My oncologist called me an outlier today.  I liked hearing that word, as a four on the Enneagram.   I am special.  I am surpassing the odds.  I am the lone purple flower in a bed of flowers. What she meant, of course, was that I should not be so well….in fact I should perhaps not even still be here.  I will take that label and keep blooming right amongst all the other pretty flowers.

My six-month scan results came in and I was relieved at the news.  I was not sure how it would go.   The fatigue is overwhelming some days.  I sleep a lot.  I was trying to be in bed tonight by a certain hour but I have surpassed it.   I slept a good chunk of the afternoon, more than I wanted to.  I realize that this could be my new reality and somehow I need to make peace with that. I had been having some other symptoms that made me nervous but the scans showed no new metastases and very little growth in the tumours that are in the lungs. These parts of the disease are stable.  The two in the liver are growing slowly to moderately.  The size may be creating more discomfort for me but the pain does not last long enough to use medication. By the time I breathe, the painkillers would also be effective and at this point, the pain is neither severe nor long in duration.

My family has been through a lot lately, with my father’s death and a recent scary trip to the ER for my brother last week.  The trauma team immediately worked on him once he got triaged and we all held our breath as we waited the outcome.  He had experienced a severe allergic reaction and fortunately the story had a happy ending.  I was glad to be able to let family and friends know my own “good” news today.

I say “good” because I know that this news does not change the outcome for me.  I want to be clear about that.  People read what they want to hear, I am learning, and folks need to do whatever they must to receive the news that I continue to inch towards leaving this world.  People who have no experience with cancer also misread words like remission (no, I am definitely not in remission) and “good” scan results mean good scan results.  I have purposely put in the parentheses.  I like to keep things real for myself. Readers can process as they need to.

I am so grateful for prayers that are lifted. I do believe that God hears them and is responding, even as I struggle to figure out why I am granted months beyond my expiration date while others, who are equally surrounded by prayer, are not.  I have not asked for a new timeline–I am not really sure I want to know.  It could be more or less six months of feeling fairly well before my situation could shift.  I want to use my well time well.  The memories I have been creating with people are fabulous for me.   I still hope to accomplish something.  A friend has reminded me of his generous offer to write at his guest house.  Writing would be a gift indeed. I am also beginning to wonder if there is one more project of some other kind in me, something that has not yet fully percolated.  I will listen to my soul and see what might be stirring there.

Regardless, I like being called an outlier–one who lives on the edge, who does not conform to normal, whose point on the graph stands alone, and who is an exception.  I have said it before and I will say it again, I have come this far because many of you are sending prayer on my behalf which I receive with the utmost gratitude.  I have also had excellent health care.  Even as my energy fades, I am, as I have from the beginning, living until I die.



Reflection Questions

How have you felt receiving better news than you expected?

Have you ever been an outlier?


Planter of seeds, help me bloom where I am planted for as long as I can.  I do not mind being an outlier with your great assistance and grace.  May I be willing to do your will for as long as I can breathe. Amen.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
This entry was posted in #Consolation, #Miracles, Catholic, Christian, Faith, Ignatian, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Outlier

  1. Monica says:

    Outlier. What a wonderful word. Unique and set apart. You fit this word so well. Thanks for all of your posts despite the fatigue. Take care and wishing you the best. You will be in my prayers.

    • sstyves says:

      Thanks, Monica. I like the word too. Your continued prayers and readership are appreciated. Blessings!

    • Rickie Flach Murphey says:

      Dear Suzanne, I was given your name by Gregory Burns.
      I, too am an outlier and survivor. Currently I am living with
      Stage 4 lung cancer. You spoke of fatigue, I
      Know it well. I have not been on chemo all summer
      And have watched the nodules grow at each pet.
      Time for decision. More chemo? No more chemo?
      I thank the Lord for each day
      I pray for many others as I ask the Lord for peace with my recession.
      Bless you, Rickie Flach Murphey

      • sstyves says:

        Dear Rickie,

        Welcome here and thanks to Gregory for referring you. May God be with you in your decision-maker, dear outlier. I am sorry that you have to go through this. May you find peace for your weary soul and clarity of mind for each step of this path. Being grateful for life every day is wise and praise is sweet to the ears of our Maker.

        Deep, abiding peace to you and yours, Rickie,


  2. Myrna says:

    Amen and Amen! We have so many reasons to be joyful and you have been given the gift of perspective so that you can be more aware of the beautiful things that surround us everyday, whereas we who don’t think about timelines take them all for granted. Though it doesn’t remove the pain and fatigue, I’m so glad your soul is open to life as an outlier. I know you’re aware of the many who love and support you. I’m blessed to be counted as one of them. Sending you big hugs!!!

  3. Monica says:

    PS – I just took a good look at the photo. I guess you must be the blue/purple flower. The outlier 🙂
    Very nice photo!

  4. Eileen says:

    I too, am an outlier.
    You are special, a singular kind of evidence of the power of a spiritual practice.
    I continue to lift you up, Suzanne,
    I shall continue to pray that every need is met in fullness, and that your beautiful light will shine brightly in the lives of many. Without stint.
    Pax vobis.

  5. Judith Lipinsky says:

    Blessings and thank you for sharing your thoughts, emotions and words of wisdom so openly. Your courage amazes and inspires me. From one writer to another, preserve your words so others may continue to be blessed by your life. You are already an angel whom God has allowed to stay on this earth a while longer. Clearly His work in you is not finished yet.

  6. Milka Hurtado says:

    Outlier, what a privilege was to meet you, THANK YOU so much for letting us being a part of this journey. You are, by far, the bravest outlier i have ever met.

    • sstyves says:

      Aw, Milka, you are so sweet. I hear the excitement in your voice as you say this even if it is in writing. You are one of the most joyful people I know. xo

  7. Suzanne, thank you once again for your courage and honesty as you continue this difficult journey. The purple flower shines brightest of all.

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