Hope Leads the Way
I’ve been relatively quiet on here for a while. Aside from promoting the new book/record, I felt compelled to hold things close to my chest for the time being, trusting there was a reason why. I have long tried to be very intentional with these posts as I do not take your attention lightly. There are a whole lot of other things you could be doing with your time, so the fact you care enough to stop by here and read my thoughts on anything continues to surprise me and in turn, causes me to feel the weight of responsibility I have to steward the time well. All that to say, thanks for being here.
Today, New Year's Eve, marks the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis. As I have watched December 31st come closer with each sleep and every rising, I am keenly aware of the mixed emotions that flood my days. Mostly, an overwhelming gratitude for every word that has been written in my story. The fact I feel as good as I do right now is something I am thankful for every single day. And yet, there are daily reminders of my limitations and the truth that I am still fighting to be rid of this disease. At an appointment the other day with my medical oncologist, she said, “The truth is, your body will never be what it was before cancer. But hopefully what you’ve lost physically, you’ve gained in perspective.” Yes, perspective. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
People often ask me the usual questions: How are you doing? How often do you have scans? What’s your situation these days? So here's the update: As far as how I’m doing physically, all in all, I can’t complain. I feel better than I did and better than I could be feeling, so I celebrate that. My long-term meds have caused their fair share of issues but I'm here and I'm tolerating them so it's all good for now. I've rarely had an entire week go by in the past two years without some kind of PT, OT, lab work, or appointment, so yes, this part of my story still consumes more time than I'd like, but the new year should bring less and less of those appointments. I'm sure praying for that to be true.
As far as scans go, there really aren’t any scheduled scans. Only regular bloodwork which for me right now is every two to four weeks, depending on if I'm having any issues. If there is a reason to do a scan, they order one. So, in the past few months I’ve had x-rays, ultrasounds, a CT scan of my lungs, and a brain scan. So far, so good. A nasty bout with Covid in October was a big bummer, and one of the more annoying things over the past few months has been the realization that my body can’t tolerate bug bites. Stupid mosquitos sent me to urgent care three different times this summer because of infections that turned into cellulitis, which is risky for multiple reasons. Dumb bugs. Yay winter.
When people ask what my “status” is, I don’t really know what to say. I never got to ring a bell, which is what most people are wondering. On my last appointment with my radiation oncologist after I’d finished radiation last September, I asked him point blank, “So, what do I get to say now? Am I cancer free? Am I in remission? What do I tell people?” He said, “You tell people you’re doing everything you can.” While that wasn’t exactly the celebratory declaration I was hoping for, I did appreciate his honesty. So that’s how I’m doing.
Releasing the book and record, Hope Deserves an Anthem (HDAA), felt like both a finish line and a long walk toward the starting blocks as I prepare to run the next race before me. It’s strange because there is still so much to do with HDAA, but I also see several things falling into place that will usher me into a new season and I couldn’t be more excited. There was so much grieving to be done over the past two years; grieving much more than what I lost to cancer. In truth, cancer had to just get in line sometimes because other things in life demanded more of me than fighting that particular battle. And while I know grief is a lifelong companion for everyone, these days I’m choosing to make grief walk a step behind as I move forward arm in arm with possibility and opportunity, as hope leads the way.
As 2022 comes to a close, I'm looking forward to new books, new songs, new roles, new podcast episodes, and new adventures in 2023. I'm praying some very specific prayers for some people who are dear to me and trusting God to do His thing. I'm dreaming some pretty crazy dreams and taking some steps to put a couple of those into motion, because why not? I'm adopting a new plan for my social media life which will allow me to be more intentional with my time online, placing a higher value on my family, my friends, my creative life, and my sanity.
While it might not sound like like there's room for it, I'm excited about the rest I'm building into my schedule as well. I've long been criticized, even by some closest to me, for spinning too many plates. For the most part, I've learned to ignore the people who mean well, but who really don't know me well enough to comment on that particular issue in my life. There are VERY few people I allow to speak into my schedule and my responsibilities, and I do listen to them. These days, I mostly listen to my body, because it has the loudest voice in my life right now and I've gotten pretty good at listening to it.
I still get pretty teary when I think of who I was on December 31st, 2020 compared to who I am today. And while becoming the me I am now hasn't always been fun, I wouldn't trade what it took to get here for anything in the world. God only knows what it will take to make me who He wants me to be a year from now, but I'm certain it will be worth it.
My prayer for each of you as you enter a new year, is that you will allow yourself a few moments to remember the journey that was 2022, grieve what you lost, celebrate what you gained, and then find the perfect rhythm to march to as you join the 2023 parade. I pray you'll notice the amazing people marching alongside you, even if they march to a different beat. I pray you occasionally step out of line to dance to whatever music your hear calling you to do your thing, but even in doing so, you'll keep following the Leader of the band. And I pray that you, too, will walk arm in arm with possibility and opportunity, as hope leads the way.
12/31/2022 08:53:00 am
Love you so much my dear friend! Even though we don't get to see each other very much, you are always in my prayers and in my heart. Thank you for your blog and your honesty and transparency with others and most importantly with God! This current blog has encouraged me and inspired me to go grab my journal and begin to write about some things! Love you my friend and let's have some coffee soon!
12/31/2022 11:51:18 am
Gina, I’m so excited to see what God is going to do in your life in 2023! I was such an honor and a gift to be asked to work with you on HDAA! What a great work you have created for the world. You are such a blessing for so many of us. Blessings on you and your beautiful growing family!
1/9/2023 05:43:26 am
Gina, Your writing, podcasts, music, etc testify to the amazing woman you are...You are such a blessing to all who know you and you are always teaching us about trusting God. May 2023 be filled to overflow with laughter, joy and hope for you and your precious family. You are always in my prayers...Love to you and yours!
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