Sunday, December 28, 2014

# 77 Chelsea's Entry

The entries have been arriving and I am overwhelmed and touched by the responses. Chelsea, thank you for this eloquent piece and congratulations on another cancer free year.

Mary’s friend, Sandy, talked about connections and communities of support. Here is my story:
My connection with Mary is limited, but so significant. My first year teaching was Mary’s last. I knew her name, but never got to know her. Fast forward a few years and we meet up again at Mary Weber’s annual Cook for the Cure. Fast forward another year or so and I’m diagnosed with breast cancer and working my way through the two years in which UW Carbone Cancer Center pretty much owns my life. Another small move through time and I learn that Mary is diagnosed.
This, for some reason, makes me feel like I know her enough to hug her the next time I see her in the coffee shop…..sporting fresh chemo fuzz hair. There is an unspeakable bond that forms between women who have gone through chemotherapy. And cancer. And everything that goes with it. Because of this, I now consider her a friend.
Fast forward again. I’m through my battle and Mary is also done with hers. I’m getting ready to RSVP for the annual Cook for the Cure and I learn through Mary, herself, of her devastating news – the M word – “metastatic.” The word that somehow becomes more fearful to cancer survivors than the original word “cancer” ever was. I locked myself in my bathroom (away from my kids) and cried. I cried for quite a while given the limited relationship I have with Mary. Based on my tears, you would think we were besties. None of our mutual friends wanted to tell me that Mary was facing the M word. You see, us survivors like to think that the M word doesn’t really happen. Or at least it just happens to other people. Mary becomes the second friend I’ve had that has faced the M word. Both bring a level of fear bubbling to my surface that I’ve managed to keep at a nice simmer way, way below. My heart aches for these women. I feel heavy sorrow and sadness for them and their families. It drains the hope that I have for myself, my family, and our future.
Fast forward one last time to Mary’s blog. Unbeknownst to her, she’s reducing the heat on my M-word boil. She’s unknowingly giving me courage to remember that M does happen, but it can be handled with grace. It can be dealt with while simultaneously living a full and happy life. It can be used as a way to connect people, enrich their lives, and remind us all of everything we have to be thankful for.
I just, one week ago, celebrated four years since I was told I have cancer. I’m thankful for every breath I’ve taken since then.
And I’m thankful that Mary Gooze is a woman that I am connected with.

This is for you, Chelsea, the lucky number *7*.

Thanks for reading # 77 of 7777.

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