September14, 2010
They went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:24b
I had to write an introduction paragraph for my very first college class. The teacher asked us to say why we were taking his basic writing class. This was my paragraph;“Being diagnosed with cancer changes a person’s perspective on life. Recovery time after surgery creates time for meditating on ones regrets. Living with regrets when you have the power to change them is not living at all. Therefore, I have chosen to change things in my life and reverse the regrets to become accomplishments.”
I thought back on the time when my doctor finally set me down after many, many tests and said, “Well, there is something there but I am not sure what it is. I don’t think it is cancer, so you have three options. 1. Ignore it. 2. Medication. 3. Surgery.  I left his office shaken to my very core.
When you have a problem, do you ignore it? Just leave it alone and hope it goes away? Or do you medicate it and just mask the problem? Numb the pain that it causes and just live your life as if there is no problem?  Or do you become active and do something about it?
In my situation, I was sickened at the thought of a surgeon cutting my throat open, and being left with a scar that everyone could see. But do I just ignore it because of what I felt others would think? or because they could see a scar?  Was I going to make a decision based on pleasing everyone else?
I chose 3 – Surgery. As they were preparing me for surgery that morning, my Doctor  informed me that they would be waking me up in the operating room and asking me to say something. Because the thyroid is so close to the vocal chords, this was a precaution they did before they sewed me back up.  I don’t remember that, but I do remember being in the recovery room and the doctor standing over me and telling me it WAS cancer.  I DO remember that shock. And then him saying that he had to remove all the thyroid.
Two months later, on another follow up doctor visit, he explained to me that taking out my thyroid was like taking a pound of hamburger out of its package (on the yellow foam) and putting it in a pan. Sometimes you think you got every piece, but there might be a small sliver left in the packaging. Because a test detected thyroid activity, and mine had been cancerous, they could not take the chance that a sliver was left, so I had to do a radiation treatment.
HELP ME GOD! I  had to go to the hospital by myself, take a radioactive pill, and go into seclusion for 3 days. Could not be around anyone, could not share a bathroom, had to eat on paper plates and take all my trash back to the hospital after the three days, because it would all be radioactive. I had the worse case of flu like symptoms l had ever had. Every bone in my body hurt. My head hurt, but mostly my heart hurt because I had to be alone. And the anger……oh my. My hormones were so depleted that I could have killed someone. Not literally, but close! It was probably a good thing I was alone because nobody would have survived the rage.
I would have to be on medication the rest of my life, and when I was able to begin that, I was much better! Just ask Don. How he survived the 4 year ordeal, I guess proves that he really does love me.
The year after my surgery, when a body scan revealed that there was still thyroid activity, I had to do another radiation treatment. The difference this time was that I did not have to go off my medication. So I went through the same procedure and went into seclusion. What they didn’t warn me about, was that this would not be a gradual decline. This time it was sudden! I felt like I had been hit by a train.  Not only did my body take a hit, but so did my mind. For three days I lay in agony. I remember just crying…….there was nothing I could do but wait it out.  Three days seemed like eternity then, but today looking back, it was a very short time.
I share this story because it made me ponder how we deal with our problems. Just as I had three choices, so do you. You can choose to ignore problems, medicate problems, or deal with problems. If you choose the first or second, it will work for a time, but number three will continually be set in front of you until you deal with it. Problems do not go away. We can ignore them and delude ourselves into thinking they are gone. Or medicate them and numb them, but ultimately problems continue until we deal with them.
So, how do we deal with our problems?
  1. Face them. Lay them out on the table.
  2. Take action. Pray, forgive, let go, move on…….what do YOU need to do?
  3. Get help. Friends, relatives, pastor, or a counselor can help.
  4. Choose to grow from the situation. Don’t go backwards!  
  5. Do not live with regrets! Change what you can now.
  6. Know that some problems take time to work through.
  7. Do NOT give up.
Today, as I write this, I am going through these steps. I have made some major changes in my life that are out of my comfort zone. As I said in the beginning, “Living with regrets when you have the power to change them is not living at all. Therefore, I have chosen to change things in my life and reverse the regrets to become accomplishments.”
It is not easy, but it can be done. Care to join me on this adventure?