101: Thriving

101: Thriving

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Thriving

Your greatest responsibility is to live a life that nourishes your highest truth.

~Mollie Marti

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. For the next two years I battled that awful disease with the help of my strong faith in God, a loving family, a caring church family, and the amazing staff at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, Alberta. When my hair was just starting to grow back and my strength was starting to return, I looked in the mirror and said, “Now what?”

When I was in the throes of battle, I didn’t look ahead more than a day or week at a time. My entire focus was getting through each treatment and praying every single day that God would just give me a little more time to spend with my family and friends. I didn’t look toward a future because I honestly did not know if I would have a future. I was in a life or death battle.

When the doctors told me that I was clear of cancer and that I could now consider myself a survivor, of course I was ecstatic, but I was also a little confused. What did surviving really mean? I now had years ahead of me and I had no idea what to do with those years.

For several weeks I was in what I would call a holding pattern. I spent a lot of time praying and thinking about what I wanted out of life after cancer.

I was a mom with a growing family before cancer, so I naturally plugged myself into their daily lives again and felt recharged about having the energy to attend their school events and help them with homework again. There was a new attitude to the way I approached daily life. I no longer took for granted the blessings in each day, but lived in the moment and thoroughly enjoyed the daily surprises that come with raising children.

I started to volunteer again at my church. When the position of Children’s Minister was offered to me, I accepted. Only months after taking on that job, I felt a calling to take a few classes at seminary. That led to a four-year program to get my Master of Religious Education degree. Two years into that degree program, I was helping my daughter plan her wedding! Truly, I was as much surprised by these turn of events as my family was at my willingness to try something new and be as engaged in life as I was now. Instead of asking “Now what?” I was asking, “What’s next?”

One day, as I was purging some old and mostly forgotten files from my computer, I came across a story I had written long before I had cancer. It was an untitled manuscript, an unfinished work that I had written and then forgotten about. I was just ready to press the delete button when my husband looked over my shoulder and said, “You should finish that story and publish it.”

I think I laughed out loud at his foolhardy suggestion. I had a part-time job. I was just finishing up my degree. I was a very busy mom, and the thought of writing a book had never occurred to me. Still, the idea took root and within a few short weeks I had completed the manuscript and submitted it to a publisher.

That first book led to writing two more, and ten years after my cancer diagnosis I won a Canadian Christian Writing Award for my blog. I continue to be humbled by the literary awards I have accepted over the past few years.

I now have two thoroughly adorable grandchildren, and when I am not cuddling with them, I continue to write. We’re empty nesters now, my husband and I, so we like to camp and travel and spend quality time with each other and with our family. I teach creative writing and language arts to junior high school students and I am still active in my church teaching Sunday school. For the most part, that two-year battle with breast cancer seems like just a tiny season of my life that I look back on once in a while to acknowledge that I lived through it and survived.

But I did way more than just survive. I thrived.

~Lynn Dove

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