What To Do Now

It began two years ago on Christmas Eve. It ended 10 days ago on Dec. 5th 2016. I found the lump on Christmas Eve and heard the words, “You have cancer” on New Years Eve of 2014. Treatment ended in October of 2015. Unilateral Mastectomy, four months of chemo, one stint in the hospital half way through and six and a half weeks of radiation 2.5 hours from home which meant that I was gone 5 days a week from my family and home on weekends for 6 weeks. Of course this was just the health side of things and as we all know life doesn’t stop happening just because you are sick. We had a whole host of other things going on in our lives that could not just take a back seat while I tried to get well.

As 2016 began to come into view everyone kept saying, “2016 is your year!” I so wanted to believe them and wanted more than anything to feel like 2016 was going to begin with clean slate. Overall this year hasn’t been a bad one but the truth is that there was a lot of hold over from 2015. Just because treatment stops it doesn’t mean that your cancer adventure is over and when its not over you feel like you are constantly starting and stopping life. Just as you begin to jump back in to a “normal” routine, something else pops up that throws everything off kilter again and you have to start over. I did train for and run a 1/2 marathon in May. I had another unilateral mastectomy in June which took a bigger toll on my body than I was expecting and I finally had my reconstruction surgery on Dec. 5. It’s only been 10 days so the swelling and soreness are still here and its another 5 weeks before I can begin to exercise again but I am beginning to look ahead to 2017 and realizing that this year feels different. I have no planned surgeries and all the other issues that we have been dealing with for the past year and a half have also come to a close.

I truly feel like I am beginning this year with a clean slate. I know that there will still be challenges and hard things that happen, but this year I am not bringing anything in that will be added to whatever else is going to take place. I am reading a book right now called, I Am, by Michelle Cushatt. Michele also had cancer but it was very different from mine and she had it three times. Her suffering was much greater than mine and what she lost physically was much more painful and devastating than anything that I have walked through. I came across these words the other day in her book and they describe exactly how I am feeling right now because even though our trials have been different, emotionally anyone who suffers feels this way at some point on the road back to life.

“This happens to us all at some point. A crisis hits like a storm. Divorce. Death. Loss. Our stories differ, but the fallout is the same: we lose sight of who we are. We become unrecognizable. And so we struggle to regain our footing, to find our place, to feel secure in who we are.
But no matter how we grab for a sense of significance, it remains out of reach. We’re not sure who we are anymore, and we haven’t a clue where to find the answer.”

These words make me want to jump up and shout, “Yes!” at the top of my lungs. She nailed it. Not just for me but for everyone who has ever suffered anything… all of us. The words don’t change anything but they make me feel more normal and less alone. I was at the dentist office the other day and the girl who was cleaning my teeth mentioned that it has been 5 years since one of her friends was diagnosed with breast cancer and she just now is coming out of her shell and beginning to resemble who she was before all of this began. I can’t tell you how many people have said to me in the last few years that they see me smile but its not the same smile as before. Yes there is a smile but its guarded, unsure and always holding something back. These are hard words to hear but its true. I am looking forward to 2017 because I am wanting to find that “answer,” to regain my sense of significance and to leap with abandon into my new life. I want to let it all go and just live.

What are you looking forward to the most for 2017?

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  1. Thank you for sharing your journey and your hopes for 2017 with us!

  2. Thank you Kelly for being so encouraging and for helping me as I try and improve this writing adventure that I am on. I really appreciate you.

  3. Brittany Raschdorf says

    Wonderful post! I hope 2017 truly is ‘your year’ and that the joy you find in ‘letting go and just living’ will show you exactly what you are searching for. Your story can help so many – thank you for sharing your heart with the world.

  4. Oh man Tiff, those words are so true, and like you, I want to shout “YES” with you. What a year it has been. So often the past year I have been reminded that even when we think our life is all planned out, sometimes God has other plans for us. Here’s to an awesome 2017 and bigger opportunities to “be a light” for all of us! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • None of us are immune are we sweet Cyndi? I have been thinking of you a lot and how so very different this Christmas looked than last Christmas. I am so very proud of you and honored to be your friend. I am contending for a great year for both of us!!❤️❤️

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