Cancer Free for 16 Years

January 2nd is Mom’s Alive Day around my house. It’s been 16 years since my last chemo treatment; 16 years since I heard the beautiful words ‘cancer free’. In some ways it seems like eons ago, in others it seems like yesterday. Any little unexpected twinge or unexplained pain brings it all flooding back. Having cancer is a traumatic experience. It leaves more than just the scars on your body. There are mental scars which regularly surface regarding anything medical. This past year I had a few exploratory scans, which, thankfully, verified my cancer free status. However, waiting for the results confirmed my psychological wounds are still not fully healed.

Fortunately, most days those cancer memories are far from my mind. A distant season I am happy to forget. Yet, I have reaped the benefits of facing death up close. So many benefits. Gratefulness. Compassion. Humility. Appreciation. I will never forget my dependency on those around me for my every need. Being too weak to function. Bald and sickly. It was horribly beautiful to have no options to care for myself. I had to learn to receive. I had to let go of my future and learn to live in the current moment. I had to learn that every breath is a gift. I will never forget that fact.

In the past 16 years I have tried to live fully. I have traveled the world. I have ministered in diverse communities. I have created art. I have spoken in public. I have adored nature. I have written books. I have read books. I have loved deeply. I have let go of expectations. I have learned to rest. I have encouraged others.

In 2022, my blogs were read by nearly 11,000 people in 82 countries. Some countries I have never even heard of. My third most read country after the US and Canada was China! All from sitting in my chair and writing. I didn’t even have to leave my house. Add to those numbers a few hundred people who read my book daily. A number of those regularly buy them to give away and others send me stories of how the words have been used in their lives. If you had told me these things, as I sat in my chemo chair, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

All of these statistics and stories amaze me because if I had not lived, none of it would be true. If had not had cancer, I probably wouldn’t have a blog because I started it to keep people informed of my journey. My blog was born out of my pain. I wrote my books because I realized I might not live long enough to “write a book after I retire.” I knew if I died, it was my words on the page that would go on beyond my lifetime. Words for my children and grandchildren. Words for my friends and strangers. I had something to say. A voice. I had an important message to share. A messy beautiful life to live. A life wrapped in grace. Surrounded by love.

Now, 16 years later, I am still putting words out there. Still grateful for every breath. Still creating and growing. My hope is that my readers can learn these lessons without having to go to Cancerland. That maybe my own journey is enough to inspire you to live fully, too. To take your own leap into the things you have been putting off. To share your own story or to write it. To live your dreams now and not wait until someday. Today, I celebrate the gift of life and 16 additional years!

photo by Kara Hunter Photography

5 thoughts on “Cancer Free for 16 Years

  1. Oh, Michelle, HAPPY “CANCER FREE” anniversary. You know how very much I rejoice with you over this and can appreciate (along with your Dad and other family members), what a wonderful outcome this is!!!
    Indeed, you have made well of these “free” years, every day and every minute. Your writings and shared wisdom from your years in “cancerland” have blessed, entertained, and inspired us. Your unselfish missions have made a holy difference in others lives here, and abroad. Children and their teachers in other parts of the world are reaping the benefits of your gifts of teaching and love. Your books and art will continue to grace other appreciative homes as they do ours. HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2023. —- sincerely and lovingly, mary

  2. I am so grateful for this beautiful announcement and anniversary. You are such an encouraging blessing to so many, including me. May you serve Him well, Michelle, for many, many more years. China? Who would’ve ever thought!!
    God bless you richly in this new year, friend. Give Bill a hug from us.

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