Isn’t this picture awesome?! It happens to be one of many pictures that you can find on her CaringBridge blog… and it is one of my personal favs. ( Of which I will post a link to at the end of this series so you can be inspired by this amazing woman as well.) There are several pictures from her dream trip that are beautiful, but this one speaks to me. It is silly, and fun, and to me, it is the best “F. U. cancer” type of picture. It’s a paused moment of LIVING life and loving every moment. This is the epitome of what she was doing… living… albeit, living with cancer… living as a Mommy, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Best Friend, (and more), and at the heart of it of course, a Believer. As she said in the video “Waiting On God”… “No matter what you’re faced with, there’s always hope, and there’s always life when you choose Christ.”- Heather Bailes.
As you follow along her journey, you share in her excitement of possible remission, which was so wonderful…. however, there were some
darker moments as the months passed and the cancer began to spread. She herself said she needed to remove the word “remission” from her vocabulary because each time she thought “this is it, we beat it!”, there would be a setback. Her positive outlook, and the GRACE she demonstrated was not only evident when things were easy, but it was evident even when things were terribly difficult.
Unfortunately, there were several setbacks. However, with each… she stated what was going on, she would say she needed to regroup a moment, to truly absorb and understand her obstacle… but to have no fear because she is going to “get back into WARRIOR MODE“… and she certainly did!!! It was this type of attitude that had so many of us cheering her on! She had so many “cheerleaders” in her corner… praying for her… wearing purple to just show that even in the simplest of ways, she was on our mind and we were praying for her and her family. We connected to her on many levels, and everyone was wanting God to save this beautiful woman with an amazing spirit, and a gentle loving soul. More people like her are needed HERE on earth… and I feel that many of us watching this part of her life journey felt we wanted and needed to emulate her… it was a very unique experience for me.
I know that on a mental level, I felt a connection to her. This is hard to explain because obviously we didn’t know each other, and as I try to explain it now, it is difficult for even me to grasp to try and explain. I guess in some ways, I could relate… no, I have never had cancer or battled any type of cancer in my past… but I certainly can understand that warrior mode to fight for life. I DO know what it is like to mentally fight the good fight against something within, mind or body (sometimes both), that could and certainly would kill if underestimated… if for whatever reason the warrior within was weak or absent.**** I am not in any way saying my issue is as huge as what stage 4 pancreatic cancer is, because that is absurd. However, at the same time, we (myself, and society in general) cannot afford to wave it (“it” being depression, bipolar disorder, or other serious mental illness’s) away like it’s silliness. Anyone with severe mental issues can attest to this. I may not have cancer limiting my time, and eating away at my body… but I do have serious mental illness and a brain that without constant monitoring, and without my warrior mode, will eat away at me until I am left as a shell… where who I am is devoured, all love, all happiness, all joy, all goals, all future goals, all hope… it is all rotted away, it is all lost to the
darkness… leaving just a shell. We all know that when there is just a shell left, the last and only thing the diseased brain can take… well… is the shell. Cancer works much the same way.****
~~~~ Once again, let me stress that I in no way compare my manic-depression and other mental disorders to cancer… especially stage 4 pancreatic cancer. We all have struggles in this life. I just wanted to explain how it is that I felt a connection, and how I could relate. I am not belittling one over the other, nor am I stating the two are the same. ~~~~
Heather’s fight wasn’t easy… and cancer always seems to have its lethal army in hiding. This became realized when she learned it had spread, and it had spread quite a bit.
The next part of this “Heathering the Storm” series will touch on that.
Heathering the Storm- part 1 An inspiring woman’s fight against stage 4 pancreatic cancer.