This post is dedicated to the beautiful Samantha Schultz. I write this to you because I began this journey to document my experiences and life. It became more painful than I could have ever thought. I believed I was blogging the past and writing my present triumphs, only to realize that I too, am still in the fight. I had not written in a while and had no plans to write any time soon. Then I came across your words, Sam, and here I am writing again. This one is dedicated to you.
This summer, I had spent a month really working towards bringing peace of mind to my heart. I had been struggling so much with anxiety lately, and it was really affecting my sleep, my eating patterns, and my motivation. I began to incorporate yoga, exercise, and meditation to try to manifest calmness and tranquility. I was never into that stuff, but I am a firm believer that we need to dive into the waters of tranquility through meditation, go on bike rides, and practice deep breathing exercises. I had spent over a month creating healthier habits, and learning how to remain grounded. And then……….
On August 16, 2020, at about 7am, I began to read the new test results that stated that my recent scans showed a small mass near the surgical bed of where the tumor had been removed. To be honest, I didn’t read or understand anything that it said. The only thing I did not see were the words, “No evidence of recurring disease.”
I went straight to the bathroom to read and re-read the results. My boys were still asleep, and I needed to hide. In that moment, I couldn’t fully explain what happened in medical terms but I think I lost it. My heart was raced as visions of what I had went through in 2018 and 2019 appeared in my mind. I broke out into a sweat as I realized the pictures I was seeing, like a movie in my head. I saw myself sitting in the chemo chair again, about to get injected with the “red devil.” I saw myself back in CTU, running to the bathroom sick and so discouraged. I remembered the color of my skin and nails and how dark they became, and that day I brushed my hair after cycle one, realizing the time had come for me to lose it. The radiation burn that left me so broken was so vivid once again. The hundreds of times I had been prodded and poke felt so real again. I saw again the moment after my first chemo cycle, when I felt my body vibrating in pain and discomfort. Those of us touch by cancer, have experienced a suffering in our own body and mind that we will never forget. Many of us know pain, we know hurt, but the physical suffering of a body going through chemotherapy is something that changes you. I remember weeping to the Lord and crying out for Him to save me from this agony. Every cell in my body suffered, and there was nothing to escape it. For over, three months during treatment, my heart rate never fell under 100 beats per minute. Even when it was bedtime, all I could hear was the fast paced, strong, reverberating sound of my heart beating: “boom, boom, boom, boom.” I thought that people with cancer, slept. I wondered, day and day, “where is my sleep?” I was so tired, yet I couldn’t find rest.
We do so much, or at least we try to do so much to heal our physical, outside bodies. We try to eat right, and exercise. We will get the latest workout program, and exercise equipment, not realizing that true health, begins in the mind and in the heart. I may have taken care of my outward physical body, but I compromised my mental health and my emotional health over the past 10 years. I allowed way too many people and things in my head, and I lost my way, my self worth, and my identity. I may have been healthy outwardly, but my soul and my mind were dying. Our minds control so much of our health and our body, and now I understand.
That morning, when I didn’t get the result I wanted, I cried. I breathed, then cried, got up, walked around, breathed, told myself to calm down, everything is going to be okay, but then the images, the memories, poured back into my mind, and I just wept.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder came knocking.
I called my mom. I tried so hard to be strong, but who else was I going to call other than my lighthouse. I was drowning in a sea terror, and I had no idea what to do. I could hear the sound of my heart breakin…again. All the little pieces just crumbling to the ground, and me trying to catch them one by one while repeating to myself over and over, “Everything is gonna be okay, Jess,” I was filled with this encompassing feeling of disappointment. And, “Oh God, it’s Kalel’s Birthday!”
After speaking to my mom, I cried and prayed. I said, “Lord, you gotta help me. Please, I’m falling apart you, got to save me!” I could feel myself, everything that I was and who I am, just slipping away, mentally. But, LOVE. “Oh Jesus, thank you for LOVE and the gift of Motherhood.” Love is Everything. The LOVE of a mother to her children became everything in those moments. Oh that precious, yet powerful force that is love, pushed me to wash my face, wipe my tears, and pull myself together for my son’s birthday. When all I wanted to do was lay in my bed and cry, I had to let it go, give it to God, and make this day great.
What is worse than getting a result that is unexpected and scary; the WAIT. The wait for doctor’s appointments, the wait for more bloodwork, and more tests. The weeks between the report, being scheduled for another scan, and a biopsy was yet another test of my faith. Despite the darkness and negative thoughts that came at me like arrows, I had to choose peace, I had to choose joy, and I had to choose Trust. After several weeks, the results came back from my biopsy. The greatest news was that it was scar tissue that had formed. The mental suffering and battle that I had to fight made me realize that I had so much work to do inside my heart and mind. The damage left behind by that tornado had to be fixed and cleaned up. I came to the conclusion that I really wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, and I have much work to do.
There was a part of myself that on August 16, 2020, left. Completely gone, disappeared, stepped back, whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t there. I knew it, I felt it. Knowing myself, I was determined to do everything possible to get it back. I needed to dig deep, dig wide, and take back what the enemy had taken from my life in all of its entirety. Every single day, I take back the territory of my heart and mind that belongs in a season of rest, safety, and security.
There are moments in life where you will be given two choices; you either lay down and die, or you fight. You fight, even if you don’t know how to or where to begin. You fight for the love of your children and loved ones, you fight for your health, you fight for your sanity, and you do not back down no matter how hard it gets.
As of today, I am 18 Months Cancer Free 🙂
August 16th, 2020 :
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will RESTORE my life again; from the depths of the Earth you will again bring me up.” Psalm 71: 20