On December 19th, I was taken from my college life without warning. Completely blindsided by the rare and aggressive diagnosis, I didn't know which direction to turn. These people above welcomed me with open arms and loving hearts as I moved into their home.They took me in as one of their own, and that is exactly what I became.
Getting home from treatment on March 24th - CANCER FREE!
Even my darkest moments had so much light in this house, as these little rays of sunshine shared their innocence and genuine joy and also as Lisa and Aaron made every baby step of progress a reason to celebrate.
They embraced my heavy load in a selfless manor and never failed to find ways to gracefully lighten it without me even asking. We shared many late nights and early mornings trying to come up with a plan in the long days following my diagnosis. We found ourselves growing closer through the tears, the laughter, and the chaos. One of the most extremely beautiful gifts I have ever, or will ever receive, is the way that they never (not even once) made me or my situation feel like a burden.
I will never forget my surprise visit from Aaron during one of my roughest "patches" at treatment or having a green juice happy hour with Lisa in my hotel room. They made Arizona feel a little more like home just by being there.
It is hard to leave the comfort of this home, along with all of its security and love. I will, without a doubt, miss mornings waking up to Jude pounding on my bed wanting to make hot tea and reading Lexi books about fairy princesses and "neigh neigh's." I will miss tucking them in, singing the "fast car" song, and never turning down more snuggle time. I will miss being the fifth chair at the dinner table and the nights turned into mornings in the basement.
This time we've had together isn't anything I would've ever dreamed of. It is simply a gift. I never would have done it had I not gotten cancer, but I am so glad that I did. That's one of the best things about the diagnosis, it grants you time that is cherished with the ones you love. It makes you stop and appreciate simple things like waking up to the sound of little feet running on the floor above you, having good conversation, or coming home to a house full of people who are excited to see you.
There isn't anything easy about transitions. It's the bittersweet feeling of not wanting to leave the old, but anticipating the new with excitement and fear. It's hard to take the leap of faith into a new world that might not be as cozy as the old one. You might be forced to put yourself out there and create your own path. Things may not be black and white, in fact, they might be everything but. It might not work out anything like you hoped. But if you never try, you'll never know.
I've learned that there will never be the perfect time. There will never be a golden opportunity with zero risk involved. "Sometimes the only available form of transportation is a leap of faith." And that is exactly what I am doing. I've learned anxiety does not come from thinking about what the future holds, but from wanting to control it. I have been taught that lesson, and I still find myself wanting to plan every detail in order to avoid any discomfort. But that is not how God's plan for this life works.
Do I have it all figured out? Not even close. Can I afford to be on my own emotionally, financially, and physically? Probably not entirely.
But I am. I am doing it because I am still here. I am alive. And I am ready to become the doctor of chiropractic who changes people's lives. That vision is what drives me and pushes me beyond the borders of my comfort zone.
Christ has opened up a door for me that no man can ever close. To not challenge myself for growth and development in this life would be crazy. I cannot wait to see where He brings me next or to what heights I will grow, because I know it is going to be beautiful.
It does not even feel remotely real that tomorrow I am moving to Overland Park, KS to get all settled in before attending Cleveland Chiropractic College in the Fall. I cannot thank Lisa and Aaron for taking me under their wing enough, for my sister Kim and her husband Nick for supporting me and being mentors along my journey, for Jeremy loving me unconditionally, and my parents for always believing in me. I know that you all will continue to be beside me every step of the way, as my biggest cheerleaders and my number one fans. You make me feel like nothing is impossible.
Side note updates:
* Tuesday afternoon I completed what is called a CA Profile test to measure for existing or pre-existing cancers, as an alternative option for a PET scan. I will be eagerly (and anxiously) awaiting the results!! Any prayers would be greatly appreciated!
* This morning Dr. Bob Nilles asked me to speak at a small-group gathering here in Omaha. For some reason, it didn't occur to me until last night that I haven't ever really spoken before, although I've interviewed and done a lot of writing about my journey. It went pretty well and got me very excited about this next step!!
* The more I write, the more I consider writing professionally. I have a lot going on in life right now, but it's definitely something I am considering! Thank you all for your kind words and for sharing my journey. I am in awe as the more and more people it reaches.