I spent the rest of my day Monday and Tuesday trying to feeling better. After adjusting some medicine, and applying a steroid cream for the rash on my head, I was on the mend. By Wednesday morning the rash was fading and my body felt more stable. It took about one full week after chemotherapy before I started to regain my strength….
I would love to say that I am getting the hang of the chemotherapy song and dance, knowing what to expect and anticipate but that would not be true. This treatment round was quite different than the first. The fatigue and tired hit me at different times. I have heard from quite a few others who have undergone chemotherapy, that the unknown, the constant ebb and flow of the side effects are hard, but knowing and accepting that it will be different and that it is ok is half the battle. So this next round, number three, hopefully I can do just that.
Friday evening, I attended a fundraiser my roommate put on. Knowing my counts are low I did not stay too long but wanted to be there to support her. After standing to the side watching as everyone boot scotted to a local Western folk band, someone leaned over and asked if I was Kristina. I said that I was (I did not know him). He went on to explain that he is friends with one of my girlfriends and he had heard about my story. He saw pictures from my hair shave party and that he wanted to wish me well. He said he has heard about me and that he knows I am strong.
My goodness I thought, what an honor….. as my eyes pooled with water.
Is strong crying in front of a stranger? I thought.
Don’t cry I coached myself.
Just say thank you and it was nice to meet you, and walk away.
So I did.
I walked away humbled, overtaken by my story, this story and most of all by all of you.
The word strong is not something I often use to describe my cancer journey. Many of you use it, but I do not. I think it is because I have misunderstood the meaning of the word strong.
Maybe strong is not doing it all yourself, but allowing others to do it for you. Maybe strong is allowing this story to not just be mine, but something I share. Something that invites others in.
Maybe strong is being vulnerable enough to believe that God works and heals when we are honest. When we are open. When we allow others to care for us. When we surrender the strength that we do not have. Maybe that is what he intended life to be all along. That when we are weak, he is strong. He provides. That strong is allowing yourself to feel, to grieve and to be with all the emotions and thoughts that meet you. Allowing them to just be….
That evening, I went home early and crashed in my bed. I was still pondering this notion that I am strong. Still trying to understand why someone would describe me that way. I began building my case for why I am not. All the times I cry. All the times I am anxious and afraid and stopped…
That’s just it. So often I try and tell myself what I am not, and don’t believe in what I am.
Just yesterday, I spent a large part of my day looking out at Pikes Peak, the sun coming through the clouds and the horizon lined up with mountains far in the distant. It was a beautiful day. A very perfect Colorado day. One filled with day dreaming about traveling, three flavors of wheat thins, jump starting a car, Thai food, Beer, Hugh Grant, bourbon and ice cream.
A friend months ago said to me ….. I believe that you are today more alive and living than any of us ever will be.
I am indeed living. Everything matters to me. Every face I see, every conversation I share. It all matters. A diagnosis of this magnitude, that makes you grapple with life in such a way that it appears to be taken away at any moment has allowed me to live in the very present. To be so fully present that everything matters. I have the tremendous privilege of knowing how very precious life is. Cancer gave me this.
God is using this cancer to teach me how to live more fully. More alive. More intentional. And to know him more. To start trusting him as my shepherd. That he is working and moving all around me, I just need to listen.
I certainly will celebrate when this part of my story is over but for now I will continue to enjoy the very preciousness that is this time. A time when everything is so very real to me… when moments are not wasted. When time and energy is spent in company and doing the very things that make me feel alive.
May this Sunday find you feeling strong, alive and investing the very things that matter to you. That remind you that you are very much alive.
A very special Congratulations to the my cousin Vance and his wife Whitney as they welcomed two precious twins this week in California. I was met with tears at the picture of them and honored to be little Avi’s godmother. As we can never say enough, God is so very good.