Cancer Does Not Make You Brave

One day, while I was living my life and busy working my way down my To Do list, my doctor stopped me in my tracks by announcing that I had cancer.  Invasive cancer of the breast.

Well, talk about a wake-up call.  You cannot be numb to cancer. You don’t sleepwalk your way through cancer.  At the very least, chemo doesn’t allow you to just go through the motions.  Cancer gets your attention.

So, I sat up and paid attention. But to what?  Other than the endless doctor visits and the careful dissemination of complicated medical information what should I pay attention to? What did this huge bombshell dropped upon my life signify?

I don’t suddenly have the desire to live fast and play hard because I had a brush with death. I do not want to run with the bulls or climb Mt. Everest.  I still need a Valium to enter an airport let alone jump out of a plane. My dreams after cancer aren’t bold and loud. My dreams are smaller and more intimate.  I want to be a good mom and grow a beautiful garden. I want to spend more time reading, daydreaming and laughing with friends. Yet, I feel that I am under constant pressure to be amazing. Many people seem to have the expectation that I should set out to accomplish big and extraordinary things because I had the misfortune to get sick and the good fortune to survive. I sense disappointment when I fail to deliver an exciting how I overcame cancer story. You know the ones,  the survivors who ran marathons, sailed the ocean all alone on just a dingy, or quit their job to run an organic farm types of story. 

 Don’t get me wrong, I know that I courageously faced my disease.   I endured the horrors of treatment. In spite of cancer, though, I am still me, timid and a bit unsure.  I survived with grace and dignity, but cancer hasn’t made me brave

This is not to say that the experience did not resonate or offer life lessons. It did. There is something profound that happens to your psyche when faced with the reality of a potentially fatal illness.  It changed me. Cancer did, indeed, leave its impact, but I don’t quite know what that is yet.  That is why I decided to start writing. To put pen to paper or, in this case, fingers to keyboard.  I want to understand what my cancer means to me. What I mean.  Therefore, I write and I wonder where these questions will lead.


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