It’s that time of year again! All of the anniversaries are quickly approaching and then passing me by in a flash. Two years ago at this time, Mike and I had just arrived in San Diego and I was scheduled to start chemo in a little over a week. During that time, we played a LOT of Tetris. Any Tetris fans out there?? In all the diagnosis chaos, it was the only thing that made sense. Just a few weeks earlier, I had discovered a mass right above my right collar bone. It didn’t hurt, which was concerning in and of itself. It did, however, cause all manner of issues on my right side. I was in more muscle and nerve pain than I could manage, let alone fix. No matter the amount of yoga, stretching, massages, BioFreeze, etc. for months and months prior to the mass actually showing up, the pain would not budge.
So, we played Tetris. And I mean for HOURS at a time. I have a major competitive streak, so when Mike beat my fastest time by milliseconds, I hit the Roku hard—so hard that my hands were actually cramped around the controller! Like I said, nothing else made sense. Nothing else fit with my understanding of the world as I was awaiting test results, going in for a needle biopsy, and ultimately waiting even more.
Almost every time that someone learns that I had cancer, they ask what my symptoms were before I was diagnosed. Their eyes light up and they lean in closer waiting to hear me list off the very common and “normal” symptoms that I was experiencing. The more I’ve seen this happen, the more I think that everyone is so scared of getting cancer themselves that they want to know all the details so that they can line them up against their own experiences and gain some sort of peace of mind or validation for their own worry and panic. My symptoms don’t help anyone gain peace of mind. I have a history of chronic parasites. Yes, chronic!!! “Brutus” (AKA giardia) wasn’t discovered until he had been living in my poor intestines for over ten years. Yes, TEN YEARS! I had been told many times that I just had IBS or I had food allergies or whatever. Little did they know, I had a very intense parasite gaining strength, stealing my nutrients, and leaving my immune system exhausted. This is one of the huge reasons that I’m so passionate about gut health. This is the reason that I truly believe that gut health is cancer prevention—it’s actually prevention for all kinds of things!
Anyway, Brutus wore my system out and once he was gone, the cancer that had been growing for who knows how long took over. I had known that something was wrong with me…something was very wrong. I actually remember watching a movie called A Little Bit of Heaven. Kate Hudson is in it and she is this super vibrant, fun, charismatic woman. She eventually gets sick and is diagnosed with cancer (don’t worry, that’s nothing you wouldn’t see in the trailer!). I remember watching that movie a couple years before my own diagnosis and thinking, “I look worse than she does!” Of course, even with fake movie cancer, Kate Hudson is pretty incapable of looking bad. She’s Kate Hudson, after all!! But it’s like somewhere deep down, my soul knew.
And yet, there was waiting. There always is. Our ability to wait well will, surely, keep us sane if we master the art of it. We have to learn how to sit in the discomfort and embrace it—not wish it away or distract it away. Though, distractions can be EXTREMELY helpful at a time and for a time. They’re no place to live.
I recently woke up with these lyrics playing over and over again in my head…
Take courage, my heart
Stay steadfast, my soul
He’s in the waiting
He’s in the waiting
I needed that reminder—that God is in the waiting.
Our waiting is so different these days—we’re awaiting a move to Spokane, Washington. We’re waiting to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl (two more days!!). I’m waiting until this babe comes out so that I can tackle my gut issues head on...again. We’re waiting and wondering where we’ll live. Many of you are waiting, too. No matter if you’re waiting for things with joyful anticipation or with doom and dread, you’re waiting and it’s hard. I’m with you.
As this new season is starting and there are exciting or scary or anxiety-inducing things on the horizon, my wish for you is that you would find yourself learning how to wait well. Breathe. Journal. Read a book. Write a list of things you’re thankful for. Cultivate gratitude for the way that today’s worries are going to resolve (even if you can’t imagine how just quite yet). And take courage. He’s in the waiting…with you…with me. Don’t forget to look.
Happy New Year!!