Cheryl’s Adventure - Silver linings
By Cheryl Copeland

When speaking of cancer, there are simply no wonderful words to share.  Cancer is a terrible disease and, sadly, affects millions of people.  Doctor appointments, insurance bills, medical tests, surgeries, prescriptions, chemotherapy, and radiation are just a few of the inconveniences that become a part of one’s daily routine when battling cancer.  My family had to make major adjustments to include these aspects into our family’s schedule.  Some days were clearly more difficult than others.  Just as a terrible storm can bring about the most beautiful rainbows – we chose to search for silver linings wherever we could during my ten months of treatments.  

Cheryl CopelandOne of the biggest decisions I had to make was whether or not to work during my cancer battle.  Believe it or not, this was not an easy task.  We made a list of pros and cons and weighed out all of the benefits of each option.  The final verdict was in – I would stay home and focus on healing.   


For those of you that don’t know me personally, I am an extremely outgoing ‘people’ person.  The idea of being home alone without human interaction with my colleagues and students was quite frightening.  What on earth would I do at home alone?  But then, having taught for seventeen years, I quickly began to look at this as an opportunity to take a breather!  Talk about finding a silver lining!   When else do teachers typically get to take a break half way through their career?  I decided to simply cherish every moment as I took on my new fulltime ‘Mommy role’ while healing.  

Doctor appointments continued and treatments were completed.  Before I knew it, ten months had flown by and the doctors informed me that it was time to go back to work.  Just as I had struggled with the decision to stay home and learn to have alone time, I found myself equally struggling with the thought of giving up my position as a fulltime Mommy and going back to work!  I was quite hesitant to return and was worried about how I would dive in head first after having missed the first 110 days of school!  I prayed, heavily, for a silver lining to appear. 

My final sleep before school was emotionally intense.  I tossed and turned throughout the night as I frightfully feared not waking up to my five alarm clocks.  I scheduled several of my friends to make ‘back up’ phone calls.  After not having to wake up early to be anywhere other than a doctor’s appointment for ten months I knew it was going to take an act of Congress to get me out of bed!  Thank goodness for excellent planning – it took ALL of the above to get me up and out the door!    

The drive to school was a bit more peaceful than my morning routine.  I was so incredibly anxious about returning to my classroom so I asked two of my dear friends to meet me TWO HOURS early!  I wanted to get in my classroom and firmly plant my feet on the ground before my students began to arrive.  

As I entered the building I took a deep breath and asked God to give me strength to get me through this transition.  I rounded the corner to my classroom and within an instant all of my hesitations of returning to work completely vanished!  The bulletin board next to my room and my door had been covered with welcome back signs, survivor banners, bows, and personalized notes from the staff and students.  The silver lining I prayed for was shining bright!  I was alive and was blessed to have so many people loving, supporting, and cheering me on through my battle! For the next few days, more silver linings randomly appeared.  I collectively received hundreds of hugs, handmade cards, stuffed animals, cookies, and “Welcome Backs!”    My students were eager to learn about my journey and asked amazing questions.  That Friday I arrived to an entire PINK staff at the faculty meeting that included a gigantic Welcome Back cake with pink ribbons!  I had every intention of addressing the staff with a prepared speech.  I was so overwhelmed that if I dared to speak I knew I would have sobbed like a baby!  I was honestly humbled and honored to be sitting among such wonderful, amazing, supportive friends.  Life Happens.  How you choose to respond to life makes all the difference in the world.  Silver Linings can always be found – even in the toughest of situations.  Simply keep your focus on finding them and they will begin to appear right before your eyes! 

 

Cheryl Copeland is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about life’s lessons and her personal adventure with breast cancer.