The Other Side of the Valley of Cancer

You might be surprised, disappointed or even angry to find so many issues in your life post treatment.  Recovery can be stunningly slower than your exptectations.  You may, or may not, look “fine” but you will be different in many ways.  Some will be temporary, some permanent.

I’ve developed four strategies to help me on the long climb out of the valley of cancer:  Maximize, Mitigate, Recouperate and  Trust, not necessarily in that order.

Maximize the skills, strength and abilities that have returned.  Praise God for the healing that has occurred, then ask Him to show you what you can do — with what you can do!

Mitigate your limitations.  Develop strategies to work around limitations that impact you routinely.  When I learned that other cancer survivors had difficulty writing an outline, I learned how to do a mind map.  My post-chemo brain seems to freeze up when I attempt to write an outline, but the mind map technique allows my thought processes to fly.  Once the mind map is complete, I’m able to easily convert it to an outline.  I’m faster with the two step process than I was writing an outline prior to chemo!

Recouperate.  Don’t “buck up” and pretend there are no more issues.  A life of praise and gratitude doesn’t mean you are sticking your head in the sand.  Praise and gratitude for the things you can do and the mitigation strategies you’ve identified so far free you to face your remaining limitations with God and seek all the ways in which He will lead you to recovery.  For me, this includes sleep, exercise, eating well, some key supplements and constantly consciously returning to praise, gratitude and laughter.

Trust in God’s Direction.  Where recovery seems uncertain — or impossible — return to praise for the things you can do and the mitigation strategies you’ve developed.  Remind yourself of the great God who is able to bring glory to His name through any circumstances.  Ponder the Red Sea.  You are called to be a willing participant in God’s plan for all mankind.  Sometimes the part in which we are cast gives us the honor of praying, like Christ, “Not my will, but thine be done.”  Are you willing to serve God with limitations?  We all have them, it’s just new ones that rub us so hard the wrong way.

I found it harder to trust God to help me after chemo than during it.  During chemo, my job was to keep a good attitude and “get through.”  It was tough, but all expectations on my performance were off.

Post chemo, however, expectations returned to their pre-cancer levels — but I did not.  I was no longer as smart or as energetic as I had been, and it has taken four years to get back to a place that seems similar to pre-cancer.  Even here, I have supplements that help me maintain mental clarity — that I dare not skip.  It has been a learning experience for me to trust God when I feel inadequate to do what is clearly my responsibility to accomplish.  God is not a genie:  not every answer is yes.  As I learned to trust Him with my life, live or die, I am learning to trust Him with my performance, succeed or fail.  I’m not done learning, I’m sure.

You are not alone.  Others are here with you.  Most importantly, God has allowed your path to lead to this place.  He has a gracious plan for your life.  I pray God’s blessings on you as you find it!

About reclinerwoman

I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer on 3/25/2008 and completed treatment on 11/6/2008. My cancer-free date is 8/27/2008. My desire is to encourage cancer patients and the ones who love them.
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2 Responses to The Other Side of the Valley of Cancer

  1. Kevan Riley says:

    Great perspective, and a good word of “preparation” for those still in the “chemo” phase. I am so encouraged to hear others embracing God’s best, not their personal idea of “best” as the true best. Some day, likely the other side of the grave, we will see these things in their proper perspective. In the meanwhile, we persevere, because ultimately perseverance leads to hope “…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts…”

    Don’t forget in your mitigation and recouperation the support of those who are praying for you, and supporting you in various ways, both known, and unknown to you. The lesson I have learned most as a husband of a wife going through this, is that other peoples prayers and support are powerful and important beyond my ability to properly express. It is hard for me to imagine this journey without it.

    Kevan (husband of Jayde, jaydesjourney.com)

    • reclinerwoman says:

      Kevan,

      It was a day of rejoicing tinged with grief: the first Sunday when I was not lifted to the Lord in prayer as part of the morning service. It was a glorious acknowledgement that the “worst” was behind me. I so appreciated and treasured the many who prayed for me during that valley. We all need prayer always; but we are, in fact, more likely to pray for the ones we love who are in crisis. That’s as it should be, and I’m grateful. There are probably more than I know still praying for me, and I’m grateful, but it’s not like it was during my valley of cancer. I didn’t know how long “after” the valley I would need extra prayer — and neither did my extended circle of prayer support.

      Perhaps that’s something you’ll be able to do for Jayde as she comes out of this valley: encourage your circle of friends to continue holding you both up in prayer as you find your “new normal” post cancer.

      One thing I want to make perfectly clear: all the issues I deal with post cancer are WORTH IT for the opportunity to be alive and able to give and receive love from my family and friends.

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