Top 10 Things I’ve Learned So Far

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and continued prayers.  I draw strength from every single comment, and am grateful you take the time to show how much you care.  It means SO VERY MUCH.

I spoke with Dr. Potter’s (plastic surgeon) office today and finally have a date for my next surgery.  July 6th.  I originally thought the surgery would be within a week or two after my last appointment, but I was wrong.  Again.  I’m learning (slowly) to let go of plans, which is a killer for this type A gal.  Plans are my thing.  I have a secret love affair with spreadsheets, schedules & organizing.  So for me to not be able to plan is like telling a child they can’t have ice cream while standing in line at Baskin Robbins.  It’s downright CRUEL.

The other day, however, I ran across this and thought it was a beautiful reminder of who is actually in control of my schedule.


Everyday when I wake up, I pray for God to reveal what it is he is working on in my life (I’ve had a lot of extra time lately).  Surely if I’m going to endure a struggle like this, there’s a lesson (or ten) in it.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, my friend Bryce sent me a link to an article written by John Piper entitled, ‘Don’t Waste Your Cancer’.  I highly recommend it.  Not only for those going through cancer, but for anyone who is going through a difficult time or will go through a difficult time.  (Ummmm, so basically ALL OF US.)  The article is a good reminder that we have a choice of what to do with the hardships in our life: basically sulk or shine (my words).  And since then, my prayer has become to not waste my cancer.  Oh, and to shine like the Texas sun in the middle of August.

I have learned so much over the past two months.  I thought I would share my top ten lessons (thus far) here so that I won’t forget them down the road. But also, so that I can pass along the wisdom I’ve gained hopefully without you having to walk the same road as I am walking.

  1. Let Go.  Of plans, of schedules, of control.  I have such a false sense of being in control of my life, and each day I’m a little more embarrassed of the illusion I’ve had for so long.
  2. Nothing is certain in this life.  I’m beginning to understand how arrogant it is for me to presume things.  Even a tomorrow.  The people who say the phrase ‘Lord willing’ are starting to seem like the wisest souls on earth.
  3. Focus on the big picture.  All of the little details I fret about pale in comparison to God’s plan.  Having a disease in my body with a reputation for killing people is no small thing.  Life is worth fighting for; getting my kid into a certain class/camp/college is not.  Someone remind me of this in 3 years please.
  4. Relationships matter.  We have lived in several different cities throughout our marriage and I have friends from each city who are cancer survivors and have reached out to me (I’m looking at you Haley B., Kim V. & Laura B).  Couple that with the gazillion friends from my childhood, college and my adult life who have also served as angels in this process, and you realize how much relationships matter.  God weaves our lives together so beautifully and investing in people is paramount.  You never know when you will need one another down the road.
  5. Be patient.  Slow down, get quiet and listen to God.  I’ve heard his voice so much louder lately – in part because I’ve been forced to be still, and in part because I’m desperate to know how to navigate these waters.  It makes me wonder what I’ve missed all these years.  These noisy years.
  6. Be present.  Soak up those brief moments when teenagers want to talk – even if it’s not convenient.  Soon I won’t have mine around to keep me up until midnight (because apparently they don’t come alive until that God forsaken hour).  Enjoy them while you can – no matter the hour.
  7. Make a difference.  My TEST is my testimony.  What God gives me (good or bad) is my platform to share his goodness and grace.  I pray that I use my story for his glory.  (Is it weird that I just heard that as a rap in my head? Where’s RUN-D.M.C. when I need them?)
  8. Ask more of my kids.  I’ve realized how much I do for my kids because right now (post surgery) I can’t do anything for my kids.  LITERALLY.  Who knew they could actually do the dishes, set their alarms, bathe the dog and do their own laundry?  (Hudson just read this over my shoulder and groaned.  I may never go back to doing laundry ever again.)
  9. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  I have definitely taken for granted how comfortable I am in life (mentally, spiritually & physically).  Cancer has shoved me out of my comfort zone (mentally, spiritually & physically) and I’m learning to not be afraid of being uncomfortable.  It’s okay to think differently, shift my mindset, squirm a bit.  No one ever died from simply being uncomfortable.
  10. Find the beauty in the ugly.  Cancer is ugly, but there is so much beauty to be found along the way.  I’m learning how to focus on the gifts that accompany the curse. Like friends who take my dog to the vet, friends who pick up my child for 6am daily workouts, friends who take my kids to camp, friends who bring me smart waters, teas and my favorite snacks, friends who feed my family with delicious meals, friends who call and text just when I need it, family who goes to appointments with me, family who takes my kids to the dentist, family who brings me groceries, family who encourages me to do just a little bit more than the day before, etc.  Someone stop me as I feel a spreadsheet coming on.  You know who you are and I love each of you dearly.

I realize this list is neither earth shattering nor profound.  These are all things I’m pretty sure we’ve heard before or are written somewhere in books like this:


However, they have never meant as much to me as they do now.  It’s like when someone gives you advice about being a parent before you have kids, then you actually have kids and everything they said suddenly makes sense.  Everything is now making sense. A LOT of sense.

I have a follow up appointment with Dr. Grant (surgical oncologist) tomorrow afternoon, then should be finished with appointments for a few weeks until I get my Oncotype score  (the proliferation index) back.  Please continue to pray for me to be at peace with the results of that test.  If they are good, you might just find me eating a polar pizza from Baskin Robbins (thanks Deanna) while creating a spreadsheet with ‘It’s Tricky‘ or ‘My Adidas‘ (Chris & Jonathan please tell me you still have that karaoke cassette tape) playing in the background.

Until next time…much love to you all & make every day count,


PS: Just for the record, my husband is WAY hotter than Ryan Reynolds.  😉

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”  Proverbs 4:13


13 thoughts on “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned So Far

  1. I absolutely love this. I shared it with my girls (who also love to talk at midnight). I think most of us fail to transfer the words we hear 18″ down to our hearts until we actually experience them. But there is so much wisdom here that I pray we will heed these truths and live this way now. Thanks for sharing and I continue to pray for you.


  2. Jamie
    You are incredible. I remember you being there for Shelby and I and if there is any way to be of assistance (other than praying hard for you and the family from here in DC), please don’t hesitate. I love your spirit and attitude. You are an inspiration my darling! Sharon Butler Brigner


  3. Jamie, you are blessing many by being so open and vulnerable during this journey. I am praying for complete and total healing, strength for your family, and for God to be glorified in all you are going through.

    Also, you are an amazing writer! I now know where Hayes gets his writing talents! Both of you have a way with words! God bless!


  4. You are so awesome Jamie! Thanks for taking the time to write these 10 things down. Do you mind if I share your blog post with a friend? She was diagnosed a few weeks before you and is in the chemo phase of her treatment. I think she might really enjoy your encouraging wisdom. –Kim Wilson Moehring


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