It’s been a little over four months since my doctor told me I have “no detectable cancer.” My journey of having thyroid cancer lasted four months (August-November), so I’ve now been out of the woods longer than I was in it. Of course I’m still dealing with all the leftovers like regular blood work and check-ups and keeping my scar protected from the Texas sun (AKA: practically impossible). But for the most part, I’m getting back to normal and getting on with life.
You may know this already, but when you go through something tough, you often grow tough yourself. During those first three months when I received bad news on top of bad news on top of bad news, I began to retract. Though I adamantly strove to rely on the Lord—and He did sustain me—my human defense mechanisms pushed forward too. I taught myself to be numb, to not care, to stay strong no matter what. I told myself over and over that things weren’t a big deal, when in fact they were pretty big.
Coping with my new reality was like burying myself deeper and deeper into a hole. With each doctor’s appointment and each pill and each flame of hope that I tried to extinguish to protect my heart, I kicked the shovel further in the dirt. And when I received the “no detectable cancer” news in November, it was as if I was looking up at the bright world from way down below in the shadows.
In a way, I feel like I’ve been climbing out of that hole ever since. Even after four months with no signs of cancer, I still find myself feeling cynical at times, easily doubting, easily thinking only of myself. It’s like I’ve been “staring at my navel,” as Matt Chandler says, instead of looking up at everyone and everything around me.
It’s been easier to recognize all of this as the seasons are changing. The weather here has been indicative of my soul—moving from a long winter to a sporadic arrival of spring, peppered with hot and cold days. But as the Texas heat finally begins to settle in, and I’m jogging through it and driving with my windows down and music up and making the apartment I didn’t know I’d be able to live in home and making new friends and keeping old ones, my soul is beginning to thaw too. The “cancer haze” is lifting, and God is tipping my chin up ever-so-slowly to help me look up and out. And I’m seeing that it’s okay to get excited about things and to not feel my neck for bumps every day and to view others’ problems as greater than my own.
As I walked through my trial, “my eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help” (Isaiah 38:14 NLT). But I’m regaining the desire to need Him and be in His presence. I’m slowly putting away the need for constant distractions to keep my mind from worrying and instead simply being in the quiet. I’m able to pick up a book and just read or work at my desk without constant distraction. My mind is re-learning to focus, and it feels incredible.
The numbness I covered myself in last fall is melting away, while outside the trees shake their ice and bud blossoms. I am starting to forget the former things and not dwell on the past. For my God says,
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.