When Resilience Shows Up

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”

Kahlil Gibran

This time, anxiety is absent. I am quite surprised by that. I take a little peek back, remembering the last time, when it took up permanent residence. This time, though, I am so different. Seventeen months between then and now have carved out a very changed landscape. Experience has become my mentor, time passed has become a gift that has carried a wealth of resilience that I will need now. Grace is deeply embedded in the present, planted in the past and emerging to do its particular work again.

Monday morning I had a CT scan that would mark the one-year milestone of my cancer journey which had begun in mid-August of 2020, in the heart of the pandemic. I had been free and clear and expected to be so again. Quite certain, in fact.

I smiled at the P.A. as she came into the exam room, but there was not a smile in return. I knew then, before the words were even uttered. I think she said “I have some bad news, unfortunately,” but who knows if those were her exact words. The cancer was back. One new mass had been detected. I could even recognize it as she showed me on the screen; its size is between a pea and a grape.

Time slowed down. My brain scrambled to grasp this unexpected reality, to let go of what I had been so sure was true. I had been so lucky to have been cancer free. How could this be happening? I was walking the undulating floor in the Fun House, trying to keep my footing.

The one thing I did not do was to panic. I grasped each thought that came tumbling in and tried to put this crazy puzzle together so that I could manage to walk out of that room and back into the big world without falling to my knees. By and large, I succeeded. At least the kneeling knees part.

I was able to manage both present and future just enough that I could safely drive myself home, plunk down in my cozy recliner, and begin to let this crazy, unexpected, unbelievable reality take root. I gave myself permission to fall apart for a bit.

Surprisingly, though, I didn’t fall apart. I didn’t project my thoughts into a dreaded future. I didn’t rail against my body. Instead, I promised it that I would again do my best to care for it and love it whatever lies ahead. I emailed my best friend and received exactly what I needed. I wrote my family and knew that they are there for me again.

Tuesday morning I had a biopsy. The last one I had, in 2020, I was terrified. This time, I was carried by such a deep calm that even when I got a chance glance at the very long needle, I did not fall apart. I am waiting calmly for news in a few days and will see the hematology team on Monday to find out what kind of lymphoma I have this time (there are 50 kinds…) and what choices are available to me this time for treatment.

I am calm, I am centered, I am focusing on my return to watercolor painting and the Daniel Smith professional watercolors that are just now dry enough to begin using.


“Start where you are, Use what you have, Do what you can.”

“Begin With Yes” blog

Knowing that suffering changes us, I have long wondered how cancer had changed me. Now I know. I have a resilience now that humbles me. I have a hope that is anchored in my experience and the faith that deepened radically over these past months. A quiet kind of hope that remembers and knows:

“For the Spirit helps us in our weakness…”

Romans 8:26a

And I’m very okay with that.

25 thoughts on “When Resilience Shows Up

  1. Martha,
    I’m saddened to hear your cancer’s back. Your peace is a true blessing. There are fewer “unknowns” this time. One thing you know is you can again be cancer free. I’ve survived cancer for 50 years now. Rest in the assurance that you are very loved and that you and your medical team are prayed for by so many people who care greatly about you.

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  2. I’m so sorry, Martha! (And I hope you get this comment, as I’m out of town and my I-pad doesn’t seem to realize that I have a word press account.). But I think you are right: you have an attitude of acceptance this time, it is what happens to those who have been down this road. One way or another, you will prevail over this. And please know that you have our prayers and our good wishes as you move forward. You are such a special person, and truly a gift to all who have crossed your path. That means something for sure!

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  3. Definitely not the news you wanted to hear. I am praying your medical team will have answers and can make a path for you to follow. May the Lord lead your family and friends to be what you need them to be on this road. If I was close by, I would bring you some of the bean soup I made along with a stack of tortillas made with love by a local family. I’m a big believer in the restorative qualities of food made with love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, dear one, I know that you would be right here, and I would be upheld by both delicious food and constancy. You are an amazing caregiver wherever you go. Thank you so much for your prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Martha your resilience and courage are truly an inspiration.
    Your statement “knowing that suffering changes us, I have long wondered how cancer had changed me.” resonates personally with me.
    You will be in my prayers. Bless you, Jo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My heart and thoughts are with you, Martha. This is a real setback, but I believe you are prepared to deal with your reoccurrence of cancer. Your many friends are present with you and here to support you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your gift of resilience should serve you well on this next leg of life’s journey. These are the lines that most resonated with me: “I didn’t rail against my body. Instead, I promised it that I would again do my best to care for it and love it whatever lies ahead.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Martha, your light and love and wisdom are such an inspiring gift for us all. Today, may we gift it back to you with the same open heart. You are not alone!

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    Liked by 2 people

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