It’s not the Sword of Damocles

There are so many moments that I forget that I have cancer- not totally surprising since I haven’t had anything done yet except for the 3 biopsies on the right breast. But I am pleased to say that I am able to forget that this is hanging over me especially when I am with my daughters and their families, laughing at the antics of my grandsons.  The lively conversations and activity make me feel so normal and vibrant. Then there are other times when I am counseling someone and able to be fully present with their pain and confusion. Or the times when my husband, David says something outrageously funny and the laughing and joking makes me feel lighthearted without a care in the world.  I really do forget at moments like these that I have cancer.  I am so grateful that this can happen. But then unease sets in and I can’t shake the feeling of a Damocles who ate dinner at the court of Dionysius with a sword hanging over his head by the single hair of a horse’s tail.  The thought ominously glistens above my head, “you have cancer”. Wow that’s scary”. “I could have gone longer without that realization to sober me up” or worse yet, “why? After all I am (was) a healthy woman who had regular mammograms and no family history”.

But then I am reminded that we live in a fallen world where sickness and tragedy hit so many with far more intense and terrifying force than anything I will ever experience. And many, many will experience that hardship with far less support and love than I am receiving.  And if it has anything to do with who is deserving of good fortune well count me out for I have already had more than my share.  So, here is what I believe from the scriptures which life seems to accurately validate: “The rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45) and so does the drought.  The promise we have is that Jesus is with us through it all. I don’t want to come across super spiritual or strong because I am not naive. This will be a journey with pain and discouragement that will possibly provoke reactions that I will be less than proud of. But for today I am going to go with gratefulness for the prayers and love from others and “God’s peace that transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).

My balled up hand

I found out that I had breast cancer three days ago but it feels like I have been dealing with it for weeks.  Hopefully it’s not a foretaste of my inability to deal with the tough stuff that is still yet to come.

After all I haven’t had a mastectomy yet, chemo yet, radiation yet, the good or bad news about what stage of cancer this is and or whether it is aggressive or not or whether “the horse has left the barn” (the surgeon’s metaphor for cancer metastasizing (I will never again look at a horse in a barn with  an Andrew Wyeth painting in mind)) or nausea, fatigue, hairlessness, insomnia, bloating, weight loss or weight gain, hot flashes, shunts , neuropathy.  Oh my, this list is a flash back of a 6 year old OCD Dona who thought that if she named every known monster, calamity, illness and scary thing in her prayers without missing a single one, then and only then, would she be protected. Well, it doesn’t work that way so I will resist the listing of all possible harsh realities including the big one and instead think seriously why it feels like so much of life has happened since finding out I had cancer.

I have to say it again, “I have cancer”.  Wow, it is so weird to put the most personal of all personal pronouns to the word cancer “I” have cancer.  It is scary but also awesome in some strange way.  I am a Christian so among other things I number with those who sometimes think they have answers to these sort of things but really have doubts that what they are saying, they really, really believe. But that reality  doesn’t keep me from walking through the grocery store with my husband after leaving the Cancer hospital acting like I’m just looking for groceries with my right hand balled up when in fact I am literally imagining Jesus  holding that hand, letting me know that I am not without Him. And so any blog entry will have Him in mind even if he is not always mentioned and when I am not typing I will have my hand balled up literally and/ or metaphorically reminding me that he is with me.  This is all I can hope to know right now. And this is a lot if you really think about it.