Dealing with a Diagnosis

For those of you who are reading this fresh and don’t know the back story, I have a return of cancer. Here are some of my thoughts about it.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me and my family on my cancer journey. I appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, well wishes, gift cards, cards, notes, messages, and all of the things that have come my way. It is so nice to have people there cheering me on.

I’ve gotten the whole, “How are you dooooooooiiiinnnngggg?” question. It’s the question I hate. Normally we all say that to people we meet that we haven’t seen for a bit but that question is completely different since I’ve had cancer…the “doooooooiiiinnnnnggggg” part of the question gets really drawn out.

If I just casually say, “Oh, I’m good”. Then the person often says something like, “No. I mean with ‘the cancer’.”

The truth of it all is…I AM doing good. I’m doing good with life and I’m doing good with “the cancer”.

I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m not upset. This is a path I already knew I would likely be going down. Since my original diagnosis, I’ve made decisions with the thought that my life was likely going to play out something like this. In general, I’ve always been a person who planned for the worst and then was pleasantly surprised when the worst didn’t happen.

The good news, this is all way better than the worst that I’ve imagined. Of course, it’s not the best I’ve imagined but it’s not the worst.

I was talking to my doctor last week and she said, “This is a setback but you know, you’ve had a really good run so far.” That is the truth. I was diagnosed early in 2016. I’ve lived my life normally for the last 7 1/2 years. That is such a blessing. In that time I’ve met and been a part of the lives of all 10 of my grandchildren. I’ve had a bump in the road here and there but my cancer hasn’t really limited me in any way. That is a good “run”.

Happily, I still have more time to run the race. I’m not on the last lap either. But I am definitely aware that I’m on the track and there is a race.

I think we’ve all had the thoughts…how will I live my life in old age? How will I die? Will I die young? Will I die old? Will I die first before my significant other?

There are so many different variables in how we’ll live our lives as we age. There are so many variables on how or when we will die.

As I saw my Dad age, as his daughter, I was so frustrated with him about his stubbornness in not putting a washing and dryer on the main floor of the farmhouse. I was frustrated with him that he wouldn’t modify the bathroom to put a walk-in shower in. Instead, he went to the basement for laundry and for showering. I was frustrated that he wouldn’t even begin to talk about leaving the farm. We were having these conversations when he was 88.

He was at the point where he needed these things. I so remember being a frustrated daughter who lived over two hours away and I couldn’t get my dad to take care of himself in these simple ways. I was okay with him living at the farm if that was his wish but the modifications for bathing and laundry he could have easily done. He had enough money and it would have put my mind at ease. It would have put the whole family’s minds at ease…but nope. He wouldn’t do it.

So many of the conversations I had with him over his last few years involved me asking him to take care of himself. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was a wonderful guy. In reality, this was likely one of his only faults.

Through all of that, I decided one thing. I want to live my life with grace. When the time comes for whatever that’s coming, I want to be graceful and grateful. I want to be accepting. I don’t want to cause stress and worry to my family. I want to accept whatever it is and do it so I don’t cause the same stress to my family that my dad caused me.

So many people have written or commented saying they are praying for a miracle. I am faithful but I am also a realist. I’m not going to be healed from cancer. My doctors know what they are dealing with. I have been told and I believe my cancer is not curable. My cancer is only treatable… That’s okay…it’s enough.

With that in mind, the best prayers would be prayers that help me and my family to be graceful, grateful, and…to be accepting of whatever happens down the road whenever that may be.

How else am I??? My back has been bothering me a bit. My back is sore in a way I would normally go to the chiropractor and she’d fix me up….but I’m not allowed to go to the chiropractor anymore. UGH. So I’ve been dealing with that. I occasionally tell myself the back is from my office chair at work but then I remind myself, yes you do have cancer and yes, it’s eating your vertebrae so it’s probably more likely the back discomfort is due to that.

This is all totally manageable typically some ibuprofen and I”‘m okay.

I’m so encouraged that I have a plan now. I’ve said it before and will continue saying it, having a plan is so helpful. It gives a person a place to focus their energy and it helps a person feel like they are doing something to work on the problem. (If you missed the blog post about my upcoming treatment, you can read it HERE. )

For now…we’re all good…again, thanks so much for the well wishes, thoughts, and prayers that you’ve been sending our way. It is appreciated.

29 thoughts on “Dealing with a Diagnosis”

  1. Your thoughts on grace and gratitude are exactly how I feel. I was not able to read your post concerning your treatment previously, but was able to today. It sounds very positive and combined with your positive attitude things will go well. Thank you for today’s post Jo. You are an inspiration in so many ways. I love your blog!!!

  2. You have such a good mindset about all of this, Jo. And I like what you wrote about not worrying your kids (with being stubborn) and accepting any changes that need to happen. That is also a concern for me – to not burden my kids as I age. Best wishes to you, Jo.

  3. I find that I need the chiropractor a lot less when I exercise. Check with your doctor, but something gentle might help. Of course, with 10 (!) grands and your gardening, etc., you’re probably getting a lot more exercise than I am! I applaud your attitude and will strive to remember it in my own life.

  4. I have been told “it’s most likely cancer” ten times now. I still have not had cancer. I’m grateful and little by little learning to be graceful. You have helped to keep me positive too. Love you Jo!

  5. Judith Fairchild

    I do like your attitude. I have found that being positive in a position of (possibilities) that the people who stay on the positive side of the issue do better than the moaner and groners. I worked in home health care for close to 30 years. I’m so glad your family is backing you too.

