About Me...

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In a nut shell : I'm a wife, a full time working mom, a teacher, a Star Wars geek, comic book nerd, Disney enthusiast, hockey Mom, a decade long breast cancer survivor, and oh let's not forget such a happy, sassy, southern mess!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Two Faces of Cancer


The Two Faces of Breast Cancer



I have lived and loved. I have succeeded and failed. I have laughed and I have wept. I have hoped and I have felt fear tear it away. I have touched grace and I have laid in anguish. I have held faith close to my heart and I have struggled to find mercy for my soul. My eyes have seen beauty and my ears have heard the pain of cancer’s cries.





What does that make me, a survivor? Am I weak or am I strong? Is there glory in living to tell the tale? What about the sorrow? What about the dark times, do we forget about how they tear at us? What do we do with the dark seeker’s chains? Water or rain, freedom or life, how do we take one without the other?


What darkness hides within us when cancer comes to call? How do we suffer the scars, the pain and the sorrow of cancer without losing our sanity? How do we stand tall, hold our hearts together? How do we keep our souls from scattering? Where is the turn around when breast cancer steers you down her road of uncertainty?


Don’t we all stumble? Don’t we all fall? How do we deal with life when cancer has your back up against the wall? How do we do whatever we need to do, become whatever the ones we love need us to be? How do we carry the load even while our arms sting and our legs bend under the strain of the weight? How do we direct all the drama that is all around us?


Living day to day with this beast do we find there is a subtle kinship that develops with hope, but also with fear? In this struggle there is an all-consuming fire that burns deep. Rich or poor cancer strikes without notice. It’s as if Breast Cancer rides in on the back of a snarling, clawing beast with the Reaper right behind lurking within striking distance. Life changes and suddenly you are on a stage grasping for your lines. You see the curtain calling and you pray that you can just remember to breathe.


How do you keep believing? How do you stay brave, keeping courage alive within your spirit? How do you subdue your fright and longing to live as if you hadn’t a care in the world? How do you smile when you are desperate to dance as if you were still Cinderella? How do you look at your image in the mirror and see the rags of your life, the loss of your hair, the scar across your chest and the missing breast that the beast ripped from your body? Where has your life gone? Do you go to the ball? Do you weep? Do you allow despair to move through your heart? Do you fall over with the weight of this burden? Absolutely! You just let go and forget about being brave for just a little while.Does it change everything? Yes. Does it make you weak, small and insignificant? No, it makes you human!


THIS is your dark place. THIS is the side of you that is hidden, kept far away in the well of guarded emotions. THIS is the part of the Act that is kept behind the curtains, the part that you want no one to see. THIS is the fear, the pain and yes, THIS is the darkest part of your story. THIS is the part of you that feels the sorrow, the pain, the loss and the fear of this brutal attack. THIS is the part of you that cries in the shower when no one but you can hear. THIS is the part of you that remains alone, quietly sick in another room. THIS is the part of you that screams silently inside when your fingers feel as if each one is breaking. THIS is the part of you that crumbles and questions all the hows and whys of your cancer. THIS is the part of you that feels like exhibit ‘A’ and cries out to leave it all behind! And THIS is the part of you that wants to pour your heart out where everyone else fears to tread. Yet still you choose to break those chains, to step out every day with confidence and courage.


It’s hard to shine when you are on shaky ground, but still, you somehow find the strength to be strong and stand in awe of the life that you have been given. Yes, you still worry when the night falls, but then you see the moon shining, pouring her light down upon you. Even though the sun has set, you feel the breath of life filling your soul and the warmth of the Son within your heart.


Strength is not the absence of fear, but instead the acknowledgement of fear itself. I may stand with just a small dagger, my armor may be worn through and I may tremble where I stand but as night fades I can see the dawn of the morning rising! Let it be said that we were strong, undefeated and hopeful. Let it be known that no matter the struggle, no matter the ferocity of the beast we stood our ground. It is true that we walk by faith even though we are standing on the edge of a raging river. Maybe we can’t see straight as we are dancing on the edge, but the possibility of forever challenges us to break away. Breast Cancer is the invisible road of the unknown, yet we keep walking, don’t we? What more do we have to fear? We are walking by faith with hope. We just have to listen to our hearts and to the still small voice that urges us to rise up even in our weariness.

Yes, you may have two faces. You may see the darkness within, but it is the choice to walk in the light that keeps you from those chains. It is the courage to still go to the ball, to be unshakable, to be unbreakable even when you are fragile. Absolutely, you have changed, and yes you have lost parts of who you thought you were. Yet, you are still dancing, you are still standing upon this stage of life and you are still fighting! This is the face you show to the world, the voice that says ‘Hear I am’! The part of you that stands defiant, the face that dares life, shouts to this Breast Cancer not to tread on you! Standing here, you hear the echo of fear, see your reflection in the mirror and finally feel her chains untangle you. Sweet release, water withrain, life with freedom, cancer and remission-- these are the two faces of Cancer…

Christina






Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hope

Hope

What is Hope? Is it just a front, a way of coping, encouraging yourself when there is nothing else to say or do? Is hope just a catchy a way of patting a friend on the back? Is Hope a silly idea or just a word we use to rally support for a cause? No, Hope is more than that, stronger than that! Hope is a living part of us, hope is the air we breath, the water we drink and the light we embrace each day with!



