In the beginning of this cancer journey, I promised myself and the Lord that this would not be in vain. That whatever the outcome of this, I would learn something. It was the only thing that kept me going sometimes, knowing that I was learning. Here is my list of thing I've learned the last two and a half years:
1. There is very little in this life we have control over. Our attitude is one of them. So are our choices.
2. In an ideal world, we would be able to help everyone, all the time. In the real world, we will go through phases, sometimes we can help 10 people, sometimes we can help one, and sometimes we can only help ourselves/our families. Each of those phases will come and go, and we need to recognize which phase we are in. Service within your own family is still service.
3. When you are crawling to bed on your hands and knees, and don't know how you will get up the next morning, stay there a moment longer and ask God to help you. He will.
4. Never be jealous of someone else's good fortune during your trials. You will have your season of good, and it will feel wonderful and you will want others to be happy for you, no matter where they are in their lives. Embrace others good seasons and be truly happy for them and look for the day when yours will come.
5. God does not abandon his children.
6. If you need to cry, then cry. Cry with your family, cry into your pillow, cry in your closet, cry behind the door. Then pick yourself up, and soldier through.
7. Learn to dance in the rain. It might be a long storm.
8. Not one breath in this life is guaranteed. Be grateful for each one.
9. We all know about heroes: policemen, firemen, servicemen, etc. I learned about a new kind of hero. The neighbor who brings you dinner when you are too exhausted to feed your family, or takes out your trash when you are too overwhelmed to remember. The nurse who makes an extra effort to make your child comfortable, or sits next to you to talk in the dark when she interrupts you crying in the night. The doctor who thinks about your child after they leave the hospital. The mother who lost her child to cancer, yet finds a way to console a mom who is complaining about treatments for her living daughter. These are the unsung heroes, and are just as important as those we honor publicly.
10. We need each other. I need other people to care about childhood cancer. A multiple sclerosis patient needs me to care about MS. A grieving mother or father needs us to care about suicide prevention. We are here together, and just because something doesn't affect us directly does not mean it isn't our problem.
11. Some things cannot be learned by any other means than our trials. So sometimes the answer to "WHY?" is "because this is the only way".
12. Suffering is called suffering for a reason. It is supposed to hurt. It is suffering. But how beautiful, then, is it when you feel bursts of joy through that suffering? Now THAT is what you are looking for, and THAT is what you can be grateful for.
13. A true friend is someone who is still your friend when it is hardest to be your friend. They know your weaknesses and love you anyway. They are among the greatest treasures on this earth, because they are hard to find.
14. Cancer can take life. But it cannot take love. It can't touch love, that is why it hurts so much when it takes life.
15. You can keep going long after you think you can't.
16. The only person on this earth we are competing with is ourselves. We should try every day to be better than we were yesterday. Not better than our neighbor, but better than ourselves. What would the world be like if we lived by that principle and stopped comparing ourselves to each other?
So yes, I learned some things. Still didn't like all the pain, still can hardly think back on it without getting a shortness of breath, but I learned some things, and for that I am grateful.