These past three years battling cancer have been difficult; but they have also been three of the best years of my life. Though my body was struggling to survive, my heart was constantly overwhelmed by the love and support of friends, family and complete strangers. I have never felt so connected to a community of kindness and selfless love. The faith of those around me held me up when I was weak and gave me the strength I needed to fight for my life.
This experience has taught me to be a kinder, more generous person with my heart, with my resources and with my prayers. I feel incredibly blessed by the community that has stood with me and by my family, who were there for me – and still are – in every moment of this battle. I am grateful to my husband, Scott, who didn’t run away when things got tough, but stayed by my side, proposed to me when I was completely bald, and then married me. Through the entire experience, he always made me feel like things were normal, which is near impossible when you’re connected to a bunch of IV meds or trying to deal with a tumor that starts bleeding profusely all over the bathroom floor. He cleaned up all the blood like it was no big deal.
Being a cancer survivor is weird. The last three years of treatment have left their scars. I’ve got permanent bald spots, I lost a portion of my hearing and now wear hearing aids; I’ve got scarring from the original melanoma and from one of the subcutaneous tumors. I have degeneration in my bones – and a tumor in one of my bones and now have to take a shot every month to keep my bones strong enough in case the tumor returns and grows. I still get fatigued and nauseated. I’ve had to build back my muscles and strength – I was down to just over 100lbs and could barely walk up stairs. I had to leave my job. I have neuropathy and chemo brain – which makes it hard to remember certain things. So these are some of my scars, reminders of this battle. This is what cancer has taken from me. But what it hasn’t taken is my life.
All of these scars are a reminder of what I have survived. Before I started Bio-Chemotherapy, I had over 20 tumors in my body and 50 tumors in my brain. Six Months later, many of the tumors had shrunk or completely disappeared. A year later and I have one tiny, unchanging spot near my lung and one tiny, unchanging spot in my brain (that may even just be scar tissue).
My scars remind me that I’ve experienced a miracle; that I’ve experienced God’s grace and the power of his people praying. They are my memento mori, a reminder that life is precious. They remind me not to despair, but to always hope. As much as cancer has taken from me, it does not compare to what I’ve gained: strength, compassion, hope, peace, kindness and faith. I have experienced a true community of believers – a spiritual house of living stones, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5). Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement. Though I am not yet totally cancer-free, I have peace in knowing that my days are numbered by God alone. But, you know…please keep praying.
Lanie Brewster Quinn