9 Month Check-up

When three different people mentioned to me in the same day that you haven’t written on your blog much lately, I knew it was time I sit down and write all the stuff I’ve been neglecting to write over the last several weeks (or longer).

Life has been the most normal it has been lately since surgery day last year. I’ve also found myself quite thankful for something as dumb as distraction in my life. Ten girls from Samford University now call me Coach Val, and I spend many of my days dreaming about how I can build the program and teach and mentor them better. I never in my life dreamed that would be the case but these girls have taught me so much already about life as well as patience, and they’ve helped with that little word us “cancer patients/survivors” are always seeking…normal.

But while life continues to trod along steadily for the most part, I would be a total fraud if I led you to believe that every week is like that now. The weeks leading up to scans back in August (and even some days since then) were still absolutely terrifying. Scan week was still filled with complete irrationality and exaggerated thoughts, and as I usually do, I rode that familiar emotional roller coaster and even steered right off the tracks a few times, but I managed to get realigned and return to a smoother ride shorty after…thanks to K.T. and the Lord’s undeserving grace.

I’ve continued to work really, really hard on my thought-life because it’s still what tears me down the quickest and with the strongest intensity. And with plans to vacation with my in-laws the week before scans, I continuously said that I wished that that beach trip was coming after scans instead of before so I could relax mentally. But it wasn’t, and now I know why.

We sat on the shoreline that week talking and thinking about life. (Y’all know I love nostalgia and introspective thinking.) We discussed the intricacies of the Lord’s beautiful creation He’s given us and how the waves sparkle just right when the sun hits them. We dug our fingers and toes in the sand and let the grains pour back down delicately. And we talked about the life we’ve lived together and the dreams we have of the life we hope to have ahead of us.

After conversation subsided for a bit, my hands gripped the sides of Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind. It’s a book that I had pulled off my shelf to read many times before but had just never gotten into. It never felt right. But this time…this time the words settled in deep and washed over me just like the tide at my feet. In the sweetest way, I felt the Lord tell me to let go. He gently reminded me that in all my moments of fear and anxiety as well as reasoning with myself I had done since the day of diagnosis and before, I hadn’t gotten anywhere. The fear wasn’t gone and I never, ever found the reasons I wanted. All I was doing was exalting my own thoughts above the Lord’s sovereign plans and acting like I could run my life better. That one hurt.

How simple, right? Just “let go”…nope. How difficult?! I find myself down right pissed in these moments feeling like what I’m supposed to do is actually impossible (mostly with my health and thoughts) and then I come around to realize it’s probably my selfish pride making me feel that way. That one hurt too, but when it comes down to it, I can absolutely fight the fear and the anxiety and quit trying to figure everything out. It’s just going to take time. As it’s taken time for my body to heal, it will take time for my mind to as well. Cancer is NOT nice.

On the other side of things, I think about how precious it would be to hear those sweet words, “everything still looks good” from my doctor when I return for checkups. It’s an unmatched, indescribable feeling that I often dream about until it isn’t a dream any longer.

This time on August 8th, the Good Lord allowed it to go from dream to reality and let me hear those words once again through my doctor in His still calm voice. Clear scans after 9 long months since treatment ended. I’ve definitely had my share of post-treatment struggles and also my share of unexpected doctor’s appointments, but all those seems to drift away into the periphery in these truthful moments of knowing my body is healthy (and these days, healthy means “without cancer”).

This round also delivered an extra bit of news we are pretty excited about…the blessing from my doctors to make baby Powells whenever we get ready! (Side note: We were advised to wait since my frequent scans could transmit radiation to a baby if we were to get pregnant before this first year of surveillance was up).

As I sit here polishing off a post that I’ve been working on since the week after my August scans, I find myself filled with giddy excitement and the confidence that I’m a healthy almost 30 year old woman of child bearing potential. (It almost feels like I’m back where I thought I was before all this happened last year and last year I NEVER thought I’d get here again). I wake up most days with the joy in my heart that life is normal again, numb arms and all, and I’m thankful I still get to have an impact on patients that come through our clinic and hopefully through my writing a bit.

So, while this is a post that may seem somewhat nonchalant, there so much more than what you’ve seen to get me here. Only Jesus and my husband know how hard I’ve fought for the status so many take for granted…normal. I think I’ll hang on to that one for a while.

Onward and upward.