Who wants to be on this cancer journey? Not me. Not anyone. No one would ever choose this path. And yet, here we are, my compatriots of cancer and I, mending our lives, saving our lives, as best as we know how.
Even when we donâ€™t know how.
Was it a phone call for you like it was for me? It was a phone call that brought my life to a standstill, froze a moment in time, and made a delineation between the time before and the time after diagnosis. I remember waiting for that phone call, dreading it, and then the black phone by the kitchen table rang and I walked over and picked it up to hear my fate. What if I hadnâ€™t answered? What if I hadnâ€™t known? Would I still have two breasts and a healthy life? Or would I be dead?
As much as I tried to divine the future back then, 16 years ago, I did not know if time would unroll with me in it. The worst part was having young children. My breath froze in a shallow intake in my chest to think of not being around to raise them.
Last year, when my younger child, my daughter, graduated from college, I felt full and blessed. The breath I had been holding for 16 years released in a long and merciful exhale of relief.
The truth is that healing from breast cancer brought me more challenges and more gifts than I ever could have imagined when I answered that phone all those years ago. Over the course of these years I began a new line of work with people affected by cancer and loss, experienced the end of my marriage, and moved from my beloved rural home into a place in the village. Instead of spending the spring wandering through the burgeoning fields and woods of my former countryside, this spring I am ambling along the village street by the river. Instead of hiking to a favorite apple tree I am walking to the yoga studio or grocery store.
The voices of cancer still pop up occasionally when an unusual ache in my leg or hip plagues my sleep. But the years my healing journey has lasted have made me believe that there might be more. Gratitude is the name of the tea I drink every morning and again in the evening. And my gratitude tea is sweet.
copyright Pam Roberts 2010