what cancer taught me

The weight of life at this moment has given me two choices. 1) I can curl up in bed and quit functioning in an attempt to wait it out. or 2) I can read 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 over and over again and try really hard to live it out…

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

In my attempts to live out the “in everything give thanks” part, I have spent my days searching. We have a great home to live in. We have working vehicles. We are physically healthy. We have a great community of friends and family who stand with us. We have health insurance that pays for all of Sofija’s treatment. Sofija has a great school that can handle her behaviors less than ten minutes from our house. My almost-grown children are on really great paths in life… So many things to be thankful for!

But today is a little different. Today I don’t have to put on rose-colored glasses, or search hard, or ask God to change my perspective. Today is my cancer-free day… 🙂


June 18, 2009 I paced my kitchen and wiped up every single fingerprint and crumb I could find.  Willing the phone to ring.  Willing the phone to ring.  Why wouldn’t the phone just ring?!?!

The call I was waiting on was one of those fork in the road calls.  After two years of living with thyroid cancer, I was about to find out if my summer would be spent undergoing surgery plus more radiation and isolation, or celebrating freedom from the big “C”.  The phone finally rang and the doctor said something like, “I can’t explain it, but you’re cancer-free.”  God will always get the glory for that moment.  I was healed.  I am healed.  I am cancer-free.

Since that summer day in 2009, I have had the opportunity to share what I learned on my cancer journey with a few other people battling it themselves.  The first thing I always say to someone recently diagnosed with cancer is this… If cancer doesn’t change your life for the better, it was a waste.  Hearing that I was cancer-free was a defining moment.  Hearing that I had cancer was a refining moment.  That’s what cancer should always be.  It should refine you.  For me, the physical healing that was confirmed on June 18th was simply a reflection of the spiritual and emotional healing that had taken place over the two years between my diagnosis and that phone call.  God used cancer to clean out my junk.  He took away layer after layer of scars and wounds until I was something worthy of being used by Him.  And then He set me on fire for purpose.  I don’t want to ever again lay my head on my pillow and wonder what my purpose was for the day I just lived.  Be it parenting, loving my husband, writing, cooking dinner, or weeding my garden, I want to live a life of purpose.

Now… all that gooey life-changing for the better stuff aside.  Here are a few unexpected bits of wisdom that came with thyroid cancer.

1. radiation + sunshine = instant age spots

2. iodine is in almost everything you eat (thanks to the 3-week low-iodine diet required before my annual scans)

3. What I once thought was my highest weight… Not even close!

4. I now know the exact weight when my muffin-top appears.

5. I now know the exact weight when my bought and paid for chest is a size bigger than I bought and paid for…. And two sizes bigger.

6. Without synthroid it is actually possible to gain a pound a day while eating absolutely nothing.

7. The rut left in your neck when your thyroid is removed can actually help disguise all the weight gain mentioned above.

8. Every dentist office has a thyroid guard that can be used to protect your thyroid during x-rays.  Yet…not a single dentist I know of actually asks if you would like them to use it. ~ Soapbox moment: Federal law only requires dentists to have a thyroid guard in the office. There is no law requiring that it be used.  Helloooo?!?!

9. Once you’re placed in the cancer corral, you will forever hear a little voice suggesting that every ache or pain or odd feeling just might be….

10. There’s a lot of other really awesome people in the cancer corral that I may have missed out on if I had never been placed there myself.

So… what are your defining/refining moments?

6 thoughts on “what cancer taught me

  1. Pingback: one more thing… | Waving a White Flag

  2. Pingback: Cancer | Waving a White Flag

  3. Chris Ogden

    I will always remember you as one of my biggest supporters during my fight with cancer. I learned so much from you and your experience. I’m sure my heart would have gone in the wrong direction if you were not in my life. I really worked on my heart and was open to the Lord using my cancer for his glory. I can never repay you. Please know that I pray for you constantly!

  4. Pingback: Super Sunday | Waving a White Flag

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.