I thought it was writer’s block. As the days flew by after I wrote my last blog, Walking in Joy, I occasionally returned to the computer, but nothing happened. Sometimes a trickle of triteness dribbled out onto the computer screen; but it sickened me and I bypassed the save button.
Not even on May 4, the 1st anniversary of this blog, Growing in Grace….at any age, and the 2nd anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis — and I had just received such good news! At my monthly cancer appointment, I asked the oncologist, “Since the second anniversary of my cancer diagnosis is coming up – when you then told me I had two years, more or less, to live – what’s the current prognosis?”
She smiled. “Who knows? You’ve had such a positive response to the Ibrance and Letrozole (my cancer meds), that, statistically speaking, you will continue to have positive results when we have to go to the next group of drugs.” (Why change meds? Inevitably, the cancer will mutate, start to grow again, and we will move on to the next cocktail of cancer poisons.)
Then she added, “I have patients who’ve been on Letrozole alone, and are still alive after 15 years of treatment!”
Strangely, her words stunned me. “Are you saying I could live another 13 years?”
The good news brought me no joy. I left the clinic in an odd state of mind. In one sense, I was happy that things were going so well. But I was also a bit depressed.
It took me a while to figure out the problem: I didn’t want to live another 13 years! That would make me eighty-seven years old! I’m totally aware that a person can live a vibrant, purpose-filled life in their eighties and beyond. My grandmother lived to eighty-eight. My mother-in-law lived to eighty-three. Both were valiant examples of women who lived life with courage and faith through every decade of their lives. Why didn’t I want to be like them?
It comes down to courage. They had it and I don’t. At least that’s what I thought as I pondered my reaction to the doctor’s words. You see, living to 87 would also mean living with a plethora of side effects, both from my cancer meds, and quite simply, from growing older. As long as I reasoned that I had only a year or so to live, I could manage the chronic pain from medicine-caused neuropathy. With chronic fatigue, with chronic cancer induced brain fog. (Have you caught that repeating word, “chronic?” It’s not bad editing.)
And then there’s the diminishing sight and hearing. And the shortness of breath. And the fitful sleeping. And the thinning hair, the dry, and the itchy skin (thanks again to the cancer meds…or maybe it’s just aging…). Oh, and the chronic IBS – there’s that word again!
Do you get the picture? I was in the midst of a raging pity party! Where was that woman who “Walked in the Dark with the Prince of Peace?” (See my first blog.) I was wallowing in self-pity and actually complaining that I might live a lot longer than the doctor first predicted!
It took a while, but I finally came to my senses. Truthfully, life expectancy predictions are — as my former eighth grade students would say — bogus! We do NOT know “the day or the hour.” We have only TODAY to live. In the first days of my cancer diagnosis, I was inundated with the ironic beauty that truth. Each morning, I woke with a sense of gratitude for LIFE, for one-more-day! Somewhere in the last two years, I lost sight of the awesome wonder of LIFE. The understanding that ALL of my life is a prelude to Eternity!
You might ask, “What has this got to do with writer’s block?” The truth is: there is no such thing as writer’s block. Every writer knows this, but hates to give up that marvelous excuse for not working at the craft of writing! It’s easier to moan, I can’t do it! I’ve got writer’s block!
I let the “cares of this world” strangle the life out of my words. I let the troubles of our age — the election firestorm, the news/fake-news fiasco — turn my thoughts to topics I really hated to write about but felt I couldn’t ignore. Writing became a drudge, an item on my To Do list that got increasingly easier to ignore. Well, I’ve had my pity party, and I am back, writing again, as you can see.
But Growing in Grace will be a little different from here on. First, there’s the new look (at least for friends on Facebook.) Instead of that bright purple petunia, (my WordPress avatar) you now see me! I have a very good friend who kept complaining about the flower – “We need to see who’s talking!” So now you can see. (If you prefer the petunia, blame Julie O.)
And there will be other changes. I will be trying to stay closer to my original goals for Growing in Grace. Here is a snippet from my journal written in late April, 1016:
Growing in Grace will be about growing older, about having to slow down, give up activities, “retiring.” It will be a place to share my journey with cancer, hopefully to encourage others along this same journey. But mostly it will be about walking with God, the master weaver, the master gardener, the shepherd, savior and lover of my soul.
Recently, I heard Tim McGraw’s popular song from 2000, Live Like You Were Dyin’. It says what I want to say much better than I ever could, so here are the lyrics. Enjoy!
He said I was in my early 40’s
With a lot of life before me,
And a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, lookin’ at the x-rays,
Talkin’ ‘bout the options and talkin’ ‘bout sweet time.
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end.
How’s it hit you,
When you get that kind of news?
Man what ya do?
And he says,
I went sky divin’,
I went rocky mountain climbin’,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
And I loved deeper,
And I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’ too.
Reminds me of the Scripture, “O, teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) Well, not the bull ridin’….