Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Temporary survivor

Well like Ben previewed, I was honored at Miami valley hospital's Champions of Hope event as a survivor. Getting an award for surviving a terminal disease feels a lot like getting an award for not being dead yet. In that case, we should all get awards because we are temporarily surviving whatever it is that is going to kill us. (Happy thought for the day).
Really, though. For me there was so much irony wrapped up in this award business because my medical circumstances and my spiritual reality both work together to make survival sort of a non-issue for me. I know that:
1) I will die. Don't know if it will actually be from brain cancer.
2) death will not be the end of me. Jesus said, "because I live, you also will live," and, "I will come again and bring you to myself that where I am you may be also."
3) my days on earth can be lived in freedom. Because of Christ's complete work on the cross, I don't need to spend my time ensuring my future. I can live in pursuit of loving others, developing talents that I enjoy, and seeking truth. I can live in Ohio or move to brazil. I can go through the drive-through and eat crappy food with my kids at their school.

It was a fun night and it was super kind of friends and family to attend and support me since I was super nervous about giving a little speech.
both sets of parents came into town for the fun.
I also got to buy a new dress which I loved until I walked in and another honoree had the same dress on! I had finally convinced a friend to trade dresses with me when I got distracted and it was too late and I just had to be mature about the whole thing and roll with it.
yup - those dresses are exactly the same!
It really is inspiring to think of the people we all know that are dealing with cancer and then the many many people who are involved in their care and support. Doctors, nurses, techs, family, friends. I know a lot of times it feels satisfying to criticize the medical industry but there really are some true heroes that work really hard to make people's darkest, most hopeless days more comfortable and happy.

Also, I got a trophy so my kids are really proud of me.

I know Ben is just itching to post a video of the thing but I would prefer that not happen. To try to hold him off a bit, I'll share some pictures and the text to my speech. I'm more comfortable writing than speaking.

I find this so ironic because I stand before you as someone who has made it through a long year and a half of my cancer journey, but someone who has a cancer with a 100% recurrence rate and no cure. So being a “survivor” is quite temporary. And
what kind of Champion of hope am I if there is no hope? How do you have hope when it is so dang hopeless?
But I do. I have so much hope. Because, to me, cancer isn’t a battle at all. I don’t like to call it a battle because that implies that there are two options winning, which is beating it, and losing, which is dying from it. And probably unless I get hit by a bus first I will die from this (hopefully not for a very long time). But, I can’t lose, because my victory has already been won for me.
Cancer can take away my security, my future, my abilities, my energy, my sanity and even my ability to go to the bathroom. Cancer can and probably will win the battle. But the things that I need to be victorious faith, hope and love, have already been given to me and can’t be taken away from me.
I can be sad at the losses my family has had and will have because of cancer. I can be heartbroken at the thought of my kids losing their mom someday. I can worry that I might not be there when they need me, but I can’t lose hope, because my hope isn’t in surviving and it isn’t in a cure that might be found someday. It’s in what already happened thousands of years ago when my savior gave His life to ransom mine so that whatever kills my body cannot threaten who I am in Jesus.
I know that all of us here think differently about spiritual things, but together as patients, caregivers, loved ones and medical professionals, we’ve all had to face mortality, and so we’ve all given it some thought. For me, facing my death has made it more important that I examine my longheld beliefs to find my reason for hope, and I’d like to offer that reason to you: not in what might be, but in what already is. You are already loved by the God who created you. He already paid the price for not only
your sins, but for what this broken world has taken from you. He is already standing at the door to your heart, asking you to let Him in. He has already bought you your hope and your Life, and waits to walk through your journey with you. And that’s where I find hope in the hopelessness.
I brought this book that I read to my kids. And when they’re not there, I read it to myself because I love it so much. It’s called The Jesus Storybook Bible, and it’s my favorite Bible. There’s a part I want to read to you. It’s right after Jesus died, and then came to life again, and paid a surprise visit to his friends to show them that He was alive and real.
Jesus’ friends were afraid. So they were hiding in an upstairs room with the door bolted shut. But that didn’t stop Jesus. He just walked straight through the wall.
“It’s a ghost!” Thomas screamed and hid under the table.
But it wasn’t a ghost.

“I’m hungry,” Jesus said. “What’s for lunch?”
Peter gave him a fish. They all hung back and watched him eat it. This can’t be, they were telling themselves. It’s impossible. It’s not happening.
But it was right in front of them.
“Delicious!” Jesus wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and grinned. “Can a ghost do that?” He winked. And then they all laughed.
“I’m really here!” Jesus said.
And he really was.
The friends felt their hearts would burst from the happiness. They ate together and chatted happily. And every now and then, they’d just gaze at Jesus, and have to touch him to be sure they weren’t dreaming.
Jesus had a real body but this body was better. It had come through death and couldn’t get sick or be killed again. This body would live forever. Jesus had come back with a brand new body.
Not only were sad things coming untrue, the friends realized, they were becoming new again. Was God going to make everything new?
Jesus said, “I am the Savior and the Rescuer of the world.” And they knew, because he couldn’t stay dead, because Jesus had come alive again, that somehow everything would be alright.


Oh and guess what? Some papers we needed have arrived from brazil and on Friday we are taking a quick trip to DC to try and apply for our visa. You know what to do! (pray)


  1. I loved every word of this post... until I got to the last two lines. Waaahhwahhh! Don't leave me. :( But, by all means, follow God's call on your life. :) I just wish that didn't include you leaving the 45324.

  2. Yow write powerfully--with such simplicity yet such depth! Thank you for opening your heart time and again. And, cannot believe it, but I know the one who wore the same dress! Heather Printz Salazar is a special friend of my younger sister, Amy Case!

  3. Love what you shared, Sus. Beautifully written and I'm sure beautifully presented even if we never get to see it... ;) That Bible is our family's favorite, too. It's amazing.