Once upon a time, (that seems like an appropriate beginning since this happened what feels like a very long time ago) I was going on a road trip to visit my sister. I lived in Richmond, Virginia and she lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. It would be about a nine hour trip - not including bathroom stops for my two little boys who would be with me. The plan was to get up early and leave around 4:00 am or so, so that the boys could sleep most of the way there. We packed the car, filled it up with fuel, said a prayer and we were ready for our adventure. It was a very rainy morning. I started driving and had just barely gotten through the city when I saw, in my rear view mirror, red and white flashing lights. SHOOT! In my excitement to get to my sister's house, I was speeding. In the dark. In the rain. With my two little boys! At first, I felt doomed that I had only been driving ten minutes and had already gotten a ticket and I still had nine hours of driving to go! I would for sure have to go the speed limit the whole rest of the way so that I wouldn't risk getting two tickets on one trip. And then I still had the trip coming back home! As the rain pounded and the visibility got worse due to low-lying fog, a thought occured to me. Just maybe that police officer saved our lives by helping me to remember to SLOW DOWN and to think a little more carefully about my journey. We continued on our trip, cautiously, and arrived safe and sound in Cincinnati. On the way back home to Virginia we had another early morning start. The fog was so dense, I could barely see past the hood of my car. With my two little boys asleep in the back seat, I remembered my lesson of the speeding ticket. Slow down and proceed with caution. Obey the rules. I did not want to get another ticket or worse, have an accident due to my thoughtlessness. We arrived home safely and I was grateful.
Fast forward ten years.
Life has been great. I have a wonderful husband and five beautiful children. We are finally settled in a wonderful neighborhood after so many years of schooling. We have met amazing people along our way. Things were great. UNTIL.... at the (young) age of 37, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. SHOOT! At first I felt doomed that I had only made it to age thirty-seven. And if I have already had cancer, how was I going to make it another forty years? I still have a family to raise and a long life to lead!
As I proceeded with my chemotherapy treatments, I realized how fragile and precious life is. Taking care of my family took every ounce of energy I had. It was my greatest desire. I relied heavily on family, friends and neighbors to help when I couldn't do the task myself. I am forever indebted to so many. I felt amazing strength and love from my Heavenly Father. As I laid on my bed too weak to stand, I remember looking over to my sweet, new born baby who was content and smiling, and I just KNEW that angels had been sent to care for her so that I could rest. I cried. I cried tears of sadness. I cried tears of gratitude. All I could do is whisper, "I Love You" and then pray that she knew and understood. I know she did.
Going through this journey together, our family became more gentle and united and faithful. I wanted to surround myself and my family by only good, happy things and people. There is no time for negativity. Life is too short! After treatments, when I got my energy and appetite mostly back, aside from having no hair, I felt like things were finally getting back to "normal". I was busy again carpooling, making dinners for my family, taking children to various activities. It felt amazing! I have transformed my daily menu into whole foods. I have picked up an exercise routine again. I have learned so much! My family has learned so much! I know that trials are meant to strengthen and refine us. I have learned that when things look like it is the end of the road, if looked at in the right light, you can see that it is just a little bump in the road.
It is easy to get stuck in routines and the monotony of life. It is easy to complain. It is easy to feel burdened and victimized, tired and worn down. Now, after having gone through all of this, I understand more fully the importance of having opposition in all things and in free agency. You can only appreciate the good if you have seen the bad and you can make the choice to learn from everything that comes your way. Although I am far from a perfect mother, I find much more joy in running errands, cooking meals, changing diapers and potty training, My realationship with my Heavenly Father is much more real and sincere. Scripture study and prayer is an important part of my day - not just an obligation.
I am not the same person I was before having breast cancer and for that I do believe I am grateful. I am much more aware of many things.
And so the thought occured to me, I don't have to be sad, or worried about not making it another forty years because like my speeding ticket, as a little reminder to slow down and enjoy the journey, JUST MAYBE ... breast cancer saved my life.