The warrior who battled cancer still needs support, patience, and time to walk through the healing process, which could take months or even years. The battle is not over just because the war may have been won.
October 6, 2021—a day I received the words that I would cling to at the end of a long journey. “You are in remission.” I held my breath on that Wednesday afternoon when my phone rang and I realized it was the doctor calling, he likely had my results of the lumpectomy I had had the week before. The chemotherapy treatments have been successful in eradicating the tumor and now it was time to begin radiation. Like chemotherapy, I knew nothing about radiation except that it was a treatment designed to shrink and dissolve cancer cells.
My experience with radiation therapy was one I wasn’t prepared for. Imagine machines that you can’t see buzzing and whirling around body parts that are normally kept private, while held captive by devices designed to aid in being still. Severe burns and pain were part of this part of the journey. The experience was both emotionally and physically exhausting. It left me with memories I can never erase.
After 30 rounds of radiation over six weeks, the process was completed and I continued with targeted therapy to put the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, in this cancer excavation. But the journey was far from over. There was healing and rebuilding to be done. A storm had raged in my life and now it was time for the cleanup.
The chemotherapy left me depleted. The surgery left me deflated. The radiation left me degraded. Scars and battle wounds would be my reminders of the war I had just been in. I had always thought that when a soldier came home from war, it was simply over! No more fighting, no more fear, no more battling for your life. But that soldier carries the memories and reflections of that war for a lifetime. I also thought that once a storm had passed and the danger was over, people just resumed life as normal. Similarly, I assumed that when someone who fought cancer got the remission declaration, it was simply over! Oh, how wrong I have been about all of it!
A soldier must deal with the emotional trauma he or she has been through possibly leaving them with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who have been through a horrific storm such as a hurricane, tornado or tsunami, have tremendous cleanup to do after the storm has passed, which may have left them with no resources at all. Cancer has much the same effect in the aftermath. There is emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual cleanup to be done. The healing is a long process and needs attending to with the same diligence as the cancer was fought.
The warrior who battled cancer still needs support, patience, and time to walk through the healing process, which could take months or even years. The battle is not over just because the war may have been won. The storm has not fully passed because there is much cleanup and rebuilding to be done. Though I am eternally thankful to my God for sparing my life from the death grip of cancer, there is still a battle going on and the remnants of the storm are still present. But I know that God will not let go of my hand just because the danger has passed. He will see me through my entire journey and beyond! This is a promise that I can hold fast to on the days I don’t have quite the energy I used to or the endurance from before cancer. My God is there through it all!
Cyndi Woods is a wife, mother, ministry leader, writer, and breast cancer survivor. As a blind woman, she is also a member of the disability community, where her heart lies to help extend the hands and feet of Jesus through education and assisting in engaging with and including the members of the disability community both inside the church as well as outside the church. A member of the First Flint Church in Flint, Michigan, she also seeks to give back to the cancer community with a ministry developed to comfort those going through chemotherapy.