My ~Much Better Late ~New Year
Tomorrow, January 6, 2018, is my New Year’s celebration. Despite the fact that my family and friends celebrated on January 1, tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new phase of my life, post-cancer. You see last year, 2017, was not one of my better years. In May, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In June, I had a lumpectomy, followed by months of chemotherapy, four infusions every three weeks, beginning in August and ending in late October. Subsequently, in mid-November, I began radiation – 34 treatments – which end today. I realize that most of my online friends and many friends who live at a distance were unaware of these happenings because I chose to share only with family and a few friends. Readers and friends would have no knowledge of my situation unless they saw me with my chemo head covering or during the weak and difficult weeks after an infusion. So this is not only my New Year’s celebration, it is also my coming out party. Thus, as it is a tradition to make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, I would like to share my own.
Firstly, I will continue to savor and to celebrate the astonishing miracle that is life, along with the exhilarating recognition that through life we are all connected to the ever-creative spirit of the universe. Some of us choose to call that spirit, that prime mover, Creator God. As do I. Along with the cancer, I have been blessed with grace and gratitude for an intense awareness of my connection with our creator. It is a connection that wrapped me in love during some of the darkest moments of chemo and through the most painful days that visited me during radiation as the treatments progressed. Even with the deep depression that I felt in the depths of the inky, black, fog of non-feeling that would set in within a few days after each chemo infusion, I could feel that I was not fighting alone and that my suffering was shared. It was clear that my task was to transform suffering into an affirmation of life. Perhaps my readers on Facebook noticed that I endeavored to make nearly all my posts affirm the higher values of love, justice, and peace. In summary, I have a renewed reverence for the divine and the universe achieved through the lens of faith.
My second resolution is to never let go of the gratitude and the joy that I feel as I walk into the future. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the support of family and friends during the past eight months. Without my strong and loving husband, I am sure I would not have emerged from the treatments with the success I feel at being “bent, but never broken” (his words). Along with my joy is an understanding that I am tasked with helping others to experience joy as well. Thus, though a shy person, I find it so much easier to smile and greet those that I meet. I feel the bubbling of joy in my throat when I FaceTime with our grandson or talk to loved ones. I have rediscovered my singing voice. Even though it was once very good and its quality has deteriorated, I belt out the words and the melodies with gusto. I find myself breaking into song for the slightest reason.
The third and last resolution I share stems from my thoughts as I debated whether to undergo chemotherapy or not. You see, I had the choice of refusing it. My tumor was Stage 1 with no lymph nodes affected. Usually, those findings require only surgery followed by radiation. However, because of the type of tumor it was, it was determined that I was at high risk of recurrence and it was recommended that I undergo both chemo and radiation. My age, plus other medical conditions were factors that could have swayed me not to endure chemotherapy. However, phrases that kept popping into my head were, “My dear husband and my cherished sons are not ready to play by themselves yet,” and, “I need time to be sure my spirit is in the right place.” These thoughts became blessings throughout the process!
In response to my decision to proceed with the full protocol of chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone blocker, I began to simplify, to cherish each minute with my loved ones, and to organize our lives in a way that, when we do pass, our children will not be left with chaos. I’m not there yet, but will continue to work toward that goal. As for my spiritual being, the meditation and devotion time that my husband and I spend together each morning has a whole new dimension for me. As I shared earlier, I am much more keenly aware of being connected and blessed and spend more time in gratitude throughout the day. In many ways, my name – Joy – has become my being for the first time in a long time.
Happy New Year!
* Photo – “Ribbon of Hope” by Maf04. On Flickr, Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).
10 thoughts on “My ~ Much Better Late ~ New Year”
Thank you for sharing your story and your resolutions for the New Year. You are celebrating Epiphany – the traditional time that the magi visited the baby Jesus – through bringing your own gifts, your resolutions to cherish life, to bring joy, and to experience peace. May this new year become the best one yet!
Yes, MamaChicks! I chose Epiphany intentionally. Epiphany means a “manifestation of the divine,” as was my spiritual process throughout my treatments. Thank you so much for your thoughts and words!
“It was clear that my task was to transform suffering into an affirmation of life.” You have been in sync with the world, Joy, however individual and private these months have been. May your focus on affirmation and joy help others cope and transform. Your energy, as well as your words, have a real effect in the world. Tomorrow is also called “Epiphany.” And here, from Merriam-Webster, are some definitions that relate: (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something. (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking. (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. Thank you for this message!
Oh Dearest Joy! Your love of life and compassion for all beings has always emanated from your soulful Self and inspired us so deeply. That you were able to continue to send hopeful, positive and harmonious messages to those of us so far away (and unaware) while going through this transformative time is yet another example of your keeping in tune with the higher realm–something you have always encouraged us to do. Thank you for all the goodness, the grace and love we continuously feel from you and know that it is returned to you a thousand-fold. Love Love Love, Karen
You are too kind, my dear, dear friend! Tears and love!
What a beautiful post, Joy! I have felt a spiritual connection to you just through our Facebook chats. I am glad you decided to go through this full and hero’s journey protocol, because I am looking forward to developing a relationship with you that goes beyond Facebook. I am blessed to have connected with you at this time in our lives. Sending you healing love….
Thank you, Paula! I look forward to our deepening connections as well!
Thank you, Stef. I hope you realize what a mentor you have been to me in terms of affirming life. Yes, I chose Epiphany intentionally as the day to celebrate all the spiritual gifts I have been given through the process.
Joy, I deeply honor the courage of your difficult journey and greatly appreciate that you have shared your story with us. I wish for you much joy, enduring health, and inspiration.
“This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” – Maya Angelou
Thank you, Marianne! This means a lot since you are a woman who I admire and whose work I honor as well. My word for this year is STRETCH, mind, body, spirit.