July 8, 2019

Hey mom, did you want to have cancer?

Layla has been making a lot of comments about my cancer recently. She must be processing through everything again. Which makes sense since this time last year I was recovering from surgery and gearing up for chemo. Comparing where we were last year to this year kind of hits you in another way.

Layla asked me when I was tucking her into bed, “Hey, mom, did you want to have cancer?”

The answer to that question is both no and yes. No way did I want to go through the hell of cancer because who could ever want that?!? Yet, the story I choose to tell myself is that before I came to earth I did agree to cancer because I knew it would grow me. Cancer has broken me down yet built me up in a new way. So, yes, in a sense I did want it.

She followed up with “But did you want your cancer party? Because I didn’t want you to have cancer, but I did want you to have your cancer burn party.”

Ha! It sounds like that cancer burn party was a highlight in both of our lives. Definitely one of the best nights of my life!

Layla wouldn’t share a drink with me the other day because “you had breast cancer.” Which led to a conversation about contagiousness.

And one night she told me how worried she and Perry were that I was going to die from my surgery and chemo. I’m so glad she is opening up about this stuff.

Because the fact of the matter is we are all still healing and processing the events of last year. It shook our whole family up in lots of different ways. And continues to effect our day to day.

I know I’ve written on here before how much cancer has effected me emotionally and mentally as well as physically. My physical body has actually been healing faster than my emotional and mental self. But I’ve also noticed that somewhere along the way cancer shook me up spiritually as well. I don’t necessarily think that it was cancer in and of itself, but cancer has been the straw that broke the camels back per se. Sometimes we carry around so much and it gets piled on gradually over time so we don’t even realize the weight we are bearing and then something happens and we collapse. Maybe or maybe not I would’ve been fine if it was just cancer, but there are multiple extra things going on in my life this last year, and many years before that, that are shareable and obvious (like a child with special needs) and some that are not shareable (too personal or involve others so not my place to share) that combined have broken me down to my core.

Once I realized how broken I felt I had to dig deep and figure out how to start pulling myself up and healing again. I started seeing a counselor, I stepped back from some things in my life, I’ve relied on just a few people and had more discussions about my feelings than ever before. 

I am peeling everything back and asking questions of myself to remember who I am and what I choose to believe and how I choose to live my life. I think this is a process that is good for everyone to go through every once in awhile. And it’s definitely a big process that takes time, honesty, humility, and lots of questions and reflection. 

At the center of building myself back up has been to define my values. To sit down with pen and paper and really think about what it is that I (me: Laura—not what anyone else says) value. With those values defined it is helping me to make decisions about how to spend my time, what I want to do with my life, and what I choose to believe.

If this is a process that has a beginning and an end (I’m not sure yet if it is like that), I am facing the right direction and taking steps that help me feel like I am well on my way, but I’m definitely not near the end yet. With time, deliberateness, and a little bit of faith I do know that I will get to where I want to be—stronger in my beliefs and knowing who I am and who I want to be.