Friday, November 5, 2010

Live Strong

I meet a lot of cancer survivors. They all seem to be doing well - big smiling faces, busy lives, no complaints.  Every once in a while, one of them will quietly ask me, "How are you doing?" with concern in their eyes, as if they know there is more to this recovery process than anyone lets on. And I would have to agree... 

Yes, I feel good. Yes, I am doing great. Yes, I am so thankful to be back to a "normal" life (whatever that means!). But apparently, when you are faced with the truth of your own mortality, it has a deep impact on your psyche. At least it has on mine. 

So God and I have been discussing these issues. Daily serious discussions like this:

Me:  "What is wrong with me?"
Me:  "Why can't I get over this?"
Me:  "Why am I still thinking about this?"
Me:  "Why do I feel this way?"
Me:  "Why do I feel so insecure?"
Me:  "I hate this."
God:  (silence)

And so I persist, like He tells me to, in prayer. Asking for His wisdom. Waiting for his answers.

Slowly, I begin to move forward. I have (almost) whole days where I never even think about cancer, or at least not until the end of the day. And as the days pass, God begins to speak.

He reminds me that I am grieving, and grief is good. It is a healing process. It takes time. We all process grief differently, at different rates and in different ways. So, I stop comparing myself to other cancer survivors. This is not, after all, a cancer survivor competition. 

I realize that my insecurity is a grief reaction. I am afraid to go out and live my life strong because I am afraid that if I do, I might get slammed again, just like I did with the initial cancer diagnosis. It helps to see it for what it is. I am reminded of a book I read many years ago called "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway." So, I decide to feel the fear and go ahead and live strong.

I am naturally a homebody. I love to travel, but when I am home I like to be at home. I don't have to go out and do things to be happy. I am happy at home. But over the last several weeks I have felt myself staying especially close to home. I have to force myself to get out every once in awhile just to go to the grocery store or run errands. Just this week I realized that this increasing need to hibernate is also a grief reaction. The world doesn't feel safe to me anymore.  And so I hide away, trying to stay safe. It's funny how the mind works!

Today, I had the privilege of hearing Kay Warren speak (she was awesome) and Nicole C. Mullins sing; and God's truth came flooding into my heart again:

"The very same God
That spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know, my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know My Redeemer lives"

(My Redeemer Lives by Nicole C. Mullins)

And God speaks:

God:  "I am still here with you."
God:  "You are doing great!"
God:  "Keep walking with Me. Live strong."
Me:    "Thank you. I will."

"Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, 
and those who give up their lives for me will have true life." 
Matthew 16:25


  1. I love you! Thank you for being so honest and open on your blog! From one homebody to another :)

  2. Amen sister, right there with you! Thank you again for your gift of expressing what so many of us survivors are feeling. Love you!! Debbie

  3. Even the caregivers feel this way too!

    Very well said, Laura! Thanks for reminding/encouraging me that what we are feeling at times is so "normal" as we wall this journey.

    Love you (and forever praying for you),

  4. You are my hero Laura Shook! You are beautiful --inside and out!
    Love teri

  5. I just read your note. You are my Helen Keller. She wrote to Rev. Phillips Brooks that she lived in darkness, silence and isolation but she had always known God, but just didn't know His name. I have so many of the same feelings as a survivor that you just expressed, but didn't know what to call them. Thank you for being that quiet voice in this noisy world that instructs me.