Cancer Diagnosis - 1 Year Later

August 20th marked the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. As the anniversary date approached, I found myself becoming emotional; I really wanted to say something to my family members who helped me through the hard times.  So, I had a BBQ dinner and asked them all over to join me.  After dinner I read a letter to them all expressing my thankfulness for their part in my life this last year. 


Sometimes, though not often, I am at a loss for words. This is not one of those times. Here around me, I have the most important people on earth – to me. Each of you holds a special place in my heart, some of you for more years than others, but no less special. I can’t imagine life without any single one of you.

These last 12 months have been tough and stressful. I’ve had 4 surgeries, about 24 x-rays, 43 radiation treatments, 212 doctor appointments, one missed Utah vacation, a new job that started out very ugly, two new managers, and 1 birthday. But wait, that’s not all! I’ve had good stuff too, here’s naming a few of them: two new granddaughters, a fixed foot, a missing 15 lbs, a birthday, 2 new managers, a new healthier body, and a great vacation with the love of my life to look forward to.

I’ve learned a lot in this last year. I’ve learned how to lean on others, how to cry again, and how to open my heart to help when I need it (only when I need it mind you!). This is the first year in decades that I can remember crying for myself rather than someone else’s troubles. I feel I’ve just begun to realize what is really important in life. It’s not my job, it’s not trying to stay looking young, it’s not how many things I can accomplish while I’m on this earth. It’s about my relationships with all of you.

This is the year that I learned how very much I really needed you James. I can’t imagine how I could have made it through this year without you holding me up. I felt sad for people who don’t have someone like you to help them through something like this. I remember the days and nights where you’d just let me sit on your lap and let me cry. You were so very reassuring to me; your love strong and sure. I was amazed at your willingness to accompany me to MRI’s, surgeries, radiation treatments, and doctor appointments, and then to even sell your car so we could go on a long vacation together. It wasn’t just me that had cancer – WE had cancer. You’re amazing.

Mandy - you were the first person I cried in front of. I remember being at your house sitting on the edge of your bed and actually opening up to you and letting myself cry. You had a lot on your plate, but you still took time to hold me and comfort me. You also presented me with a wonderful little wiggly distraction when I needed it most. Thank you.

Ricky - you were very caring to call me often and just say “I love you”. You do that so well. There’s something about a son looking out for his mom, truly role switch after years of Mom looking out for her son, which I can’t put into words. You were, and are, a constant comfort to me. Thank you.

Dad - your caring words and just knowing you were there watching out for me every day, ready to be helpful in any way you could, was a comfort. While my independent self resisted, inwardly it was nice to know you had my back on anything from taking me to doctors, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping; anything. Thank you.

Linda and Rod – just the effervescent life that emanates from your house: little girls, house decorating, lawn mowing, work, school, and the like; sure helped keep me focused away from dealing with cancer and onto living and being active. You showed me that life can’t stop and Ali and Sierra’s young lives, full of laughter and joy, filled the air around here and blessed me. I know I can just really be me with you guys. I can be sad, happy, or just plain quiet and know I’ll be accepted just the way I am. Linda, the cancer necklace gift was like my charm. I view it as my badge of honor now. Thank you.

Daniel and Rosemary – Thank you for coming into my life these last few years as new family members. You each bring wonderful qualities that I cherish; I feel very blessed to be your mother-in-law. I know I don’t say it enough, but I love you and I am very glad you’re part of my family. You both have brought a lot of fun, humor, laughter, and joy to my life. I hope that as the years progress our relationship can grow stronger and be full of even more blessings.

I found my silver lining through this trial of a year. I found a tiny silver thread, and then felt the tug as I began to pull. The thread of these relationships, with you, became a strong cord that I was able to cling to as a life line. That beautiful piece of silver cord is now interwoven into the tapestry that makes up the picture of my life. Thank you so much for contributing so richly to me.

So this next 12 months is going to be better than the last 12 months. I can feel it. I know I’m starting it out pretty good! I aim to be healthier, less stressed, more available, less overworked, stronger, more prayerful, happier, and more loving, more worshipful, and above all, more thankful.

Thank you everybody. I love you.

Several family members were not able to make the dinner, but would also like to send out a heartfelt thank you to them as well:
Shirley - you were so very thoughtful in making sure I had some great books to help me navigate the decisions I was facing.  You are a very caring and comforting person.  You're an amazing woman full of empathy and compassion. Thank you.
Stephanie - thank you so much for the wine in the pink cat cancer awareness bottle, and the books.  The bottle now sits in my bathroom full of bubble bath.  Thank you for coming over to spend some time with me and to help me out.  It was thoughtful and very sweet.  I look forward to running the 5K with you next year!
Janet - you hopped right in to help even though you live almost 3 hours away.  Thank you for loaning me your juicer and showing me the juicing "ropes".  Your willingness to drive on down and help out is amazing for a woman with as much on her plate as you have.  What a great sister!!
Thank you everyone for your love, comfort, support, encouragement, and prayers. 

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