women standing with a sword and a shield with an image of her family portrait on the shield

Life and Breath

February 20th of 2014 and the worst day of my life. It was the day I heard the words directed to me, "I am sorry but you have lung cancer." Anyone reading this probably had the same experience for themselves or a loved one. In less than one minute, my entire life flashed before my eyes. And, all those who I lost to cancer. My mother, my grandparents and countless aunts and uncles. They were the only people I could think of for the first 24 hours. My life flashed in front of my eyes as a motion picture movie, but the stars of the show were all whom I had lost.

Moving through grief to acceptance

I've written in the past about the Stages of Grief a person goes through when losing their loved one. When you hear you have Lung Cancer, it is the same stages.

BUT, today is 4 years, 5 months and 20 days later and my outlook is tremendously different. I went through denial and anger at the same time. My mind was spinning. I then found myself bargaining with my doctors. As if to say, "YES, do that to me and I'll be fine." When I found out about my progression, I was severely depressed.

Now, I am in acceptance. However, I have gone way past that. In April I was present for the birth of my second grandchild. My first grandson was 11-1/2 when his sister was born. My first granddaughter. I saw her take her first breath just as I had seen her older brother and father do.

Realizing my truth

It was at that moment that I truly realized my truth. If I were to pass away tomorrow, I have truly seen my miracles. Giving breath to my seven children and watching my son's two children take their first breath. Now to be really honest, I pray daily to allow my body to continue to respond to my therapy, especially my first daughter who will be giving birth in October.

How lucky are those of us who are parents? In the middle of a fight for my life, I witnessed breath. The latter is now sustaining life. I wake up each day and the first thing I think of is my children and my two grandchildren. When my therapy makes me feel like crap, I think of my family.

There lies the strength you need to continue to fight this beast we call cancer. Your life. Continue the memories on a daily basis. Those great memories are what reminds me each day that my life isn't over yet. And won't be for a long time, if I can help it. Cherish your family. Your life begins and ends with a breath, and a few in between.

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Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.

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