Polishing Patience: My Rocky Road to Recovery

by | Aug 18, 2023 | Her Story | 12 comments

Recovery from treatment completion has turned out to be far more frustrating than I imagined.  It turns out, it’s much easier to blog about healing than doing the actual healing.  While I do improve incrementally on a daily basis, the process is FAR slower than what I expected.

Patience is a virtue that I have lacked for the vast majority of my life.  I despise waiting….for anything!

This got me wondering about WHY patience is considered to be a virtue.
Here’s what I found out;  Let’s first look at the definition of virtue:

  1. behavior showing high moral standards.
    “paragons of virtue”

Now let’s see what we find when we search for “WHY is patience a virtue?”

“Patience is a moral virtue because it contributes to happiness and living well. Waiting attentively involves discerning when it’s our turn to act. Waiting without complaint helps us not hate the waiting, and it helps us do our job well when it’s our turn.”

Reading that explanation just ticks me off so I’m calling bullshit on this definition!  “waiting attentively” and “without complaint” is nothing but an excuse to do nothing and justify modern-day torture!

I’ve had to be patient for over a year now, during my surgery, recovery from surgery, radiation, and chemo, etc.  Reading back on some of my caringbridge posts, makes me wanna punch myself in the face! Seriously, I cannot believe some of the crap I’ve written! I’m both annoyed and disgusted by my positivity.  But it may just be that I’m grouchy today and this sentence could end up being deleted after review.

The other morning, I had an interesting conversation with John during our morning coffee time.  Coffee time is the first thing we do when we wake up.  We sit down with our freshly brewed coffee (which one of us prepped the evening before, so we can wake up to the glorious smell) and we talk about what we plan to do that day, what we’re going to have for dinner, and any other topic that comes up.  On this particular day, I asked John if he thought whether our souls had any say in the attributes it receives when it’s created by God, before it’s sent down to our earthly bodies.  John believes that God makes the soul according to what it’s going to need based on our DNA from our parents that ends up in our bodies.

Being the control freak that I am, I was hoping the process was more like an assembly line; Something akin to making a sub at subway or a burrito bowl at Qdoba.  “Whole wheat or white? would you like cheese on that turkey sub? lettuce? tomato? toasted? What type of rice would you like in the burrito bowl? Cilantro? white? Pico?” I actually had in my mind, a scene from the Disney film Wreck it Ralph, when Venellope creates her dream race car

This is what I like to think the process is like.  The ability to choose all the best traits and none of the bad.  Sense of humor? Yes Please! I’ll take a triple dose of that, if you don’t mind.  Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness….load it up! Wisdom, Discernment…of course, but not too much.   I don’t wanna come off as a know it all.

Unfortunately, when we got to patience, either God or I (both maybe) Completely skipped that ingredient! And so, my soul was sent to earth to this body, devoid of the ability to wait for anything.  ANYTHING!  In some respects, it’s not an awful thing to be like this, because I don’t wait around to get things done.  On the other hand, in times like now, it’s complete torture! But then the wise wise words of Dr. Mueller fill my head “YOU CANNOT WILL YOUR BODY TO HEAL FASTER THAN IT’S ABLE TO”

So what do I do to help endure my recovery and make the time go faster?  Do I take my own advice and see this as an opportunity to grow in patience?

OF COURSE NOT! True to form, I pick up a hobby that requires tons of patience (though I didn’t know it at the time)….ROCK TUMBLING.

If we’re “friends” on FB, then you know that John and I recently started lake glass hunting. I LOVE the beach and love anything related to it; Driftwood, sea or lake glass, rocks, etc.  Rockhounding (hunting for rocks) goes hand in hand with this. So I downloaded a rock identifier app, pulled out our scuba diving booties, got my neoprene bag out, and got John to get us to the beach.  We got so many awesome rocks!  As I picked each one up, I used my app to see what it was.  We took them home, dug up Jack’s old rock tumbler from the basement (He’s definitely his mother’s son when it comes to starting hobbies, doing them for a bit, then losing interest and finding something new), got on Amazon, bought the grit, and started the process.

Only then did I bother to read up on the process of tumbling rocks!  To my surprise and utter dismay, I found out it takes a minimum of FOUR weeks to get the rough rocks polished!  FOUR!!!  There are 4 steps to the process, and each takes a minimum of 7 days.  (insert heavy sigh).  I then realized the only thing that would make me feel any better would be to have two tumblers going at once. So I promptly made another Amazon purchase and have two rock tumblers churning away in the garage, each a week apart in the process.  Having two machines going at once isn’t contributing to the development of patience, rather I’m able to polish more rocks in the same amount of waiting.

