Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
Nostalgia. The very real sense of “homesickness” for things or situations of the past can appear when you least expect it. It can come in the form of a scent … a sunset … a book … or even a song. Often, I wonder if the chemo “fog” that so magically formed in my brain has instead given rise to a deeper level of nostalgia—more vivid recall of long ago, forgotten memories. I find it laughable that mid-sentence during a conversation, my brain can lose focus; yet during a morning “solo” jam session in the shower, the lyrics of a song can send my mind reeling down memory lane on a fast track to childhood. This particular morning in the shower, lyrics from a song brought to mind a recurring dream I had as a child. It came to me with such clarity, I could actually recall the emotions I felt as a child … awe coupled with fear. There I stood, holding a big red balloon. The very balloon I was enamored by in the dream was also the very object that brought me indescribable fear. Fear of flight. There was the fear that as I held tight to the balloon—it would carry me away … while an equally fearful sense that at any given moment my hand could let go of the balloon and it would take off without me.
Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move toward the unknown—even when we don’t want to or when we think we don’t need to.
During my recent trip to Dana-Farber, I was confronted boldly with the ugly face of fear. Fear of the unknown … fear of new beginnings … fear of letting go.
Nine plus months have passed since I was plunged into this unknown, unexpected realm of a stage III cancer diagnosis. My nonstop mission to do whatever necessary to put this thing in my rear view has sent me on a journey filled with lifejackets in a sea of doubt and confusion. The lifejackets of chemo, bilateral mastectomy and radiation therapy have kept me afloat, making hope an easier vision. Now I am left to tread these unchartered waters with Tamoxifen, or as some refer to it: the little poisonous pill—one I will (hopefully) be swallowing daily for the next ten years. Needless to say, I left my oncologist that day with little comfort as her simple advice spoke angst in my heart. She advised me from this point forward I need to be mindful of pain that appears suddenly or lasts longer than usual, any shortness of breath or recurring headaches … etc. Basically, I left the exam room that day feeling powerless, lonely and filled with a new fear—the uneasiness of fear itself. Will it carry me away like that big red balloon in my dream so many moons ago?
I once read that love is what we were born with, while fear is what we learned here. When you begin an unknown pilgrimage … you must not be afraid. You need to have ample courage to make mistakes. God uses the tools of disappointment, defeat, and despair to show us the way.
Though I feel as though somewhere along the way, I’ve lost myself a bit, I’m growing and learning to accept suffering as a vital life force flowing through me. I refuse to consume my present and future moments with the fear of the unknown. Yes—I’m certainly a work in progress, making many mistakes along the way, but I need to let go … sending my red balloon of fear aloft, knowing that letting go will give me victory moment by moment.
I’m beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and support so many have showered on me. Now more than ever, I welcome and yearn for your prayers and words of encouragement.
Loads of Love … in hope,
For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7