Survivorship

Cancer free. Wow! The excitement is overwhelming. Chemo is done, incisions from surgery are continuing to heal, and we are back home! A miracle has happened and I have breath in my lungs today. I am celebrating life and am so thankful for this amazing gift that God has given me to live another day.

But here’s what I have found over the last few months. Things haven’t gone back to “normal” like I thought they would. I’m not sure what I expected Nicole looking out at the lake with a shirt on that says "Reckless Faith" on itpost-cancer life to be like, but maybe I didn’t think any differences would matter because being alive would be enough. And how can one express fears and insecurities without seeming ungrateful?

Well, I am here to share with all of the fighters and survivors reading that you are not alone if you feel this way. Your life is different. For some of you, it may feel amazing and for others, you might find that you are struggling with survivor’s guilt, where you fit in, and how to have conversations with people now. So what do we do?

Just like a battle with cancer, we had a treatment plan. In the same way, it is important to have a “survivorship plan”. I didn’t know that until now!

And that’s what I want to share today with each of you. I am not a psychologist, counselor, or expert by any stretch, but this is what I have experienced and the actions I am taking and so far, it is helping me. So maybe, one or all of these things, can help you in your survivorship journey, too! Or, if you have loved one facing this, you could share these suggestions!

Here is what I have observed and what I am doing:

  1. Being honest with my feelings with no guilt or shame attached: Getting all of my thoughts out of my head that lead to fear, anxiety, and insecurity, by writing them down and/or sharing them with others.
  2. Creating a “survivorship plan” on how to thrive and soar through this life rather than “just survive” while drowning in emotions that hold me back.

Honest Feelings in Survivorship

Overthinking social situations: Is cancer taking over every conversation? Am I suppressing it and not talking about it enough? How do I be “me” with others?

“Survivor’s Guilt”: How do I talk to others and celebrate being “cancer free” while the person I am talking with or someone they love is facing so much pain and hurt because of cancer?

Awareness vs. obsession of cancer reoccurance: How do I heighten awareness about checking my body to find tumors or thinking about cancer coming back without having it consume me?

Change of community: I’m not within the 4 walls of MD Anderson Cancer Center anymore where every person I encounter is a fighter, survivor, or supporter. I’ve been sick and away from family/friends/coworkers for a long time. How do I fit back into relationships? Or make new relationships?

Financial concerns: As hospital bills will flow in for the rest of our lives, expenses of traveling for scans, while also paying normal bills and student loans, can we make it work? 

Any of these questions resounding in your head, too? If yes, here are some ideas to help:

My Survivorship Plan

Pray. Each person’s situation is so different. There isn’t a rule book on how to handle cancer. Give yourself grace. Breathe. Allow yourself to cry. And most importantly, involve God in all of it. He hears you, He loves you, and He is with you. He’s not mad at you if you’re having a hard time with this. He desires to draw near to you and fill you with his words of love and truth.

Spend time with the Lord in prayer and ask for His help. Sometimes my prayer is just a sentence through tears saying “God, please help me” or “God please draw near to him/her in in their fight.” It doesn’t have to be pretty, He just asks us to be real.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” -Philippians 4:6

Share. Do you have a person or people in your life that understand the incredible Wes and Nicole enjoying a hike in Rainbow Fallsamount of changes that you are facing today? Do you trust them to give you wise counsel? You may be surprised by the loving embrace and support you receive when you truthfully share your journey. My husband and mentor have walked every step of the way with me and I just found a Christian Cancer Support Group to attend that I am looking forward trying! {If you don’t have someone you trust to share with, I would love nothing more than for you to share your story with me (connect@sparklysurvivor.com).}

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2

Seek Wisdom. I just began Christian Counseling with a counselor who specializes with cancer patients and survivors and it has been amazing so far! I lost a huge community of cancer fighters in Houston when I moved back to Colorado. If you haven’t been to counseling in a while, you may have a misconception about it. My counselor doesn’t just listen to me, but she has given practical ways to cope with fears and insecurities {I would love to share some with you if you are looking for practical ways to cope}! Prayerfully consider trying it again or for the first time! It’s proving to be helpful for me.

Maybe you already have a budget in place to handle the financial burden that cancer brings. We did not. We met with an amazing financial advisor and we also started Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey to help get our finances in order to tackle new financial obligations related to cancer. We have found out that not only can we pay hospital bills and pay off loans, but we can budget for a vacation at the end of the year, too! {If you have questions about this, please reach out!}

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,” -Proverbs 3:13

Community. It’s easy to want to isolate yourself. I’m an extrovert to the millionth percentile and even I have struggled with this. Some of our greatest battles happen in our minds so letting others hear your heart is so uplifting. Take the courageous step to jump into community as soon as you can with cancer fighters/survivors and those who don’t have cancer as well. No one fights alone!

