The Poster Child of Hope

A few weeks ago I spent some time in Houston, as you know. My routine check-ups every ninety days or so have fallen into a predictable emotional pattern that seems to be softening as time and distance from the last sighting of cancer cells within my body steadily grows in three to four month increments. I feel great! Aside from a few aches and pains that mostly can be chalked up to being beyond age 50 and despite the long term side effects of my treatments which seem to either be diminishing or perhaps I am just coping with them better, I am in better physical shape than I have been in the last five years. I am stronger than ever. According to my wide variety of friends and family I look the picture of health and fitness. According to my doctors I am a miracle and their personal "poster child" of success. I like that feeling. The one when I am in their office and they see my clean reports, picture perfect labs, and unremarkable physical exam. They beam at me and tell me I am their star patient. they tell other patients about me when they need to share some hope. They have even shared my phone number with some, with my permission of course, so they can connect with me and actually talk to their "hope". My visits to Houston are not thickly threaded with personal dread. The angst still exists but it is in loose tiny strands that are easily tugged away by my doctors like a stray thread on a jacket seam. You see it, you reach for it to tug it away and are pleased to feel it slip easily out, not even attached. That's not to say that I am not fully aware that it could be attached and potentially unravel the entire length of the seam from which it protrudes. It’s just that it feels pretty unlikely as time marches on and away from my last encounter with the beast. I felt light after my last visit and also much more grounded after I sat through my own 10 minute doctor visit  and then my soul sister's 30 minute visit. She is just starting her immuno-therapy trial. Her results were progressing nicely and completely as expected but she is not NED like me and my heart aches for her. I am overwhelmed with the desire to share my NED with her. But alas! NED is not like winning the lottery. Even though I feel like I have won big in a game of chance I am bound by the rules. I can only tell people I have won. I can not share my winnings in any other way. I feel like I have won 50 million dollars but am bound by rules that say I can only keep it for myself. Our visits are over and it is time for us to return to our homes and families. We order pizza and pick up a bottle of wine to celebrate our victories. We sit poolside to munch on slices of pepperoni goodness and sip on sparkling red wine. The wine dulls my survivors guilt as I try to put into words how badly I want my soul sister healed. She relishes in my NED, tells me not to feel sad and that we are all right where we need to be and her news was good too. We clink glasses together in a toast to slaying the beast.

I have been home a few weeks now and word has spread through friends, family and work community that I have returned a victor from Houston. I slide back into life, literally when my plane lands. I had one small moment of emotional release when I saw my husband waiting in the airport family greeting area for me. My middle-aged, hulk of a handsome man, his yellow shirt stark against his tanned and weathered skin slipped his arms around me and for just a moment a few tears fell. Tears of relief in feeling his strength surge through me and tears of joy to share face to face the news of my clean scan. I am barely home 10 minutes when I am off to a clinic to check a patient. I laugh out loud as I sit at a traffic light about how absurd it is that I didn't even unpack and I am up and out of the house with kiss and hug from my husband like nothing ever happened. Then I think about all my virtual sorority sisters (and brothers) from around the country, no, around the world that are in this fight with me. Many of them having reached out to me in the last few days with congratulations, love and pure excitement. So many saying that if I could do it they could do it to! That I was their inspiration. Their hope. That's when the tears begin to come. I want them all to be NED and I don't understand my own recovery. No one really does. I just am. All I want to do is share it with everybody. I want everybody to have my results. In my head I understand that they don't know enough about anal cancer to create a "magic bullet" that will cure everyone. My tears turn to anger at the unfairness of it all. I pound my steering wheel, cast my eyes heavenward and ask my God "Why?"! I take a deep breath and then another trying to open my heart for God's answer. He doesn't tell me why, instead I feel my heart awash with peace and this thought comes to my mind. I am a poster child, reluctant at times, not by random chance but by His choice. I wasn't placed in this position by God's grace to feel guilty or boastful about my healing but to be humbled. It isn't about the healing at all. It's about hope. My dry tear stained cheeks strain against the smile that bubbles up through me. I can do it, I think. Share hope. It's easy. Sometimes I don't have to speak a word to share hope. I do it through my writing, my social media, my interactions with others at work and church. My attitude alone can demonstrate it. My virtual sorority sisters can have as much as they need. I have a never ending supply from my heavenly father. I shared it with my soul sister during our time together in Houston. I am sharing it with you now. I am the poster child of hope.  

  

 

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What an amazing and inspiring post!!! Thank you for sharing!
Michele likes this comment
I'm so glad you posted. Thank you for your message..it's wonderfully uplifting. Sorry about your friend's recurrence. Life happens like that.
Michele likes this comment
Always so pleased to hear from you. You are so inspirational & so eloquent with words saying exactly the right things. So thrilled for your latest clear scans Hugs Annabelle
Michele likes this comment
And I have gotten so much inspiration and hope through your writings and support through the years I have been here - thank you!
Michele likes this comment
You are my hero!!
Michele likes this comment
I just felt goose bumps all through me.. You are a wonderfully made child of God and my sister and I love you and am thrilled for you.. hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
Michele likes this comment
Beautiful Michele, thank you for being our inspiration!! XOXO
Michele likes this comment
Michelle, you LOOK well! And that means a lot. Your photos show a healthy glow. And Tammie too. Her face looks healthy and bright. This immunotherapy, i believe is an answer. Cancer has many answers now. Stay well.
Michele, Tammie like this comment
You are such a great writer...thank you for sharing!
Michele likes this comment
Michele, thank you for being our poster child of hope and for sharing your journey so eloquently with us. God bless.
Michele likes this comment
So happy for you Michele !! What an inspiration you are to us all, and what a great read to start my day. Thanks for sharing.
Michele likes this comment
Beautiful post!!!!
Michele likes this comment
I love you
Michele, Michele like this comment
I love you my beautiful Soul Sister!!!! You inspire us and give us so much hope.
Michele likes this comment
Awesome story of Hope! It is hard to understand life and how we are bound to it. To serve our time and our story for God's glory.
Michele likes this comment
:) xx
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Vital Info

Posts

October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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