A very personal Thanksgiving came today about three weeks early and a little over 13 years later. My urology-oncologist used words I never anticipated hearing: “Your most recent lab tests, scans, and the procedural scope this morning indicate your bladder cancer is completely gone, and unless you need us, we don’t plan to see your smiling face this time next year.” It took a few seconds to grasp his meaning while sitting on the table in a wrapped-up sheet. “I need you to say it again, please,” I whispered. He glanced up from the scanning screen to look me directly in the eye: “No more bladder cancer, no more maintenance meds, and no more annual followup required. You have defied odds, beaten this foe with your bladder intact, and this medical chapter is closed. I wouldn’t expect anything less of you because you always do what you have to do.”
I can’t remember my thank-yous to the medical team, ringing the bell of victory, or the long walk back to my car in the massive hospital parking garage. I do remember bursting into broken sobs of relief and pure JOY as St. M answered his phone to hear me repeat this unexpected news.
In the formative years, my momma often reminded me: “We do what we have to do until we can do what we want to do, so buck up, my little buttercup.” I never truly grasped the significant depth of this until recently. I’ve always done what needed to be done. I am not, however, always certain what it is I really want to do, but I intend to gratefully ponder and explore many options.
So today: Gratefully think about something in your life you have to do versus something you really want to do. What will you do to “buck up” in your own way?
In the meantime, I am grateful to my extraordinary family, friends, medical team, colleagues, students, church family, and others for your hope, faith, JOY, assistance, meals, jokes, stories, prayers, smiles, hugs, reassurances, and unconditional love shared no matter the day, time, or status in my ongoing medical journey. Your gentleness and grace, especially on the darkest days, allowed my hope to grow and blossom into endless possibilities, and special thanks for reminding and helping me to show up and “buck up” every step of the way. 🙂