From Cancer to Hawai’i – Introduction to the journey

Last week was a week to remember.  Last week was my trip to Hawai’i (The Big Island).  Last week was the one year anniversary of my cancer being discovered and diagnosed.

I had told Kiddo about 6 months ago, “Choose a place for us to go and we will go.  Choose a place we will go for having survived one year of hell.”  She pondered for a moment and said “Hawaii”.  My jaw dropped.  I had expected her to say Disney, Florida, or the beach somewhere.  I didn’t think she would ask to go to complete opposite side of the US.  My bank account screamed in horror at the idea.  I was on disability.  I was looking at not working for 6-7 months that year.  But I said “okay, Let me think about it.”

In October or November I finally decided “what the heck, let’s go.”  I could figure out the finances later.  I would trust that they would fall into place.

Slowly the plans started falling into place.  I did research on all the islands and decided on Hawai’i, The Big Island.  I found a beautiful house to rent on VRBO.  It was ocean front with private tidal pools with coral reefs and snorkeling.  I found an amazing deal on first class tickets for kiddo and I to fly with (13 hours in a plane with an 8 year old…. gasp!).  I found supplies I would need.  I found all the “must sees” on the Island.  Everything started falling in place.

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View of the tidal pools from the downstairs Lanai.
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Roadside view of the gorgeous house!

My parents were able to join me, as a way to say “thank you” for taking care of me when I was sick.  My parents have never really traveled (this would be their first commercial air flight).  This was going to be exciting on so many levels.

It was a wonderful trip.  It was so magical.  It was the first time I had seen my parents relax.  It was joyous to see my kid see the world through fresh eyes.  It was exhilarating to see her step out of her comfort zone and try many new and scary things!

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It was a blessing to have wonderful experiences replace the horrors of that week a year ago. Instead of sitting at home reliving the pain of those days, I was out seeing the world and having a wonderful time!

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Sunrise from the deck of the house… Woke up to this every day!

There is a part of me, a very (formerly) secret part that wanted some reward for going through what I did last year.  I have accepted the changes in me as a great reward, and I still stand behind that.  But there was a selfish part of me that wanted something tangible.  And now I have this trip.  I have all the little mementos I got along the trip.   And when I hold them or look at the pictures of my trip, I have my tangible reward.

I will blog more about the trip in the future, but I wanted to start with this.

Our Goat Buddy We Made
Our Goat Buddy We Made
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Infamous “Come to Jesus” Moment

Stories abound of people on the brink of pending doom/death and suddenly coming back from that point. Those people typically change how they live their lives.  I have heard it called the “Come to Jesus” moment.  These people seem to change overnight and live their lives to the fullest from there on.

Never in my craziest dreams or wishes, did I want to have one of those.  But I did.  That one week where I thought I might have Stage 4 colon cancer and where my life was going to be cut short due to it.  That one week of fear and terror.  That one week seeing life differently has changed me.  At the time I couldn’t see it because as soon as I found out I wasn’t about to die, surgery and them chemo came into my world.

Now, looking back, 5 months after the end of chemo, I can see that moment for what it was.  It was my Come to Jesus moment.  Life is so much grander than we give it credit for.  There are so many blessings we never see.  There are so many miracles in every day.

I have been blessed with a sense of peace that my life never contained before.  I was always anxious and scared.  I was angry and frustrated with life.  Now I am sitting back and enjoying each day.  I am savoring everything I get to experience.  I am not making excuses for things or living my life afraid of every turn.  Instead I am pondering on how wonderful everything around me is.  How did I spend so many years missing all the beauty around me?  How did I spend so much time worrying about things I had no control over?  How did I waste so much energy on anxiety?

But I can’t ponder on that too long.  That is in the past.  That isn’t the now.  I can’t change the past and nor would I want to.  The past is what has given me what I have now.  To want to change the past is to say what is here isn’t good enough.  And what is here is good enough.  It is perfect.  It is precisely how it should be.

I know I am not adequately explaining this overwhelming sense of peace that has filled my life.  I wish I could containerized it to give to everyone.  I wish I could show people how different the world is when you look through the glasses of pending death with life suddenly being restored.  I wish I could help others to see the joys that abound.  But for me to do that, you would have to suddenly experience what came before, and that is not possible.

Without the years of pain and anxiety, I could not appreciate where I am now.  Without the years of heartbreak, you could not see the glories of love that I see now.  Without going through the fear, it is hard to see how God  has brought me to this wonderful place.

My beloved Bible verse that got me through much of the heartache and pain is:

Psalms 71:20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

And God did fulfill his promises.  God did lift me up.  This peace comes from Him and Him alone.  And to Him I give glory and thanks!

I dream

Last night was lesson night.  Kiddo and I are now up to trotting almost the whole lesson, excluding warm up and cool down.  The legs are not wobbly any more during posting or after I get off Tristan.  My back muscles aren’t quivering from the core muscle workout.  My balance in the stirrups is much more stable.  It is amazing the strength that builds up by doing this.  My calves are getting smaller, I am slowly losing weight.  I feel stronger.

More importantly, I dream.  I dream of having a plot of land big enough for a few horses.  I dream of knowing enough about horses to be able to keep them and care for them appropriately.  I dream of being able to ride more than once a week.  I dream of grooming and being the head of the herd, not for the power, but so that the herd is balanced appropriately.

I dream of every night after work and some time with the family, to be able to go out and spend some time with loved horses.  I dream of being in good enough shape to do all this.  I dream of being able to financially afford all of this.

I can see it all in my mind and it makes me happy and peaceful.

I do not know if I will ever be able to afford this dream. I do not know if it will ever come to fruition but I am enjoying it all the same.  Property in my area is expensive.  Horses are expensive to keep.  Being a single parent can sometimes makes such dream feel just like that, dreams on the wind.

But then I remember of where I was a year ago, about to be diagnosed with cancer.  I remember a year ago how different I was and how different life was.  I look back and see the miracles that the refiner’s fire brought me through.

Refiner's Fire

It was terrible, it was tough.  But now I am this person that I am proud to be.  Now I am this person that can honestly say: “God did all these miracles, and brought me through better than ever.  So somehow He will get me to where I am supposed to be.”  I can not remember being at such peace over things like this before.  I used to stress and get anxious.  I used to think/worry/fret over it all.  Now I can sit back in peace and go: “it is not mine to worry about.”

Granted I have my days of weakness.  I have my days of worry and anxiety.  But they are greatly reduced.  They are easy to squash.

So I continue to dream of having a farm-let.  I dream of having 3 horses that will be perfect for us.  I dream of knowing enough about horses and their care to be their owners.  And dreams can come true.