Perhaps I should start a Cancer Patient’s Journal series. We are all supposed to write one. My cancer journal turned into an eight-hundred page love story. Today my guest blogger Sandra Humphrey writes about her cancer journal turning into a litany of praise. Enjoy - Delinda
Sandra McLeod Humphrey is a retired clinical psychologist, a character education consultant, and an award-winning author of eight middle-grade and young adult books. She's also the recipient of the National Character Education Center's Award for Exemplary Leadership in Ethics Education (2000) and the 2005 Helen Keating Ott Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children's Literature. You can learn more about her books by visiting her Web site at www.kidscandoit.com.
A Season for Everything
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
When I found out I had breast cancer, my immediate response was--I’ve got to begin a cancer journal!
With over thirty years experience as a clinical psychologist and my last few years as a writer, all my psychological and literary juices came bubbling to the surface, and I knew I wanted to--no, make that I had to--journal.
And I knew exactly what kind of journal it would be. It would be a “psychological” journal relating my cancer journey from the viewpoint of a psychologist. A very sophisticated journal!
I was more surprised than anyone when my journal turned out to be something quite different--an intimate dialogue with God, thanking Him for all my many blessings along the way.
The first entry in my journal was a thank you for the gift of family when our ten-year-old granddaughter Johanna volunteered to journal along with me. I loved the idea of our journaling together, she from her perspective and me from my mine. And I looked forward to her companionship along the way.
After the official diagnosis, everything moved very quickly. Surgery in less than a week and again I wrote a thank you in my journal. A thank you for the gift of so many friends who took the time to send wonderful uplifting cards and notes.
Next came a thank you for the gift of caring professionals who treat the spirit as well as the body. All the members of my treatment team, from the surgeon and oncologist to the lab technicians, were always upbeat and optimistic, yet very professional and dedicated.
My chemotherapy began a month after the surgery and it was time for another thank you. I was so glad the chemo would be during the spring and summer when things were bright and beautiful rather than during the more gloomy winter months. I thanked God for the gift of His perfect timing.
Even when I was too tired to write or too nauseated to read, God kept me busy thinking. Just as one writing endeavor neared completion, He made sure there was another one on the horizon waiting for me.
Knowing how tired I was of the nausea and the “blahs,” He introduced me to The Heroes & Dreams Foundation which supplies character education materials to elementary schools all over the country. They had seen my website and asked me to be their consultant and official writer. What an unexpected bonanza and time for another thank you. A thank you for the gift of new endeavors and wonderful people who gave me all the time I needed to “get well” before expecting anything from me.
It was unsettling, to say the least, as my hair began to fall out during the chemotherapy--kind of like losing a body part. I had no idea my hair was so gray until I saw it sitting there in the wastebasket. I decided it was time to make the dreaded appointment to get my head shaved, so that I’d feel that I and not the cancer was in control. And I thanked Him for the gift of courage when I needed it most.
Next came the turbans and the wig. When our Great Dane MAC saw my wig on the styrofoam head in my study, he let out a menacing guttural growl, backed out of the room on his tippy-toes, and flew down the stairs like something was after him. We all laughed until it hurt and it felt so good to laugh. And I sent up a thank you for the gift of laughter which helped me keep everything else in perspective.
After the nausea and the “blahs” (not to mention the heart damage and the two weeks in the hospital getting blood transfusions) from the chemotherapy, the radiation was a piece of cake. I could finally see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel!
As I finished my journal, it was time to review the past year. There were so many things to be grateful for. Small things like my hair growing in curly after the chemo (alas, the curls are now long gone) and big things like the gift of restored health. This was not a journey I would have chosen, but it is a journey I will always cherish and never forget!