• denise tam

The Cancer Journey : Blessings in Disguise

Reposted from denisetam.webs.com December 21, 2011 Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. As a child, Christmas was double the fun of birthdays simply because the celebration usually lasted several days to a week. Christmas lights and decorations were put up in every corner of the house and kept up for weeks on end (often time past the new year as we were too busy/lazy to take them down), and though December in Toronto is often minus 10-15 degrees celcius, the gathering of family and friends over delicious feasts gave off an instant warmth that could melt the coldest of hearts.


Since moving to Asia, Christmas has been slightly different. There hasn't been gingerbread houses that never stood up on its own, snow angels made in freshly fallen snow or the excitement of placing the angel, the finishing touch to the top of our Christmas tree.

Nonetheless the season of celebrating Jesus' birth remains just as rejoiced. In fact, I would say that without all the distractions of 'Christmas traditions' I'm able to focus on the true meaning behind this holiday season.

My Christmas gift in 2009 was the first diagnosis of my cancer. Feb 2010 before CNY I received the news of results from my first scan after all chemo treatments had been completed which showed a slight inflammation in my pelvic area but even then my oncologist said it was fine for us to adopt the wait and see approach. This December, I had received news that the cancer I had been trying to fight off naturally since May has been growing and has spread to other parts of my body.

It seems that every Christmas I've had some sort of bad news regarding my health. But as I look back upon each year, I'm able to recall the hidden blessings and that have come out of every tribulation.

I may have been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma but it was also the Christmas that I had first met my second family in Hong Kong, whom have carried me, cried with me and laughed with me through these past two years. The cancer may have returned in 2010 but it was minimal enough for me to enjoy a full year of work, friends, family, church and the list goes on. With the recent trials brought to me near the close of this year, it is hard for me to see the blessings at the moment but I do believe they exist and can only pray that they can be revealed to me in the near future.

To be honest, the past two weeks have been quite horrible. Since the results came back I had managed to fall into a depression of some sort. Those who know me well could tell you it is not a norm for me as life in general rarely phases me. Not that I've had a rough life in any way, shape or form, but I have just simply always been a joyful, positive person. This time however I had even managed to lose my appetite which had never happened before. Even during chemo on days where I felt nauseous I would still feel hungry and want to eat bread or crackers. The loss of appetite spanned over about five days where I would just have a cup of juice in the morning and snack on some fruits and vegetables during the day. I had even planned on eating something delicious on my mom's birthday but I couldn't even stomach an entire bowl of soup. I had lost all the joy I had in life and didn't want to see anyone. I felt completely alone though in my head I knew I wasn't but at that time what I felt trumped what I knew.


Usually when I'm down I find great comfort in going to God who I know can somehow bring me peace, but I couldn't even do that and found no comfort in Bible verses sent my way. It was like I truly had no purpose to live. To be completely honest, there were times where I had even thought of giving up on life (thankfully only for very brief moments).

Today I'm writing this entry with a completely new outlook. My appetite has returned though I'm still not having three square meals a day and I've become joyful again and thankful for the many blessings I had obviously overlooked when I was completely engrossed in my own self-pity. Its not that I am smiling and happy every moment of the day, but I have managed to see the beauty in life again, life that God had given to me and particularly this life that He had also planned out for me. I still struggle with fears about the future- far and near, with disappointments and in general with the cancer but they're healthy struggles, ones that I can cope with and ones that I'm learning to ultimately surrender to God. What had changed? I honestly think I just needed the time to go through the tears and fight off the disappointments but there have also been some angels sent my way that had pulled me out of the black hole. Thank you - You know who you are!


I have another two and a half weeks of intensive treatment before my scan at the beginning of January. It's been going fairly well, though I've been feeling some pain in the area where my port is since this past weekend and just this monday my doctor had to jab me four times in the chest before finding the proper location to insert the needle. I've also made some changes to my lifestyle, more nights in, and only seeing good and close friends, I've also felt a bit more tired in the past few days but that could be from the stress of getting together Christmas presents! All in all, I'm mentally, emotionally and spiritually doing much better which to me is more important than the physical. I have a very dear friend  visiting from New York on Thursday so I'm really looking forward to that as well as catching up with friends over the holidays.

 I'd like to leave you with a song that really encourages me. Liv- one of my accountability partners sent it to me in June when I found out the news of my relapse.


And on a side note:  Two of my dearest girlfriends (Carmen Ip & Andrea Cheung) will be participating in a 2 day-200miles bike ride, partly in my honor, for the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer .... if you'd like to donate/sponsor their ride you can here:

http://va12.conquercancer.ca/site/TR?pg=pfind&fr_id=1413

Wishing you a joyous and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful new year.Thank you for all the love near and far!

With love,

Denise

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