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Crevolyn Wiley: A light at the end of the tunnel
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As patrons of The Times, you are accustomed to reading about my family stories, cooking tips and recipes once a month.

This time my focus is different. While it’s easy for me to write articles about family and food, this particular story is not so easy for me to share. It’s my breast cancer story.

In August 2015, I went in for my annual mammogram. In past years, I had some suspicious-looking scans, but those were deemed non-problematic with no further tests needed.

Not this time. This time was ... “Houston, we have a problem.”

Further tests were needed, biopsies were performed and the dreaded “C” word was confirmed.

Crevolyn, you do indeed have breast cancer. Insert gasp and heart drop here.

The weeks that followed the diagnosis were a blur of doctor’s appointments, scans, surgery and recovery; all before beginning treatments.

I was uncertain and scared, as were my husband, children, family and close friends. They all kept positive attitudes around me, but I could see it in their eyes.

As our traditions for the holidays were discussed, I could see they were all uncertain about how to handle my prognosis.

Let me say one thing here. My husband and children are rock stars. Not once did their love or care for me waver. They arranged some dear friends to come to the house and pray over me. It was a precious time I will never forget.

And isn’t that the way our journeys go? Amid the darkest times, we are given sweet pockets of love that last us through the walk in the valley. 

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love college football, fall festivals, baking, decorating and overall, enjoying the delightful respite from the summertime heat. But last fall was different.

I found myself on the inside looking out. I went through the motions and only went out when my family insisted that I go. I was happy to stay home with our dogs.

If you know me at all, this is very unlike me. I don’t retreat often. I love to travel, go and do. I love my people and I thrive when I’m with them.

I felt paralyzed. I felt alone in my journey, even though I was so blessed to have my loved ones’ constant care.

I watched as friends and family members struggled with much more difficult circumstances and thought why can’t I get it together and go on with the wonderful life that I’ve been given?

I don’t have extensive knowledge of many subjects, but one thing I do know is when to seek wise counsel. Thankfully, one of my nearest, dearest friends has a background in counseling and it doesn’t hurt that she is a serious prayer warrior. What a blessing beyond measure.

She was my go-to soul sister. I also sought out friends who had been down a similar road.  Women I knew had been pillars of faith and positivity throughout their cancer journeys. They understood the feelings and emotions and not to mention, all of the medical hullabaloo that was whirling around me.

They set me down and gave it to me straight. And boy howdy, did I need that.

I began to come out of the fog. I began to see a life with breast cancer was not a death sentence.  It was a life sentence. It was a new normal. Not one that I might have chosen, but it was mine and doggone, I was going to embrace it.

You know, we don’t have any guarantees in life.

John Chapter 16 says it very clearly: In this life you will have trouble.

Well, there it is, plain and simple. It is how we handle the trouble that makes a difference.

After a cancer diagnosis, the sun shines a little brighter, my children make me laugh a little harder, and my husband’s arms feel a little tighter. The small things that might have been important before are just not as big a deal anymore.

Our family always says we work hard and play hard. We take every opportunity to be together and are intentional about our time as a family unit. Because when it’s all said and done, it’s how you spend the little moments that count.

Please don’t think that sharing this part of my life comes easy. As a rule, I’m a classic over-sharer, but this journey I made private by my own instruction. Everyone is different on how they handle something like this.

I’m a year out now and will be going for that dreaded one-year follow-up in a few weeks. I can only be inspired by those who continue to fight. They fight with grace, strength and perseverance. They are warriors in the truest sense of the word.

As a parting gift, I am sharing this smoothie recipe. It became my favorite thing throughout the months of recovery and treatment. You can change up the fruit and the flavor of yogurt to match your tastes. It’s cool, refreshing and full of nutrients.

Yes, cancer is nasty. There is no denying that. But out of bad always comes good. You might have to change your viewfinder to see it, but it’s there.

The remaining portion of verse 33 in John 16 says this: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And that is a very good thing.

 

Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at crevolyn.wiley@jandjfoods.com.

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