by Christie Perkins
My medical records now have a new permanent line: liver metastases. We wondered if we could just cut out the new tumors in the liver but the doctor says that it won’t do any good because with stage 4 cancer there are just cancer cells everywhere. We don’t ever really get rid of it we just try and keep it from spreading.
Oh yeah. That’s right.
Little factoid here: Breast cancer that has metastasized (stage 4 cancer) loves to travel to the bones, the ovaries, the brain, and the liver. I’ve eliminated the ovaries (neener-neener can’t catch me), checked the brain, and am already hosting a party in the bones, and now it’s in the liver.
But, don’t you stress now.
(We are trying to keep the cancer tourists from hearing about this new premium prime location- so shhhh! Don’t mention it.) It’s true, it’s not exactly the best news but the way I see it- they are just a few wimpy spots anyway. But the thing I can’t quite shake is the peace. Yeah, the peace. No matter what, it won’t leave me.
I like it.
The peace I feel tells me that it’s all okay. It’s amazing that I feel at complete peace. Of course I had to cry my eyes out before I could be swaddled in the peace, but I’m good. Like really good. And I’m not a good liar so it would be easy to know I’m lying if I told you that.
My smile is genuine and everything. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m worried- because I’m not. I just feel so good about it. The medication we are using is stopping bone growth. Yay! So we are just working to stop liver metastases growth. I feel really good about my treatments and I have complete calmness about proceeding ahead.
And those words “liver metastases” theoretically should have me all bundled up- but I’m not.
(Enter smiley face here.)
The Issues With Smooth Sailing
There was a time when life was incredibly smooth sailing. I’d wake up and my worries were washed away. I was content, healthy, and everything just clinked neatly into place. Nothing seemed out of sorts.
I wasn’t happy then.
Yeah. You heard me: I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t truly happy because none of these things were stretching my character. None of these things were forcing me to my knees for a reprieve of heartache. None of these things gave me a difficult choice of attitude. None of these things helped me to see the mistakes I was making and triggered course redirection. And most of all, none of these things helped me to know my Savior better.
Now I’m not telling you that I love hard times and order that up every day. Psh! That would be absurd and it would be a complete lie to tell you hard times are exhilarating. Not hardly. But, I can tell you I do love walking across the finish line of a difficult moment. And that is key: getting to the finish line. I’ve come to learn that all the hard things in our lives are just moments. A small itty-bitty blip. Yes, the hard thing may last our entire lives but there will definitely be moments of peace and joy that brighten the shadows. The trick is you have to be on the look out.
There are always waves of goodness that sneak through. Always.
And it is only then, after a difficult moment that I truly am happy with smooth sailing. I appreciate it more. I cherish it more. I welcome it more. It becomes German chocolate when it used to be just a waxy knock-off.
The good becomes better. It’s funny how difficult things transform something that was just ordinary into some indulgent treat. When I was going through my chemo treatments the first time around I remember how much I missed the simple bike ride around the block with my kids. Since chemo divorced me from my regular activities and signed it’s official adoption papers I had to readjust. But, even the simplest of things changed: when I did homework with my kids it meant treasured one on one time. I never enjoyed (math) homework before cancer. But now, I see it as a moment to connect.
And that’s how waxy chocolate upgraded itself to indulgent German chocolate. Can’t complain about that.
But, even in all of the trials associated with hard times it is possible to find peace. Hard times help you to gain immediate perspective but sometimes the peace is harder to grasp. You know what I am talking about: the real peace that tells you everything is going to be okay.
Because, lets face it, sometimes it doesn’t look okay.
So? How do you find it? Well, I can tell you from experience that sometimes you just have to work at it. Yes, sometimes it is bestowed upon you as a gift from heaven, but most often it takes work.
Here’s 5 key steps I’ve come to know that gives me that peace. I want to share what I have come to learn about finding peace in seemingly impossible situations, even when you just heard the words that cancer has found it’s way to your vital organ.
5 Simple Things You Can Do to Find Peace in Difficult Circumstances:
Unlock the Hidden Chambers of Your Heart. Recently my prayers have had so much more meaning. I have built little walls around the center of my heart. This carries all of my deepest desires. I guess I’ve just learned to protect it. But, I have found such peace and joy (yep joy) when I have expressed some of those feelings that I keep locked up in there. Acknowledging what I truly want in life somehow brings a peace to me.
