We experienced our first frost last night. It is not unusual here, tucked in so close to the foothills of the Rockies as we are, to experience frost in early September. Winter is coming! We Albertans coined that phrase long before Game of Thrones ever did! The leaves are starting to turn into their vibrant colours of fall, and as much as I love and will long for summer again, Autumn in Alberta is so glorious!
Today I’m not as focused on my cancer journey, or all the woes associated with it. The lingering effects still remind me the battle is not yet won, but I’m more immersed in making long-range plans. When I battled cancer in 2001, I never thought about the “what next?” aspect of the journey. I had been so consumed with the battle itself, and I will admit, I didn’t know if I’d survive it, that when the battle was over, I had no idea what to do next. I had made no real future plans because I didn’t know if I had a future. I had come to terms with my mortality, and I was ready to go to my heavenly home if God chose to take me. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that there really was life after cancer and I was totally unprepared for it!
For many weeks after my last treatment, when my hair started to sprout again, I debated what I was to do next. I prayed for direction and God answered. My life had been on hold during the treatments, so I slowly re-entered the routines that had been established before my diagnosis. I re-engaged with caring primarily for my young children again, especially luxuriating in having the energy to play and participate in their activities. When my church asked me to help with the youth group, I eagerly jumped in and planned a “Fear Factor” games night for their Christmas social. (I love looking back at pictures from that night; most of those wonderful youth, including my daughter, are married with their own little ones now. Seeing them as precocious teens, and engaged in their lives then brings back so many memories for me. I am blessed to have many of them interact with me regularly on social media still.)
For years, I continued to work with the youth, until I was asked to serve as Children’s Minister at my church. I served in that capacity several years until I felt the Call from God to go to seminary to get my Master’s degree in Religious Education. In the midst of that, I planned my oldest daughter’s wedding in 2005. After finishing my studies, I finished writing my first book, which led to two more books to complete the “Wounded Trilogy” series. God directed me each step of the way, opening or closing doors, growing my character in the process. I hadn’t expected or planned for “life after cancer”, but I embraced it wholeheartedly! I told people I was a “thriver” not merely a “survivor ” of cancer.
It should not come as a shock to anyone who knows me, that I fully intend to re-engage in and embrace life once again when I’m done with this unexpected detour with cancer this time too.
But why wait?
In a little over six weeks, I will have finished my treatments. We are hopeful I will get the all-clear from the doctors. We have certainly prayed towards that end so I am going to remain optimistic about that outcome. As far as I know right now, my last chemo treatment will be October 7th, and I’m already planning a party for November 1st to celebrate with family and friends who have prayed and supported me through these many months. We intend to PAR-TAY!!!
I know I’ve been a bit of a recluse through treatments to ensure my immunity levels are not compromised by being exposed to viruses and the like, but I have welcomed visits from family and friends during my recovery days whenever possible. This past week I spent a laughter-filled day with a precious friend. For over thirty-five years I have relied on her in a variety of different ways as a mentor, a confidante, and an always faithful friend. She has cried with me through two miscarriages, and rejoiced with me when my rainbow babies were born. She has fed me, laughed with me, and commiserated with me through all of life’s challenges including supporting me through my two bouts with cancer. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her in my life. Thanks, Shirley, as always, for your practical wisdom and devoted friendship. ❤️
Although I know I won’t be in full wedding-planning mode until the New Year, I have already started to catch the excitement, and I find myself more and more on the wedding sites finding decor and ideas for my youngest daughter’s big day. Yesterday, the groom’s mother, Sue and I shared a picnic lunch she had prepared as a surprise for me. As we shared a meal together we talked of wedding things and how blessed we are to be able to join our two families together next year. How awesome is that? (My big prayer request is to have sprouted a full head of hair by July 2020. 😁)
I know I have two more treatments, but whenever I have a window of opportunity to spend time with my grandbabies, or go for long drives, or even take in a few days of camping before the first snow flies, I intend to take full advantage of it! I will revel in spending quality time with family and friends and enjoy the next few weeks taking in the splendour of the Autumn colours. My goal is to think as little as possible on the two battlegrounds still ahead of me, but instead dream and plan for the days, months, and years after the battle is over. Of course I know God determines my next steps regardless of what plans I might make. My life verse, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9), indicates my submission to His direction in my life. I don’t know how many days, months or years He has numbered for me to live out, but I don’t intend to waste the ones left I’ve been given.