Sunday, March 16, 2014

Backing up finds loss and happiness

I have wondered if I am blogging less because I have less to say, at least less to say that is 'new'. I think that might be true. 

I am finally backing up my years of blog posts, working backwards by starting in 2014, one by one, re-reading them and enjoying the photos I posted. I just spent an hour backing up and re-reading all my posts from March 2012. Oh my, oh my. I think it would hard to top the range of feelings I had that month and clearly felt were beneficial (at least to me) to put into words. Only one post that month was a great recipe. The rest were either deep epic emotional outpourings or short posts about happiness, gratitude, and joy. 

I have not read the April 2012 posts yet, but seriously, after reading the March 2012 posts, I cannot imagine what I could add that would be new. However, it is informative to re-read a bit of one's life to both remember and reflect on how yesterday has shaped where you are today. Moving forward feels good. :)

I have a young friend struggling within a very difficult phase of her own cancer survivorship journey, finished with therapy but still trying to find a peaceful path forward with her young, vitally important life. I have always disliked the term "new normal" that is commonly used by oncology professionals. I have also been uncomfortable with the term "survivor", as each conveys to me a reminder of significant loss and struggle and a sense of unfairness. 

I don't have a better substitute, however maybe some of my readers do. I would like to hear what words you choose. Some use the term "cancer thriver" which perhaps shows more optimism, more determination than the more commonly-used term "survivor". 

I do know that I flat-out reject the term "remission" because of the near-expectation of "reappearance" that is associated with that word remission. So if someone asks if my cancer is "in remission", I politely tell them that instead, I prefer to consider myself "cancer-free" until I'm told otherwise. :)

I know one thing I have learned, truly viscerally learned, from my last cancer experience and its recovery journey is that words are powerful, i.e., "the pen is mightier than the sword" type of powerful. I also learned that I find it helpful to me to find words that may be helpful to others in their own life's journey for recovery and growth. The phrase "your new normal" can only be meaningful if somehow your new life after cancer (or after ___________ - fill in the blank) is even better than before. 

Somehow, somewhere, I realized first that helping others with their cancer recovery would help me be better than before cancer and secondly, helping others never have cancer in the first place led to starting our organic farm. Thus re-reading a phrase I found in a Feb 2012 post was a lovely 'find'. 

"Your calling is found where your deepest joy(s) and
the world's desperate need(s)

~ Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD at the 2012 MOSES Organic Farming Conference 
(paraphrasing theologian Frederich Buechner)

All of us struggle with something. No one escapes life's unfairnesses and losses. However, I hope that each of us finds a calling, something that keeps us going forward in spite of cancer (or even because of our cancer), in spite of sadness, in spite of loss. To do that, I also hope that each of us finds something that consistently gives us joy and happiness each day, sometimes in unexpected places, at unexpected times, like re-reading old blog posts, knowing that we have moved forward within our lives, "tasting the sweetness where we each had the chance" (~Diana, paraphrasing author Louise Erdrich from another of my March 2012 posts). :)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

Maru said...

Here are 3 things I said a lot during my cancer. Now 4 years out, I don't need to say any of 'em:

"I" am not "THAT". I am an arrow passing through.

It's in me but not of me.

Can I go now?!

Come to think, when I say "during my cancer" I'm talking about after it was diagnosed and treatment began. But I must have had it before that, though I don't include that in my "time". And I didn't have it anymore at some point during the treatment, though I count the whole ordeal as "when I had cancer". So how CAN we accurately talk about this, indeed? I like the idea (not mine originally, but I can't remember where I read it) that illness emerges and health emerges, too. Process and continuum. Not some clear line in the sand.