Elephants And Tea - March 2021 - 31

TEN YEARS

Reflection

10 Years - Beauty for Ashes
BY L I Z Z I E DAV IS

My young life has been jam packed with hard lessons, but it is
still hard to believe that it was ten years ago today when I first
heard the words " you have cancer. "
Those are impossibly tough words to hear no
matter your age, but I felt as if my life that had
just begun was suddenly being yanked away
from me. I was just beginning to figure out who
I was as an independent adult. I had a well paying
job that I loved, an amazing man wanting to
marry me, and I was living a pretty wonderful
and privileged life despite the fact that physically
I had been feeling terrible for the last few years.
At age twenty four I wasn't in a place to truly
emotionally and mentally process everything
that I had to endure after I heard the big C
word. At first I chose to just tough it out and
not truly feel what I was going through out of
fear of breaking. It turns out there's nothing
wrong with breaking, but it took me a few
years to realize that. I had been trying so hard
to avoid processing everything because of the
pain, the unknown, and the fear. It was much
easier to just be " strong. "
Over the last ten years I've had ten surgeries, ten years of hormone therapy, eight
weeks of IMRT (external beam radiation),
two RAI treatments (radioactive pill - one of
which was the maximum legal dose), and one
year of alternative immunotherapy infusions
all in an effort to rid my body of this chronic
metastatic cancer. All of these treatments have
been tough physically, emotionally, mentally
and spiritually. The first few years felt as if I
was walking through fire and couldn't find a
way out and it became very difficult for me to
see past my current suffering.
Thankfully, in 2014, four years into my cancer party (that's what I'm calling it these days
instead of my cancer fight), I took a risk and
went backpacking with True North Treks in
Glacier National Park. On that trip I learned
a deep and much needed lesson: there's always
an opportunity to find the good in everything.
On this trip our group of young adult cancer

survivors and guides was hiking in an area that
had recently burned. At first I was sad to see
skinny charred sticks reaching to the sky that
used to be beautiful trees, and dirt that had
turned completely black and looked infertile.
I'm a nature loving, tree hugging kind of girl,
so to see nature " destroyed " like that was sad
for me until we stopped on the trail to sit and
talk. While we were sitting I was able to pause
and really take in the burned landscape. What
stood out to me when taking a closer look was
in drastic opposition to what I first focused
on. I now looked at the remains after the fire
with a new perspective and saw small sprouts
of green coming up through the black ground
surrounding the charred trees. A vague biology
memory popped into my head: fires in nature
aren't pointless and aren't all bad as they appear
on the surface. Controlled fires in nature are
also beneficial and actually needed to remove
broken and dead brush, to kill invasive species,
and to bring new, better, and healthier growth.
There's even some plant life seeds that NEED
fire or they don't germinate.

perspective and see the beautiful fruit God has
produced in my life through that suffering. I
can take comfort in knowing the One who is
control of this fire. I needed to stop focusing on
the mad, bad, and " why did this have to happen
to me? " If I continued down that path, I'd be
angry all of the time, and I'd miss seeing the
small new growth sprouting out through the
ashes of my pre-cancer life. I needed to take
a step back to focus on the long-term benefits
of this controlled fire I had stumbled through
gasping for air. I needed to continually find the
good to feed that new growth in my life. Now,
looking back over the last ten years, I can see
how much the suffering I have faced broke me
in order to build me up into the person God
has called me to be.
Do I believe that the cancer itself is good?
No. I do, however, believe that God allows
suffering in our life like cancer, and He uses it
for good. I challenge you to take a deeper look
when all you think you see in your life are ashes. God has beauty ready and waiting for you.
Isaiah 61:3 " To all who mourn in Israel, he
will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous
blessing instead of mourning, festive praise
instead of despair. In their righteousness,
they will be like great oaks that the LORD has
planted for his own glory. "

People generally see what they look for,
and hear what they listen for.
- Harper Lee

Stop and think about that...in order for
some species of plants to survive, they must be
burned in a fire to reproduce. The seeds must
be broken in the flames to become a beautiful
and colorful plant.
After seeing this amazing transformation of
life after a fire with my own eyes, I was able to
apply the same thought to my own life. I could
look at this level of pain and suffering and
see only loss, or I could come from a different

People generally see what they look for, and
hear what they listen for. - Harper Lee
Find the Good - This song was written and
performed by Mandy Ringdal, a beautiful artist
the world lost too young from cancer.
" Find the good, no matter how bad it gets, believing it's for the best, life can't keep me down.
Find the good, when the world's crashing all
around me, and hope is playing hide and seek,
the first thing I do now, is find the good. " l
ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
MARCH 2021

31


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Elephants And Tea - March 2021

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