It’s been a while since I last blogged. The days and months have been filled with ‘busyness’ and adjusting to my new normal. Truth be told, not all days are smooth sailing on the waters that are ‘remission’. If you want to know what ‘normal’ is, go look at your washer or dryer. There’s a setting for that. If only it were that simple for humans. I’m learning that ‘normal’ is a moving target.
While I am keenly aware that there’s no ‘cure’ for leukemia, I would rather be blissfully unaware of that fact and go back to a ‘normal’ life. Most days are fine, even a bit blissful, but then there are days when I am blindsided. That big fat brain of mine starts throwing darts of doubt. Usually, this happens when I start feeling sick. “It’s just a bad cold” is what reasoning says, but then the dart of doubt comes flying in saying “your cancer could be coming back”. Some days the trigger can be something totally unrelated and the darts start flying. It is these times when I am SO GLAD my wife steps up with the reassuring voice of reason. She is the absolute BEST partner I could ever have hoped for! She is always the calm voice of reality, my safe place to hide. She’s kind of like a goalie against those darts. She’s become very good at deflecting them and calming my runaway horses. Thank you God for such an awesome gift!
None of this would be possible if I hadn’t learned to speak up and tell her when I’m struggling. You see, I am her protector. I always want to keep her from dealing with this kind of stress. I know she has a lot of her own to deal with and I never want to ‘burden’ her with my own. But the reality of it is, I can’t do it on my own. I need her! There is no room for my pride. Leaning on her when I am weak or struggling is what I am supposed to do! She is my partner. She wants to help me just as I want to help her! We have a partnership called marriage. That’s what’s supposed to happen in a healthy marriage.
Maybe holding it all in and keeping it to myself would be the ‘typical guy thing’ but cancer has taught me that I can’t be a ‘typical guy’ and keep all of this bottled up. I have learned to accept that fact that It is NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help. The reality is, there has been so many things out of my control in the last few years that I have had to rely on her (and my faith) to get me through it all.
I recently launched a project I have been working on for about 3 years. “The face of Cancer” is a motivational visual project involving many different cancer warriors I have photographed all holding a simple sign that reads: ‘I am the face of Cancer’. The portrait, combined with their personal story and positive words of what cancer taught them, inspires others battling cancer and even their loved ones. The project started out to be a gallery show but has morphed into a motivational talk (my personal story and how the project was born) followed by a 4 and a half minute slide show of all the cancer warriors.
Since launching the project, a Facebook page was added and “Wednesday Warrior” has become a very popular feature. Each Wednesday I share a cancer warriors’ story and their portrait. I am very pleased to see how popular it has become, and the comments have been very touching. Exactly what I had hoped ‘the face of cancer’ would accomplish is coming to fruition. However, I didn’t anticipate the impact publishing these stories would have on me. As moving and inspirational as these stories are, for me it is also poking a stick at my own wounds. Each week I am reminded of my own struggles as I battled leukemia just a few short years ago.
On the positive side, I am also reminded (weekly) of the fact that I am a survivor! I know if I keep my mind in the right place, I will overcome these negative effects and win the mental tug of war. So maybe being blindsided is just a crash course in dealing with momentary tragedies that can turn into valuable lessons? I think of the many ways I have been blind sided in my past. I never once liked it. It was never comfortable, but isn’t that when we have the opportunity to learn the most valuable lessons? Take that tragedy and cover it with hope and faith and see what happens!