Sort of. (Not really.)
I can't remember if I talked about this on ye olde blog. ... I know I did on the facebook, but I can't remember if I ever mentioned it here. (Don't ever get old. Or, if you do, don't lose your memory like I have. It's not fun.) ... Anyway, I was asked to speak at the Single Adult 3rd Sunday fireside this month. (We all know that I am a public speaking junkie. We also know that I will NEVER pass up an opportunity to speak to a group of single adults, because I am what we in the industry like to call a "shameless self promoter". I will get the attention of a tall man just about any way I can, and if that means I need to get up and talk about my history with the cancer, then... so be it.) I had been asked to share some of my experience with the cancer, and speak with an overall theme of gratitude.
Check and check. Those are, pretty much, my favorite things to talk about. E-ver.
And I did something totally out of character and I wrote a talk. (Not really. More like, I made a list. Or, rather, a series of lists. We all know that I love to make lists!) First I gave some details with the initial diagnosis and the history of the surgeries... and then, in the last 15 minutes or so, I shared the following:
What I've lost:
- A kidney, my spleen, a foot of my colon and 5 cm of my diaphragm.
- My immune system.
- A ton of weight. (Most of which I've gained back, but whatever. I lost it at one point, so I'm counting it here.)
- The ability to digest bell peppers, onions, garlic and spaghetti sauce.
- The will to hold a grudge, and/or the desire throw a fit when things don't go the way I wanted them to.
What I've learned:
- Where the retroperitoneum is AND how to spell it.
- That having your spleen removed is a splenectomy, but having a kidney removed is a nephrectomy. (I'm not sure why this is. Neither Merriam-Webster nor Dictionary.com can give me a satisfactory answer as to the etymology of the word "nephrectomy". Apparently, it started showing up in medical journals between 1875-1880, with no notes as to the actual origin of the word. ... Argh.)
- All manner of information on stool softeners and laxatives: which brands work best, and how often to take them (and in what combinations) to offset the effects of narcotics.
- How to walk again. Three times.
- That more people remember me, love me, and are genuinely interested in my life than I ever could have imagined.
What I know:
- The Lord has a plan, for all of us. He has a great, wide, plan for all of His children, sure. But He also knows us as individuals, and has a specific plan that was custom-made for each one of us, to get us where He wants us to be.
- Me getting cancer, three times, was part of the plan. I know this, because with each successive diagnosis, I was changed. There were things I learned the first time around that blew my freaking mind: not the least of which is I learned what my body could go through, and still come out okay. (Not awesome, but okay.) With my second tumor, I gained a whole new appreciation for the blessings of the priesthood my life. That second round clarified how important the gospel is to me, how important family relationships and friendship really are, and it helped me learn not to take my life - or anyone in it - for granted. And the third time around... well, there aren't words (and there isn't time) to go into everything I learned that time, so I'll narrow it down to my three biggest lessons learned in the calendar year of 2012: Love is the most powerful force on earth, prayer is real, and miracles happen.
- I know the Lord loves me. I know that He is aware of what happens in my life. I know that, even when (especially when) things are really hard, He takes care of me. I know that He has placed people in my sphere who bless and enrich my life in ways that I cannot begin to number.
- Again, I know the Lord has a plan. For each of us, He has a plan. And the cancer was part of His plan for my life. I know that. I know it as sure as I know that 1/3 of the hairs on my head are grey because of said cancer. Why I had to get sick, I may never know, but what I do know is that I would never give it back. The sleepless nights, the fear, the anxiety, the pain that I cannot begin to describe, the nerve damage and the scar tissue and the knowledge that I'll have scans for the rest of my life... I wouldn't give any of that back, because while cancer was really (REALLY) hard, it was also incredibly awesome, because it taught me about faith and life and love.
- And the most incredible thing about knowing that the Lord knows me, loves me, and has a plan for me is knowing that He also knows, loves, and has a plan for every other single person on the planet.
I testify that there is a plan, even a plan of happiness. Men are that they might have joy. Even in the midst of our trials - in the middle of the deep, dark night - the Lord knows who we are and He knows what we need. It is my belief that He wants us to be happy, to find the joy in the every day, and to celebrate every good thing in our lives.
* Yup, I talked about poop. From the pulpit. I even said the word "poop". Because it's Whitney's birthday - and because I could. (How often does an opportunity to say the phrase "poop from the pulpit" come up? I mean... I had to snatch that one right up.)
* I had no less than three people (a biology teacher, a doctor AND some sweet soul with an iPad) inform me that the word nephrectomy comes from nephrons. Apparently, that's what kidneys are made of. ... Or something like that. (I stop listening as soon as medical talk gets too graphic. Don't judge. It's a coping mechanism.)
* I had several people come up and tell me that they hadn't planned on coming, but felt like they needed to... and they were so glad they did, because that talk was for them: a cancer patient (breast cancer) and a man who's getting ready to undergo his fourth abdominal surgery in less than a year among them. That is literally what I prayed for, people - that I would say would people would need to hear. (Oh, and that I'd be funny and they would laugh. Because I so didn't want to be a boring fireside speaker. ... It happens. Sort of a lot.)
Man alive, I enjoy public speaking. But beyond the act of standing in front of a room full of people and knowing that I can make them laugh and/or cry, I love the personal connection that comes of knowing that people really heard what you had to say. I love people. I love them SO much! I'm so-so-so grateful for my life, for all of the blessings and all of the awesomeness that I enjoy on a daily basis. And tonight, I'm grateful that I had an opportunity to talk about so many of the things I am grateful for. ... If I could find a way to do this for a living, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I really would. But for now, I'll just go to bed happy that I was able to speak tonight, because I really do love it - so much.