Sara has a lot of chapters to her story…not to mention that her personality has quite a few layers to it, as well.
Here’s how she tells it:
I was diagnosed with lung cancer at 32.
June 4, 2016, marks 15 years lung cancer-free.
“And no, I didn’t smoke.”
I find it’s best to preface it that way because people still assume for the most part that only smokers get lung cancer.
“Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can move forward.”
I chose to view the diagnosis as a blessing. Part of me was thrilled that we had finally figured out why I had been coughing and feeling so poorly for two years.
I didn’t even break down emotionally until the biopsy report confirmed that it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. It was one way I was able to retain control.
My entire lower and half of my upper left lobe of my lung were surgically removed in June 2001. I’d say that giving birth through my nose without an epidural would have been comparable to the pain I endured that week, especially considering I rejected the epidural I did have a couple days post-surgery. I’ve never been happier than the afternoon those tubes were pulled from my back.
“I was lucky. And blessed.”
About six or seven years ago, an annual CT scan indicated a fluid-filled cyst is lodged at the juncture where the lungs, spine and heart intersect (thereabouts) — not in a convenient location for a biopsy. Surgeons have said to “leave it be” unless it changes form or else anxiety causes my quality of life to suffer. Most days I don’t even think about it.
My life passed in front of my eyes.
That saying “your life will pass in front of your eyes in the face of death”? Yep, it’s true.
As I drove through a blizzard 19 years ago (Jan. 2007) east on Hwy 401 outside of London, Ontario, towards my apartment in Guelph, my car ended up under the side of a semi transport. I walked away from the accident unscathed except for a scratch on my hand.
This experience will garner a full blog post – probably even a video post if I get brave enough to do it – but let’s just say it was probably one of – if not THE – single defining moment for me spiritually and serves as a testament to my undying faith.
Lesson: When God speaks, listen and do exactly as He tells you to do. Period.
I’m tired of being fat and ugly. I want to look like the Sara I used to be.
And yeah, I have to accept myself and be happy with me, blah, blah, blah. I can’t find happiness through being thinner, in better physical shape and all that. Yeah, my MIND knows that, but it doesn’t make me feel any better when I’m a size 22 and weigh in at 237 pounds.
Sure I gained more than 100 pounds after being diagnosed with my lung cancer and being prescribed steroids and all that. I told myself that when I hit 200 pounds, I’d do something. Yeah, I did – I gained another 40 damn pounds. Hit a size 22 and really needed a size 24. Good God.
But another thing that’s true? You can want something in the worst way, BUT UNTIL YOU ARE READY AND THE STARS ALIGN, IT AIN’T HAPPENING.
When did it happen for me? It was Oct. 5, 2015. I had been having that intuitive sense for several months that the next chapter would be starting soon, but I didn’t know when. That was the day I woke up and God told me, “Today is the day.” And it was. Cold turkey. I signed up for Weight Watchers online on Oct. 6. I weighed in at 237.7 pounds. 237.7 pounds! Yuck. I lost 11 pounds that first week. No cravings. No anxiety. I just cut my portions and wrote everything down.
As of May 1, 2016, I have lost 62 pounds. I am on my way to my goal weight of 135 pounds. (I’m not going for the 119 pounds I was when I left college. That’s just stupid.)
Is it just vanity? Maybe. But let me tell you, I haven’t felt this good since I don’t know when. And in November I started walking! On purpose! I walk two to four miles daily, as a rule, and have registered for a half-marathon in Nashville in April. I may not be able to run it – the one lung thing sort of works against me – but damn! Me, doing physical activity voluntarily, is amazing in and of itself!
Nothing tastes as good as being thinner – and healthier – feels.
Three miscarriages crushed my spirit. Deadened my heart.
That’s about all I can say about that right now. I’m still working through that, especially my first one more than 11 years ago. It’s complicated and I’ve taken a lot of heat for not being able to forgive someone for wishing that loss upon me and never apologizing. I’m going to take a lot of heat for posting it publicly here, but frankly I don’t give a damn. I’m going to be working through this one for a very long time.
Lesson: We’re all a work in progress.
Yeah, there are other things I’ll touch on – or dwell on – depending on the day and which direction the wind blows. Love. Relationships. Friendships. Spirituality. Cows. Dogs. Books. (Yeah, the rumor is true – I’m writing romance and romance/suspense novels – what a hoot! Need some fun and fantasy, you know, even though reading them sends me into fits of envy. Like, seriously? If men like that really existed, there would be a lot more happy women – and ultimately happy men – and we’d all be joining hands and singing songs or something.) I guess that’s why they call it fiction.
And book reviews. I’ve been having the time of my life reading again. I have always adored reading, but hadn’t really delved into it for a couple to three decades. And now, writing reviews? It’s like Heaven all tied up with a bow.
I’m at that point in my life where I’m reconciling who I really am. I’m becoming a bit more bold about “not doing as I’m told” – sorry, but I’m past worrying what others think. I don’t plan to be mean about it, but I’m about authenticity, not appearances.
I’m willing to move mountains.
If you’re in my inner circle, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Well, within reason, that is. Sorry, but I won’t rob a bank or pose nude, just sayin’. Or drink tequila. I hate that stuff.
And if we’re friends, we’re probably really close friends. When I go in, I go ALL in.
My greatest fears are dying alone, losing my son before I die, and finding out that there aren’t animals in Heaven. (My dad assured me, though, before he fully transitioned that they’re there, so I think we’re good on that one.)
My biggest challenges are finding courage to take risks, appreciating my self-worth, and knowing when to keep my mouth shut. Like that is likely to happen.
I’m a really good cook, but can’t bake something to save myself.
Causes I’m personally drawn to are elder care issues – trust me, there are going to be a lot of people blindsided on this when the time comes; post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), especially among our military; and mental health issues. Being diagnosed in 1999 with depression was a saving grace. Until then my “normal” wasn’t normal, but I didn’t know that.
Oh, and I have a huge soft spot for abandoned and neglected animals.
You don’t have time to do everything, only time to do what matters.
Figure out what matters to you. And then do something about it.