What? Not what you’d expect from a woman trained as an astrophysicist? Not what you’d expect from a mother obsessed with keeping her small children safe, even as she encourages them to explore their world?
Cancer changes you. Cancer changes me.
I never really considered myself a fighter (except for that one well-timed WHACK over my friend Chaka’s head when we were 10 and he wouldn’t share a game in math class), but when I went back and read some old posts at New Year’s, the determined, war-like language jumped out at me over and over again:
We *fight* cancer. I am a *survivor*. We survivors *battle* side effects and *fight for our lives.*
Cancer has become a great evil in the world, against which some of us must ceaselessly struggle, and yet it is the most frightening evil of all to me, for it is not an enemy I can see. It is not something I can fight with corporally, for it is inside my own body.
The cancer is in my own body, and it grows and spreads and seeks purchase inside my body without my even knowing.
Having fought it back on the right (breast) and left (breast and then lymph nodes) flanks, it has now surged to the center, taking over seven lymph nodes in the soft tissue surrounding my lungs and close to my heart, and I don’t know how to even imagine killing it this time.
So I trust my doctors, and enter a research trial, and pray without ceasing. I pray using the same heart that is threatened by the nearby nodes, and I breathe, trying not to wake the cancerous nodes beside.
I no longer know how to trust my body, since it has betrayed me.
So I have to trust that there is good in the world, enough good out there to lift my spirits and give me strength to fight this cancer, and to spill out and help others besides, as I rage that I am not strong enough to help as I would want to, to take care of my friends and loved ones, to rush to canape’s side as she waits to hear the news of her father today. to sit with Stephanie and her sick child at urgent care. to cheer Jack on in a crowded ice arena. to care for Colleen’s little one as she goes to PT. to write checks to help the women who are not as lucky as I, with all the resources I have to fight this cancer.
Cancer changes you. But cancer cannot stop love or the power to act for the good of others.
To help provide lymphedema sleeves like mine to women who can’t afford them, please leave a comment at Kristen’s where she is donating $1 per comment, up to $500, or donate directly to Crickett’s Answer to Cancer, who is now partnering with LympheDIVAs to meet this need, simply because I asked them to, and it looked like a good way to honor Crickett and Rachel, and all the pathfinders who have fought before.
Originally posted on Toddler Planet, January 11, 2011