Yesterday I finished my 30th radiation treatment! I think radiation has been the most difficult part of this journey so far. While it was difficult physically, it was much more difficult emotionally. I have learned a lot the last 6 or so weeks and want to take a moment to share some of them. Some I have already written about, but I just have to repeat them.
1. Gratitude: There is great power in this simple act. Being grateful makes you feel GREAT!! Sometimes life can be so overwhelming that it is hard to find things to be grateful for, but once we do, even when we have to start with the small things, something amazing happens within us, and we become more and more grateful and more and more happy. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “The expression and feelings of gratitude have a wonderful cleansing or healing nature. I get quite excited about any promises of healing these days!! And while I take those promises as literally meaning physical healing, and I think it does help that, more importantly it heals our hearts, which is infinitely more important.
2. Hope. I used to think that hope was a weak word. “I hope the weather is nice” or I hope that something else that doesn’t really matter will happen. A few years ago, while going through a difficult problem, I learned that hope is so much more. It is closely related to faith and trust and it definitely involves God, and the atonement of Christ. Hope is knowing that even though things aren’t the way I want them to be, I can trust that God has a plan for me and will not leave me alone. It is knowing that even though I can’t do it on my own, with God I can move forward and be happy. A friend of mine shared a book with me written by a cancer surgeon who wrote about patients who survive, and the main underlying characteristic of the survivors is hope. Hope is more powerful than radiation, chemotherapy or any other treatment. Hope can heal the body, hope can heal the soul, hope can heal anything that needs healing. Now I want to be clear, that I am NOT saying that anyone who dies didn’t have hope, because hope transcends this earth-life and goes into the next—they may have the greatest hope and can move forward with peace. Trusting in God’s will is part of having hope.
3. Choose Happy. One day I was feeling sorry for myself. The whole radiation thing caused a lot of fear of what might happen. I don’t even remember why on that day, but Larry made a comment about how it’s okay to feel sorry for myself and that it almost made him glad I was because I hadn’t been. Well, rather than expressing my feelings and ending it there, I spent the whole weekend feeling down and having a pity party for myself. I talked to my Mom and told her how I was feeling and she said, that’s okay, you deserve to feel sorry for yourself—or something along that line. I totally get what both of them were saying—I don’t have to always put on a happy face, it's okay to feel a variety of emotions, they are normal. But, I realized after a couple days of focusing on being down, that I was miserable!! It felt terrible to dwell on feeling sorry for myself and I didn’t like it. I felt prompted to ask Larry to give me a Priesthood blessing and in it he said something about how I should choose happiness. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to choose to be happy despite my fears and my lack of control. This really ties back into being grateful and having hope, but sometimes we just have to choose to be happy. Once we do, life is so much better!
4. Be a Light: When I started my radiation treatments, I had no desire to talk to other cancer patients. I didn’t want to hear their stories, it was hard enough dealing with my own. One day, I found myself sitting in the waiting area with another patient and we began talking. Judi shared some of what she had gone through and what was still ahead. She changed my whole way of thinking. I found her on FB and looked up a YouTube documentary she was in. She was a light to me. From that moment on, I determined to try to be that light to others. One day we were talking while waiting to be called in, and a new gal sat down. She looked terrified. As soon as we began talking to her, I got called back. Judi continued the conversation and shared some thoughts that helped her when she first started that comforted Lupe. The next time I saw Lupe, I was able to share some thoughts I had and she began to cry and said she was so thankful that we had a support system right there in the dressing room with people who understood each other in ways even our family doesn’t understand. I started to talk to anyone I could. One day, I was finished for the day and saw a new gal putting her things in a locker. I wanted to say something but didn’t know what, so I simply made a joke about how we matched—both in our beautiful hospital gownsJ. She laughed and went and sat down by my daughter who was waiting for me. Brynn introduced herself and told her she was my daughter. She replied saying how amazing it is that someone can say one simple thing and you can instantly change from feeling anxious to feeling calm. It doesn’t take much, and we don't need to worry about saying the right thing, but say something and connect to people. It may make a huge difference in their life.
Monday night, someone shared a spiritual thought from 1 Peter 1:7: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found until praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." I am thankful for the things I have learned-they truly are more precious than gold!!