Channel your inner superhero

Regardless of your cancer type or treatment regimen, it’s all brutal. We can get by with a little help from our (superhero) friends.

Channeling your inner superhero can do your mental state a lot of good, and let’s be real – this whole process is terrifying enough on its own – the road ahead sure could benefit from a little levity.

For me, that came in the form of a Party City Wonder Woman costume, and a lot of inspo from real-life badass, Wonder Woman actress and Israeli-born Gal Gadot, as well as Lynda Carter, the lasso-wielding Wonder Woman of my childhood.

Make it a family affair

Breast cancer patient dressed up like Wonder Woman
It did my nerves a lot of good to embrace a Wonder Woman state of mind before mastectomy and DIEP flap surgery. But behind the smile , I felt overwhelmed and scared.

The night before my first lumpectomy (and what I thought would be a one and done end to this crazy chapter – bahaha!, so na├»ve!), my best friend here in Mansfield came over and took pictures of our little family foursome all super hero’d up. I’m two years out from that moment, and these are still some of our family’s favorite photos.

After Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Wolverine returned to their respective superhero universes, we treated ourselves to our first-ever trip to Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Cedar Hill. From the car in the parking lot, we also took a call from one of our favorite pastors ever, the phenomenally funny and real Julian Hobdy of First Methodist Mansfield. It was the best night we could have hoped for before the uneasy next morning that awaited us.

Be realistic

I feel like this should go without saying, but for the literal folks out there, I’ll say it anyway. Obviously God is in charge of all the things, and you can’t actually Jedi mind trick yourself into superhero-zapping away the tumor cells. So long as you’re grounded in reality and understand that this is just for fun, go for it.

Certainly as I grew deeper into treatment, I had lots of days when I felt nothing but awful. When I peed, I could smell the chemo toxins. When I breathed, I could smell the chemo toxins. When I ate – if I ate – mouth sores and heartburn made it not even worth the effort. And that’s just skimming the surface. Chemo is pure hell.

I did not put on any airs or keep up “Wonder Woman” appearances for my sake, or that of anyone else. But as silly as the whole thing may sound, having that superhero relatability in the back of my mind really helped, even on the darkest of days.

Focus on what matters

Those who know me well – especially if we’ve discussed any aspect of personal faith or overall theology – have likely heard me say these words:

I’m a Methodist, and I tend to keep my faith thoughts pretty private. But…

…my faith journey has grown immensely since diagnosis and all that came with that first awful year afterward.

When our senior pastor preaches now, my mind isn’t wandering to what needs to be done around the house, or how I will be spending my Sunday afternoon. It’s focused on his words and what truth they can speak into my life.

This past week, I had two key takeaways I’d like to share with you here. I already shared them with a precious family friend who had dinner with us last night, and was confessing how naturally it is for her to pray for the healing of others, but not for herself.

As Pastor David Alexander addressed the youth of our church and community, plus their families recently, he focused on the uncertainty we have all felt as teens trying to figure out who we are and what we’re supposed to do to bring purpose and fulfillment to our lives. These kids had spent the prior five days as part of United Mission Week, serving through hands-on ministry in our local community, in 100+ degree heat without a single complaint.

The words he shared that I found so striking are these:

You are fully known. You are truly loved.

-Pastor David Alexander, First Methodist Mansfield

Come what may on your cancer journey, curative treatment and cancer-free living, or progressive disease and quality of life or life extending care, it’s not what you do that matters. You don’t have to achieve anything to be fully known or truly loved. It’s a given that you already are, and it has nothing to do with personal merit, or how “bravely” or lack thereof you might respond to your diagnosis and care.

So embrace your inner superhero if that can help you as it did me, but never confuse it with what matters above all else. You are fully known and you are truly loved. Period.