It was thirty-four degrees when I put my cap on, slipped out of my deck coat, and jumped into the pool. The water was warm against the chill air and I easily started the first lap. I could feel the cold with each stroke and turn, the contrast of warmth and cold was a strange comfort. It didn’t interrupt the natural rhythm and meditation I find in swimming, instead it stirred in me an awareness of living…feeling…contrast.
It is the northwest and it rains…lots of rain…and it gets windy and cold. Usually, the pool is covered with a giant bubble, but as with everything this year, covid requires adapting. No bubble. Pool is open. And still, I swim!
I swim for many reasons, but mostly because I can. Because I am still alive! Because I feel strong. This was not my story four years ago, when on a cold December day, instead of jumping into the pool, I jumped into the unknown of cancer…multiple myeloma. In an instant, my life changed. The odds were not good, statistics showed an average life expectancy of 3-4 years!
Statistics didn’t help me. And with a cancer that can have very different outcomes because of individual circumstances, I worked first on my attitude. An attitude of acceptance, forgiveness, joy and gratitude.
It’s been four years, and of course it isn’t just attitude. I do follow doctor recommendations, but I know my body and challenge the doctors to see me as an individual. I do some research, but haven’t joined any groups or follow “experts” online. I may someday, not now. I do get melancholy and fight the fear that comes from having an incurable cancer. I do my best to move every day, eat right, sleep and allow imperfection. I pray for a cure and do what I can to support research.
It’s been four years and I’ve beat the odds laid before me. I know my story could be much different. The doctor says I’m in remission. I don’t know. The word bothered me until I heard somewhere to think of it as a “re-mission”. It does feel different than when first diagnosed, when it is all drama and trauma and a rush to want everything fixed immediately. It is a gift of a second chance to create a new “mission” – to reassess my priorities, my heart and my faith. This new journey remains fresh, everyday I learn.
It’s been four years and I am stronger and I have peace. My faith sustains me and I believe that my work is not yet done. “From everyone who has been given much, much more will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12:47. This inspires me. It gives me hope and a purpose to do good with my life extended. I have trusted God for whatever for the outcome and believe that it is his will for me to be healthy. I pray for health restored, not just for His will be done, because I believe that it is His desire to heal and restore. And in health and sickness I have found strength in His compassion and love for me. So, it was no surprise to me that after this round of testing there was no myeloma found in my bone marrow. I am claiming it a victory…evidence of God’s continued grace.
It’s been four years, I’m stable. The doctor called it an “indolent” cancer, lazy and slow! I find that funny, because it’s the only thing about me that is!
I’m going to go jump in the pool!