Nearly twenty-five years ago I walked into a doctor’s office.
I found a lump a few weeks earlier. Because I was young (and clueless) I let those weeks pass.
When I finally realized the lump wasn’t going away, I made a doctor’s appointment. By the end of the day the word cancer was spoken for the first time.
Something happened as I battled Stage 3 cancer at the ripe age of 31.
“Stuff” lost its luster and the humans around me became ultra important.
Stuff wasn’t necessarily material things, but all the stuff that piled up in my life and on our calendar. All the activities and work and volunteering that kept me running from one place to another.
Stuff can also be the things that get in the way of loving our people well, like frustration and impatience and annoyance.
As I sat with my young children and tried to explain that mommy was sick, I memorized their faces. I wondered if I’d watch them grow up. I thought about things that weren’t even on my radar yet, like watching them graduate, or drive, or walk down the aisle.
I wrapped my arms around Richard. We had been married 12 years. I wanted 50 more.
Surgeries. Radiation. Chemotherapy.
The odds we were given was 40% of me living five years, and that dropped to a 10% chance when it was all said and done.
Cancer became a teacher, giving me one of my greatest lessons.
What we take for granted is often our greatest treasure.
This year I celebrate 25 years since that diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. I can honestly say that the greatest gift that cancer gave me was to slow down and appreciate my people.
I treasured the crazy driving lessons with three teenagers in three years.
I loved watching my children graduate high school and then college.
I wept as we celebrated three weddings in three years.
It wasn’t perfect, and there were moments where it didn’t necessarily feel like a Norman Rockwell moment, but they mattered.
They didn’t have to be perfect for me to appreciate them.
An hour ago, just right before I wrote and posted this blog post, I rocked six-month old Caleb to sleep. He and Jane are spending the night while mom and dad are away. Caleb is teething, so he needed a little extra attention. He’s six months old and has a smile that gets me every time.
Jame is four and growing up way faster than I want her to, but her favorite place is snuggled with Gaga.
I love that.
I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.
My prayer is that, as busy women, we’ll be aware of what is treasure, and what is just stuff.
Take a look around you.
Hold that child.
Linger in that spouse’s arms.
Play just a moment longer.
Laugh with that loved one.
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Thank you for sharing and for the great reminder!
I pray I’m aware of what is treasure and what is stuff, too. Thanks for this, Suzie. It’s a timely reminder for me as I get to go away with my husband this weekend, and yet my “stuff” pulls me in another direction. I appreciate you. Bless you!
A beautiful reminder that I need every. single. day. Thank you!
I can so relate to this. When my health failed two years ago, I was given a new perspective on life. I feel an urgency to live every moment and treasure every relationship. Thanks for your beautiful words.
I’m celebrating over here. 25 years?! Such a testimony of God! Suzie, I love and learn from your love on display. Seriously, you’re a mentor to me. I watch through social media (and at retreats) as you love your family members and the women of God He has placed in your life. And yes, there’s something to simply enjoying the ones right here, right now. Enjoy those sweet grandbabies!
Thank you Suzie for this inspiring story. I’m 8 years this year and my mother is 23 years survivor.. celebrating with you. Hugs. God Blezs.
I’m driving thru Utah and I was so excited to get bars so I could read your post.
I was not disappointed. You nailed what our treasure should be.
I was 40 when my stage 3 cancer hit. God taught me so much. I have learned to stop whatever i am doing if family and friends need to talk.My world is loving people as God so mercifully loves me.I am blessed to still going 16 years later. Heading to CA to snuggle with my grandmababies.
“Stuff can also be the things that get in the way of loving our people well, like frustration and impatience and annoyance.”
Yeah. That happened. Guilty as charged. And it shouldn’t be. This was an important message. Thanks for sharing your heart and the lessons you have learned. <3
Thank you –
Thank you for your story today. I am facing loosing a close friend and through the grief I treasure all the moments we’ve spent together. You are right–it’s just stuff.
Life becomes precious, and so does the prospect of eternity. I’m so sorry for this battle that your friend is in, and so grateful you are in it with her.
This is so true – and such a great reminder. I love how Jesus pointed to the birds in the sky – the flowers in the field — things that are oftentimes so unassuming and overlooked, as the things to focus on when we become overwhelmed by life’s worries.
Rebecca, I love that. What a beautiful analogy.
Thank you for the reminder, Suzie. Cancer gave me a new perspective, too. It’s the people around me who matter. But, it also made me realize I matter to them, as well. So, I have two good reasons to value and cherish the people I love. 4yr survivor.
Great perspective, Rachel. <3
Praising God for your 25 years! That’s wonderful! I was diagnosed with a rare cancer five years ago at the age of 34, so I can relate to every word of this. I have a bucket list that includes things like walking my daughter into first grade (done!), parenting teenagers (next year!), seeing my kids graduate (coming too soon!) . . . I’m not bold enough to put having grandkids on the list, but it is my hope and prayer! This weekend, I get to cross off a bucket list item as I will watch my middle child make a public profession of faith and join our church. All of these ordinary moments mean so much more to me now, and I’m thankful.
Cheering you on Marissa!
So much truth!
I see people, especially the youth not appreciating what they have and even complaining for not having more. Oh, if only they see the suffering of other people. They would never take things for granted anymore. Gratitude makes a lot of difference.
Thank you for the beautiful reminder to treasure what is important.
Wow! Thank you!! Beautiful! Congratulations!! xoxox