Today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day… Go Purple!
And I honestly don’t know what to say. Happy Day? Yeah let’s celebrate? Hmmm. And you would think this day would be near to my heart; yes it is.
But honestly a big part of me doesn’t even want to acknowledge days like this. Not because I don’t want a cure, or I’m callous to all those affected.
It’s actually the opposite.
It hurts to think about pancreatic disease in general, not just cancer (the force that tried to steal my life was unrelenting pancreatitis, my pseudopapillary tumor simply opened the flood gates.)
It hurts to remember that day at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center when I was told I had a large tumor taking over my pancreas & that meant I needed to withdraw from college IMMEDIATELY, drop my entire life, move back home, & have a Whipple (major surgery) 2 weeks later.
It hurts to think about all the goodbyes that tumor cost me. Not only physical goodbyes to my life, job, friends, & education at Western Kentucky Univeristy… but all the emotional goodbyes to things like independence, normalcy, food, physical strength, carefree life & the dreams that were stolen.
It hurts to think about the pain of the Whipple, though it saved my life 3 years ago from the enevitable truth that my tumor would have grown with disease & spread to other spots. Then, it would have been too late. I am so thankful. I am one of the too few lucky ones.
It hurts to remember that Christmas week when I was hospitalized for my first attack of acute pancreatitis. We were so sure, so hopeful this would be one setback in recovery & would not change my plans to return to college the next semester, stronger than ever…. we had no idea what was in store.
It hurts to remember the next month which is largely a blur because it included multiple hospitalizations, ever-worsening pancreatitis which would not relent…
It hurts to remember the first time I was forced to go more than three consecutive days totally NPO. When the doctor said 3 weeks NPO on only TPN (IV nutrition) & no I couldn’t even have ice; I did my best to stay strong but sobbed uncontrollably the second he left the room. My parents & brothers held hands around/on me & prayed for strength to make it through what seemed like the impossible.
It hurts to remember the way I did everything I was supposed to, yet, my pancreas continued to grow more diseased. It hurts to think about that 2 week hospitalization when I had surgery to get a feeding tube which came with intensely painful complications, including a blood clot which was cut into & drained at my bedside. Man, it hurts to remember the look of sheer terror on my dad’s face as he watched this bedside procedure, my entire body covered in sweat as I tried to remain still, not cry, & endure these horrific moments. The Lord carried me through with the constant whisper of, “My child when you are weak then I AM STRONG.”
It hurts to think about those next 9 months filled with 24/7 tube feeds which my body did not tolerate well, continuing to lose more weight that I couldn’t afford to get rid of, watching everyone around me eat – knowing I could not have even a crumb, forgetting the taste of food as the months dragged on & eating was no longer a part of my life.
It hurts to remember the continuous pain & the excruciating “attacks” I had almost daily that reduced me to a crumbled ball of tears. It hurts to remember the feelings of great unknown where I had no idea how many days I had left. It hurt me to think of leaving behind my loved ones though I ached for my heavenly home.
It hurts to think of all the doctor appointments that left everyone confused because my body was so mysterious & unique. All the trips we made that were so hard for me, yet necessary to find answers. To think of a surgery I had placed my hope in which was then taken away from me…
It hurts to remember the day we decided my only/best option for life was to have a pancreatectomy/splenectomy auto itself cell transplant. And though that was a joyous day because it meant MOVING ON TO BETTER LIFE, I hated that removing more-needed-organs was my only choice.
It hurts to remember that month in the hospital where the pain left me in Hell, constantly regretting the choice I had made to endure it all, & every second feeling like an eternity.
It hurts to remember the re-introduction of food to my system. Though it was a HUGE BLESSING, my body’s response left me extremely disappointed. But I prayed and hoped and knew it would get better…
But really it didn’t. Not much.
It hurts to remember that first year of recovery (I just hit the 2 year mark) & all the expectations I had that weren’t met. All the food I thought I would be able to at least try that I am STILL waiting to put in my mouth. All the sleepless nights filled with uncontrollable nausea, vomiting, pain… all the “no’s” I continued to say to things I so badly wished to be doing.
It hurts now, to look over as I write this & see a bag of fluids that I am running through my PICC line because my body still reacts adverslt to food/drink & I need assistance.
And it hurts to realize many dreams I had set for myself will need to continue to change/adapt as I live with sickness.
And so so so much more.
I share my pain with you not to be discouraging, but to be REAL & RAW & HONEST.
Last year I encouraged all my readers/friends to wear purple for pancreatic cancer/diseases awareness. I was blown away by the number of you who shared your beautiful pictures with me & stories of who you were wearing purple in honor of...
I didn’t do that this year. Again, it’s not that I do not care…it just felt overwhelming to acknowledge the cause & all the hard memories that it would bring back up for me.
But now, I’m thinking that’s selfish. I know that sickness is overwhelming, it does not take a break, it does not rest… I cannot choose to have a “cheat” day, or a day off from this body. The least I can do is fight for others who share many of my experiences.
So, would you join me?
Would you join me in these last 2 weeks of November & FLOOD this world with purple?
Would you post a picture when you wear that purple and use the tags #PurpleforPancreas #StillWatersBlog?
And if you know someone who has been affected by pancreatic disease of any kind, would you reach out to them? Let them know you are proud of them for all they have been through, let them know you are here for them with open arms, & don’t be pushy…let them know you understand that it hurts to remember.
So, yes, it still hurts to remember all the things my horrible pancreas stole from me. Life as I knew it, independence, dreams for the future…
But it gives me great JOY to remember that way My Savior carried me through every single moment. It gives me JOY to realize He has NEVER left my side & He never will!!
It fills my heart with JOY to know that my sickness has lead to this blog which has blown away all expectations I had when I started writing.
It gives my SOUL restoration when I remember all those who have been there for me, all the prayers said on my behalf, all the ANSWERS that have miraculously come, & all the glory of the Lord that has been shared because of this suffering.
Beauty from ashes is all around me.
God is so good. He knows what He is doing. He has an incredible plan for all of this ugly. And He has greater plans for me than I could ever dream up.
I trust in Him alone. I cling to Him above all else. And I praise Him for every single breath of life.
Gosh, my God is good.