Your Evolving Relationship with God after Cancer

Is anyone else a little envious of people who no matter what happens to them they just say, “Oh, I trust God.”   I am.  I really have to work on trust.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.   It used to, but cancer changed  it.  And often during cancer treatment, I would feel angry when people would throw rather flip easy God answers toward me.  I’m not telling you anything God doesn’t already know!   There are no easy answers when people are struggling with major life crises.

Now I know I am not alone as I get many emails from women battling breast cancer  who tell me their relationship with God is different.  They struggle more or they find more solace or they have a mini-miracle happen or they can’t feel God’s presence at all.

HC-ad

Never did I feel like God abandoned me.  Always, I felt His presence during treatment especially through my medical professionals, family and friends that did so much for me.  But cancer changes things.   Pre-cancer I could sit and meditate and listen to that “still small voice” for a very long time.   During cancer treatment and even now, it is very hard for me to listen as I can never get my mind quiet enough.    I can’t hear like I used to hear.  I need spiritual hearing aids!

Speaking of hearing aids, I have been helping my almost 80-year-old, very active mom adjust to hearing aids and have learned some valuable lessons.  1)  You have to have the right hearing aids for you which can take testing and trying out 2 or 3 different types of hearing aids before you find the right ones.  2) You have to follow directions from the audiologist.  3)  It takes time to adjust.   4)  Once you have adjusted,  you can hear more clearly and life is so much better and vibrant!

I am applying these lessons for my new spiritual hearing aids with God.  I write from a Christian perspective as I practice my faith as a Roman Catholic.   Hopefully, my lessons will help you no matter how you might be struggling.

1)  Find the right aids for you – that could be quiet time,  a cancer support group, a visit to a counselor or therapist, or finding someone who has been down Cancer Road to help direct your path.  If you are not dealing with cancer but some other major life challenge, seek out the new – perhaps a Bible study, a new group of like-minded individuals, a new craft or hobby or a support group for whatever you are suffering.

2) Follow directions from whatever aid you decide.  This is definitely not easy.  But often others can see what you cannot see.  Make sure you absolutely trust those giving you direction.

3)  Give your evolved relationship with God time and most importantly, give yourself time to adjust to your new life.   This can take years not months.  Be patient with yourself.  I hear from women who feel so alone after cancer treatment because once they are done with Chemo, everyone expects them to be back to their old self.  You will never be back to your old self.  You have changed dramatically.   Honor the changes in yourself and value the lessons you have been taught.

4)  Adjustment happens as you cooperate with the process and with the new God has in store for you.   One of my favorite scriptures talks about the Lord giving us “double for our trouble”.  I believe it, and I am declaring it to you!   Zechariah 9:12  Return to a fortress,O prisoners of hope;  This very day, I announce I am restoring double to you.

My new lessons are beginning to bear fruit on my tree of life.  Well, maybe not fruit yet, but at least I can now see many buds where before everything looked so barren.   There is hope…cling to it.

 

Hello Courage, my new online store

LogoFBTM

I am proud to introduce “Hello Courage™” my new online store for everyone especially breast cancer patients and survivors!   My goal is to continue to bring realistic awareness about the challenges of breast cancer as I have done with my Blog.  You can log into my store through my blog, at www.hellocourage.com  or click the logo in this post!  It is a secure shop run by Shopify, so no worries and it accepts all major credit cards and PayPal.   Opening special – FREE SHIPPING on all orders to USA and for Blog Readers only:  20% off all purchases – use Discount Code:   BLOG   at checkout.    Currently, I ship internationally to Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and United Kingdom.

My shop is dedicated to all of you – all of my Blog Readers have given me so much courage and hope!

Designing my own store was a logical transition especially because I spent hours upon hours of research to find items for myself during Mastectomy, Chemo, Radiation and  ongoing Lymphedema.  For years I’ve been an ebay and Amazon seller with 100% positive feedback, so I have had a lot of practice!

The logo came to me in a flash one day as I realized a pink ribbon was only the beginning.  The rest of the journey was about COURAGE.  I have items that have my logo on them – T Shirts, Tote Bags and Note Cards to bring awareness and courage to everyone.   I will be expanding my greeting card line because so often friends and family have no idea what to say to cancer patients.  I now know what cancer patients need to hear!  Also, I have jewelry that everyone will love, cute and different Chemo Caps, Inspirational Items, and some practical items for undergoing breast surgery.

And all kinds of Chemo Caps – here are a few:

CH-collage

I sure hope you like www.hellocourage.com    A portion of all sales go toward donating chemo caps to women who have no means to purchase them.

And a health update – I just had another 3 month checkup by not one but three Oncologists!  This is the benefit of being a patient in a University setting!   All of them said, “You are doing well.”  Praise God!

Love, courage and hope to all,     Denise

Cancer Survivorship – What Does It Mean?