Hope is life, and it is how we live our lives. Hope lives in our laughter and in our tears. Hope picks us up when we fail and stands by us when we succeed. Hope is present when we fall and when we rise. Hope does not die, no hope re-invents itself in the legacy we leave behind. Hope is not always patient, yet hope does continue to inspire us, pushing us forward. Hope reminds us of why we are grateful. Hope does not concede defeat yet hope knows when to graciously bow out of conflict. Hope whispers in our ears to be thankful not just for what we have but also for what we do not have.



Hope is ingrained into our soul, written across our heart and a constant beautiful companion to our spirit. Hope is why we dream and why we fight. Hope is both apart of death and of life. Hope is present in both our joy and our grief. Hope carries us when we are to weak to walk. Hope speaks for us when we are overcome by pain. Hope is how we live in spite of our fear. Hope is the light that paves our way in the darkness. Hope is everywhere and in everything. No, hope is much more than just a word or an idea whose time has gone. No, Hope is our CONSTANT.



Christina


Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Family

For All My J Land Family....


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cancer Scars

The Scars of Cancer...

We all have scars physical and emotional. Most of us we tend to hide them away from the sight of others and usually we do a good job of it too . It doesn't matter how big or small they may be, we simply don't want the world to see our imperfections. We don't want to appear to be weak, emotional or unable to carry the world on our shoulders. So we cover our scars up fearful of what the world may think of us. This is the fight I have fought and the battlefront I have lived upon for the last 2 years.

I have been forthright when needed and I have allowed my heart to be broken openly. I have done my best to be as open and honest as possible with my friends and family. But I have also hidden my deepest fears away so as not to burden or scare those that cannot handle the thought of what lies beneath the surface. I have kept myself from being overly exposed keeping this part of my heart, my soul and my body closed to all but a select few. As I have traveled this path, and believe me there are many different paths that one can travel, I have formed many dear friendships. I have come to know many women who are still fighting and sadly many who have lost their fight with this cancer. Some have been completely open and others have been more private with their struggles. But the truth is they all have had to live and yes die with the scars.

This point was never as clear to me as it was as I was sitting in my oncologist office waiting for my check up. I was early and they were running late so I was left with a great amount of time on my hands. I looked all around me and I thought about how blessed I was not to be there for chemo, but for a routine remission follow up. Routine! Ha! Blood work, questions, tests a deep breath and then... all clear for now. The worry, the blessing and then the burden of another four, maybe six months till it all starts again. I found myself thinking too much on all this after I was walked back to the room to again wait. I was sitting up on the table with my new paper shirt, open to the front so she could examine my breasts. With my scars exposed I sat there and until my eyes caught sight of a book, a pictorial of breast cancer survivors. Tears began filling my eyes as I saw pictures of these brave bold women who had the courage to expose the truth of breast cancer and the scars she leaves behind. These were beautiful, loved and women comfortable with their scars. They were old, young, wives, mothers and grandmothers. They were survivors, they were heroes and they wore their scars with pride!

The truth is that the scars left behind from breast cancer are life altering, dark, and bigger than life. They are scars that go everywhere with you. They are with you when you wake up in the morning, when you shower, face the mirror, put a swimsuit on and when you go to bed every night. There are times that you want to just give up and give in. There are nights that you just want to give into the darkness, and turn your back on the sunrise. Yes, I have been there. I have felt abandoned and fearful. I have struggled with pulling myself up and out of bed. I have wanted to just forget the fight, sink deep inside my own prison and stay there indefinitely. I have dressed myself looking into the mirror at my Frankenstein breasts and truly wanted to run out of the house screaming down the road. But the truth is that those moments have strengthened me. These scars are not pretty and yes they do go deep scaring your soul as well. But that does not mean that you are a walking angry zombie. No it means that you live with cancers sting, you accept her ability to challenge your mortality but you do not allow her to crush your spirit ever!

I can say with all honesty that these scars are terrible as they are a constant reminder of your greatest moment of devastation. Yet they are also reminders of your ability to endure the beast. I have watched my body go from young, womanly and free of disease to leave me a bruised, butchered and stitched together woman that it is now. Still, I am not ashamed of my body, my fight or my scars. Looking back I would say that my scars have freed me to live, to be me and not to be afraid of being comfortable in my own skin! These scars of mine are visual reminders of my dance with the beast. I can say now that I am not ashamed of cancers furry or her claw marks across my breasts. No I am humbled to stand among all her survivors and wear her scars as a badge of honor!

Christina