With a Name Like Cancer

“They said it wasn’t cancer,”

 was the last uttered sentence my sweet grandmother told me.

 With an ache in my heart and tears in my eyes, all I could do was clutch her frail forearm, nod with somber, and say that I loved her.

She was right, they said it wasn’t cancer. I remember the hit I felt the day they thought it was. That early-september afternoon back in 2013; my mama standing in the doorway telling me the news, the feeling of despair and betrayal that another person i loved was diagnosed with such a fierce, unpredictable disease. But then there was the lift of hope and gratitude I felt when they announced she was “free to go.” 

it wasn’t cancer after all

So we lived on, racing with gratitude that we dodged the bullet that took my grandpa back in 2007. But sometimes bullets recherché and sometimes they land exactly where they intended to go in the first place. 

With January of 2014 came the unfolding of the mistakes, misread paperwork, and the fatal notice that it was cancer after all, and it was everywhere. 

 She was given one month to live.

Now, this is not story asking for pity or remorse. 

Rather, this is a story about one miraculous lady and a loving God. A story that was told to last one month but ended up being sixteen. This is a the story of my grandma, her battle with stage IV lung/brain/bone cancer, and her undeniable victory.

……

 No one deserves cancer, especially when it comes to those you love. But when someone else you love faces cancer you can do two things: You look up at that intimidating mountain and drag your feet or you can look for wild flowers to pick along the way. I wish I could say I chose the latter from the get-go, but that would be a lie. Truthfully, it took me time and time and some more time

to see the beauty in cancer.  

to see beyond myself and my selfish ways. 

to really appreciate what these two years have taught and given my family and me. 

 and this is what I learned:

I learned that when you act the way you want to feel miracles happen and joy is attainable. 

 I learned that when you have demands on people they will fail to meet your expectations, but when you don’t have any demands people surpass all expectations.
I learned that it can hurt when you don’t feel love from others but if you strive to have love for others you’ll feel less hurt.
I learned that life is better when you’re serving others but there’s no shame in doing things for yourself to better your own life.
I learned that accepting service is just as charitable as giving it.
I learned that strength is found in asking for help and ignorance is thinking you already have enough muscle.
I learned that I am small and blessed and truly have no problems, but I also learned that God has no problem listening to me when I feel otherwise.
I learned that my favorite lady wasn’t granted cancer to fight for the win, but to to teach me how to keep fighting when life grants me a loss.
I could say that I have been robbed but I know that would be a lie.

Truth is, I’ve never felt more rich. I had the opportunity to stand by and serve a woman who was faithful and fearless, prayerful and powerful, beautiful and brave. 

 A woman who kept her wit when she was being beat down with something wicked, which I admired most of all.

What I learned about cancer is that I really know nothing about cancer. 

And what I learned about myself.. well, that sometimes I need to be slapped with reality that it’s not “all about me.” I started this journey with a mindset of thinking I knew everything and ended with an attitude believing that only the Man Upstairs does. 

 I have complained and kicked my feet because with a name like cancer it’s hard not to. But I’ve also crashed to the my knees with gratitude and love, because with a name like cancer it’s hard to.

I have been blessed to witness that cancer can kills cells but not love. I have come to understand that cancer is given to the fearless not the fearful. To the loving ones who get up, show up and never give up even when they are told they have “one month to live.” To the admirable ones who know that victory doesn’t mean “cancer free” but the willingness to let go when God seems it fit.

To the ones who make you Mickey Mouse waffles, call you “lady,” and taught you how to live and love life.

With a name like cancer you just don’t know what to expect but I guess that is what has made me grateful above all.

Grateful for the unexpected lessons, miracles, and time. 

Time that has show me that I am nothing

Time that has taught me that love is everything 

Time that wouldn’t trade for anything. 

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