There’s something about endings. Whether it’s the end of a book, the end of a moment, or the end of a chapter in life. This coming Thursday I will be headed back to Texas Children’s Hospital for my final day of chemotherapy. What a special sentence.
Things to celebrate from the last few weeks: A little over two weeks ago I was crowned Prom Queen at my High School’s Prom. Needless to say, I felt like a Princess. The constant support from my school and my peers has been unbelievable. If you are a student at Round Rock High School and I haven’t had the chance to say “hi” or “thank you” for your support in the last few months, I want to say it now. Tye, thank you for making dancing in front of hundreds of people not too scary and so fun. It was a night I will remember forever. Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to serve with my church in the community at a weekend event we call Collide Impact. We started off the weekend with a night out at the Round Rock Express Baseball Game where I had the honor of throwing out the first pitch! The whole night was dedicated to cancer awareness and everyone was encouraged to show their support for those fighting cancer, those who have survived cancer, and the amazing doctors, nurses, and people who have dedicated their life to cancer research and oncology. A special thank you to the Almendarez family for their constant support and love through this time. Team Jana Forever. Last Wednesday night, I participated in my last ever high school Choir concert. In the Dragon Choir family, we have a special tradition where the President of the Choir gets to direct the last song of the concert titled “Not One Sparrow”. Some of the lyrics of the song are “Not one sparrow is forgotten....even the raven, God will feed. And the lily of the valley from his bounty hath it’s need.” We sing the song to honor the seniors that are graduating and moving on to new things. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to direct this song in front of my choir’s varsity ensembles and alumni members. It was a special, tear stained cheeks moment.
A medical update: As far as my health, activity, and spirit, things are going wonderfully. With each treatment I feel I have grown stronger as a girl with cancer and just as Rylie. I have been responding to my latest treatments with minimal side affects (nothing out of the ordinary) and I’m looking forward to my official last day of Chemo this coming Thursday. A little over a month ago, after receiving the results of my scans after round two, the doctors discovered a centimeter by centimeter mass located on my thyroid. We were encouraged that this was not a serious matter, but that we would follow up with further studies to make sure that the function of my thyroid was remaining normal. After completing an ultrasound and blood work tests on my thyroid, they have determined my function to be normal. Tomorrow morning I am scheduled to have a needle biopsy done on my thyroid to test for any cancerous tissue. We know that if this mass is considered cancer, the area is not active due to the results of my last scans. I will be going into the biopsy tomorrow with my head held high and nerves low. I am not concerned about this little speed bump in the road. My final scans are scheduled for May 29th!! These scans will follow the completion of my fifth round of chemo and will determine further plans for radiation. We have already learned some exciting news regarding radiation that was determined by my previous scans, but we will know all details for sure after the completion of Round 5 and my final scans.
This journey has been an exciting and scary time. I remain at a loss for words when it comes to the many emotions I have experienced over the last couple of months. I feel that I will never be able to truly express how much Cancer has changed my life for the better. I am thankful for this small chapter that I have lived through in the novel of my life.
A few weeks ago I applied for a Cancer related scholarship whose essay question involved explaining the lessons I have learned through discovering my diagnosis and the new goals I have set for myself as a young adult experiencing cancer. The following words were a portion of my answer: “As a teenage girl with cancer, I have been forced to learn a valuable lesson that I believe most people never truly grasp. Cancer brings confusion and concern. Cancer uproots our most inward emotions and pushes us into a reality that is experienced by many and feared by most. Through having cancer, I have learned the value of patience. I have learned what it means to set goals and have plans, but to be prepared for all of my plans made to be washed away in an instant. A personal goal I have for myself in the future is to take full advantage of every moment I am offered. I hope to take in every sunrise and every “windows rolled down hair (or bald head) blowing in the wind” moment. I have gained a new perspective on what it means to give everything I have to everything I do. I am stronger because of cancer. And yes, sometimes moments are stolen from us and goals aren’t met...but I am looking forward to the day that I get to share my story with the little girl sitting across from me who was recently diagnosed with this scary disease and has no idea what comes next. I’m looking forward to hearing about other people’s stories and the lessons they have learned. I look forward to making an impact on a specific community that has invited me in with open and loving arms. I am looking forward to meeting goals and making new ones, because cancer cannot stop me from pursuing a life for Christ and focusing my days ahead on loving others and loving Him.”
Here’s to an end. Not the end, of course…but an ending of a moment. Here’s to the end of a chapter that I never saw coming. Here’s to the light that has only grown stronger. As I complete the last few pages to this chapter, I remind myself of an important lesson I have learned in the now. My life is in His hands. My God holds all things. No matter how many times I wish that I had control, I have been forced to trust him in knowing that he is working for the goodness of his love through all things. I have learned that everyone has a story and that the world is loud. There are times when we must simply sit in the silence in order to fully understand God’s plan. I now consider the last four months of my life to be the loudest lived, for they will remain some of the biggest struggles I will ever have to endure. But, I know now that I could not have made it through this chapter without simply drowning out the overwhelming noise and chaos. I know now that the Lord’s voice and plan are ever present in our daily walk. All he asks of us is to sit, quietly, and listen.