(transferred from my CaringBridge site created on 3/9/13)
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
~ Helen Keller
It seems like “chemo-Thursdays” always falls on a birthday or holiday. This past Thursday was my birthday and it was wonderful to have some ultra-special people with me: my mom and my sister in addition to my three little princes. As per normal, we livened and lightened up the infusion floor . . . birthday presents and all!
Tired of the cold and feeling a touch of Spring fever (even during the lovely chemo-induced fatigue and allover malaise), I’ve been busy thinking about warmer thoughts . . . like surfing. I love watching surfers being challenged by huge waves. To the ordinary swimmer, like myself, being in the midst of such a wave would frighten me to the core. To the seasoned surfer, however, that same wave is precisely what produces their tremendous thrill. Many of you may remember “soul surfer,” Bethany Hamilton, who in 2003 at only 13 years old, while relaxing on her surfboard waiting to catch a good wave—in a split second, lost her arm from a great white shark attack. Amazingly, this talented, faith-filled girl got right back in the water, surfing with one arm—less than a month after the attack!
Thrill-seeking has always been the subject of much speculation, from Sigmund Freud’s “innate death drive” philosophy to some modern psychologists’ view that dangerous activities make us feel more alive. In reality, though, thrill-seeking behavior can mean different things to different people.
Though I still have a bit of a risk-taking drive in me, I’ve grown more conservative over the years—especially as a mom . . . in a way hoping that my boys will not completely follow in some of my crazy footsteps. John will laugh while attesting to some of my craziness, like on the slopes. From the moment we started skiing together, even as a beginner, I would hit the slopes—racing to the finish, often times on trails I had no business being on. For me, it’s all about the thrill and challenge, and ultimately the whole experience in the moment. I guess most people will both seek and avoid risk at different points in their lives.
Now if my slope were instead replaced with that ultimate wave, a surfer’s dream . . . I’ll be honest, I’d be running for the hills. Cancer, in many ways . . . has become my wave. I would love to run far away from it . . . or simply remain in the still waters. Some people will say of one going through a cancer trial as “brave.” I laugh when people say that to me because the truth is bravery is about the furthest from the truth in my reality. A firefighter running into a burning building is what I envision as brave. I would do anything to run far away from this, not toward it.
Though Bethany describes that tragic morning on her surfboard as her Tsunami moment, infringing on her pro-surfer dreams, she also realized that bad things happen to everyone. “But for me, knowing that God loves me and that he has a plan for my life—that no shark can take away and no contest result can shake, is like having solid rock underneath me.” Wow . . . what an amazing young woman.
I desperately seek to apply the same thrill-seeking behavior I’ve often sought in life to meet me on this latest adventure—the very wave I would love to avoid and fight against. The truth is, tribulation, suffering, and persecution—are the very things that produce abundant joy in us.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2–4
God tells us that trials produce perseverance . . . perseverance produces character; and character brings hope, which never disappoints.
I’m on the board, ready to put my sights on the wave before me.
Thank you my friends for your constant prayers. My regular chemo-Thursday will be changed to Friday this coming week as I meet with my oncologist to further examine the lymph node at the base of my skull. Please continue to pray that this is nothing.
I in turn will: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)