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When We Feel Like We’re Drowning: How Cancer Changed My Perspective

When cancer changes your perspective

Sometimes life grabs you by the nape of the neck, pins you up against a wall, taunts you to tears and jests at your utter frailty and vapid vulnerability: sometimes you feel like you’re drowning. When those moments come, (and come they will), we, as moms, ask hard questions; of ourselves, of our family, and of God.

Our peripheral vision narrows to a tunnel, the light dims and we see only part of what faces us. In those moments, when the way out and up and through is blurred, and the water of life’s trials rises around us, it is tempting to focus inward, with our narrow perspective.

TUNNEL Light

Things like lack of sleep, the baby blues/postpartum depression and/or anxiety, colicky babies, active toddlers, busy-scheduled school-aged kids, limited adult face to face social interactions and thoughtful conversations only add to the sensation of arms and legs getting heavy while treading water.

Dear mothers of little people: I have been there more than I care to admit. When we sometimes feel like we are drowning, we do not want to hear that this too shall pass, that children are a blessing, that this comes with the territory, and that we should have known it would have been hard. We. Do. Not. Want. To. Hear. This.

Hands Holding

Some days, our perspective will be skewed. And sometimes, it will not. I am so thankful for the lessons we learn while in the valleys and trenches of life, (though it has taken me a loooong time to get to the point of being able to praise amidst the deep waters).

But, it is often in the persevering that our perspective is able to shift, where we are able to get out (or even perhaps, dare I say to allow others to rescue us), of the deep waters.

I would like to share one such (hopefully encouraging) perspective shift I had recently, and I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I most assuredly felt like I was drowning. At times in life, we all face trials, whether relational, professional, medical, spiritual, mental, emotional, or familial. My specific slurry of trials won’t look like yours and yours will not resemble mine. Everyone gets their own flavor. Rising up from the deep, when hope floods our hearts and our eyes, we see the world anew.

building city legs feet perspective

So what was the impetus for this change, this influx of hope, you ask? It came indirectly, from my very own mother. Mother to daughter. So, it came full circle. My mother was well. And not just the pleasant, content, cared for, provided for, and happy-go-lucky kind of well: My mother was healthy. And that mattered. It mattered more than problems.

My mother who I love more than words typed on a keyboard could ever come close to epitomizing, completed her (almost) six-month treatment plan and is now 99.9% breast cancer free.

And not only that, but she persevered throughout every stage of the breast cancer treatment with a steadfast strength, dignity, and faith which inspired all who encountered her along the way, especially me.

perseverance underwater text hope

“…And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2-5 NIV)

Do I allow my mind to wade into the deep waters still? Oh yes, but I refuse to drown. Life is too precious, too wonderful, and too fleeting to miss the miracles of life all around us. In the words of Dory, just keep swimming sister, because hope does not disappoint.

The author has chosen to remain anonymous to respect her mother’s wish for privacy. 

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