• denise tam

The Cancer Journey : Living Today

Reposted from denisetam.webs.com January 3, 2012

It gets harder and harder each time I hear bad news about my health. Unfortunately, in recent years it has been more frequent than I would have liked.


These past two weeks has come and gone like a summer breeze - soothing to the soul, comforting to the heart and refreshing to the mind. My one month term is up and I am due for a scan tomorrow (Wed 4th, 10am). I don't want the two weeks of ‘summer’ days to end, I don't want to feel the sharp bite of the winter storm that I feel the forecast has in store for me. But I know I don't control the weather or what happens in my life. Only God can make the sun come out, only He can order rain to fall (even the Chinese government had gotten it wrong and had miscalculated a cold front. So instead of rain they had managed to create a snow storm in November, completing ruining the farmers' crops that they were trying to save in the first place).


I had originally chosen to look upon this scan with pessimism (a way of thought that is typically quite foreign to me). Perhaps the pessimism is my way of protecting my heart from disappointment or perhaps my body just knows and is trying to tell me something. I’m fearful of the disappointments, of falling into depression again, of the crossroads of tough life or death decisions. Still I know there's a God in heaven that already knows, and He has asked me to lay these fears at His feet because being pessimistic doesn't replace the disappointments, it doesn't take away the fear of the future, it doesn’t do anything but offer a false sense of joy and hope when things turn out better than you had programmed yourself to believe.


Instead I'm praying for spiritual protection. I want to be prepared for the worst (different from being pessimistic), knowing that life and especially this particular battle will bring with it huge trials and intense disappointments. This is where the innate planner in me comes in handy :-)


But mostly it's because I don't ever want to return to the deep abyss I lived in for two weeks. Gone were the days of unspeakable joy and perfect peace. Along the way my protection had worn down and God's powerful presence was replaced with the devil's terrifying schemes.

One Saturday afternoon I found myself alone in my room completely consumed by grief. I told myself I didn't want to do this anymore- life that is. I've enjoyed every good and not so good moment in my life and have lived well. I may never get to have my own family but perhaps that's not even in the books for me, so why go through with anymore of this. I may as well free myself and others of this burden. These horrendous thoughts filled my entire being and through the tears and with great fear I felt a presence that lingered with me- it was the devil. I felt him in the same way I could feel God’s presence some times. He had permeated my thoughts and that was more than enough for him to control my body. I knew I needed to pray, but I hadn’t prayed to God for days and I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. So I just prayed three words: “God, help me.” It was just moments later that Mandy, a dear friend, rang me. We had seen each other just hours before at an event we helped organize and so she really wouldn’t have had any reason to call and check up on me, but she did. Now a day, phone calls are rare while texting seems to be the more polite way of conversing. Mandy and I have had multiple hour long conversations through texting yet she decided to find my name through her phone book and press call. I typically don’t like picking up the phone when I’m crying, there wouldn’t be any point in that anyways as I wouldn’t be able to speak much, but God sent someone I felt comfortable enough to remain silent with over the phone. Mandy stayed on the phone with me and talked me back into sanity. I wasn’t alone with the devil after all. God was there with me and through my pathetic three worded prayer He heard me and He fought for me.

I hope you won’t be offended by the thoughts I had, they weren’t my thoughts. I’ve always loved life, every single part of it. The highs of course, but even in the lows I could manage to pull out some sort of lesson that would make me better, stronger, and wiser. I love everything about life, the sunrises, the sunsets, new born babies, gelato on a hot summer day, hot cocoa by a crackling fireplace, discovering new restaurants that make it to my favorites list, and in particular the many multi-faceted relationships that we have on earth. I love the challenges and the sacrificial love in relationships with family, I love the unbreakable bonds with childhood friends even though life has taken you in different directions, I love first encounters with strangers that sometimes turn into friendships and sometimes remains just that, a moment in time where words (hopefully kind) were exchanged between two people, I love watching new friendships grow and blossom, I love more intimate relationships where you really learn what it means to love a person and where vulnerability is required. My list can go on, but I think you get the point.


Since the 2009 diagnosis I have come to enjoy and appreciate life even more. Cancer can do that to you but it was really the purpose that God gave me in life that really hit it home. And so these past two weeks of living, truly living, I’ve also come to realize the importance of living in the present. Oddly enough, I had become obsessed with the future - when I can say I’m cancer free and by medical standards when I’m in the safe zone, when I can begin to live out my dreams. I had once again completely missed the mark. God has given me breath each day to live out that day for Him. Each day I have breath it’s His way of telling me He still wants to prune me and mold me, but I have to allow it and be open to it. I don’t want to waste this time or as John Piper puts it, I don’t want to waste my cancer. God has great plans for my future, I truly believe that, but His plans also include the here and now. And so this is an on-going prayer to really embrace each day with or without cancer to its fullest yet have hope for my future.

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