Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One year later.

It has been a year since I first heard the words, "you have cancer." A year since I heard words like: melanoma, malignant, tumor, stage 3, and "this is serious."

This year has been quite a ride. I have had: 3 surgeries, an 8 day stay in the hospital, 18 days of 4 hour rounds of chemo, 4 MRIs, 2 emergency trips to the ER, x-rays, 6 skin biopsies, more doctor appointments than I can count, 6 weeks of physical therapy, and have given myself a shot of low dose chemo 3 times a week for over 7 months.

On this cancerversary, my first of what I pray is A LOT, I wanted to talk about that day a year ago. The day I heard that cancer was trying to kill me.

"Jen McManus, the results are back. It is a malignant melanoma tumor. The is very serious."
"I better not die. I can't. Do you hear me, God?" It was my first reaction. It was short. A simple cry, prayer, and request to God.
"Jesus, I need you right now. You are the only one that can comfort me at this second. You knew suffering. You knew pain. You knew what it feels like to cry out for your life. And I need you to hold me."
"How I am going to tell Adam?" He is so strong and was so sure that this was nothing.
"I am a tough chick and I am SO going to beat this crap!"
"Ok maybe not that strong. But with God's help I can beat this...............right?"
"God if I don't beat this, please help my see that Your plan is good. Because right now Your plan does not feel "good".
"I can't believe that I have cancer. How can a person who is not even sick have cancer? This has to be a dream?! Wake up, Jen. Wake up! This is not fair."
"Nope, this is fair. So many people out there are getting this same news, but they don't have the hope of the gospel. I do. I need to show them that that changes everything. I am not scared."
"Ugh I am scared. I am scared for my kids. How do you tell your kids? Will they understand? Will this hurt them? Will they blame God and hurt? This feels more real when I think about my kids. They need me to be strong."
"Will I be strong? Can I be strong?"
"Jesus, be my strength. This is going to be a long journey. Life as I know it changes right this second."

Wow. It feels crazy remembering that day in such a real way. In so many ways those thoughts, concerns, and fears are VERY different now. But, in so many ways they are very much the same.

I am not dead yet! To any cancer patient this is a big deal. The statistics for someone fighting stage 3 melanoma are not fun to read. And, to be honest I try to ignore them. 1 year later and God still has me here and that is worth celebrating.

I still need Jesus everyday. In moments when it would be easy to cry out in anger, I find myself instead crying for the comfort from a Savior that hurt just like I do. I love that God's perfect plan gave us someone who just "understands" everything we feel. My Jesus has felt everything I have, and that is so comforting when treatment gets tough.

It was so hard telling Adam that I had cancer and telling him that it had spread was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But he has been incredible in this journey. He continues to write me letters everyday: letterstojen.com . I couldn't fight this fight without him.

I am a tough chick, but cancer is mean. I still get sick A LOT. I get fevers, body aches, headaches, and nausea. I'm tired all the time. But, I continue to drag myself to bootcamp 3X a week. It is not pretty, but physically I keep fighting.

Having people who pray for me daily has been one of the biggest blessings to me. There are people all over the world praying for me, and I feel every one of them. All I have to do is tweet that I am having trouble and BOOM people begin praying for me. Thank you everyone!

God's plan still doesn't seem all that "good" to me, but I have seen "good" in this situation. God has used my cancer journey to show others His perfect love. I have seen my kids knowledge of Jesus and how faithful God is grow so much this year. And, I have been given opportunity after opportunity to share my story with so many. That is definitely....GOOD!

It still feels like this is just one big dream. Actually, it feels more like a nightmare at times. I wake up every day, and one of my first thoughts is "oh crap, I still have cancer." Some days, it feels like it was just yesterday when we heard the word: cancer. Other days, it feels like we have been fighting cancer for years.

I wore a LIVESTRONG bracelet long before I was diagnosed with cancer. Living with cancer has been very eye opening. There are so many people out there fighting this journey alone with no hope but their own strength. That makes me sad. I will continue to show others that God does not want us to be alone in this fight.

I am still scared for my kids. I'm scared that they don't get it. I'm scared that they don't understand why I am sick all the time. I hate when I hear things like "Mom, I know we can't cause you are sick, but tomorrow can we go to the park?" Or, when I have to answer the tough questions like: "Mom, so and so said that you are going to heaven, is that true?" But, I still get to be home with them full time and we find a way to make our crazy McManus Life work.

I am physically weak. I am mentally weak. And some days I feel spiritually weak. I don't feel strong. I don't feel like myself. The drugs I am on are powerful, and I hate them. BUT I continue to tell myself that with God's strength and love I am very STRONG!

One year later, life has changed so much; yet, in many ways not at all.
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