It was time for our annual 4th of July family gathering to celebrate the 17th birthday of my nephew, Tyler.  His father, my former brother-in-law, is a 35 year survivor of Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I’ve written about Trent before as his life is inspiring.  He was not expected to live, and when he did live, he was told he would never have any children because of the strong chemo drugs he went through in the late 1970s.  The drugs Trent had to endure are no longer used.  These drugs were used for torture during World War I.  Plus, Trent had no anti-nausea drugs like we are so fortunate enough to receive now.

As Trent and I stood talking, my nephew who resembles his dad in so many ways, walks up and immediately with a smile says, “cancer talk” as he could tell  by our demeanor what Trent and I were discussing.   It is a secret language when cancer survivors get together.  Last time Trent and I had a deep discussion, I was still in patient status.  Now I graduated to his level and better understand his cancer survivorship talk.  If you are a cancer patient, be encouraged about the lessons you are learning through the great suffering.  If you are a cancer survivor, you will understand.  If, thankfully, you have not had to endure cancer, life can teach you these lessons in a myriad of ways.  But try to go the easy route and learn them on your own so some severe disease doesn’t have to be the teacher.

Trent says that quite frequently people ask him why he is always so happy.  He then shares with them that he has won the lottery twice in his life – being a cancer survivor and having the son he was told he would never have.   Immediately, Trent launches into how you hear some people saying things like “the worst day on the golf course is better than the best day at work” and complaining about every little thing in their lives.  Trent and I then discussed how we try not to judge others, but feel like we have discovered the secret to living knowing that we were so close to death.  “It is all about your attitude,” Trent shares, “and don’t get caught up in the little things that don’t matter.”

I had this Subway Solid Wood Sign designed with important words that I believe it takes to go from Cancer Patient to thriving Cancer Survivor.  Free Shipping to Continental USA – take a look at my store www.hellocourage.com   or click on the Sign Picture for more information!

Survivor Sign Black

I recently read this article by Dr. Lissa Rankin entitled “10 things I learned from people who survived cancer.”    There are many truths to her writings.  However, we all know cancer patients who really wanted to live, but didn’t –my own father being one of them.  My dad died only 3 months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  God only knows the answer to that much bigger mystery.   But I share Dr. Rankin’s article, because Trent and I determined there is so much truth in all of the things she writes in this article

As a physician who interviewed women who had survived breast cancer. . . and who studied patients who experienced spontaneous remissions from cancer as part of the research for my book. . .I discovered that those who had overcome cancer shared one remarkable thing in common. They had all faced death and made a conscious decision to live every day like it might be their last.

The more interviews I did, the more I noticed that these people were living differently than most of the people I knew who had not been diagnosed with cancer. Curious what I learned?

Here’s what these courageous people taught me about how to live.

1. Be unapologetically YOU.

People who survive cancer tend to get feisty. They walk around bald in shopping malls and roll their eyes if people look at them funny. They say what they think. They laugh often. They don’t make excuses. They wear purple muumuus when they want to.

2. Don’t take crap from people. 

People who survive cancer stop trying to please everybody. They give up caring what everybody else thinks. If you might die in a year anyway (and every single one of us could), who gives a flip if your Great Aunt Gertrude is going to cut you out of her will unless you sell out your authenticity to stay in her good graces?

3. Learn to say no.

People with cancer say no when they don’t feel like going to the gala. They avoid gatherings when they’d prefer to be alone. They don’t let themselves get pressured into doing things they really don’t want to do.

4. Get angry. Then get over it.

People who survive cancer get in your face. They question you. They feel their anger. They refuse to be doormats.  They demand respect. They feel it. Then they forgive. They let go. They surrender. They don’t stay upset. They release resentment. But they don’t stuff their feelings.

5. Don’t obsess about beauty.

People who survive cancer no longer worry about whether they have perfect hair, whether their makeup looks spotless, or whether their boobs are perky enough. They’re happy just to have boobs (if they still do). They’re happy to be alive in their skin, even if it’s wrinkled.

6. Do it now. 

Stop deferring happiness. People who survive cancer realize that you can’t wait until you kick the bucket to do what you’re dying to do. Quit that soul-sucking job now. . . Prioritize joy. Live like you mean it—NOW.

7. Say “I love you” often. 

People who survive cancer leave no words left unspoken. You never know when your time is up. Don’t risk having someone you love not know it.

8. Take care of your body.

People who survive cancer have a whole new appreciation for health. Those who haven’t been there may take it for granted. So stop smoking. Eat healthy. Drink in moderation. Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid toxic poisons. Get enough sleep. Above all else, prioritize self care.

9. Prioritize freedom and live like you mean it.

People who survive cancer know that being a workaholic isn’t the answer. Money can’t buy health. Security doesn’t matter if you’re six feet under. Sixteen hours a day of being a stress monster is only going to make you sick. . .

10.  Take risks.

People who survive cancer have faced their fears and gotten to the other side.  They know life is for living because they almost lost it. True aliveness and in taking risks. So go sky diving if you want. Bungee jump. Hang glide. Spend your savings.  Live like you might die tomorrow.

Are you doing these things? Or are you waiting for a life threatening diagnosis to test out how much you want to live?