Monday, November 20, 2006

A thump in the chest

It hits at the oddest, most unexpected times. Steffi told us that cancer cleaves your life in two. There's no longer one long, smooth, unbroken track; instead, you have BC (before cancer) and AD (after diagnosis). And once you fall, sprawling, over the rut into AD, you can never go back again.

So I'm reading a great little piece in Salon about giving thanks at Thanksgiving, and the clarity and wonder that come from living past cancer. A very nice piece, and I completely agree. Then I look at the letters, and one woman writes that she is grateful for never having had cancer.

Which is when I get the thump. Because, unlike the letter writer, I have had it. I know lots of people who haven't--far more who haven't than who have. And I used to be able to have that same relieved, satisfied little feeling of being one of the ones on the good side. Now I have to check that box on all the doctors' forms, and I have to claim that history (in both medical and symbolic senses). Boo hoo, me.

Yes, before you rush to reassure me, this glumness is accompanied by the recognition that I still have the thing to be grateful for. And maybe it's even more profound. To walk with death, and come out still alive; where would all our heroic tales be without that? The Salon article itself talks about how life AD is a little sweeter, a little clearer, for the darkness that we pass through to arrive back at life. I get it, and more than intellectually. I do feel deeply, profoundly grateful, and the world is definitely bright. I love feeling better every day. I love being back to my life. I love how much I appreciate it, and how I can dismiss the little annoyances, because of the past 8 months.

But still the sense of loss. Cancer is the gift that keeps on taking.


Heidi and Sarah Face The Day said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jen! We are so thankful that you have come out of this (changed but) okay. Have a wonderful day! We love you and Noah and wish you both the very best! Love SRA, Kwai and our JJJ girl.

Alex Berks L. Ac. said...

Hi Jen,

I happened accross your blog. Very moving Thanksgiving prayer.

you may find info. on my blog useful.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, as always, your words move me in ways i never expect. i DO want to offer some words of comfort, of optimism, of whatever, but i don't think you really need them. you already know what you need to know. Maybe, the only thing i can do, should do, is remind you that i love you and along with scores (probably hundreds!) of people around the globe who know you and of you, celebrate your life.