First (and the Inspire Me Mondays Link Up)

#inspirememondaysAbout a year after Pedro returned from the hospital and his successful stem cell transplant, I woke up one morning and decided I’d had enough. Enough moping around the house whining about my weight. Pedro had regained his pre-cancer weight—but I hadn’t lost mine.

I’d walked 10,000 steps a day for a year, and although I felt healthier, I still hadn’t lost a magical ten pounds. I’d lost a measly one pound. I keep of my school picture from that year somewhere (I hide it from myself and only come across it occasionally) because it’s a reminder of who I had become—an unhappy, overweight, grumpy woman who had received so many blessings that she had no reason to look like she’d been sucking on lemons.

I’d post it if I could find it. Really. I also suffered from Chemo Brain by Proxy—and Pedro’s last chemotherapy treatment had been administered more than a year before. For the first time, I actually felt prepared for change—and a seed of hope that maybe the cancer nightmare had finally ended seemed to grow within me.

Pedro’s one-year checkups revealed nothing wrong with him (in fact, at his appointment with the UCSF Hematology/Oncology clinic in San Francisco just about every nurse and doctor who had taken care of him during his stay on Eleven Long dropped by to ‘see the walking miracle’).

One thing kept me sane through all of the trauma, recovery and craziness. Each and every morning (except for a few weeks during Pedro’s darkest hours when I didn’t have time to journal) I spent time reading my Bible, praying and writing in a journal. That time alone served as a lifeline to me—a drowning caregiver, wife, mother, teacher and friend.

But I’d had enough with just surviving. Now I wanted more. I wanted to have energy to play with our girls. I wanted to hike the beautiful trails near our home and go mountain biking with Pedro (who was slowly gaining his strength and coordination back and eager to pursue pre-cancer activities).

Clancy had grown enough that she could advance from walking with me to jogging with me (German Shepherds aren’t supposed to do serious running until they’re at least a year old). I went on a low-carb diet and learned to ‘Stress Less, Move More and Eat Healthier’ (I read a book and followed a plan—I can’t remember the name of the book right now, though).

Wonder of wonders, it worked! I felt energized and ready to take on the world each day. The weight steadily slunk away. I discovered that I enjoyed running (and having an active dog that needed exercise prevented me from making excuses).

That spring, my dad invited Pedro and me to climb Mount St. Helens (an active volcano near my parent’s home in Washington that we had climbed when I was pregnant with our second daughter) in July—a year and seven months after Pedro’s transplant. I thought it would provide a perfect goal for my quest to regain my health. Pedro, whose post-cancer motto is “Try anything once!” agreed to come along.

God's mercies are made new each morning. http://wp.me/p2UZoK-wx #survivorOn July 25, 2004, we summited Mount St. Helens—after an arduous five mile hike with 4500 feet elevation gain. Although Pedro’s refrain during the last three miles of hiking to the parking lot on the way down consisted of, “I’m so stupid. I’m NEVER. going. to. do. this. again!”, we reveled in our accomplishments.

I’d lost 30 pounds. He’d gained 30 pounds. We had weathered a storm of monumental proportions and come out stronger on the other side. It wasn’t just about losing weight or climbing a mountain—it was about a grand gesture to show the world how God had carried us through—from first to last.

“God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope. First thing in the morning, be there for us!” Isaiah 33:2-4

Pedro and I summit Mount St. Helens just 19 months after his stem cell transplant Have you ever felt like celebrating a difficult journey by doing something arduous or audacious?

To find more comfort for caregivers, start here.

What’s your inspirational story?

Join us and link up your best post from the previous week. Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week (just ONE, please).

2. Vist TWO other contributors (starting with the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

3. Spread the cheer THREE ways! Tweet something from a post you read, share a post on your Facebook page, stumble upon it, pin it or whatever social media outlet you prefer–just do it!

Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

I found inspiration for my Monday at #inspirememondays. Join us! (tweet this)

So, go ahead! Take the plunge and share your most inspiring post with us!

