How I’ve Made it Through the Past 9 Months

I’ve gotten some pretty great compliments this weekend from people who know I’m about done with my cancer treatments. I’ve been trying to accept compliments and not explain them away. It’s important to hear the great things people say about you.

I’m trying to believe that yes, I am strong. Yes, I am hopefully teaching my kids and my students about resilience and not giving up.

But here’s the thing: I did not do this in a vacuum.

While yes, some of that in just part of who I am. I want something so I work hard. I want to live. I want to be here for my kids. So I did all the hard stuff. But you would too.

Hell yes, I was scared. Terrified. I did a LOT of crying and cursing and trying to instruct God to take this all away.

I whined about pain and fatigue and appointments and my schedule and my work load (that was self-chosen, by the way).

Those of you have (wonderfully) told me that I have done this with strength and grace need to know that maybe that is what it looked like online, but it was messy and ugly and sad in real life. We all cried a lot around here.

I’ve mentioned that prayers got me through, and they did. But it would be a lie to say that is all that carried me (or us). I think being part of our church family definitely made a difference. If this had happened to me ten…shoot even 5…years ago, I don’t know that I would have managed as well as I did.

Prayers are great, but there is something to be said for having a lot of organized people on your team. I had friends who helped Cortney organized childcare–that was HUGE for me. Knowing I didn’t have to worry about caring for the kids while I was at my worst–and even when I just needed a break–was a major help. It meant I could actually rest when I needed to.

I also had friends who organized meals. I was encouraged to create a calendar for when our family needed meals the most and to be honest about what the kids would eat. Church families (shoot, all friends and families) love to cook for you when they can’t take your hurt away. Being honest about how picky our children were meant we got meals they would actually eat (and LOVE), with the bonus of us not having to worry about how the meals were going to happen.

We also had lots of friends give gift cards which was great when we needed a dinner on the quick or wanted to treat the kids (and us) to something fun.

Friends also gifted us with a Shipt subscription (which we loved so much we renewed).

People mailed or left care packages on our front stoop: books, the coziest blankets in the world, treats, notebooks, gift cards for the kids, beer, tea, fruits, cheeses, earbuds, music, lotion for my dry skin, and the list goes on. Little things that were not at all necessary to my healing, but contributed because they were things that made me smile through all the garbage.

And maybe the biggest thing: I continued to see my therapist through all of it. I have been with Dr. Melissa since I sought help for postpartum depression after Eddie was born. I have been with her for almost 8 years and I am so glad I keep my monthly appointments. I went more frequently during the time I was getting chemo because it did a number on my mental health.

I’m glad I did because a cancer diagnosis is really really hard to process. It’s unexpected and unwanted and really, really scary. So not only was I able to talk through my fears and my anxiety, but it was super helpful when I felt myself dipping into depression. And now, as I am coming out of all of it, I still have fears about recurrence and I think about my own mortality a lot.

I am getting through all of this because first and foremost: I have to. Not getting through it is just not an option.

But I am also getting through it because I have learned to let people take care of me and my family. I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself–all of myself: my mind and body.

27 radiation treatments out of 30 DONE.

3 more days left.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Katie you have so much of my admiration for what you have been through. You are nearly there. I agree that friends are amazing in hard times, that has certainly been my experience.

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