Friday’s Fave Five Ponderings Upon My 20-Yr. Cancer Anniversary

friday_fave_five_tamara-small It’s that time again! And this Friday, I thought I’d do something a tad different. Yesterday I had my annual cancer checkup and this year it will be 20 years cancer-free after being diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 1989 at the ripe old age of 39. Obviously cancer has been on my mind a lot this week so my “ponderings” are going to be centered around what I’ve learned over this 20-year journey as a cancer survivor. By the way, my checkup went well, Praise God!

1. Why does the sky look bluer when you receive a potentially life-threatening diagnosis? I remember this as though it were yesterday. When the doctor told me I had breast cancer, I turned and looked out his window and thought to myself, “Isn’t that strange? I’ve never seen the sky look so blue?” Was it a sudden heightening of the senses during a rush of perceived danger? Was it a flash of insight into what I’d been taking for granted? I only know it was incredibly blue that day.

2. Most people have no idea what a gift it is to be able to walk when you want, where you want. I was in the hospital for several weeks back then. I remember many times walking to the window of my room and just watching people walking across the hospital grounds. I’d watch them coming and going and think to myself, “Do you have any idea how blessed you are to be able to just come and go as you please? Do you have any idea how much I wish I could just put on my clothes and go walk out into that sunshine?” They’d scurry about, never once looking up to see my face in the window….no one knowing that they were being watched. Their freedom was intoxicating and out of reach.

3. Hug medicine is very powerful and it’s free. As part of my recovery, I determined that I would not be shy about asking friends and family for hugs. It’s amazing how a hug can make you feel better. My children were great hug givers when I’d say “Mom needs some hug medicine.” Sadly, there were people back then that were actually afraid that they could get cancer from touching me. I can remember being at a social gathering with a young mother. She had a baby there and the baby was making the rounds of our friends….everyone taking turns holding the tyke and cooing over it. When the baby made it’s way to me and I was reaching out for her, the mother came dashing across the room and snatched the child out of my hands. The awkward silence that followed was broken by the mother’s hurried comment that the baby needed to take a nap. Friends, you can’t “catch” cancer. Human touch is a powerful thing. People who have been diagnosed with cancer need that touch of a friend. Don’t be stingy with your hugs.

4. What is it about humor that just makes things easier to bear? I tried to laugh as much as possible during my recovery and my chemotherapy. I had a dear friend who actually went with me for one chemo session and we laughed like fools as the chemicals dripped into my vein. She made that day go super fast. My 6-year-old son wanted to know how I got a “turtle on my chest” when I returned from the hospital. I had to laugh. He’d heard people talking about the tumor in my breast and somehow it had evolved into a turtle. My girlfriends and I went on fun excursions. My family watched funny movies and TV shows and we laughed and laughed. I cried my share of tears but the laughter was much more productive.

5. Why does God heal some people and not others? How do you answer this? I know that I’ve seen really good people with strong faith die and I’ve seen really crummy people live. Ultimately, I don’t have any good answer. I can only tell you what I’ve learned. When we go through something bad and survive it OR when someone we love goes through something bad and doesn’t survive it, we need to take that experience and use the things we’ve learned from it to help others who will cross our paths who are going through similar situations. We don’t even have to actively look for these people. God just has a way of bringing us into contact with them. I believe that things do happen for a reason and to go through something and NOT learn from it is a great tragedy.

To read what others’ Fave Five things this Friday, visit Susanne’s site and enjoy their comments.


15 Responses

  1. What a WONDERFUL FFF post! Congrats on your great health news! This post should inspire so many folks! My dear friend is on her 18th year of being cancer free (also breast cancer–also very young when found–but thank goodness it was found and treated!). She had lots of loving friends and family to support her–lots of “hug therapy” and lots of laughs to keeps spirits up.

    Happy FFF and happy Valentine’s Day! Dana

  2. Wow, now these are such meaningful favorites to ponder. I’m so glad for your survival. It is good to hear. There are so many things we won’t be able to figure out this side of heaven and then when we get there I don’t know if we’ll care to find out. Blessings on many, many, more cancer free years!!

  3. I agree 100% with all of your points. Although I myself have not experienced a life threatening illness, I saw my father face brain cancer and I know these things are true. Music seems to help as well.

  4. I am deeply touched by this post. Thank you for your openness in giving encouragement to others who may be going through major illnesses.

    Congratulations on your 20 yr cancer free anniversary!

  5. Wow, 20 years cancer free! That is definitely something to celebrate. Thanks for sharing this fave five!

  6. Beautiful post. Congratulations on reaching this significant cancer-free anniversary!

  7. Thank YOU for coming up with the idea of the Fave Five. I so enjoy thinking back over my week and writing these.


  8. Thank you. Every day cancer-free is a cause to celebrate. God’s been good.


  9. Thank you so much. If it just helps one person going through similar circumstances, I’ll be thrilled.


  10. Oh, yes. Music is a wonderful therapy for anyone facing an illness. It can soothe and invigorate. (Although I wouldn’t recommend hard rock or any of that angry-sounding stuff……not my cup of tea.) Is your father still living?


  11. Thanks so much, Ellen. You’re right. Once we get to Heaven, I don’t think we’ll even remember what we had questions on.


  12. Thank you so much, Dana. Give your friend a big hug from me.


  13. Yay for a good doctor report! And Praise God for 20 years cancer free!

    This was a wonderful post….thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  14. Thank you, Karyn. We’re truly rejoicing here.

  15. Congratulations Dee!! That is a great anniversary. I sure enjoy your blog. I send a hug to you through cyberspace–not the same so ask George for an extra hug–from me! Kris

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