Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thanks to Martina McBride for making me cry today

The lyrics of this song could be my life.

I belong to a crazy sisterhood of women who are, in common parlance, breast cancer survivors. Chances are, given the 1-in-8 statistics, you might be too. Since I've been living the cure since 1996, I've been trying to get over it, but my life and society just keep bringing it up. I may be "cured" as far as the paperwork goes, and clinically "cancer-free," yet I am never really free its reminders for too long.

Given my scars, and my three-times-a-year check-ups for it: one general physical, one MRI, and one mammography -- which I just endured yesterday -- it's hard not to forget. This being "breast cancer awareness" month it was hard not to miss all the pink ribbons all over the hospital where I'm treated.
And yet, I feel it is now my job to encourage every nurse, doc, and tech who tends to me while I'm there, thanking them for their care and good humor. I remind them (and me) that I lived to see the (part-time) empty nest with my youngest now in college... the same little boy that had yet to enter pre-school when I was first diagnosed. Yesterday, I bought a coffee for the woman who booked my next set of appointments, Just Because.

And I'm not really free of it because every other doctor I visit for any ailment, even the dentist, must ask and be told about my health history. So, it gets a little old at times. But then, again, that's the thing... I'm getting older. And I am so grateful.

And maybe that's the real lesson here -- I'm never really supposed to be free of the deep gratitude that should color my life.

My gratitude extends to every person who ever prayed for me, cooked for me, walked for me, raised money for cancer research in my name, drove me to/fro (or my kids), or came with me to appointments, and re-checks, and, and, and... it's a list that I'll never be able to properly thank or return in kind, and so I humbly remember them all in prayer.

And I'm on the lookout for the next woman I might know who comes through the door of the club that nobody wants to join. To remind her that love and grace and prayers will see her through it.

If you're going through cancer, or you're in recovery, you might want to listen to my conversation with Lisa Hendey about breast cancer on Among Women 27.

So yeah, Martina made me cry. But it was because I'm so grateful, not only to have had the grace of a good outcome, but to also have been loved and served by so many extraordinary people.

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