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Anita, I loved reading this post this morning. It is amazing how God can bring about change in every area of our lives including weight. He puts His finger ever so gently to show us even what we need in order to be healthy physically. I love how our God tends to us both in practical & spiritual ways. Blessed to join you this morning!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…Day 27: Reading & PrayingMy Profile

    • Thank you for linking up! And yes, God is amazing, isn’t he? He knows what we need in order to best serve him and he helps us struggle through until we attain it.

  • What a great story! I appreciate your honesty. Very inspiring!
    Robyn recently posted…Running on EmptyMy Profile

    • Thanks for stopping by, Robyn. I’m kind of an introvert, so all of this honesty has been tough on me (but in a cathartic good way).

  • This is such a great story. Of all things, the five pounds I can’t seem to shed occupy way too much space in my brain. Thanks for putting it in perspective! Now I’m going outside to get the first few thousand of my 10,000 steps in.
    Cheryl recently posted…What I’ve learned from my Fitbit FlexMy Profile

    • Yay for you getting your exercise in early! It’s so much easier that way, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Anita, your journey has been so inspiring! What a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Congratulations to Pedro for his courage to press on and try anything once (and to you as well!)
    Renee Ratcliffe recently posted…Grace and Truth {and praying for our pastors}My Profile

    • Thank you for sharing it with me, Renee, and always leaving sweet comments :). God is so amazing.

  • As I read through this I thought of that song by Casting Crowns, “Thrive.”
    Jenny recently posted…Daybook Online JournalMy Profile

    • I love Casting Crowns, but I’m not sure I’ve heard that one. I’ll have to go look it up! Thank you :).

  • What an inspirational story! I couldn’t stop smiling! It’s also a dream of mine to visit a volcano in my life, so there’s that, too.
    Janice S. recently posted…Day 26: Four kingdoms (root idols)My Profile

    • Thank you for your kind words :). Volcanoes are pretty awesome–the cinder cone that’s building inside of Mount St. Helens is huge–but it looks pretty tiny, minuscule, actually, compared to the bulk of the mountain and the hole it’s growing in!

  • WOW, what an amazing story. I can identify with it in two ways. One, when you said you hadn’t lost your “cancer weight”. When my mom was going through all of that with my little brother it had a serious impact on her health and her weight. I am sure that is true for many people with loved ones that have cancer. I also relate to the part about getting back to life and going from surviving to thriving. That’s quite a journey you’ve been on!
    Messy Mom recently posted…See Him. Name Him. Draw Him Out.My Profile

    • It’s amazing the horrible things stress can do to you! I joke that it’s taken about one year of recovery for me for each month Pedro was ill. It’s not like I have put life on hold to recover–it’s more like little things that keep popping up and needing to be dealt with and I realize, “Man! I’ve been carrying around this baggage/burden for a long time and it’s time to grieve and get over it.”

  • WOW What an AWESOME inspirational story! Thank you for sharing this story today 🙂
    Sarah Travis recently posted…31 Days to Dream: I just want to be normal!My Profile

  • What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing. X

  • I like to photo title–“Sunburned and happy.” Reminds me of being a kid.
    Jenny recently posted…Daybook Online JournalMy Profile

    • I felt pretty kiddie giddy when I got to the top ;).

  • Pingback: 31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers | Blessed (but Stressed)()

  • This story is so awesome! What I really love about it is how even though you were going through such a discouraging time, you purposefully chose not to be a victim! One of the most memorable times in my life is when I determined to learn how to ski on a day when my body was overwhelmed with physical pain from some health problems I was having at the time. I felt like such a victor at the end of that day! What an amazing tribute to how God carried you guys through and brought you back to living again!
    Heather Faria recently posted…Day 10: Suffering – When God is Silent, Part 1My Profile

    • I’m so glad you learned how to ski! There is victory in sticking to things–that’s for sure. God has carried us, walked with us and guided our footsteps–and he will continue to do so as long as life remains in us :).