Monday, June 13, 2011


What do you do when you're knee deep in do-do and about to go through something as awful and terrifying as surgery? You Google It, natch. And after you've researched said awful, terrifying something, if you are like me, you then go about finding others who are going through the very same do-do as you. (Because sharing do-do is much better than dealing with do-do alone.)

That's how I stumble upon a vast network of women who are going through breast cancer just like me. Tens of thousands of women. And I find them just 12 days after I am diagnosed. How lucky am I? This online community of sistahs keeps me laughing, sane, supported and in check. They are my lifeline on an otherwise do-do filled journey.

One of the things I love most are the insightful moments that come out of our online discussion threads. Everyone has their own unique perspective as they wade through the all-too-familiar mire known as cancer. Sometimes people's perspectives match mine dead-on (pun intended); other times we differ dramatically. One day during a rather frank discussion about death and dying, a woman shared something quite profound. A close friend of hers had recently passed away (and not from cancer, BTW). The deceased friend came to this woman in a dream and said, "Just because you have cancer doesn't mean you are going to die — just like not having cancer means you are going to live."

Whew. That statement, spoken to a woman in a dream by a woman who is dead, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Here I am fretting (albeit understandably, gotta cut myself some slack here) about the possibility of dying. But what's changed? I'm the same person I was 6 months ago. (My breast cancer was in me then too; my surgeon says it's probably been growing for 10 years). Yet now the word "cancer" and my name are forever tethered together.

I think cancer brings me closer to death. Or does it? Aren't we all just a hop, skip and a jump away from biting the big one? Some of us are fortunate (and I use the term most loosely) to get a glimpse of our potentially shortened lives. It's one of the many, ahem, "opportunities" that cancer conjures up. (Cancer provides plenty of other "opportunities" too, but I haven't the time to delve into that do-do right now.)

But this I know is true: We all die. And we all spend our lives trying not to think about it.

Your not having cancer doesn't mean you are going to live any more than my having cancer means I am going to die.

Think about it.

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