With respect to my recovery, I no longer have the diffuse muscle and joint pain that was brought about by the monthly chemo and inability to take my turmeric supplements, I still struggle with low energy and muscle atrophy from not being able to really work out this past year, much less even walk.  I also still have some slow thinking.  It may not seem like it by reading my blog, but keep in mind; Each of these posts can take a month to write.  I will start, save and go back to it multiple times before it’s ready to be published.

I also found out the horrible hip pain I have is the result of bone-on-bone arthritis and I will need a hip replacement.  I’m not concerned at all about this, but frustrated that I may have to wait until next year to have it done, due to surgeon availability (or lack thereof).  Again, yet another thing I need to wait for.

At the end of the day, I have zero control over these things and while I really REALLY dislike admitting this, developing some patience is the only thing I can do to not be so frustrated.

So like the tumbling rocks, both in the sea and lake, and my Amazon tumblers in the garage (as well as the glass shards in the sea and lake and the weathered and worn driftwood, tumbling along the waves) I will sit and wait to heal. Wait for the smoothing process of those hard and rough edges.  Wait to shine again and sparkle like the beautiful sea glass and stones from the earth.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it……..

About Me

In February 2022, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and it changed my whole life perspective. This blog is dedicated to my Journey through cancer diagnosis, recovery, and finding the humor in life.


  1. Don Evans

    I don’t think a person starts out with much patience. It develops over a long period like the rock polishing. Patience is refined every time it’s used. The process is more important than the result and I believe it ends with your choice to submit to God’s will. The impatience goes away and what you’re waiting for doesn’t matter. I can’t presume to know this from my own experience; but there is a certain amount of sense to this take on it. What do you think??

    • Julie Kurtz

      I agree Don! I just don’t like the waiting part of becoming more patient lol

  2. John Kurtz

    Love your post Baby!

    • Julie Kurtz

      Thanks honey!

  3. jane crowell

    Outstanding. Love the comparison to rock tumbling. And even with that, there is a lovely result–after you do the waiting. I think your posts should be published as a book. Love you!

    • Kari Freitag

      Jane! So agree!! Julie you are brilliant in all aspects of your life! And writing is one of your most incredible talents! To process life and put it on paper is not an easy process/task-but you make it look easy. Love your blogs and you too! ❤️
      And I hear you-patience is not a virtue of mine-sad to say!

      • Julie Kurtz

        Kari, you are incredibly patient and almost indescribably kind. I know for a fact MANY of your admiring friends, myself included, have gone to you to vent about our frustrations, and regardless of what you’ve got going on in Your life, you never turn us away. You patiently listen/read the crap we dump on you and somehow find a way to help all of us deal with it!

    • Julie Kurtz

      thanks mom! I’ve considered compiling my posts into some format mainly for myself and kids! Thanks for passing on the writing gene to me and double checking all my papers in high school! One of my earliest memories of you patiently correcting me was when we lived either above or below the brats. I remember telling you about mrs brat “grinning” at me and I said it in a negative way. You quickly realized I didn’t understand what grinning meant and I think told me sneering was the correct adjective!!!

  4. Tracy ❤️

    I love your posts!! You are such an amazing writer Julie!!! What a gift!!! I’m completely with you on the patience meter. It’s been a big challenge for me especially this summer, but with practice also comes more wisdom as to why patience is so great if you can master it! It allows me to live in the moment which I tended to keep rushing through!! Love you so much!!! I learned a lot in this blog!!

    • Julie Kurtz

      Always in my corner with encouraging, kind words! Tracy, you’re really no
      Slouch either when it comes to writing! I’ve so enjoyed your FB “moments with mom” They’ve been a great reminder to cherish and love those closest to us because none of have know when our time on earth is up ❤️

  5. Mary Beth Shaw

    Julie- you have way more patience than you give yourself credit for! You have sat through numerous appointments that often have long waits, without complaint. You have sat through long treatments, procedures and scans a good deal of the time the last couple years. No complaining…. You have come so much further than you give yourself credit for . Its perfectly fine to want to feel better, to get mad to be impatient as this is the human. You have been a rock through all this. You say that it can take a month to write these blogs. I say great!! Because like your rocks you are polishing the words to create a meaningful inspirational piece to read. I feel that these should be placed in a book(totally agree with Jane) as so many people would love to read them. Personally, they have made me smile, laugh out loud, get teary eyed more than once and really think about a lot of the things you say. I look forward to them. In my role they have inspired me to become better at what I do. I have learned from these. Julie, I want you to know you are a very beautifully polished rock that shines brighter everyday and you will continue to shine and inspire as you walk the long often slow road to recovery. Keep on polishing Julie in everyway you can!

    • Julie Kurtz

      Mary Beth, I only have one thing to say to you… I fu?!$ng love you to pieces!!!!!


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