Cancer Survivor

I’ve been had!

November 18, 2009

“I’ve been had” is a phrase from the 1800’s that means to get someone under one’s power or to place another person at a disadvantage. The expression employs the verb “to have” in the past tense. says it means to be outwitted, cheated, or deceived. Perhaps some of you made a bad investment…maybe not the likes of Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme. But, you put your precious nest egg in the hands of someone who took full advantage of you. When the dividends didn’t come pouring in, you knew you’d “been had.”

Another phrase that merely swaps the words and tense “has been” means something a little different. A “has been” describes someone who has outlived their fame. The slang version suggests that someone’s light has “burned out.” During the 80’s Paul Ruebens, aka Pee Wee Herman became a big hit through his T.V. show Pee Wee’s Playhouse and his movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. But in July 1991, after deciding to take a couple of years’ sabbatical from showbiz Pee-wee, Reubens, was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida. From that moment on Paul Rueben became a “has been.” He’s yet recovered the fame and fortune of his past.

These terms don’t apply to me, technically. But I feel like a victim of the verb “have” as it shifted into past tense. I take umbrage with word “had.” Today, in my treatment of cancer, I passed the Rubicon of “I have cancer” to “I had cancer.” For the last six months, I’ve been thrust into the “cancer club.” You don’t join it voluntarily. But once you’re diagnosed something profound happens. Almost immediately you flip into the “fight or flight” mode. Me, I landed into fight making crazy moves the likes of Trinity from the Matrix. I threw all my physical fortitude, mental metal, and spiritual underpinnings to meet cancer head-on. And I was playing to win. All of my internal mechanisms shifted into high alert. Because I was “on guard” I really didn’t take the time or energy to emote, wallow, whine, or worry. I saved that energy for the battle.

At 9:00 on November 17th 2009, I had my last chemo. My CA-125 cancer marker is ridiculously low and everything other indicator has risen to the challenge. While the nurse was prepping my port, I began to weep. To Skip and Sherry it probably looked like a teary response to the injection of lidocaine, the awful tasting saline flush, the insertion of the port connection, or IV of poison beginning to drip in my veins. But it wasn’t any of those. I was ready to seriously sob because I couldn’t believe that this was the end. It felt so surreal. Somewhere along the journey I had adapted. Cancer treatment became my “new normal” But after today I would have to learn to live in wellness once again. I pondered, “Can I really let my guard down? “Is this really the end?” “Will another shoe drop?” “What now?”

I confided in the nurse about my feelings. She said, “You’re response is very common. Most people struggle with putting cancer behind them or in the past. It’s a real paradigm shift. Also, we’ve been your safety net. You could face this disease because you had a team fighting with you. Today you go home to finish the healing on your own.” What a weird sensation. She was right. The very thing I dreaded 6 months ago…walking into a chemo treatment center…was now a thing that had brought comfort and healing. I suppose the sensation is similar to soldiers in battle. They learn to live at the “code red” alertness level. They must run on adrenaline for their entire tour of duty. They develop and enjoy comrades in arms with whom they sympathize, draw strength, and derive comfort. But when it’s time to go home they are expected to shift seamlessly back into a calm civilian life. Come on, it has to tweak with their minds and emotions…just like me.

This week a good friend, author and speaker Ken Mansfield, told Skip something that really comforted me. Ken joined the cancer club right as I did. Although he fought a more virulent colon cancer with radiation as his treatment. He said, “Tell Lenya that cancer is the little “c,” but Christ is the big “C.” How profound. Believe me, that’s where I will throw my energy, my transition, my future! Jesus Christ was my comrade in arms and now He’ll be the comforting arms I will find my rest. He walked with me through the hospital. Now He will now walk me safely back to my home sweet home.


15 thoughts on “I’ve been had!

