Joyce Minor

Cancer takes a toll, but also reminds us of our purpose

Most of my cancer treatment side effects are diminishing. Hallelujah! I am beginning to lose the weight I gained because of steroids that were part of my chemotherapy regimen. However, it is slow going and not a fun process, but dieting never is. I was delighted to find a fine layer of peach fuzz growing back on my head, but definitely not thrilled that it is coming in pure white. I have colored my hair for so many years, I just never realized that, if left to its own devices, my body would shout to the world that I am not as young as I'd like people to think. Hair is also regrowing on my legs and upper lip, where I'd just as soon it never came back. However, if it must return then at least it's not so bad if it's white. But, of course, this hair is growing in black as coal.
Another fun surprise is that my digestive process is seriously out of whack. I have always been a person who could eat almost anything anytime. I never had heartburn or irregularity, till now. These days I never know what to expect. Why must my body continue to betray me? Though my doctors are telling me I'm cancer free, I feel like I've aged 20 years in the last eight months. Maybe I'm just spoiled. I've always been healthy. Before 2013 I never took any medications stronger than a daily multi-vitamin and an occasional Tylenol for headaches. Now, I take a handful of pills every morning and evening plus a fiber supplement three times a day. I remember my grandfather taking pills by the handful and I always thought "that will never be me." Hah. How does that old song go?... "I'm my own grandpaw." Maybe part of this "feeling old" syndrome is that I'm now a grandmother twice over. I love my grandchildren. Holding them, playing with them, buying them things is such a delight. But secretly, inside my mind, I know that this stage of life is one more proof that the days are slipping by and I'm not getting any younger. This week I have to go back to Moffitt for another small surgery that's part of my reconstruction. It, too, brings a feeling of dread. I don't want to go back to feeling sick and nursing more surgical incisions. Each time I think the pain is over, there's one more procedure. Each time I think it's all behind me, there's one more treatment. Each time I think I can go back to being the woman I was pre-cancer, I discover she doesn't exist anymore. What's the purpose in all this? It's hard not to feel old, used up, and just plain tired of fighting it. Who is that wrinkled, nearly-bald, overweight woman in the mirror? Surely, not me. Some days I want to pull the covers over my head and never get out of bed. That's when I go to my Bible for reassurance like this: "I will be your God throughout your lifetime, until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along."(Isaiah 46:4) Then I check my email and find a note like this one forwarded from Michelle Roddenberry of Lake Placid. "I have followed Joyce Minor's journey through her struggle with breast cancer. She has been such an inspiration and I thank her for her openness and wonderful Christian testimony. Thank you, Highlands Today, for hiring and supporting such a brave and articulate woman. I am sure she has touched the hearts of a multitude of readers." Oh yes, there is a purpose after all.