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Like Lazarus

To be in remission means to be given another chance, like Lazarus. Indeed it feels much like the hand of God Himself has reached out to touch my sick body and shattered spirit, raising me to a newness of life.

And in a sense, it truly has been a baptism by the fire of pain, uncertainty, and fear. Sure, I have always been aware of my mortality, but having come close to the precipice of the mountain, walked through the Valley of the Shadow, I no longer fear what is on the other side. I guess I have discovered my own immortality as well, the Biblical promise that I know to be true. That has been the lovely residual gift from all of this.

I recently heard another teal sister say that because she is in Stage 4 in her illness, her oncologist will not use the word “remission” or even the current term, NED (No evidence of Disease) to describe the state of her health. I was so taken by surprise at this since both my gynecological oncologist and the chemo doc have proudly waved my most current radiology report proclaiming me to be making great progress in the battle. And while I understand the recurrence statistics, what good does it do to cite them to someone who has endured so much? Certainly, none of us who are chronically ill want to be given false hope, but there is something lovely about being given permission to live. And being declared temporarily healed does just that.

I am grateful. Truly.

I hope to have more days in the sun, walks on the beach, and ice cream sundaes with sprinkles. I find myself experiencing a sense of wonder about so many things that I took for granted PD (pre diagnosis). Smiles and hugs are more meaningful; conversations are more important. Friends and family are more precious. Even colors appear brighter. It is though everything has been put into perspective. And it all seems special.

For a baby, every experience, every day, is a first. I often feel that way, too, having been born again. It is as though having removed the blinders I wore for most of my existence, I am looking at the world anew. And just as we cheer over that baby’s first steps. I have come to celebrate my own reentry into life as I rise from my sick bed and my strength slowly returns. It feels pretty darned good, too.

Over the past few months, I have come to understand just how big the sky is, how deep the ocean is, and how high the mountains are, not because I have seen them, but because I have imagined them so clearly in my mind’s eye as I lay there, waiting, wondering. But most importantly, I can easily recite the colors of the rainbow that appear after the storm because I closed my eyes tightly and prayed that the rain would stop, that life as I once knew it, would be restored. And it has been. It is my time for rejoicing.

You know, sometimes, you don’t even realize that you have been holding your breath until you finally exhale. Only then can you begin to fill your lungs once more with air as every part of your body responds in kind. I suppose that is the simplest way to describe what a miraculous healing feels like. And yes, it is that and so much more.

And so, I am reminded to cherish each moment as the sun rises and the birds begin to sing, heralding a new day, another chance to get it right. I sure am going to try.

In the meantime, I have renewed my subscriptions to my favorite magazines. It may seem like such a simple thing to do, but for me it was an act of faith, an optimistic belief that I will indeed have many tomorrows. That’s pretty significant for one who wasn’t assured of much just a few months ago. And the saying is true, sometimes you must lose it all to appreciate the smallest of things. Lesson learned. Hope, along with time and grace, changes everything.

For a diagnosis like this comes with a twist, a double-edged sword. Some it cuts down, and some, it cuts free. And my friends, I have been liberated.

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