  1. we love you and so blessed you are done with your are such a precious person.we will continue to pray the big Cyay lenya love to you and prayers continuallyyou look so pretty and more glowing yayayay

  2. Hi Lenya,Wow, I was looking over Skip's daily radio address and saw you had some books published. That is awesome. Then I googled your name to find out more information on the books and what a shock and surprise to find that you have been battling cancer (and won) for the past few months. I showed Deb everything. You are an amazing fighter and that is what we expected. Please know we are praying for you and holding Skip up. I am just embarrassed that I just found out. I told John Davidson and we all want you to know we love you, remember the good old days. Also, amazed to find out your going to be a grandman. Please email back if you have time. What an amazing time we had together in Hawaii and so excited how God has blessed you guys. Both of you are amazing authors. I remember seeing Skip at the booksellers years ago when I was just writing and I told him he really needed to write books because he had so much to say. And now look at your amazing books. Sorry we have been out of it. Anyway, trust this will be an amazing Thanksgiving as you have been "had."Blessings,Dave and Debbie Gustaveson

  3. What a precious blog Lenya May… Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Soooo delighted the chemo is behind you. Our 'big C'… Christ and Creator, is so Caring, Considerate and Comforting and your "Comrad in arms". What a faithful God. You are so loved Lenya, nanc.

  4. How many 'new beginnings' will the Lord bless us with in one lifetime? Only He knows. But what we do know is that He promises to be with we can go fearlessly forward in Him! I will continue to pray for you and your 'new' journey as you go boldy forward in Christ- My Fearless Friend! 🙂

  5. Rejoicing with you Lenya!! Prayers are still flooding your way. Excited for this new chapter in your life! Praise God for pulling you through and bringing you across the finish line! Love ya lots! ❤

  6. Lenya, such great news! We've been praying for you as you've gone through this whole process, and will continue as you move into a new normal 🙂 Thanks for sharing about the little and big "c"'s…we had some serious health issues in our family this year, and while we are better, I still find fear of their return in my heart at times…It's good to remember, and be reminded, that Christ is always bigger! Blessings to you all!

  7. precious lenya…i love the BIG C vs. the little c of cancer…i too am nearing the end of my treatment for breast cancer, i have 6 more radiation treatments, "boost" treatments, very intense aimed at just the surgical site…i've become a puddle & cry at the least thing…since i've made you my compass as i walk this walk, was actually pleased to know you are weeping too…you are and will continue to be in my family's prayers daily…thank you for the courage & graciously sharing it with the rest of us…you'll never know how much it has meant…loving you…rebecca thomas

  8. Dear Lenya, I cried this morning as I read your last post. I'm am overjoyed with thanks to the Lord for all you've endured. I am grateful to the Lord that you are cancer free. It is encouraging to me to read your blog as I have just begun my very own cancer journey. On Nov. 5, 2009 when chaos was breaking out at Fort Hood. I heard the words that I would hope to never hear,"You have breast cancer." I know the Lord had been preparing my heart for the news…he has a way of doing that. But it still was desperately painful to hear. I've lost my mother, father and sister all to cancer and I'm trying to remain strong in the Lord. So to me cancer is always been a fear that I am now facing. I've got a very supportive husband, a daughter, and two young boys that I have to fight for. I just started my own blog with encouragement from friends., a sister in Christ, Elizabeth Molina

  9. PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW! I am so happy for you that the little 'c' is a had not a have anymore! You have been an amazing example to so many people – God has certainly used this for His glory! I love you! Maellen

  10. Lenya, I continue to pray for you as you are gaining back your strength now. We really missed your sweet presence at the Celebration of Light yesterday morning but you'll be pleased to know that the event was beautiful and an amazing blessing to all of us in attendance. God bless you these next couple weeks as you prepare to celebrate the Big C's birth. Love you, Nancy Jay

  11. Lenya, I didn't know you had a blog. I am really happy to have found it. The ladies of Calvary Chapel Kendall are praying continually and fervently for you. May the Lord quiet you with His love. Heal me Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14

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