Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life after cancer: It does exist

I don't know if you know this, but September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  Although culture has not seen fit to dye every doggone object teal like they will pink next month, this cause is a big one for me.  As a survivor nearly 4 years out of my diagnosis of STAGE III Ovarian Cancer, I want to dedicate this post in THANKFULLNESS of my health status.  Cancer-free.

I considered what I wanted to write about in light of the above. I could post pics of me bald.  I could reminisce.  I could re-tell my story.  I could give you warning signs and medical facts.  All of which would be fine.  Perhaps even better than what I will give to you.  But I've settled on something else.

Instead, I want to give you a snapshot of what HEALTH.  LIFE.   And HEROES look like to me- just a  Mom. Wife.  Cancer Survivor.  Regular Joe. (or should it be Jane.)  With a life lived fully and gratefully (for the most part. ) Hey, nobody's perfect.

Life around my castle has been full.  I gave myself a few weeks "off" when the kids went back to school.  During my weeks, I like to keep busy by volunteering at their school.  With all of the travel and moving and settling, I decided to wait and go back to "work" until after Labor Day (as the good lord intended!) I used those couple of weeks to settle the house, get things just so and do errands without my entourage.  But just about the time Labor Day rolled around, I was starting to get a little bored and was ready to get back into the swing of things.

The teachers at my kids' school are true HEROES.  Each person that I know personally who works at River's Edge Montessori goes above and beyond their pay grade to love and serve the kids of Dayton, OH. Many of these students are starting life off in ways that would make the average American's head spin.  Each day, these teachers do the best they can to teach kids who don't speak English, don't know where their next meal will come from, don't have stable home lives or don't have a home. Period.

Not to be misleading, there are plenty of students who come from homes that would rival any suburban situation.  We have many a gifted/talented student.  Our families who have found Dayton to be their home on immigrant or refugee status are some of the hardest working and most loving families I have met.  Their whole existence revolves around their children having a bright future. This city is beautiful because of it's diversity.  It is the same thing that, in my opinion, would make being a teacher here so challenging.

But these teachers give of themselves.  They go the extra mile.  They purchase snacks for their class because they know their kids are hungry.  One teacher I know goes weekly to Panera to collect the day old bread and sweets to pass out to students and teachers.  The only treat some of these kids will get all week.  This same teacher often stays HOURS after school to work for her students.  Teacher after teacher loves their kids with their whole being.  I want to be like them when I grow up.

The least I can do each week is serve these saints for just a few minutes.  Some days I sharpen pencils (it's my forte!)  Some days I grade papers or check home work (one hour less they have to do over their weekend).  I break copiers... I mean, I make copies.  I help kids read.  I give hugs.  I've even been known to sit in the school office (NOT my forte) and have only accidentally hit the panic button twice.  And NO, the cops didn't show up.  The school nurse bailed me out before that happened.  I listen.  I even fight at the district level when needed.  (It does nothing, but it makes ME feel better.)

My part is small.  My expertise, non-existent.  My heart is big.  My admiration for teachers, indescribable.  My thanks to GOD for granting me these bonus years... NEVER. EVER. ENDING.

The rest of my time I spend as a juggler.  A schedule magician.  A taxi driver.  A referee.  A ring master.  An illusionist.

Gymnastics practice three nights a week, soccer practice just as many, two after school tutoring sessions (for the kids, not me), violin lessons twice a week an hour before school starts (at the school at a whopping total of $30 for the entire year.  Yes, we will and thankyouverymuch!) modern dance on the one weekday that doesn't include all of the other activities, missions club once a month, church, pta, daily aerobic classes, keeping up with the house work so that the castle is a happy place to live, date nights, play dates, and the wrap up of another summer of Big Brother (my guilty pleasure).  Those are a few of the OTHER things that have been keeping me busy.

Just for fun this week I'm throwing in some dentist appointments, a mammogram, a cat scans blood work, bi-annual cancer check up, baby shower, birthday parties, backyard bbq's, a monthly meeting with the Sheriff to discuss race relations in Dayton, work with Athletes in Action and planning an event for our school to help foster relationships between families at the school.

This schedule is not a complaint.  It is not a boast or a brag.  It isn't even overwhelming.  It is a praise offering to the Healer God.  Ovarian cancer had a plan for me.  God has a bigger one.

While I do not know my future, I am thankful for today.  I am thankful for my health.  I am thankful for life, a gift to be used and shared.  Not to be taken for granted.  Today, a woman sits in a chemo chair that I once sat in.  I don't know her story.  I don't know her outcome.

Awareness. Thankfulness. Life.

I will not take what I have for granted!

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