For those of you who don’t live in Utah or who are not Mormon, today is Pioneer Day. It is the day that Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley over 150 years ago. Growing up Mormon in California, I didn’t give much attention to this day other than to say, “Hey, it’s Pioneer Day. Aren’t Pioneers nice?” Just kidding. But seriously, we may have had a picnic with our local congregation and for sure, some discussion about pioneers during Sunday services. But most Mormons, residing outside Utah, probably can’t even tell you on what day this holiday falls. Just don’t tell my neighbors here in the SLC. I don’t want them to be outraged.
Now that I live in Utah, this weekend has felt like Independence Day never ended. People are still sporting their red and blue attire, we’re still singing patriotic songs at church, and the fireworks are equivalent to the 4th of July. (I was wondering why the firework sales tents hadn’t closed shop yet.) Pioneer Day in Utah is a BIG deal. It’s a state holiday, for goodness sake, gosh darn it! So whether you’re Mormon or not, if you live in Utah, you are grateful for the pioneers because tomorrow is a day off from work!
This is where I stop joking about pioneers and tell you something serious and heartfelt. Countless lives were lost and many trials were endured as Mormon pioneers walked across the United States, from east to west, searching for a place to settle. (That is my one sentence explanation of the Mormon pioneers). At church today, we sang the hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a song written by a pioneer who describes their arduous journey. As I was singing, I realized the parallel between their lives and mine and subsequently, tears came rolling down my cheeks. Here are the words that got me:
“Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell –
All is well! All is well!”
As I consider the past, present and future of my journey with cancer, I can relate to these words that describe the pioneers’ trek across the plains. Cancer has given me reason to think that my lot is hard, just as most pioneers probably thought of their lot. But soon I’ll have a story to tell if I just take courage, get ready to work and don’t run away from the fight. Because God will never abandon me and my story will be, “All is well, all is well.”
And also the last verse:
“And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh how we’ll make this chorus swell –
All is well! All is well!”
If I don’t make it through this journey, if I die before my hair is gray, that’s okay. All is well. I won’t be “toiling” and “sorrowing” like the rest of y’all here on Earth. 😉 I’ll be resting. And working on the other side. Hopefully Jesus hires me. That’d be a good gig.
But if my life is spared again, then how joyous will it be to outlive the medical predictions. Listen, I want to make something clear. I am hopeful, extremely hopeful. My plan is to live long enough to become a crotchety, old grandma. But I am also a realist. I understand that most people diagnosed with metastatic cancer don’t live long lives. My doctors have given me two to five years to live, stating that five years is very possible, but ten years is not likely. So with those numbers all up in my face, I plan to live life to the fullest! I hope I can make it to see my kids go to college, chase their dreams, marry and have kids of their own, but I am at peace if I don’t make it that far.
I now love this song more than I did yesterday (when it was more of a strong like) because it now has greater meaning in my life. I understand better the plight of the pioneers in regards to what they faced emotionally. Hardships were guaranteed during the trek, survival was not. I can now perceive just how brave these souls were. They took courage. They faced their fight head on. And they had faith in God, whether they were rewarded life or death, that ALL WILL BE WELL.
Mel, I love you! I hope that “living life to the fullest” includes a trip to Switzerland. 😉 Otherwise, since, coincidentally, my plan is to live my life to the fullest” (someboday’s copying me!!), there will be a Utah trip in my very near future (hopefully). Or we could just meet in NYC, I’m not picky… You’re awesome. I miss you!
Coincidentally, we are hoping to get to Europe next year. I expect a grand tour.
What a great post! Keep up the fight you are amazing!
Thank you Melissa! Enjoy Tahoe! We miss it so much especially after a failed attempt to play in the great salt lake today
Mel I pray for you and your journey often. I think back to our childhood and playing basketball, never in a million years did I imagine your life journey being this way. I pray for healing for you, and that throught this journey you touch lives for Christs glory. I love you my friend. I’ll be following you and praying for you and your family.
Hi Jodi! Thank you for following and for the prayers. I really appreciate it. I loved playing ball with you. You were always the crazy funny one! 🙂 And my mom always loved you. Until you went to U$C. 🙂 haha. just kidding. but seriously, who would go to that school?! anyway, we need to all get together one of these days- have a Joe Perry aau teams reunion. hope all is well with you
I have heard so much about you from my sister Cheryl Ann. About a month ago, I sat down and read your blog from the beginning of your journey. I cried and laughed my way through all of your experiences. This thing they call cancer, that seems to have a mind of its own, really stinks!! You are amazing, uplifting, courageous, funny and I think pretty SPECIAL. You have helped me to buckle up my bootstraps AND “COURAGE TAKE”
I have been doing the “TANGO” with cancer for a year now. Inflammatory breast cancer, the ER+, PR+ & HER2+. I know those are just words I read about that just try to scare me, but I won’t be bullied by cancer. (Though there are times panic does wrestle me to the ground but Heavenly Father always knows how to pull me up and set me straight again.) Thank goodness for family, friends and the temple. Get through the hard days and cherish the good days. I believe in miracles and I am hoping Heavenly Father has one reserved for you. You are wonderful. Keep taking care of yourself and those sweet babies you have
Kathleen, Thank you so much for your words. It is so great to connect with people going through something so similar. I too am Her2+ and had inflammatory BC. I can relate to you so much. Being given this diagnosis, as I’m sure you have felt, has changed my perspective on so many things. I am grateful for it, but I also hate that I can’t just live a “normal” life. I am grateful that it has forced me to rely on the Lord more and to trust in Him. I better understand now how this earthly life is truly just a tiny part of our existence, and that we will have so much more time hereafter. I’m grateful for that perspective because it makes hard things easier to get through. It also helps me to not panic about my kids not having a mom. Anyway, I’m sure you can relate. Keep fighting aka let the nurses have their way with you and just rest and take one day at a time and enjoy what you can. Keep in touch!
Mel, first of all, you are an amazing writer. Wish I could write like that. And, as usual, you’re hilarious. Thank you for being brave enough to share your journey. I am so inspired by you–for your incredible faith and your ability to listen to the spirit and follow its prompting (no hatter how difficult). We are super excited to have you guys in Utah & know that we are here to support you and your sweet fam. Love ya, Mel! ❤️
Holly. Thanks for the compliment. I’ve always known that I can’t express myself verbally, but I’ve just discovered that writing is much easier for me. Although I don’t know how to write all that well. I just know that I can never think of the words fast enough when I’m talking. Haha. But anyway, I’m grateful that the Dixon clan is here in Utah, and that we can play nerd games together. I’m so glad Dan married you- you’ve always been one of my favorite people.
so, so good Mel! each one of us should live life this way, cancer diagnosis or not… because we never know what life is going to bring. faith over fear!!!
Amen sister. don’t clean your house 😉