In January 2013, I was diagnosed with stage IV invasive thymoma. Never heard of it? Don't feel bad, no one else I know has either. In fact, MD Anderson sees only about 25 cases a year. It's a rare cancer that starts in the thymus, a gland located in your chest between your lungs.
It's pretty scary to have something so few people have experienced. I remember so clearly my doctor in Lubbock giving me my diagnosis and talking through the treatments.
"You will need chemotherapy to treat your cancer," he told me. "We're sorry, but its thymoma. It's rare, and there's no one in this area who's ever had it."
Look at all those words. Chemo, cancer, thymoma, rare, no one. Can you feel the weight of them? I recognized a shift in my body as soon as the words crossed my mind.
Either I had to take control of my thoughts, or they would take control of me.
Taking control of my cancer journey
Next came the hard part: How? I began by reworking my vocabulary and God began reworking my mind.
I do not claim "cancer." Instead, I have renamed it "The Nuisance." It's something that I have to deal with so I can continue on my journey. Instead of seeing chemo as something that makes me ill and fatigued as it kills off cells in my body, I choose to see this treatment as "Power Aid." What flows into my veins makes me stronger, not weaker.
My rare "nuisance" does not make me alone. I'm surrounded by people who love me and are lifting me up in prayer and daily thoughts.
The fight doesn't disappear, but my strength for the fight greatly increases when I stay focused on the truth. I found that I regained my power by taking control of my thoughts.
A new outlook in coping with thymoma
With my new words selected, I rewrote what was happening to me.
I am dealing with a nuisance. I use Power Aid as a tool to defeat it so that I can have a long and healthy life. Because it is rare, I get to create my own statistics. I have hundreds of family, friends and even strangers cheering for me." Rewriting my situation helped me feel so much stronger.
I challenge you. Rewrite the paragraphs of your life. Take the scary phrases that intimidate you, and reframe them. There is power in your words. There is power in prayer. Without the two my experience would be much different.
Anna Masten Jackson has many titles: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and educator, but the one title that will not define her is cancer victim. She has found blessings in the struggle. For more of her story, read her blog.