Yearly Wrap Up – Cancer Crept In

This is my last weekly wrap up and in fact will be my yearly wrap up for 2012.  I intend to take a blogging break until after Christmas.  As I look back on the year I see probably my hardest year yet.  God is good though, for He turned my weakness into a strength I didn’t know I had in me; truly ashes have become beauty.  I am writing this to mark a year passing since I first knew I had cancer.

It has been almost a year since I was given the diagnosis of an invasive malignant melanoma (I’m not a sun worshipper at all).  In the midst of the horror a diagnosis like that brings there was good news.  The doctors were fairly positive and after it was removed I was given an 85-95% chance of it not having spread systemically.  I have faced difficult, potentially life threatening problems in the past with my pregnancies, but these were all acute and resolved as soon as I gave birth.  This was different.  I can’t express how terrified I was.  My youngest wasn’t even one and I was faced with my own mortality.  I was to find that a cancer diagnosis either sinks you or makes you not just swim but fly.

I gave myself two weeks to collect all the information I could, to wallow, to cry, to basically handle it in any way I needed to.  I broke my mum’s and Gary’s heart by insisting we talked about our wishes in death, funerals and so forth.  We were very honest with the children, explaining everything, leaving out nothing.  I have always parented this way and cancer was not going to change that.  We would face this together as a family.

In fact I took three weeks.  I then stopped looking for information, stopped looking at blogs about people who were fighting melanoma and got back to the business of living.  It sounds so easy.  It wasn’t.  Even though I didn’t dwell on things, there were times I felt the fear and loneliness of the situation wash over me and almost overwhelm me.  In the early days I had felt God say to me with such clarity that the doctors only knew one part of my body, that I was intricately made by His own hands and He had given me today.  He was clear.  I was not to worry about what might be tomorrow, I was to live for today.

I was out for my evening walk when I looked up into the vast sky, scattered with stars and realised how utterly small I was.  How very little control I have over my own life.  How now is really all I have, cancer or not.  By the end of the summer I knew I had started living once more with all my might.  Every thing was that little bit brighter, the colours of life more vibrant, the people more precious.

Gary has shown me once more the caliber of man I married, his strength counteracting my weakness; his surety overshadowing my fear.  Truly my other half in every way, I couldn’t love him more.  My mum, the one constancy throughout my whole life, putting her needs behind mine to help, quietly and lovingly as ever. I couldn’t wish for a more wonderful mum.   And my two best friends.  One who lost her dad to melanoma the day after I was diagnosed.  The two of us trying our hardest to support each other in our troubles; the similar circumstances being that little bit too close to home for us both.  The other whose friendship I’ve had since I was 15.  Who prays for me and who I talk to most weeks even though there is a sea dividing us.  Both friendships I will never take for granted.  And my children, the reason I am able to face each day with enthusiasm and joy.  God knew what I  needed and He has given it and more.

Somehow we have managed to continue with our  homeschooling.  I can see more and more God’s purpose.  I am blessed to spend all day, everyday with my gorgeous family.  This year we have covered Ancient Romans, Ancient Celts, Meso Americans, Anglo – Saxons and Vikings.  We have finished Botany and begun Anatomy and Physiology.  But more than that – we have lived together, learned together, laughed together and most importantly loved together.  This year has probably been the most favourite year of my life.  It was the year I realised just how blessed I was.

Have a wonderful Christmas!


32 responses to “Yearly Wrap Up – Cancer Crept In”

  1. Brought tears to my eyes Claire! Its wonderful to be in Gods hands even when we have to go through things that we never thought we would go through.He is in control and to be in his hands is so amazing! Bless you all and love you very much! your wee irish friend! xo

  2. It’s easy to be loving and supporting to a beautiful woman who constantly puts other people before herself. I’m extremely proud of how you have dealt with things over the year and I pray that we have many more years of happiness together. I love you very much.

  3. Claire, what a testimony to God’s strength and grace. This reminds me of my favourite verse for home education-and much, much else: “My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

  4. Wow! This is the first time that I’ve been to your blog, and what an introduction! Your faith in God shines through so beautifully in this post. Here’s to many happy returns.

  5. Thank you for the inspiring post! I was really touched by it, and I’m glad that today, one year later, you are thriving!

  6. This is beautiful. It is wonderful to see what God has done in your life, and it is truly a blessing to homeschool at times like that, to be able to spend each and every day with the people you love!

  7. What a lovely post! You have such a sweet spirit. I’ll be praying for you and your family. I do know how cancer can make you notice things that you might not have noticed otherwise. My daughter had brain cancer 12 years ago.

  8. I cannot adequately explain how fitting it was for me to read this. I will consider this post at length and send you an email explaining myself. Please just know that I thank you for your honesty and your genuine expression.

  9. I discovered your blog tonight from your guest post at All Things Beautiful. I was so encouraged by your approach. I looked around your blog and saw this post and it hit so close to home. Except it is my husband, not myself that has melanoma. He went in for his first surgery 12 days after our 4th child was born. Then a second surgery a month later. With a new baby and dh’s recovery, most things were abandoned if they weren’t pressing. I blog, but not very often. I found I couldn’t even write about it. I didn’t know how to. Your post was exactly how I would have liked to say it. Thank you. Being faced with your mortality suddenly like that is excruciating and just like you say, summer came and everything was a bit brighter, more precious. I will pray for you when I pray for my husband. God bless you and your family.

    • I have tears in my eyes. Is the prognosis good? I can’t imagine handling that having just given birth. I pray the same prayer for you both that my husband prays for us – that you will have many years of happiness ahead of you both. Take care of yourself and your family.

      • Thank you for responding. Yes, his prognosis is good. We think we got the lymph node that had melanoma cells in it and removed all of the lymph nodes under his right arm just to be safe. Now we go in for check ups and PET scans every 6 months. He is a red head and there seems to be a genetic component to it. His sister (10 years his senior, also a red head), had it on the same area of her back at the same time, though it hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes. If she hadn’t mentioned it on a visit, we would have found out about his too late. I thank God for His intervention!

  10. I know this is an old post, but I just read it and can relate so much to what you wrote. My daughter is one week away for the day she was diagnosed with Leukemia last year. She also is doing well, but it’s very difficult to come to terms with things that seem so out of your control. Life is a cycle and you are right when you state that we are all such a small part of that cycle. It’s been a difficult year, but we are getting back to normal and working on living. I’m glad to see you doing the same.

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