Today I'd like to talk a little bit about the title I chose for my blog as well as the photo of myself I selected. They are both very personal to me for many reasons.
I'll start with the title: Climbing the Mountain of MBC! Not many people know this about me but if I could go back and start my life over again there are a few things I would definitely do differently. One of those things would be addressing my lifelong curiosity of climbing. No, not climbing the walls, and not climbing the stairs, I mean actual mountain climbing! While my family and I were living in the UK for seven years, I had an opportunity to learn more about climbing and it completely intrigued me and fascinated me. I would watch people climbing up cliffs and mountains in a way that looked like it's the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is not as easy as it looks. It takes bravery, perseverance, concentration, trust, endurance and you have to be prepared for anything. Because anything can and will happen when you climb. I always wished that I could be that courageous to push myself to the limit that way. I even gave it a go a few times. Nope, not as easy as it looks! :)
Living with MBC is very much like climbing mountains. Every day is a battle as I climb upward. Every day comes with it's struggles and anything can and will happen at any moment. BUT, it also comes with it's rewards. Even though climbing the big mountains wasn't exactly within my physical capabilities, I did find myself challenging myself in smaller ways by tackling the smaller mountains, hills and trails of the UK... yes, I became a bit of a rambler. I went on regular hiking excursions and I loved each and every one of those adventures. I can tell you from experience that after a long day of hiking and walking up hills, sometimes you find yourself thinking, "Why am I doing this?"... but, the rewards come at the end of the day when you can look back and see what you are capable of when you push yourself beyond your limitations. Yes, it was kind of hard at times for the physically challenged mother of four... :) but no, it was not impossible. Each day I make it to an end of an exhausting day with MBC, I feel the same way as I did when I spent a day out on the hiking trail... exhausted but proud that I survived another challenging day. I spent quite a lot of time in a pair of hiking boots during my years in England. I was never the fastest or the best but I always made it to the finish line every time. I learned so much from all of those challenging outings, life lessons that cannot be learned anywhere else except on the beautiful landscapes and walking trails of the English Countryside.
In many ways, the challenges I forced myself to do physically during those years have helped me tremendously in dealing with the daily challenges of fighting this disease. I know it will be hard, I know I will get knocked down over and over and over... but, I will not stop climbing! And if I never get to the top of this mountain, it will be okay... because it's the journey that matters most and giving my all to climb as high as I can. I would probably compare this to climbing Everest. There comes a point when the mountain is literally trying to kill you, but you climb anyway because you are determined it won't win. Wouldn't it be something to beat a mountain like Everest?? Well, my chances of beating Everest are about the same as me beating cancer, so yeah... good comparison indeed.
My google profile picture I've chosen for my blog is also very personal to me. It was taken at the reception center of the church I grew up in after my mother's funeral in August 2014. It was the very first picture taken of me after having spent an entire summer watching her climb her own mountain as she battled pancreatic cancer. My mom never made it to the top of that mountain but she was a fighter and one of the best climbers I've ever known. It seems that she spent most of her life climbing mountains, she just didn't know it. I feel like I get my spirited determination from her and I will fight the hardest fight of my life, because of her. She would expect nothing less of me.
This picture is also bitter sweet because taking care of my mom annihilated me both physically and emotionally. At the time, I thought it was the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but I was wrong. It wasn't the hardest, THIS is the hardest. This picture represents my climb to the top of Mount Everest, only to reach the bottom and be told I have to turn around and go right back up again. No time to rest, no time to take a breather... and, by the way... you also don't ever get to come back down again. You just have to keep climbing, until you can't anymore. When I look at this picture I feel an immense amount of sadness. Sadness, because I miss that person. The person who gets to feel the relief of having survived a tough battle. That is the last time I will ever be photographed as a survivor. Yes, I will survive many small battles as I climb, but the top of the mountain will be forever beyond my reach. It is a difficult thing to accept.
So, why continue to climb a mountain if you can never reach the top? That part is easy... because as you climb there are so many beautiful moments to stop and take notice of... moments that no one else get to have because they aren't climbing this particular mountain. As I've said before in earlier posts, I view life differently now. I appreciate and value all of the little things so much more. As I climb, I will sit and appreciate the beauty of the flowers, the sky and the clouds, the sunsets and sunrises but most of all, I see more clearly those who are willing to climb with me on this journey. I climbed this mountain with my mom, I know how hard it is for those around me to climb alongside me and watch me struggle. So, I want to say to each and everyone of you who are willingly walking alongside of me, that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means more to me than gifts, cards, money, vacations or all of the Yorkshire tea in England! It is a priceless gift, your time and presence. I need you with me, even though sometimes I act like I don't.
Today I am feeling strangely emotional, and a little beaten down by my climb... but, I know with the help of my loving family and friends, tomorrow I will get back up and put those climbing boots back on... and start again. :)
No matter what mountains you are climbing in your life, remember that everyone you know is doing the same. Some of us have big mountains to climb and others are only climbing small ones. But, whatever one you've been given, remember to enjoy the journey along the way. Because another thing I'm learning, is that you never really get to stop climbing. So, keep the boots handy... you are always going to need them and make sure you have good climbing partners along the way. The people you climb with are probably the most important part of the journey.