In less than a week, I will be having surgery to remove the cancerous (adenoid cystic carcinoma) tumor that I have in my palate and nasal cavity. What this surgery means is that I will be having part of my hard palate and some of my soft palate removed as well as a number of back upper teeth, along with their gums. At the end of this surgery I will have a permanent hole between my mouth and nose. What will fill that hole is something called an obturator, a denture-like device that will fill the hole and provide me with the teeth I will be missing. It will be a process to learn to speak, and possible to eat, with this new device. In all honesty, I am struggling with the unknown of how long it will take for me to be at ease with my "new normal."
I am sharing this for a couple reasons:
1. I am not the only one who is meeting a struggle in life. There are many of us dealing with things yet often behind closed doors - and many who are feeling alone and isolated. I have shared of my struggles with anxiety and depression, and now with cancer, because there is someone out there right now who may feel like they are alone with their diagnosis - or whatever their struggle is - and I want you to know you are NOT alone. I will continue to write, sharing my story in hopes it makes one more person out there know they are not alone, and that they can get to the other side of their struggle. We can patiently persevere together, encouraging one another along the way.
2. Some people's struggles are visible, some people's are invisible. From the outside in someone walking by would not know the journey I have ahead of me - or the process I will be going through finding my new normal after the surgery with my obturator. Yet I am not unique. How many people do we walk by on a daily basis who look fine on the outside but are dealing with something on the inside? Almost everyone.
So I ask you, when you look at me, please don't feel bad for me. Please remember that every person you encounter throughout the day has their story and their struggle, visible or invisible. What I ask is, when you look at me, if you think of my story, may it be a reminder to you to...
Pause. Breathe. Pray.
And look beyond the surface when you see other people. May you meet others at their heart, with kindness and compassion, and live out love towards them. For as the saying goes, "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."
With love and hope,
"Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 16:14