I’m getting married this month. It’s still hard to believe that it is actually happening, God willing. To think of all that Andrew and I have been through and to see us here and now. I always imagine myself and Andrew standing on top of a battlefield when the dust has settled, battered and beaten… but still standing. Together. That’s us. We’ve been through what a lot of couples never have to go through, especially before even being married to each other. Sometimes, I can’t understand how or why I was blessed with such a truly amazing person to have and to hold. You can’t tell me that God isn’t real when He places special people into your life, even when you feel so undeserving.
Through this past year, I’ve gained and I’ve lost people in my life. Actually, that has happened all of my life, because that’s just life in general, but especially this past year. When I was first diagnosed, it was no surprise that people came out of the woodwork to give their “Let me know if you need anything!” spiel, watched you from afar and then essentially die off after you don’t “look sick” anymore. And you know what… that’s totally fine.
When you go through tough seasons, you don’t need to know who is watching—you need to know who is standing beside you, behind you, and in front of you, protecting you from all angles. You need to know who your soldiers are in battle, not your audience. When the dust settles, who is still there? And with that, I know who my soldiers are and I wouldn’t know that without having to go through the battle first.
I’m learning how to live my life in a way that makes it feel worth living. Not because I feel otherwise, but because right now, I have the ability to do that. There are so many people in this world who don’t and I’ll be the first person to tell you that I don’t feel deserving of any blessings that I have been given, but I will make the most out of them.
I’m learning who to let in and who to let out. It’s okay to gravitate away from those who do not fill you with happiness, peace, and kindness. “Spark joy”, right? Isn’t that what we’re doing now? Your closet may be easy to de-clutter and decipher what sparks joy for you and what doesn’t… but your heart? Not that easy. Nothing worth having comes easy, though. And it is worth having a heart full of joy.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m here. I’m living. I’m still figuring it all out. I’m relatively healthy right now and I’m taking it day by day. I’m filling my heart with joy and getting rid of anything that gets in the way of that. And you should, too!