It's Not About Me

Cancer hits hard. But there is a way out of this misery. Some of us may take a longer time to discover the higher ground for this journey. Hopefully, we all find our joy toward HOME in the proper time.

This year will mark the third year as I spring forward to life. Instead of living in the shadow of fear and depression as I did for fifteen months after my cancer diagnosis on January 9, 2007, I am now revived and have a new outlook for living. The turning point for me was a matter of submission. It was a divine calling to submit myselfto God.

Little did I know that my total hysterectomy surgery would rip me of the many hormones I needed to be emotionally stable. The constant bucket of tears every day was totally pathetic and definitely a nonfunctional way for any human being to live. I kept telling myself that my God and the Bible would carry me through. However, God kept hinting to me that I needed an anti-depressant and to see a counselor. So typical of many of us, I thought I could do it on my own and didn’t need medication or counseling. It seemed a weakness to have to resort to these as solutions. Actually, it is the very ones who refuse to do so, due to pride, who are weak.

Even though I went for counseling for only three months, I was helped greatly because I had the freedom to disclose my most painful emotional problems to an impartial third party. How therapeutic it was to unload my burdens—so necessary for a heavy heart, and beneficial for the mind and body. Through counseling I gained a better vision for my journey ahead.

The search for happiness became a goal in itself. I tried to think about how to feel happy again. In the past, the thought of my two girls living without their mom killed my joy every day. Mothers with daughters who are eight and nine years old can imagine how dreadful this thought is. However, I have realized that the best gift I can give my kids is to live a happy life even though I have cancer. What matters is not how much longer you can live or if you will survive. It is how happy you are in this journey. Happiness is what people who love you want for you too.

So, I am trying to live like I don’t have cancer. This is not denial of reality. It is a brand new outlook on life. I am less concerned with what not to eat and how much exercise I need to do. Quality of life and I have become closer friends than before. Happiness has come from spending time with my two girls and other loved ones. I have decided to leave as many happy memories as possible for my girls by taking them on trips to places they would enjoy, especially to visits with grandparents and uncles and aunts overseas…and to Disney World! I not only want to be a better Mom, I am working at being a better person too—a person who is able to help others. None of us knows for sure how much time is left for us to make an impact on those whose paths we cross. My health/cancer updates I send via email to friends and family is one way I can encourage others… and in return receive encouragement from them.

There is another way I am looking at life differently: I no longer think of myself as the best one to take care of my kids, just because I am their mom. God released me from carrying this unnecessary burden. God is the true provider to my kids, not me! Many children grow up without their parents, and yet they turn out all right. I am confident God will guide my daughters in the right paths—with or without me beside them.

God has surely designed each of our paths with a divine purpose. Therefore, we can be happy with where we are and what we have in every part of our journey. The things we do not have do not make us incomplete, not a relationship nor materialistic things. We are complete as we are in this present moment. Thus I am not worrying about things I have to do or things I need to fix as long as I have already tried and done my part.

My present journey involves accepting my state of being as unpredictable. Accepting the fact that I may or may not have another day to live has brought about a greater happiness than I knew in the past. Acceptance has set me free—as the Bible says: The truth will set you free. It is a great de-stressor too—not the same as giving up. An unwillingness or refusal to admit there is something wrong in your body causes a constant struggle. It robs you of happiness and keeps you from moving on to better things waiting ahead of you.

This September after my girls and I returned from an extended visit with grandparents in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, I learned that my CA 125 was definitely not my friend. It had jumped from 27 in late May to 796!! After much discussion with my oncologist I was put on a different chemo drug called Doxil, which had more side effects than any other chemo drug. Believe it or not, I could be feeling desperate now. But I am not. Acceptance is indeed a Godsent attitude. I accept and know that God is in control, and I am moving on, praying that Doxil will become my friend and the side effects will be kept at bay. Be assured, I am also praying for REMISSION, for remission is PRICELESS.

I thank God for His mercy, grace and divine intervention in my life. I know very well that I am not worthy of His love. But He still loves me anyway and sent His son to redeem me from my sins. What more do I need? That’s why this is not about me. I hope God will use me as long as He pleases and will complete this piece of art according to His wish. It makes me elated that I can glorify Him through this cancer journey. I don’t have to be perfect to do this. All I need is my trust and faith in God and He will do the rest.

So let go and let God take you to places you never imagined. Please pray for me for Doxil to work and remission to come. Your inclusion of anyone in your life, whether it is with an activity, an invitation, a call, an email, a visit, a meal, a card, or some other kindness, gives hope and makes that person’s existence more real. God’s inclusion of me and you in His Kingdom is an act of His greatness and kindness. It is also PRICELESS.

(Oliva Chang was born in Hong Kong and has been living in the U.S. for almost 26 years. She is married and has 2 girls that Our Wonderful Lord blessed her with and for whom she wants to remain strong and happy for the rest of her cancer journey.)

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