04 March 2014

Fear and loathing from the back side of 40

Birthday flowers.
Today is my birthday. 
I say that not because I want songs, or presents or recognition (although I did get all these things today) but because there was a time I wasn't sure I'd actually be here for today.
I have been trying to discover my New Normal while living with a cancer diagnosis since October. 
I remember the doctor's declaration distinctly. 
"You have leukemia."
Wait, what? 
That's cancer, right, of the blood? You can't be serious. Cancer killed my first husband and now you're telling me I have it, too? How am I ever going to tell my kids?
What went through my mind?
Fear. Fear of the unknown future. Fear that there won't BE a future.
My brain immediately starts spinning and spouting off worst-case scenarios.
I'm going to die (not anytime soon).
My hair will fall out (eh, it changed, got thinner).
I'll need a bone marrow transplant (nope, only if the Super Dangerous but Absolutely Necessary chemotherapy pills stop working).
They'll admit me to the hospital (nope).
I'm going to die (not anytime soon).

Thanksgiving came. I watched from the couch, huddled in blankets, suffering from the effects of the Super Dangerous but Absolutely Necessary chemotherapy pills as my children prepared all our traditional dishes. My mind slipping into thoughts of "What if this is my last Thanksgiving?"
Which quickly became "What if this is my last Christmas?"
And then "What if this is the last ..."
Looking back now I realize it was fear driving the bus. And here's what I figured out: If I let fear drive me around I will end up frozen. So frozen, in fact, that I'll be unable to experience what's happening right in front of me. I'll miss it. All of it. 
The thing is, if I focus on the "what if ..." I realized I will miss out on the Right Now.
So, with a little help from Isiah 41:10, I told fear to get on the bus and go. 

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

My New Normal is going to take some getting used to. But I do know that I want to be a participant in this New Normal and not a spectator. Today I got to experience my first birthday since my diagnosis and it's been my best birthday yet.  It's been complete with flowers, friends, singing phone calls, a massage, baked goodies, chocolates, laughter, and the love of my amazing family. It won't be my last. 


  1. Love you Patti! You are an amazing disciple! Enjoy every day as it comes and love on your family as you do and they love on you! You are the perfect role model!

    1. Thank you, Pam! You are pretty amazing yourself!

  2. Happy Birthday! And many many more!