Suzanne Lindley

My husband and I were planning another baby when colon cancer entered our lives. At 31, our worlds turned upside down. Instead of marking the calendar with a date for a new addition, we penned a big red X that signified the day I would die.

Only one chemo existed for colon cancer. My prognosis was grim as the cancer had spread to my liver. We lost sight of the fact that I was living and mourned that I was dying. We prayed for a cure. Treatment started. I was lucky. Research for colon cancer was rampant and I benefited from each new treatment, buying precious time. Moving past side effects, including nausea, fatigue, and hair loss, we made the most of every moment.

Cancer taught us that hope lives in every breath and that miracles happen with each heartbeat. We cherished the milestones many families overlook. We had no time to waste and needed to make every second memorable. As our journey continued, cancer taught me to recognize the gift of those that surround and have surrounded my life these past fifteen years (September 17, 2013). I have tried to make sense of it all…the triumphs, the losses, the heartaches, and the celebrations of my friends.

Many have had cancer. Some lost their lives. Many survived. Others have been perfectly healthy and made heart-prints, too. Even some of those died. All have shared the blessing of friendship. I have learned that cancer makes us no more prone to death than the person next to us who believes that he/she has a lifetime of innumerable years ahead. We are all terminal. Every day is a gift.

I wonder at times what it would have been like to have journeyed through life without cancer, without chemo, without procedures and treatments, scans, surgeries, scars, and close calls. Would my life have been less full? Would I have taken the time to saddle a horse for my children on a moonlit night, or would I have procrastinated the opportunity away? Would I have pulled over next to a field of bluebonnets for a family photo op or would I have been too embarrassed by the passing cars and what their passengers might think? Would I have ever fully fathomed the unconditional love of my husband? Would I have been thankful for the dawn of a new day after a night that ended in fright? Would I have missed the blessing of this unanswered prayer?

I wish cancer hadn’t intruded on my family and robbed us of the innocence that makes us feel immortal. I find, though, that I’m glad we’ve embraced the most devastating event of our lives and made the best of it when the worst of it was ever present. I’m blessed to live a life that has experienced the warmth of great friends, the treasure of an extra breath, and the fulfillment of many dreams…..made more poignant and special because I’m SURVIVING WITH, and not dying from, cancer.