Things Cancer Is Teaching Me

Letting someone know that you are thinking of them via a card or text means a lot.
Now that I know how much it means when someone sends me a text or a card telling me they are thinking of me, this is something I want to be better at when someone I know is going through a hard time. It's easy to feel alone and to wonder if anyone  really even cares about what you're going through, so a card or a text is a much needed reminder that people DO care and that you're not alone.

Reach out and DO something.
Another thing I've learned is that it can be hard to ask for help. I don't know if I speak for everyone, but I feel bad asking for things from people or inconveniencing them in any way. But if  offered...we probably won't turn something down! I've learned that instead of asking how to help, it's better sometimes to just go ahead and do it. There is a lot of stress that comes along with cancer, so having one less thing to worry about is always going to be appreciated.

There is good in everything if you choose to see it.

I've always tried to live my life being thankful and appreciating the beauty around me, even in the simplest of things. But that's easy to do when life is going great...it's when everything is going WRONG, when you're struggling and you're tired and you're stressed, that you have to make a conscious effort to STILL be thankful and to focus on the good. You make the choice to either wallow in your sadness and throw a pity party for yourself, or to keep your eyes open to seeing God's blessings in each day. One leads to despair, the other leads to joy. Because the fact is, even on the worst of days, there is always something to be thankful for. Always.

Live in the moment and cherish each day.
I don't know what my future holds...and that's scary. But the fact is, none of us do. We think we do. We set goals and have dreams and have our lives all planned out...and nothing is wrong with that. But the reality is, we aren't promised tomorrow. Our lives can be turned upside down in the blink of eye. It's great to have plans and dreams, but we have to keep in mind that our lives may not always turn out the way we pictured them to. As it says in Proverbs, "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."  We don't know what can happen in a day, or a month, or a year from now. All we truly have is this moment right here, right now. Worrying and stressing about what may or may not happen in  the future does no good and only causes us to miss out on the gift of TODAY. So choose to live in the moment and be thankful for each day that you're given. Find joy in the simple things in life. Hug and kiss your loved ones more. Tell them you love them. You'll regret it later if you don't.

It's important to have an outlet.

Cancer is stressful, for the person with cancer, but also for the caregiver and family. I've learned that even if you don't feel stressed, you are. I mean, you're constantly thinking about the person you love and their health and how you can help them...so even if you feel okay, you are carrying a lot inside, and that can wear on you. That's why it's so important to have an outlet, to have some "me" time. Taking that time for yourself is NOT selfish-it's only going to help you to be better. We all need to take that time for ourselves, to have a short escape from reality, and have a way to relieve stress and anxiety. For me, it's writing or blogging, getting a massage, going for a walk in nature, and lifting weights.

Even strong people need support and encouragement.
I've always been a very strong, independent person. I'm the one who other people have always come to for help and advice with their problems, but I've never really felt like I've needed that from others. I don't like to talk about my problems or feelings with anyone, and I don't like people feeling sorry for me. Ever since I was little, writing has always been my outlet, and God has been the One I've always turned to for strength and encouragement in hard times. But I've learned that sometimes it would be nice to NOT be the strong one all the time. It would be nice to have other strong people to speak encouragement and hope to YOU, especially when you've always been the one  to do that for everyone else.

Cling to God and His promises.

It's in the times of  pain and doubt and discouragement that we have to put our faith into practice, when we have to truly trust and believe in the God we say we believe in. Because what is faith if it's never tested? What is faith if we only trust God in the good times? It's easy to turn away from God, or to get mad at Him, or to think that He has abandoned us during trials. But this is when we have to dig into God's Word more than ever to remind ourselves how He has proven Himself faithful time and time again. We have to remind ourselves that even though our circumstances change, God doesn't. He is still there, and He is still good. These are the times when we have to put our trust and faith and hope in His Word and speak His promises to ourselves. These are the times we have to draw closer to Him, not farther away. These are the times when we have to lean on Him for strength, and trust Him to give us comfort and peace and hope like He said He would. These are the times we have to pray to Him even when we don't feel like praying, or don't know what to pray. These are the times we have to remember than God is with us, even when it doesn't feel like He is.

Caregiving is hard.
I'm not a naturally selfless, serving person. I can admit that. I am selfish. But putting someone else's needs before my own is teaching to be a servant. The Bible tells us to follow the example of Jesus, and Jesus was a servant.  If anything helps me to become more like Jesus, then I'm thankful for that. And like my pastor talked about last weekend, during trials and difficult circumstances, God is usually more concerned with changing US on the inside than He is in changing our circumstances.

There is purpose in our pain.

God doesn't waste our pain. Without knowing that, without knowing that God can work good from any and all situations, without knowing that He has a plan and purpose in this, I would not have hope. I don't think I could make it through a day if I didn't trust that God is working and moving in this situation, even if I can't always see it. Believe it or not, we aren't put here on earth just to collect things or gain success and fame and money. We're put here for a greater purpose, a purpose beyond ourselves. Nothing will teach you what truly matters in life more than a terminal illness. So don't waste your life on meaningless things like material possessions, or looks, or money. We have ONE purpose on this earth and one purpose only, and that is to glorify God and to spread His love and light to those around us. And often times, it's trials and sorrows that God uses to accomplish that purpose and to shape us into the person He wants us to be.


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