I’ve thought about writing this blog for quite some time now. Since my re-diagnosis almost exactly 2 years ago, I’ve changed – I’ve grown. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who I truly am, how impactful my words can be, how important it is to always let those I love, know how I am feeling. I’ve learned to share my feelings from a place of love and have been very conscious about voicing that love alongside my feelings. With every hit that cancer gives me, I learn something new about myself. I believe it’s an intentional poke from God encouraging me to be authentic, encouraging me keep growing spiritually and emotionally, sharing parts of this journey that while hard, important for others to understand the challenges of a stage iv cancer diagnosis.
So here it is.
Every time a scan comes back with bad news, I face my mortality. Every time I face that mortality again, it gets scarier and feels closer. There I said it. Maybe you don’t want to hear that. Maybe that’s hard to read, however, someone needs to say it. You know that feeling you get when you almost got hit by that semi, or you almost drowned but didn’t, that near death but didn’t happen experience? Yah, that’s what it feels like, but worse, because it doesn’t go away. You don’t just forget about it, be grateful the semi didn’t actually hit you, and move on with your day. The semi just keeps hitting you. Every single day, the semi hits and the battle in my head begins. Jen, you have today. Jen, be present. Jen, be positive. Jen, get out of bed and go do something to keep your mind off of the semi. It’s a constant battle. If I don’t remain positive, I feel guilty but if I don’t allow myself to feel, I feel guilty. I am finding that balance and discovering who I feel comfortable sharing those dark moments with. I am learning to be authentic in a way that is comfortable for me, not for anyone else. I am learning that it’s just as important to forgive myself as it is for me to forgive others.
Forgiveness is a gift you give to you. Read that again.
Do you not realize that we are all in danger of that semi hitting? Though hard, I remind myself of this pretty regularly. Maybe my semi looks a looks a little different than yours, but at the end of day, one day, we are all going to be hit by a semi. One day, we are all going to face our mortality. Do you want to leave this world with things left unsaid? Do you want someone else to leave this world without saying something you wish you could have said? I don’t. I am not sure anyone does.
I vision this as another “gift” I have been given. I can change anything I want to change, right now. I can forgive whomever I want to forgive, right now. I can say whatever I want to say, right now. I can have deep conversations with people, share my feelings, tell them I love them, make and cherish every single moment I have with them. I get to give myself that gift. I get to give others that gift. I have the privilege - THE PRIVILEGE - of living a life that is FULL! A life that checks off boxes most don’t get the chance to check off because the semi hit without warning.
“The trouble is, you think you have time” Buddah
I have struggled with sharing these thoughts because I don’t want those close to me, or those who follow my journey to think my time is coming to an end. I most certainly don’t want to worry or scare the people I love most. I don’t want to put anyone’s mind in a place that holds any negativity towards my journey. If you are reading this, I want you to fill that space you hold for me with only positivity and prayers.
I share these thoughts because since I began this blog over 6 years ago, I have shared the raw and honest truth behind my diagnosis. There will be more of these to come, some not so happy, and some filled with inspiration and hope. The one thing I can promise you, is that it will be my honest truth, my honest challenges, my victories, and my authentic feelings. My mission from day one has always been the hope that no one would ever feel as alone as I did when I was originally diagnosed in 2013. I know my truth can be someone else’s hope. I know my voice can, and will, help someone. My journey, and what I choose to share, while uncomfortable at times, may be exactly what someone else needs to hear or share, because they are too afraid to say it. It may be exactly what someone else needs, so they know they aren’t walking that path alone.
This is what feeds my soul. This is what gives me purpose and defines who I am. Cancer has never and will never define me.
I cannot change what has happened in my life – neither can you. It will have always happened to you no matter how badly you might want to forget that it did. The defining moment will come in deciding if you want to allow it to break you down or build you up. I hope you always choose to let it build you up, to discover the strength that it gave you, the purpose behind it all, and to acknowledge the ways it made you a better person. That, in my opinion, is the greatest gift you can give to you.