On Mothers Day of last year I expressed how much I wanted my children to remember me. It pained me to know that maybe one day I could be forgotten when I’m gone. In stage 4 cancer it is common to worry about getting everything wrapped up before you go. Knowing there is no cure for stage 4 cancer it is natural to be forward thinking and problem solving. I guess that is a blessing of stage 4 cancer. A simple thought entered my head. Why don’t you write them a letter then? Unlocking my heart gave them a simple treasure and filled me with peace. I felt better knowing that was taken care of.
And yes I still have lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of hope that I have lots left here to live for. But, I felt peace knowing that one day those words will be a permanent reminder of me. Use prayer to get the peace you are looking for, then act on the simple thoughts that follow.
An Anguished Cry. Yeah. Sounds awful, I know. But, it’s funny how this one little thing has always redirected my course. I spill my guts out in prayer. I tell Heavenly Father what hurts and why. I tell him what I wanted in life and what I was going to do with my fabulous life and how it has all changed. And then I am amazed at how this act of touching the pain in my heart lifts me. Crying detoxes your emotions. But, don’t overdue it. I say one good cry in a blue moon is fine.
The rest of the days stand up tall, put a smile on, and just embrace the things you have control over today. I believe peace will follow those who give their best efforts after a good cry.
Now, I don’t typically encourage people to cry their eyes out but sometimes it is necessary to face your emotions, feel it, then move on. Aimless sobbing does nothing to help you but directional and humble crying while petitioning our Heavenly Father- now that does wonders!
Bury Weapons of War for Peace. Maybe you’re creating your own war path. when emotions are raging and flaring and your eyes are hating and glaring there’s no piece of peace that can find it’s way in. Bury your weapons (gossip, backstabbing, anger, doubt, fear, criticism, … any negative emotion) and find that peace will find it’s ticket in.
In my cancer journey I’ve had to let go of fear and to trust that no matter what happens it will all be okay. It takes work and doesn’t always easily come. There are times when I sit there and worry about the minute details of what might happen with my stage 4 cancer and I realize that it is completely out of my control. When those doubts and fear run amuck I have to consciously bury the weapon of war by telling myself “Heavenly Father knows what He is doing. It’s going to be okay.” So I encourage you to find a truth, a belief, about your situation and when that weapon flaunts it’s cutting remarks- bury it with a simple phrase of belief and truth. Steal mine or try one of these statements:
I’m okay. I’ve got this.
I can’t change someone else’s choices. I can only change mine.
I’m good enough.
I’m smart enough.
I have a divinely appointed purpose.
I have the keys to control my attitude and it’s outcome.
Whatever phrase you can trust– say it every time. Combat your warpath with statements of truth. Cast out all doubt and continue forward. True peace doesn’t come from outward circumstances but from the sources within you. Peace isn’t a circumstantial benefit, it’s a state of heart and mind despite your circumstances.
Remember. I think this is one of the most important things you can do to find peace: remember. Remember the feelings you have had in the past about your situation. Sometimes they will be brought to you mind- don’t shove it out with doubt. Write down your thoughts (journal plug!). The act of remembering will actually bring great comfort.
Labor to Establish Peace. Work every day to find your peace. It takes channeling your emotions and fidgeting with your thought processes. You can find peace when you work hard at it every day. Follow these simple steps and always include heaven’s help. You will be amazed at how even in seemingly impossible circumstances you will start to feel a peace that carries you. A peace that says, “Hey, you know what? It’s going to be okay.” And if the peace is hard to find then take a good look at your life and find one thing to work on- just one- that will need extra effort to fix. Take care of that (if it takes a good year, so be it). The important thing is that you put daily effort into feeling peace.
Do you want complete, relaxing, life-is-good-even-when-it-shouldn’t-be peace? The clouds can disperse and sunshine will find it’s way in. I promise you can find peace even in your most difficult struggles.
I know because I can feel it. I’m not overly stressed, worried, or panicked in any way. I’m just plain feeling great! And I’m grateful that the power of prayer has amazing ways to lift us. I believe there is no other way to find your peace than to petition for our Savior’s help.
When life is tumbling you around, if you look for the peace you will know that this experience is polishing you. It’s making you a little better than you were before. But if you can’t seem to find your peace just hold on and trust that God has you in his hand and He will get you through. Peace will follow.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Share This On Social Media
I hope you enjoyed reading! On some devices my share buttons are a little tricky to find. To access, click on the comment bubble to load up my share buttons and scroll to the top of the page. My share buttons are underneath my title. Click and share! And oh, have a fantastic day!