Cleopatra* Will Return After This Brief Message From Our Sponsor

Two people stepped into my life recently, jarring me from the “active denial” that i am a cancer survivor.  i haven’t written much about it, other than to highlight some Trailer Park drama, or my exploitation of the situation to indulge in public nudity.

One person came to me through colleagues at work.  JB, in her mid-50’s, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and was nervous and scared about the path forward.  She’s had wonderful support from a colleague who is a 12 year survivor, but her circumstances were very different, and much has changed in the past decade regarding treatment.  i offered to meet with JB, to run through my experiences, and listen to her concerns.

JB’s circumstance seemed similar to mine – smallish tumor, not particularly aggressive.  Lumpectomy with radiation to follow. She is single, with no local family support network, but friends will be coming to town post-surgery.

Just listening to her fears, her questions, her concerns… pulled some of those fastidiously buried memories from their bunkers.  But it also brought back memories of my “pathfinders” – the women who were my coaches, carefully illuminating the way forward one step at a time to keep me from being overwhelmed.  Answering my questions.  Sharing their experiences.  Calming my fears.

This was my first chance to “pay it forward”**.  The conversation seemed to help her, and after some quick tears and a hug, we were both on our way – her to pre-surgical lab work, me to another meeting-from-hell.

And then there was M…  We met professionally a few months ago, through a mutual friend.  We will also be sharing quarters on a vacation to South America in the fall – Machu Picchu and The Galapagos.  We both wanted to go, and rather than pay the “single supplement”, decided to join up as roomies…

Through our friend, i knew that M was dealing with advanced prostate cancer.  We had lunch last week to cover some work-related issues, but also to discuss medical histories.  Since we’ll be sharing close quarters, a little “getting to know you” seemed to be in order.

His circumstances are astonishing – and he is inspirational in his approach to the battle and ability to articulate the experience.  It’s not behind him.  It’s only a matter of time before the prostate cancer will win.  But his general health is good, and he is one of those remarkable individuals who are “living with cancer“. 

There’s quite an adventure ahead in October.  i consider it an honor to share it with him… 

i was jarred from denial.  Temporarily.  But it reinforced the fact that i got lucky*** – at least this time!  No complaints.  A powerful reminder not to waste a single breath…

______

* Not the only Queen of De Nile….

** i have a “cancer buddy”, but she and i went through it together.  As i was diagnosed, i was in a local musical.  i decided to stay in the show and allowed the newspaper to do an interview – “the show must go on” – partly to get free show publicity and partly to get the word out about early detection.  My “cancer buddy” found me – she’d been diagnosed 2 weeks after i was – and we’ve been drinking together meeting ever since!  We talk, drink wine and compare notes.  She’s a goddess… with a lovely new tattoo on her left breast which says “I Won”…

*** Oh.  And let’s not forget the “Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins” that make it very difficult for this 45 year old woman to keep her shirt on in public!

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14 thoughts on “Cleopatra* Will Return After This Brief Message From Our Sponsor

  1. Isn’t it incredible how life rubs up against you now and again. So close you can feel it’s breath on the back of your neck. Every minute. Every second. Every moment. That’s all that counts. Awesome post. Thanks.

  2. Ms DaisyFae, warrior-woman. My mum lost her best friend to breast cancer (and bitterness). So, to you, a survivor, filled with fight and hope, I raise a large glass of bubbly and say “that’ll fuck ’em”!

    (And aren’t “pathfinders” such a blessing. How they appear, just when you need them. This whole post reminds me of how lucky I’ve been, in so many, many ways…)

  3. az – i should write it on post-it notes to remind myself. especially in my car. and at work. and when watching national news…

    DP – She’s beautiful and brilliant! In her 60’s, she and a friend drank a bottle of wine, then went to get it done! Her words “nothing funnier than a couple of old ladies kicking it up in a tattoo parlor”…

    MdW – Life is sneaky like that… at least when i’m paying attention!

    kyknoord – Ah – but i’m going to BE the Galapagos Boobies! Wait til you see the travel photos!

    dolceii – so much of life is the luck of the draw… and it doesn’t always work out well. jumping up and down and saying “Woo Hoo” when it happens is a good plan. Yes, tis a blessing to get lucky 😉

  4. I was once pretty gung-ho about reaching out to other widowed people and I try to throw what support I can via answering questions and assuring people “younger” than myself that they are normal, but I prefer….it’s not denial ’cause it’s too ingrained…..to just be me. Not a role model or inspiration (and there are plenty of widowed people will tell you I am not, .)

    I know though that is very much different to be the one who is ill. My experience pales against that. My dear Aunt had a radical mastectomy back in the mid-1970’s. I have seen the results and can’t even imagine. Today I think she would have been a lumpectomy candidate. I don’t think she had anyone to talk to about it. We weren’t really supposed to bring it up and that was within the family. It’s good that things are different now.

  5. annie – wow. you captured something that’s gnawed on me lately… i don’t mind listening, sharing details with those who are facing similar circumstances. but i do feel a bit of (self-imposed) pressure that i’m supposed to be a role model. and i honestly don’t feel worthy of that… but i can keep listening…

    manuel – thanks! big hugs from a medium-sized waiter are better than medium-sized hugs from a big waiter. tough on the ribs… 🙂

  6. My sister is a five-year survivor of breast cancer, and this year she is going to do the Avon Three-Day walk. She is inspirational to me. She has so many friends who supported her, even her husband and two boys shaved their heads when she lost her hair from chemo.
    I was a nurse for 35 years. I remember what breast cancer was like way back when. That’s why, even on my very limited income, (I am disabled) I contributed to my sister’s walk.
    I feel very lucky that those things that disable me are mostly inconveniences, not life-threatening.
    BTW, Nurse Myra pointed me your way.

  7. silverstar – Any friend of nursemyra is a friend of mine! Glad to hear your sister is doing well – and it was wonderful of you to support your sister! i was blown away by the generosity of my friends and family when i rasied money for the Leukemia society for my half marathon… you have an amazing outlook! So very glad you’ve stopped by!

  8. Pingback: On life and living… « Trailer Park Refugee

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