Sunday, February 27, 2011

That special glow

I am nearing the half-way point in my radiation treatments. So far the side effects are mild: I crave sweet things (rare for me; I’m a salty type); I am tired, tired lots of the time; and there’s some mental confusion, mostly forgetting stuff like appointments and words and dates.

But dates have always been hard for me to remember. That’s the reason, when Bob asked me to marry him, I choose Leap Year Day. I thought it would be a nice easy day to deal with since it only happened every four years. As it turned out, it was better than planned since in the three off years we get to celebrate on February 28 and on March 1 as well! And one year was totally crazy: I was cooking an ordinary evening meal and wondering where Bob was when he walked into the house carrying a single rose in a vase.

“What’s the flower for?” I asked.

Sheepishly he replied, “I’m sorry; I forgot.”

“Forgot what?”

“It’s our silver anniversary, Rose”

Oh, oops.

The upshot was that we drove to Flagstaff that following weekend and bought a new car--a lovely shiny gray 2001 Subaru Forester that we christened and still own and still call, “Silver Annie.”

Anyway, February 28/March 1 mark our 35th wedding anniversary. We dare not miss celebrating this one; we can’t afford a new car!

Last Friday I went to a cancer support group meeting. Just me and three other women that day – all of us with breast cancer, but it was upbeat with lots of laughter and boob jokes. It’s not always that way suggested one of them; “Some days we cry together.” Two of the women, one just 36 years old, the other 51, had mastectomies and are now enduring breast reconstruction and exchanged information on how their new breasts are getting pumped up a bit at a time. Apparently, unlike a balloon, you can’t just go and inflate the breast all at once.

The other woman, a bit older than me, was more subdued. She has other health issues that compete for her stamina in dealing with her cancer. Still she has a steely resolve and outlook that is enviable.

Since I am a maniac for information (once a librarian, always a librarian) I continually search for studies and articles about the disease and the attempts to cure it…if there is a cure. Some think the best that can be hoped for is to prolong life. But these ladies as well as a colleague at work who has survived stage four breast cancer (including a double mastectomy), and my beautiful niece-in-law, who is beating a far more serious cancer than mine, provide something that doesn’t exist online or on the page – the reality of living with cancer, the “new normal.” To a woman, all are positive in their outlooks. Despite pain, discomfort, hair loss, disfigurement and ruined plans, they understand life is a gift.

Count your blessings now. Why wait?

Love to you all,

P.S. -- I am pictured above with my surgeon, Dr. W. He looks kind of like Bob, huh?