Today was graduation day for me. At my 16th boob check-up, I got the news: another beautifully clear, cancer-free scan — marking 10 years cancer free. Complete remission.
My oncology surgeon — the truly brilliant, and amazingly badass Dr. Marilyn Leitch, announced, “This is your 10 YEAR anniversary. This is a big deal, and a long time coming! How are you going to celebrate?”
The truth is, I won’t. Not in a typical way with balloons and confetti anyway.
What I will do is celebrate this anniversary with intense gratitude for what the disease brought into my life, just as I celebrate every day. I am thankful for the beauty that emerged in the darkness. The disease revealed an amazing community of GEMs. AND, above all else, it brought me humility for the beauty of Life. For better or worse, I learned I am not ultimately in control of what life brings my way.
These three things are gifts that take my breath away each day.
- Gratitude. An appreciation for my health and a better perspective on life are at the forefront of the gifts I am forever grateful for. Survival brought me the ability to see my children grow into amazing teenagers. I’ve taken breathtaking trips with my husband. I’ve learned how to be a better friend, parent, human. I’m grateful for the gift of a new career path that allows us to help others by sharing a positive lifestyle — inside and out. Without my cancer journey, I would not have known the POWER of food on my physical and mental health. The disease propelled me into the GEM — the manifestation of my new view on all that nourishes me — and into this amazing community of GEM-my people.
- A GEM-my Community. Little did my soul-sister Mary Kathryn and I know, our new-found passion rooted in this journey would evolve into a community of GEM lovers. You whole-heartedly dove into this GEM-inspired life, turning it into a disco-filled movement I couldn’t even have dreamt of.
- Humility. The greatest gift I received from this journey is humility. Yes, I worked hard to get myself cancer-free, but so many others have done the same work with a far different outcome. What’s humbling and so very apparent, is that ultimately, I wasn’t in charge of what disease did or didn’t do. My remission was decided not just by medical treatments and lifestyle changes, it was also decided by something much more powerful than you or me. A Higher Power. While I did everything within my control to get healthy, ultimately, it was in the hands of something greater.
So, in “celebration” of my 10 year cancer-versary, I humbly commit to honor my beautiful friends who are no longer with us by spreading authentic goodness and healing opportunities, inside and outside the GEM each day. Sadly, there are many. For my sweet friend Kristin, for Charlotte, Chris, Chad, Brandice, Chuck, Bobby, Michael, Genia, Polly: We know your stories. We miss your life forces. Your smiles.
And to those who are still fighting. Jennifer, Jessica, Marjorie, Padgett, Andrea, Sally, and so many others…keep your eye on the prize of healing. You have amazing support teams around you — and all of us at The GEM are part of that band of warriors.
The beauty of your life is humbling — look for it. I hope you’ll share this gratitude with someone else: a friend, a family member or a stranger. You never know how much your kindness could turn the dark into the dawn.
“Even in darkness, blossoms will bloom.”
Congratulations on 10 years – yeah!!! you words ring so true for me after almost 4 years (hooefully) at my 6 month check up also with Dr Leitch! I too am grateful but sad about friends not so lucky being NED and it’s difficult to sometimes reconcile but I no longer ask why but instead try to keep doing the right things as best as I and trying to be as good a person as I can be. Although one never knows what’s around the corner, it may be trite, but I do try to find joy day by day and help others when and as I can. I am deliriously happy for you! I can’t wait for that milestone! ❤️
Thanks! YES! Every day is a precious gift…I am so happy for you too!
I am so happy for you, Leslie! Happy 10-year Cancerversary! You are such an inspiration to me and I am looking forward to celebrating that year as well (4 more to go!). I feel the exact same way about cancer. It has very much been a gift in my life. I definitely cherish each day and don’t want to miss out on anything. I know it is part of my purpose in life! I can’t wait to see you and hug your neck! You keep inspiring and shining bright! xx
Thank you, Cathy! I remember the first day you walked into the GEM and into our lives. You make the world a brighter place!
Love you and what you and Mary Kathryn do! Just wish there was a corner GEM near me. Please please please put a GEM at Knox Park to get rid of Starbucks, LOLOL. That wasn’t very nice.
Thank you for your support, Ralphie! And stay tuned….a new GEM will be uncovered near there soon!!
Someday soon, Ralph!
Love, light and happiness to you!
Leslie…PRAISE GOD!!!! WHO is the Higher Power, WHO is Sovereign and in CONTROL of ALL!!! Thanks soooo much for sharing your incredibly victory “10 Years Cancer Free”. I had the opportunity of meeting you via telephone when I was in search for an organic juice bar, for my Husband, Wade Terry, who had pancreatic cancer. After his diagnosis, we had 2yrs 10mos to live, love and celebrate life until the Lord called him home. We were so thankful to you and your staff at the GEM; on days after chemo when Wade would be feeling so badly, I’d stop by and you would fix him up a hot tea with ginger, turmeric and more herbs designed just for him and it made him feel sooo much better. Yes, you are a GEM and I’m sure the Lord is using your faithfulness, humility, obedience and LOVE for the GLORY of His Son Jesus Christ!!! Thanks again for your beeeeeautiful testimony!!! KEEP SHINING!!!
Paula! It is so great to hear from you. You’ve always been such a shining bright light. Love and peace to you….and to honor your beautiful Wade.
Congratulations on your news and on your business—The GEM.
That is gemtastic, out of something so dark came greatness. Love you Leslie
Love you, Rho! XOXO
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