Farewell My Friend

I have to pause yet again in my storytelling to share another hard cold reality about life with cancer. And that is that when you yourself have a life threatening chronic disease and you choose to find support from those who understand your disease and what it feels like to always live on the precipice, you will inevitably meet others who have your same disease, especially in this world of social media and facile information. You may even come to call some of them friend as you become emotionally invested in their well-being and their destinies in a way that goes well beyond the limits of a human compassion that you might feel for someone you don’t know or know only superficially. You call them friend whether you’ve actually heard their voices or looked into their eyes, because they remind you of you, because they are the same age, because they love their husbands and would lay down their lives for their young children, because they exemplify a strength, beauty and grace that you wish you had. And some of them will die because your disease kills, slaughtering mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends. And you will mourn. And you will burst into tears upon hearing the news of their death even though you knew it was coming (although maybe not so soon) and you will hug your precious three-year-old as she sits on your lap in your tearful grief and she who has always had an uncanny and other-worldly sensitivity will ask you, “What happened, Mama? Why are you crying?” And you will tell her as you hug her even more tightly, “Mama’s friend died, Isabelle, and Mama is so so sad.”

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An Intermission For An Update On The Realities Of Life With Cancer

I know I still owe everyone part 2 of the story of my diagnosis.  It is partially written.  Most of my posts take hours and hours to write, which means more like days and, of late, weeks.  Now that summer is in full swing and with the introduction of a car into our lives, I have less time for writing, sadly.  My life is filled with spending time with Josh and my children through frequent jaunts out of town during the weekends and doing little things with the girls (like taking them to camp and coloring with them and spelling words with Mia with magnetic letters).  Yes, they drive me nuts often when they won’t change their clothes or eat their meals, but at the end of the day, I love them beyond measure.  I’ve also rediscovered the joys of cooking again and make healthy, nutritious and yummy food that my children won’t eat.  To be fair, Mia does try things but my little Isabelle is as stubborn as her mother.  In a couple weeks, we’ll be going to Costa Rica for a friend’s wedding and then an extended vacation; it will be a fabulous experience for all of us (although I’m absolutely dreading the five-hour car rides between locales with my young children — they are city children and each time we get in our car, they both yell and scream about how they’re going to get carsick (which they don’t)).  Belle celebrated her third birthday on Saturday and I threw a very little birthday party for her that she and everyone else seemed to really enjoy.  All-in-all, Josh and I have found a new equilibrium that is working for us.  And sometimes, we even manage to forget that I have cancer and can truly live in the moment with a joyous abandon I’ve never known.  Sometimes…

Alas, the realities of cancer and that part of our life always resurface, and I and Josh have to deal with them.  So, this post (which won’t take me days and weeks to write) is an intermission in my story telling so that I can let everyone know about all that’s been going on. More

A Nightmare

[I’ve needed to write the story of my cancer diagnosis for a long time, to work through both the painful and beautiful – yes beautiful – memories of that time. It is a long story, so this post is part one.]

Today is the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I wonder why it is that the memories of that most traumatic time of my life have not faded with the passing of the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds, why it is that, despite my senses being bombarded by a plethora of new experiences since those early weeks that have been traumatic and overwhelming in their own right, the images and feelings I associate with being told that I had cancer have an unparalleled and unprecedented grasp on my consciousness. The clarity of most memories dull with time, even the good ones that I want to hold close for all my life, like falling in love with Josh and seeing my babies for the first time. But the recollections of the pain and shock and all the minute details of my cancer diagnosis just won’t leave me for I’ve forgotten nothing about that time. Perhaps, this is so because it has only been a year. Perhaps, this is so because the story of how I came to be diagnosed is not your run-of-the-mill cancer diagnosis tale (to the extent there is such a thing); no, mine is a story that borders on the incredible. Perhaps, this is so because there can be nothing more momentous or memorable than facing death. Perhaps, this is so because I have some kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome. There’s a reason why war veterans wake up screaming in the middle of the night as they struggle unsuccessfully to forget the details of their horrors that visit them in their nightmares. Now, I am a soldier of my own war with my own demons to battle, the worst demons being the memories from a year ago.

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