Here's a reason to spread your own type of sunshine: when you need that sunshine someday and can't find it within yourself, you may just be able to find it in the people you met when you WERE sunshiney! I'll be the first to admit that I don't live without emotional turmoil - cancer or not - the same Pam that can go up can surely also come down. No one is without their own challenges, though, and learning to deal with my emotional swings is one of mine (and probably worse than breast cancer, if you can believe that!).
Anyway, back to sunshine... today I received one of the nicest emails from a man we met on this breast cancer journey. He mentioned living in a "new world" - one where you know you aren' t free from health challenges like breast cancer. At the end of his email, this is what he wrote:
You and your family will always be a part of our "new world" which is at the same time challenging and overflowing with the most powerful life forces imaginable!
I just love that sentence - the embrace made by words, and the vision of powerful life forces flowing around. It is so reminicent of this whole year - of how people CAN and DO reach out everyday to other people (sometimes embracing with words, sometimes with gifts, sometimes in person!). More importantly, it puts words to what I learned about cancer this year and couldn't quite express so succinctly: cancer does put you so in touch with the "most powerful life forces imaginable"!
Whether I was recovering from chemo and feeling my life come back to me, viscerally, or exulting in something I could do which I previously thought was improbable, or seeing the way cancer can bring people together - cancer taught me to see life forces at work in the world. Even today, when I was (dumbly) all stressed about (of all things) how I was going to manage my stress!, I saw a scene at the oncologist's office that made me take pause.
- a woman, spunkily making her way into the chemo room. She was so put together and full of vibrancy that I hadn't noticed her infusion pump at her side until they called her name...
- a husband, fussing over his wife, taking her coat at the exact moment she started to take it off, helping her fill out her chemo questionnaire, patiently attending to her needs. And the wife, for her part...underneath everything (like the infusion pump, her hands which couldn't quite work, her clothes which she had to choose for ease of dress) I felt like I could see the person she was: the one who had kept everything together all of these years and now had to cede some of that responsibility but was doing it so gracefully.
- a mom, playing with her child as he waited for his appointment with the pediatric oncologist.
In all of these scenes, the thing that struck me was "life", not cancer - people continuing to thrive, to love, to play. Life forces at work!