Last night we had our dear friends Patty and Claire come to dinner and I had the table beautifully set. The tiny votive candles were sparkling and the wine was chilled. Glenn came home and we talked about our day while we waited for our guests. I had my I-phone in my hand when I saw a post had come in from Leslie.
Leslie is Olivia's Mom and a Breast Cancer Survivor. Olivia as you know is battling Cancer, currently using the weapon of a stem cell transplant from the Cancer weapon's arsenal. Olivia turned 3 during this past month.
Leslie writes about their journey on Caring Bridge to keep friends and family updated. I wanted to read the post to Glenn. Leslie started by giving a disclaimer that the post may seem down. Even though I know my inability to read really emotional things out loud, I went ahead. She spoke of their long and tiring day, after months of long and tiring days. This one felt worse because the exhaustion in Olivia had momentarily stolen the spark from her eyes. She said it was as though Olivia was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was there that my tears in my eyes swelled up.
I know that feeling. I remember it well. It didn't usually happen right after my chemo it was sneaky and laid in wait for a couple of days and then it was as if a Mack Truck ran over me, plastering me to the pavement. I would feel as if raising my head was a Herculean task. At some point I remember just giving into the exhaustion and laying on the couch for a couple of days. And I was 42 years old.
Olivia is 3.
There is something about knowing the feeling and then looking at a sweet innocent 3 year old that is so very hard to accept. Why. Why is it happening to this little girl.
None of us are immune to life. Life is this wonderful thing that gives each of us so much joy, but with that comes the other part... the part about being human. Life is at one time the most generous of benevolent philanthropists, giving unselfishly of the best it has to offer. Then turn around and life seems like a thief, whose main purpose is to steal our joy and burden us with pain and worry. It is a part of being human.
It is also a part of being human to ask what did I do to deserve this? What had I done to deserve getting Cancer. People are always looking for someone or something to blame. There are those sanctimonious idiots who say you haven't lived right, or God is punishing you. (Yes they actually do say things like that to Cancer patients, I have heard them personally). There are people who want to blame the water, the sun, their grandparents or anything anything except life. But it is life that gives us these challenges and life that also gives us such hope and joy.
I am not saying there aren't other causes to Cancer. Of course there are and that is part of the reason I walk, I walk to find not only a cure, but in the process identify causes so the cure can be found. But just like life, this isn't a simple task. Right now there are around 18 different types of Breast Cancer that have been identified. They are saying now that genetics, although it does play a role in some, is far less relevant than previously thought. They are even testing a vaccine for Breast Cancer that has shown a lot of promise for ONE TYPE of Breast Cancer. There are 18+.
So for those people who want to blame something, don't waste the time. Use your time in a more constructive way. Life has given you gifts that you can use to fight Cancer now. The biggest of these is LOVE.
It has long been my belief Cancer gave me gifts more than it took from me. But it took me a while to understand that. For many years I sought to hide from Cancer and in the process I hid from the incredible bounty it had given me. When I was "brave" enough to look back at my Cancer I saw it brought me love, and a sense of community. It taught me that I had power beyond anything I ever imagined. It renewed my spirit and brought me closer to truth. Cancer in trying to steal my life, made me love it that much more. It made me committed to helping others see the same things in themselves. As much as I want Cancer to fall to its knees in surrender...I thank it for the lessons I have learned.
But I still can't help crying for the hurt and trials Olivia and her family have had to endure. But, just so you know, I also have to cry a bit for the joy I have knowing how each and everyone of these people will turn that trial into triumph. That will be something to see.