Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strength and courage

Last year at this time, I was diagnosed with melanoma, a very deadly form of skin cancer.  Almost nothing brings your world to a screeching hold as does the diagnosis of cancer.  I went through surgery, lots of recovery and was left with a scar from the bottom of my shoulder blade to almost my waist on my back as well as a small scar under my left arm when the doctor checked to ensure the cancer hadn't spread to my lymph nodes.  Thankfully they were able to successfully remove the cancer.  Every three months, I am required to see my dermatologist for follow-up appointments.  I had one such appointment today.

I was thrilled to share with him my Optifast journey and he was utterly amazed at the weight loss, especially with how fast it was.  It was nice to reflect on something so positive.  During these visits, he does a full body scan to see if I have any new spots or moles that are irregular in shape, the wrong kind of color, etc.  I pointed out a new mole I have on my chest that wasn't there during my last visit.  Since it was new and it was white in color, he was concerned the more he looked at it.  To be safe, he wanted to do a biopsy on it.

The word "biopsy" used to scare me to no end.  In my mind, that word was the doorway to cancer.  However, since last year, this is my fourth biopsy.  Yes, it told me I had cancer before but I've also had two other times where the news was benign.  Hopefully this time will also be the same result. Upon visual inspection of what he was removing, he said it looks like an innocent cyst but, of course, he would be sending it to the lab to have the necessary tests performed.  I laid there in silence as he did what he needed to do.  He did warn me that there would be a small scar on my chest.  There are certain times in your life where a scar is the last thing you want.  Then there are other times when you would happily take that scar, almost as a badge of courage. 

I have thought a lot today about fear and courage.  There is some fear that the cancer has returned.  You are never safely out of the woods once you have cancer in the first place and there are times when people have had melanoma return.  Yet, I know that there is a lot of courage in me because I didn't just wish this away.  I was the one that pointed out the spot to the doctor and ultimately the one to make the decision to have the biopsy done.  There is pain in my chest as I type this because of how deeply he had to cut to remove the spot, but I am being present and facing this fear.  God gives me that strength.  I pray for His healing touch and I know other people are praying as well. 

Strength and courage are both something that is not necessarily easy to come by.  I think that they are required in life more than just waiting for the results of a biopsy.  It takes tremendous strength and courage to love ourselves enough to want a better life, such as the journey we go on with Optifast.  There is such tremendous change out in the horizon and it takes an incredible amount of courage to be willing to unearth the rocks that have stood in our way and to break down the iron walls in front of us to a new life full of peace and love.  We find strength from within that will allow us to do things like move mountains if that was the task we are given.  Losing weight, especially when there is a significant amount to lose or excess weight has been with us for a long time, is incredibly difficult.  Emotions come up that sometimes are very unexpected and hard to deal with.  Yet, here we are, putting one foot in front of the other.  I feel like a very brave person in this moment, feeling fear but picking up my sword anyway.  Thank you, God, for that.


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