Hope, Struggle, and Dog Toy Baskets
15 years ago, I was diagnosed with a Stage IV, highly aggressive, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My diagnosis came out of the blue and shocked the hell out of all of us. What followed was a blur of needles, beeping machines, tubes, and profound paralyzing fear. My doctors told me, no matter what they did, my cancer could not be cured. It would come back.
With that prognosis, I had to ask myself: what’s the point of fighting?
I was searching for the answer when my uncle offered me some advice that I still carry with me today. He told me to readjust my goal. Instead of aiming for a cure, I should instead do whatever I needed to do to buy time. Do the best treatment option available and get into remission because chances were, there would be a new and even potentially curative treatment available for the next go-round.
The other day, my son, Tommy, lost Bear, his favorite stuffed animal. He was despondent – no amount of talking him off the I-will-never-be-able-to-sleep-ever-again ledge was going to comfort his hurting heart. Tommy was looking towards the future and picturing endless sorrow-filled days without Bear. As a mom, all I wanted to do was take away his pain, but I honestly had no clue where his bear might be.
As I sat next to my son and absorbed his tears into my button-down shirt, I tried to reassure him by telling him that Bear could show up. Maybe he left Bear at a friend’s house or was Bear possibly in the back of Dad’s car? I was trying to buy time until the search party I was about to deploy could find my little boy’s stuffed animal.
Tommy’s uncertain future lasted precisely two days. Turned out that Gus, our mischievous yellow lab, had buried Bear in the bottom of his dog-toy basket.
Sometimes things go our way, and we are given a solution to our problems. Other times, we are forced to rely on blind faith. But the one sure thing is this: life is hard as hell, and we will all face challenges. We each have something- just fill in the blank. Whether it’s an incurable illness, marital strife, financial issues, or a lost stuffed animal, we each live in some sort of struggle. None of us know if or how our difficulties will be resolved. As my wise uncle told me all those years ago, do the best you can do in the present moment and buy time.
My name is Caroline Rose, and I am a three-time Stage IV survivor of a highly aggressive, incurable, and very determined non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. My incurable disease has now been in remission for nine years.
Faith saved me, medical research treated me, and hope sustained me.
I have absolutely no clue what will happen with my health in the future or what day will be my last. But do any of us really know what tomorrow will bring?
My wish is to create a space where we can come together and surround each other with supportive love and hope. I will offer up my story in the hope that every reader will find a relatable thread and will be able to apply the connection to his or her own unique struggle. The message of my stories, my experiences, and my difficulties will always end in hope.
Because if we don’t have hope, what the hell is the point?
And if anyone is feeling like despair is outweighing optimism, we will promise to remind each other to readjust our focus back to hope and look for it in even the most unlikely of places- you never know what you could find at the bottom of our dog’s toy basket.
I can’t wait to do this with y’all.
In love and hope,