  6. Patricia Boelens

    Thank you so much for allowing us to accompany you on this journey. Sharing your outlook with us allows us to plan for how we may someday need to frame our own outlook. Prayers for comfort and strength are with you and your family daily.

  7. Thank You for teaching me about grace and gratitude, it’s something we all need more of. Keep doing what you are doing, you inspire us all. I wish you and your family nothing but the best. Heather

  8. So many things.

    1. I’m in full admiration that you’re dealing with your reality AND living your full life each and every day.
    2. I admire that you are willing to spend your time writing blog posts to educate people who read your blog.
    3. I admire the grit you and the family have to be kind to all the questions you get on a regular basis when you’d rather they not be asked in the first place.

    I remember well getting all the questions when Dad and then 13y later Mom lived through their end of life with cancer. Mom got fed up with it. We weren’t nearly so kind.

    Hugs to you and the family.

  9. You are passing your positive attitude to many others and that is a wonderful thing . Even when you went through the last treatments that were so rough, you kept up your high spirits and passed that to others. You are an inspiration on this path, as well as with your stitching and quilting. Thank you and you continue to be in my prayers.

  10. Marsha from Kansas

    Jo, I, too, am inspired by your outlook. When I went through my cancer surgery and radiation treatments, I prayed for God to walk beside me and give me strength to face whatever was in my future. I pray for that for you, too.

  11. Jo… from all you have said, I have no doubt that you are “in a good place” as you walk this path of uncertainty with grace and gratitude. No matter what any of us might face in life, we would all do well to follow your lead!

    In faith, I have every confidence that you will soon walk past this temporary “speed bump” to continue a life well-lived for many years to come! Your greatest concern – not for yourself – but for your family greatly touches me.

    You are a remarkable woman and I truly hope we can meet in person one day! I also want you to know that your recent post regarding changes you felt that you needed to make to get to HAPPY really inspired me to reflect upon my own life and what steps I could take to get there myself.

    Thank you for your candor and honesty about all things in life. You are a REAL person we can all relate to and that is RARE! You helped me feel that the rough spots I experience in life at times really are not so strange and unusual as I might imagine. My Quilting Buddy and I both talked the other day about how much THAT ONE POST spoke to us and helped us!

    So… anyway, YOU JUST KEEP BEING YOU and let the rest of us WATCH and LEARN from the lady who loves us as much as we love her! God knows we all need each other more than ever these days… and whether you like it or not, YOU ARE THE PACE CAR IN THIS RACE, so you ain’t goin’ anywhere anytime soon if we have anything to say about it!

    Love you, Jo! And THANK YOU!!!

    April in Iowa

  12. Jo, You are an inspiration in so many ways. We all have our struggles and most of us bottle them up. I admire your honesty and ability to be real about the challenges you face. Sorry to hear about the back pain and being unable to go to the chiropractor – any chance a massage is allowed? Or even a TENS treatment. I have this little yu it From Amazon and it’s been very effective. Put it on at night when you stitch and you will feel better—if your doctor says it’s all right, of course. Not sure if this link will work but google can get you there, too: iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit Muscle Stimulator for Pain Relief & Arthritis & Muscle Strength – Treats Tired and Sore Muscles in Your Shoulders, Back, Ab’s, Legs, Knee’s and More

    Keep the faith.

  13. You’re doing great Jo. The fight in you serves to remind us that happiness and wellness are a choice. We can determine the course to take. My walk with MS was scary at first. I became paralyzed on one side. Faith and prayers brought me through. I regained use of my hand and leg. I do believe in miracles. And that which ever way our health goes- that we trust the One who determines all things for us. I’ll continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your day, visions, pain and talents with us. We are all in this together.
    June (Tx)

  14. As always I enjoy reading your blog! I’m glad you are positive going into treatment! I’m sure it helps and I believe all the prayers will help you hold up too ! Good wishes all around

  15. You wrote a great blog today and I wish it could be read by everyone. Grace is so comforting. It’s difficult enough dealing with health and aging issues but to deal with someone who won’t try better ways is difficult. My BIL was very demanding and it made life so hard for his SO. My mother, brother, grandmother and 2 aunts died from cancer and my half sister had it so my genetic marker must be very high for cancer. You have showed me how to handle it if it comes my way. Thank you.

  16. What an uplifting message. My husband died at 45 d/t complicates from a congenital heart deformity. He NEVER said, “Why me?” He taught me how to accept the life we are dealt. Some being a challenge and most being a blessing. You have again reminded me of that well lived out lesson. Thank you

  17. Jo, I think of you often and admire your handling of a difficult situation. You show us all your grace and gratitude. Continued prayers your way for strength. It is so helpful to be positive and busy, which you are. Nice to get your mind on things you love. You are such a nice person and have a wonderful family.

  18. I want to thank you for taking us along on your journey with your family, your hobbies and your cancer fight. I have learned how to be more gentle with my own family by reading your blog, how to be more patient with myself with quilting and how to be kind to others who are battling an illness. I learned not to ask, how are you doing? You are doing grateful and gracefull well.

  19. Beryl in Owatonna

    So thankful I was able to read this post!! I will be praying The Lord will continue to give you strength and what a blessing for a good medical team!! I am thankful for your supporting family, also, that helps so much. You have been through so much as a family, but can see the happiness and love in their eyes…those kids, WOW! It is fun to watch them grow, thanks for sharing! HUGS n LOVE.

  20. Thank you so much for your insight. You have been able to still and stop bad thoughts I had about my final relationship with my very loving dad in his later years. I too held a level of frustration with him, but that is now all past and I need to continually be graceful and grateful for a loving family and loving community.

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