Friday, June 22, 2012

More Than A Survivor

Survivor is defined as “a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died”.  The theme of the week for me has been survivorship with a follow-up appointment to the breast center, the one year anniversary date of diagnosis for a dear friend that I have made because of walking similar journeys, and running into my oncologist, Dr. Garg while out to eat in Annapolis the other night. I have to admit that I have been struggling with the term, survivor.  There are many positive reasons to be referred to in this way.  First of all, I do appreciate and do not take for granted that others have died from the event that I just went through. And secondly, I become a part of a very special group of women (and men) as a breast cancer survivor.  But if I am a “survivor” does it mean that breast cancer is just a thing of my past?  I can never be certain there will not be a recurrence.  I can also never deny that it changed so much of who I am and how I plan to live out my days.  I have come to realize the trouble with the term for me is that to survive this disease is not going to be enough. This “Bend in the Road” was for a reason and I want to make a difference because of it.  With the help of my husband who is a huge of fan of all Braveheart-type movies as well as an alumnus of the University of Hawaii, I think I have finally settled on a term that I can live with.  Warrior is “one who is engaged energetically and aggressively in an activity, a cause or a conflict”. I like to think of myself as a breast cancer warrior.

Although I fully intend to participate in events that raise awareness for breast cancer and have become a bit of an addict of all things pink, the way I hope to be energetically and aggressively engaged is by supporting other young women that are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.  I think back to that first week when the ton of bricks fell on us, and I want to be a part (even if it is a small part) of the Hope that other ladies experience as they begin to navigate the uncharted territory that is breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.  I have mentioned the kits that I have been able to share with a few ladies who were about to go through surgery, as well as my intention to become involved with the SOS (Survivors Offering Support) mentorship program. However, I have also recently decided to create a blog.  "Pinked Perspective"will hopefully be a place of encouragement for other young ladies that are diagnosed or maybe anyone that is experiencing a “Land Between” or a “Bend in the Road”.  It will also be a diary of sorts that gives glimpses into life at the Hamilton household.  I am going to be wrapping up my CaringBridge page soon and hope that you would consider following our family on the blog.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Commit and Carry

Over the last several months, our church has been trying to raise money for short-term mission trips that happened in the spring and will be happening this summer.  The project is called Commit and Carry and a few creative people have been selling shirts, stickers, journals etc to raise money for the work that is to be done in a few specific countries.  One of these countries is El Salvador and my parents are among the team that will be leaving tomorrow to travel there.  This trip is especially significant because they received the news of my diagnosis just 12 hours before they were scheduled to leave for El Salvador last summer.  I remember the struggle to come to a decision about what they should do.  Initially I was determined to see them go because I thought perhaps God had big plans for them there.  They had studied Spanish all year and prepared for several weeks for their trip.  It felt really selfish of me to ask them not to go.  So we prayed.  The three of us went before the Lord with the heaviest of hearts and asked for his guidance.  I remember the answer coming to me within moments of our “amen”.  The answer came through the words of my surgeon who had delivered my diagnosis just a few hours earlier. She said “Honey, the next several months are all about what you need.”  I realized in that moment that I needed my parents.  If anything were to happen to them while traveling out of the country, I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through the journey I was about to walk. 

And so I rejoice in their departure tomorrow.  I have purchased a Commit and Carry journal that I will use while they are gone.  I am dedicated to praying for them and the team as they carry out both what they have planned for their trip as well as the plans that the Lord has yet to reveal to them. They will be spending a lot of their time with the men, women and children of Guyabo at a community center that has recently been built. They plan to deliver sewing machines and teach sewing as a trade there. The married couples of the team (my parents included) will be mentoring a few Salvadoran couples in their faith.  And the ladies of the team will also be leading a women’s conference at the host church, Iglesia Gran Comision San Salvador, during which my mom will be giving a testimony on finding contentment in all circumstances, even a cancer diagnosis.  How exciting to think that God might be able to use my cancer journey all the way down in El Salvador!

Would you consider saying a prayer for my parents and the team this week, as well as for the ministry to the people of San Salvador?