I have always put very high expectations on myself, and on others. I finally felt like over the last year, I was letting some of that go... giving grace. Expecting the unexpected. Living my mission in joy!
Then... December 2016... I wasn't feeling well - it actually started close to my last post. I came home from my 3rd business trip within 3 months and felt like I had gotten the flu. Two weeks of straight up misery and after finally feeling better, the Monday before Christmas (December 19th to be exact), I felt a lump in my breast. I EXPECTED this to be nothing. I EXPECTED this to be a cyst. I EXPECTED the doctor would say, "It is a swollen gland, go home.. take this medicine."
But the lump triggered a series of events...doctor exam, diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy... which finally led to a phone call that I did NOT EXPECT... January 24, 2017... on a random afternoon... "Tiffany... you have cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma." A 4 cm. mass was aggressively rocking my world. I just met the love of my life in August, my son is graduating from high school this year... I have a full time job... I do NOT have time for cancer!!!
I started the expectation game again... I EXPECTED more out of myself - to have energy to maintain workouts and keep my house clean, to eat only plant-based meals, to be one of the "lucky ones" to keep my hair through chemo. I realized real quick that I not only had to drop the EXPECTATIONS of myself, but also the EXPECTATION of what cancer would do, how I would feel, or what would happen. No lies... cancer is a bitch. chemo is a bitch. steroids are bitches too. I just lost my hair this week. I have eaten cake twice this week, and I am not only too exhausted to work-out, I am not allowed to get my heart rate up to my fat burning rate with the type of chemo I am on.
I also had to change my expectations of people... because they will surprise you every single time. My son and fiance (oh wait, did I tell you I AM ENGAGED... yeah.. so there is that!) have blown me away with their love, encouragement and spirit. They have FAR EXCEEDED EVERY SINGLE EXPECTATION I have had. There have also been people that showed up with support and love when I least EXPECTED! I also had to deal with the disappointment of expecting people to understand cancer.
I am going to be the first to tell you... CANCER IS WEIRD! This journey is NOT what I expected...I didn't EXPECT to be fighting cancer before the age of 40. I didn't expect the questions, the stares, the people who want to be in my life because I have cancer, the ones who don't and the ones who stay in spite of it. YOU CAN NOT PREDICT or EXPECT things to happen in a certain way or order. I had 2 months to "prepare" myself for chemo - just to realize that you have NO IDEA unless you experience it. The crazy strength it takes to just fight for normalcy. The pain. The fear. The loss. BUT....God. He is here... in the midst of my illness, in the midst of my exhaustion. I have faith. My faith doesn't remove the fear... but it helps me fight it. It makes me have hope that cancer can be used to help others.
The last 3 months have been a ROLLER COASTER!!!! I after the cancer diagnosis came treatment plans, then my paw-paw passed away, then chemo port was installed, the treatments started, I got engaged... There are peaks.. and valleys... There is immeasurable pain mixed with immeasurable joy and gratitude. What is the best thing about a roller coaster? NO EXPECTATION except that you will get off of it with a story to tell.... Once I dropped the expectation of the dips and turns and ups and downs of this journey... I threw my hands up in the air... and embraced the ride... I felt free. God is the navigator of this journey. He knows every dip and turn. He has got this.
I came to the realization of something a couple of months ago: My mission is to encourage and inspire those facing adversity by sharing my story and leading by example. I can not live my mission without facing adversity myself. I hope that I can encourage and inspire you. Blessing and hugs to you all!