“Finally, all of you, have unity in mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” -1 Peter 3:8

 

 

Fighters – Keep up the fight. If you read this, I hope it brings awareness and helpful suggestions of practical steps that you and your caregiver(s) can take if you are experiencing any of these fears today. You are not alone. You are in my prayers every single day.

Survivors – Have you found yourself feeling this way? What challenges did/do you face in survivorship? We would love to hear your words of encouragement and advice!  You are also in my prayers. Know that you are not forgotten. You are loved and so strong. I am so proud of you!

Supporters – Does this surprise you? In the past, I honestly would stop praying for friends and family as soon as they became cancer free. I thought, “Prayers have been answered so who is the next person I can pray for and encourage!” I hope this brings awareness that our survivors need love, prayer, and follow up, too! Was this helpful for you? Do you know someone that you could reach out to with a listening ear or words of encouragement?

 

Thank you all for hearing my heart. God is amazing and is walking every step of the way of survivorship with me and I look forward to maybe one day starting and leading a Christian Cancer Support Group!

This sparkly survivor is determined to SOAR! Let’s soar together!

Wes holding Nicole up in a ballerina position with caption "faith>fear because Christ>cancer"

Please reach out with prayer requests! I would be honored to pray with you!

God bless you all!

Sparkle on,
Nicole Body

16 comments

  1. You are spot-on with this! Every word is truth. Thank you for sharing this with us. I want more than anything for this cancer to lead people to our loving Lord. I truly believe we have been chosen to minister to people that few others can reach because we have ‘been there, done that’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa, thank you so much for weighing in on this! That is all that I want as well!! God works all things together for the good of those who love him and you are living that out! Blessed to journey with you!!!!!

      Like

  2. Nicole,
    You are such an inspiration to all! You are courageous yet insightful,and respectful for your gift of healing. You are blessed with such a loving support network and the best husband on the planet! So love the pictures of you & Wes.
    Love 💕 to you both always,
    Carolanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolanne, your words are so kind and uplifting! I appreciate it so much! The support and love that I have been given through family and friends has given me strength through this journey. I am so grateful and want to provide that for others through this blog. Thank you for your encouragement! You are truly wonderful.

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  3. I loved every word of this, Nicole. You GO, girl!!!

    Polly

    From: Nicole Body {Sparkly Survivor}
    Reply-To: Nicole Body {Sparkly Survivor}
    Date: Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 5:26 PM
    To: Polly Lott
    Subject: [New post] Survivorship

    SparklySurvivor posted: “Cancer free. Wow! The excitement is overwhelming. Chemo is done, incisions from surgery are continuing to heal, and we are back home! A miracle has happened and I have breath in my lungs today. I am celebrating life and am so thankful for this amazing gif”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nicole you are an inspiration. I look forward to the day I see your amazing smile again!

    On Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 5:26 PM Nicole Body {Sparkly Survivor} wrote:

    > SparklySurvivor posted: “Cancer free. Wow! The excitement is overwhelming. > Chemo is done, incisions from surgery are continuing to heal, and we are > back home! A miracle has happened and I have breath in my lungs today. I am > celebrating life and am so thankful for this amazing gif” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nicole, I love the way you are living out 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:
    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
    Your willingness to share your experience and faith continues to impact others with encouragement for the journey and hope in Christ. Sparkle on!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for inviting me to your blog. I am so happy to find others who understand my feelings. I have felt all that you have written about and more. This past year while fighting cancer, I have lost two close friends who were like mothers to me and a co-worker of 20 years to cancer as well as my former boss being diagnosed recently. Survivorship is just as difficult as having cancer. Many times I found myself a lone and dealing with survivors remorse. If it had not been for the grace of God and my family I would gone crazy. I’m in a better place now. I’m still learning how to live my new life as a survivor. i love harder low and I appreciate the beauty in the little things a lot more. Thank you for reaching out to me! Michelle Lewis/chakalate1908

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle, I am so thankful to have met you via social media. What an encouragement and blessing you are. I am so sorry for the difficult losses you have faced. Grieving on top of fighting and surviving is incredibly challenging and I just want you to know that you are not alone. As we navigate survivorship, God will guide us and lead us and He always seems to find a way to bring comfort and peace and community (for example, meeting you!) and for that I am grateful. We just have to give ourselves grace as we journey this new chapter and trust that God will never leave us to walk this path alone! So glad to know you! Thank you for your love and encouragement and inspiration today!

      Like

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