Featured My 2nd Act essay – An unanswered prayer, Suzanne Lindley

[caption id="attachment_2188" align="alignleft" width="100"] Suzanne Lindley[/caption] My husband and I were planning another baby when colon cancer entered our lives. At 31, our worlds turned upside down. Instead of marking the calendar with a date for

Suzanne-Lindly

Suzanne Lindley

My husband and I were planning another baby when colon cancer entered our lives. At 31, our worlds turned upside down. Instead of marking the calendar with a date for a new addition, we penned a big red X that signified the day I would die.

Only one chemo existed for colon cancer. My prognosis was grim as the cancer had spread to my liver. We lost sight of the fact that I was living and mourned that I was dying. We prayed for a cure. Treatment started. I was lucky. Research for colon cancer was rampant and I benefited from each new treatment, buying precious time. Moving past side effects, including nausea, fatigue, and hair loss, we made the most of every moment.

Cancer taught us that hope lives in every breath and that miracles happen with each heartbeat. We cherished the milestones many families overlook. We had no time to waste and needed to make every second memorable. As our journey continued, cancer taught me to recognize the gift of those that surround and have surrounded my life these past fifteen years (September 17, 2013). I have tried to make sense of it all…the triumphs, the losses, the heartaches, and the celebrations of my friends.

Many have had cancer. Some lost their lives. Many survived. Others have been perfectly healthy and made heart-prints, too. Even some of those died. All have shared the blessing of friendship. I have learned that cancer makes us no more prone to death than the person next to us who believes that he/she has a lifetime of innumerable years ahead. We are all terminal. Every day is a gift.

I wonder at times what it would have been like to have journeyed through life without cancer, without chemo, without procedures and treatments, scans, surgeries, scars, and close calls. Would my life have been less full? Would I have taken the time to saddle a horse for my children on a moonlit night, or would I have procrastinated the opportunity away? Would I have pulled over next to a field of bluebonnets for a family photo op or would I have been too embarrassed by the passing cars and what their passengers might think? Would I have ever fully fathomed the unconditional love of my husband? Would I have been thankful for the dawn of a new day after a night that ended in fright? Would I have missed the blessing of this unanswered prayer?

I wish cancer hadn’t intruded on my family and robbed us of the innocence that makes us feel immortal. I find, though, that I’m glad we’ve embraced the most devastating event of our lives and made the best of it when the worst of it was ever present. I’m blessed to live a life that has experienced the warmth of great friends, the treasure of an extra breath, and the fulfillment of many dreams…..made more poignant and special because I’m SURVIVING WITH, and not dying from, cancer.

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Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.
While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.
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