First cancer brings you to your knees. Just the word is like winter. Then, when you come to your senses, you can awaken to the most beautiful spring: though some days are cold and chilly and some are warm and full of light, every single one becomes precious. Each evening I think how that day has been worth a day of my life.
This kind of thinking changes everything. You start noticing things, even the littlest kindness or the pleasure of a good night’s sleep. Cards from friends remind you that you, too, should start sending cards and letting people know how precious they are to you. Coffee tastes better than you ever noticed before, and grandchildren’s hugs are stored in memory, each and every one.
You begin to think of loose ends and an urgency to get important things done instead of putting them off. Some days you feel nearly invincible with energy and confidence; some days seem to have a cloud hanging over them, with worries about how many days there will be, and after teaching your children how to live, you begin to imagine that you must also teach them how to be brave and accept mortality.
Some days you feel like a warrior, ready to fight to the end against an invisible and wily enemy; other days you feel like befriending cancer, learning its ways, only to find out that it is not good at compromising.
The days of scans that periodically mark time are a test. Crawling up into the MRI machine you know that an all seeing eye is about to give your directions for the next step in the journey. This past week I crawled into the machine after my first year, and it saw nothing. “no evidence of malignancy going on.” This is the best spring ever, not just because I can breathe again for awhile, but because new eyes have come to me during this winter and a love for life that passes my previous understanding. To all of you who are somewhere on this journey, keep looking for the gift. It is bought with a great price, which makes it priceless.