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Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Sovereign of Time and Space, who fashions humanity with wisdom, creating within us many openings and cavities. When our openings do not open, when our bodies are blocked, it is impossible to survive and continue to live as a blessing to You. Blessed are You Adonai, Sovereign Healer, who has given us bodies which function, and who creates wonders and miracles.*
“Relieved,” I answer. More than anything, I am relieved. My response is greeted with skepticism, but it’s true. I know it’s probably not what I am “supposed” to feel…and it sure as hell isn’t what anyone else is feeling, but I am. Only those closest to me and those who have been there don’t respond with shock or puzzlement. I’ve been waiting, and I’ve known it has been coming. It has been a very long two years.
I have a remarkably wise therapist. When I saw him nearly ten years ago, at the time of my first diagnosis, I couldn’t stop the voices in my head. There I sat. 35 years old. Mother of a three-year old. Breast cancer patient.
“The only thing that has changed is your awareness,” he told me.
I had to sit with that. And damn if he wasn’t right. There are so many gifts that come with awareness…
I can fight, if I am aware.
I can use my time wisely, if I’m aware.
I can treat my loved ones gently, if I’m aware.
I can treasure the sunsets, if I’m aware.
I can laugh my way through this, if I’m aware.
The list, of course, is endless. And with the other choice being fear, I’ll take awareness. It holds the beauty of a double-edged sword, sharp in focus and gleaming with stunning danger. I embrace it yet tread lightly…
It’s back, and it’s in my bones. But cancer has chosen to fuck with the wrong girl. I will fight this with all that I am, and for some reason that I cannot explain, it does not scare me; I shall not so much as tremble.
I ache, however.
I ache for our friends; we are in the prime of our lives, with the growing pains behind us and kids who will some day soon go to college. We weren’t supposed to nurse our friends quite yet…
I ache for my parents. The laws of nature dictate that parents not have sick children. No parent should ever watch a child do this; the helplessness is inconceivable. I can’t bear to imagine…
I ache for my husband. He could not be more adoring or devoted, and I sense that he will seek to shore up. Now He cannot so much as suffer a cold. He must stay well, he must work and provide. He will seek immortality so that I can be mortal…
I ache for my son. My son, whose first comment was “I’m going to have to know it this time.” My son, who can’t possibly deserve what he must now face. My son, who is already wise beyond his years. My son, who keeps asking “why?” My son, for whom I have no answers….
And with all that, my glass is still half full. There are many blessings in this. It is early, slow-moving, and can be treated with a host of therapies. It is only in my bone, and I have no pain. My PET and bone scans are still NED (no evidence of disease). Treatments have already begun, and considering the possibilities, they are quite tolerable. In fact, no one else would even notice.
So much of this path is familiar. We have been here before, and as we have before we will get through it again together. I know that this will now walk with me through the rest of my life, and I am banking on that being a very long time. Cancer has chosen to fuck with the wrong girl…
*An interpretive translation of the traditional Hebrew blessing “Asher Yatzar”