Friday the 13th
FIVE YEARS LATER
by Sue Graber
I'm not a superstitious person by any means but Friday, the 13th, is one of those days that just kind of "stands out" to a lot of people. In our family it was always a rather special day as several members of my family were born on Friday, the 13th.
BUT, five years ago on July 13, 2007, I heard the words that none of us ever wants to hear… The "C" word — it was the day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It's hard to remember all the emotions going through my head and heart at that moment, but I do remember feeling fearful and anxious with a bit of helplessness as well.
Our oldest daughter was planning her wedding which would take place in just a couple of months. This was not supposed to be happening to me, to our family, because it does, in fact, affect all members of a family. I felt like I was robbing her of the joy that she so deserved by having this dark cloud over all of us.
As I recall that time, I am just so grateful that I was able to share in this beautiful time of her life. and in some ways I actually was able to be more "relaxed" because I was able to take a family leave until after the wedding.
I'm thankful that I was diagnosed early, that I was able to have a lumpectomy shortly after the diagnosis and then begin treatment with radiation and chemotherapy.
For the past five years, truthfully, I have tried to forget that time in my life because just like the rest of you, I didn't want to believe that it could happen to me…. much like the time I had to face up to my brother's death.
These things happened to other people, not me, not our family. . And if I just didn't think about it, maybe those awful feelings would just go away.
As I pondered today about whether I even wanted to "go back" to that time in my life, I realized that maybe by doing so I might be able to help someone else who is facing the same thing, or any challenge for that matter.
Let's face it, we all do have ups and downs in life — some are pretty traumatic. I just wanted to share with you a few thoughts in hopes that I might be an encouragement to you.
One of my friends from church who had gone through a similar experience just the year before, gave me a book called "Grace for Each Hour" — I literally devoured this book! The author, Mary J. Nelson, walked me through her journey with breast cancer.
When I would read her daily notes, I felt like she was writing straight from my heart…it's like everything she was saying was exactly what I was thinking, feeling, and going through. This helped me immensely to know that someone had walked the same walk and was now reaching out to encourage others.
Encouraging others — that's what we're supposed to do, right?
In the book, she shared her faith in God who ultimately is the One who helped both of us through our individual journeys.
I knew in my heart that I didn't really need to be fearful or anxious, but hearing the passages from Scripture that she had shared took away that anxiety and helped me realize that God Himself cared deeply for what I was going through.
I was sure that He was going to use this time in my life to help me grow in my faith and perhaps give me a nudge to step out of my comfort zone and be ready to do some of the things He had planned for me to do.
He definitely had my attention!
Have you ever faced a time in your life when you felt anxious & fearful and a little bit out of control? Did I mention that before this time I was a bit of a "control" freak? Guilty!
Amazing things happen when you realize that you really aren't in control!
Two Scripture verses that I recited daily were:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto Thine own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phillipans 4:13
Well, to make a long story short, I am so very grateful to be alive five years later on Friday the 13th… Since that time I have had the pleasure of seeing our daughter get married, become a grandma, see our youngest daughter graduate from college and spend some amazing time with our family.
I love each member of my family & am thankful for the relationship I have with each of them.
I've started writing in a gratitude journal and every day I start my day being grateful…not just for the "big" things — but for the things that really stand out to me that day. It might be the fact that our air conditioning is working on a hot day, that we have fresh produce from our own garden, that my husband made dinner. Being thankful for the little things does something for your heart in a good way.
Along with the gratitude journal, I've decided to take a gratitude challenge which is blessing my life in big ways as I share with others how they, too, can make a difference in the world.
AND I won't forget all the blessings I was given during my journey. I met one of my very best friends who was going through the same challenge…. We would email each other at all times of the night when we couldn't sleep because of the effects of the chemo or radiation.
How nice it was of God to give someone to me who totally understood what I was going through.
My doctors were the best. I couldn't have picked better ones — and to this day I am so grateful for each of them — and I know they truly care about me not only as a patient but a person.
So, there really is a silver lining inside the clouds. God has made me more bold in sharing my faith, in sharing my story, and in reaching out to help others. For that I am grateful … I don't want to waste the rest of my life wishing I had done this or that. I want to live according to His will and purpose for me.
May I encourage each of you, no matter what you might have already gone through, you are going through now, or you might have to face in the future. YOU are never alone… You have a God who loves you and cares about you and who provides just what you need when you need it.
Friday the 13th – It was a "wake up" call if you will. I am grateful for what I learned from that experience, for every single day that I am given and I want to do everything I can to make a difference in the lives of others and provide encouragement and love in a way that others, too, realize that they are not alone.
God is an awesome God and will never leave or forsake us!
Have you gone through a similar experience that has strengthend you? I'd love to have you share with me. Come on over to my Facebook page and connect! I'd love to encourage you if I can.
Sue Graber has been happily married for 35 years, raising 3 daughters while working creatively from home as an administrative assistant and a fund-raising specialist. She loves reaching out to others in kindness and is on a mission. She has an amazing ability to teach others how to build and nurture relationships, spend quality time with their families while generating income from home with a greeting card and gifting business. Sue is passionate about showing others how they, too, can make a difference every single day!