Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become." -Jawaharail Nehru

Change. It's not a word we all embrace. Sometimes we make conscious attempts to change: we resolve to lose weight, go back to school, get out of debt.

And sometimes, life makes the changes for us.

The Universe throws us that dreaded curve ball and we find ourselves grappling for some semblance of control. Life's daunting and inevitable hurdles become flung in our determined paths and seem to thwart our most valiant attempts to control our destinies. That preceding statement is perhaps even more relevant to those of you out there who might suffer from a chronic need to control most--if not all--aspects of your lives.

Life recently made a change for me.

Two weeks ago, Friday, March 4, 2011 at 4:48 p.m. I received a phone call that rattled me. It changed my life in the truest, most literal sense.

It was a radiologist who was calling with the results of a recent breast biopsy. "We got the pathology report back on those lumps you found. The tumors are malignant. You have cancer."

Cancer.

Whoa. I did not hear that correctly. Malignant? Cancer? Those are not words that have any right being attached to me. I don't want to have my own cancer. I don't want to be in possession of tumors. Yeah, even a girl who has everything doesn't want that.

One minute and seventeen seconds. That's how long the conversation with the radiologist lasted. That's how long it took for my life to change. Completely. Irrevocably.

I am 33 years old. I am in very good overall health. And I have cancer.

What a stupid thing to have. What a lame addition to my life's resume.

I have an abundance of highly-supportive family and friends; a surfeit of loved ones. I understand now with unerring clarity the most poignant meaning of the somewhat cliched term, "outpouring of love." There is not better way to describe the glut of concern, love and affection I've received from wonderful people. I am so infinitely blessed to have such a wealth of remarkable people who band themselves together to form the world's best cheering section. And yet....

I am completely alone. Cancer is isolating. I am in a solitude that this disease imposes upon me. It's not unnerving most of the time; it's just inescapable. You can't ask other people to carry the baton. You alone receive the diagnosis. You alone fight through the uncomfortable tests and anxiety-ridden doctor's appointments.

Even knowing that, however, I am consumed with a most surprising sense of peace; a reassurance that all these truths of cancer's tendency to segregate me from the society of caring loved ones who encompass me, will be nothing more than a blip on this portion of my life's radar. That despite cancer's propensity to alter a person's view of relationships, mortality, wellness, love and purpose; it does not possess the ability to rob you of your spirit.

In fact, I'm inclined to think cancer might just be helping me find more of mine.

It's not that cancer's not--even in a best-case scenario--utterly terrifying. It's just that it's eliciting a change in me that is not unwelcome. I feel like I've wandered through a debris field and that suddenly--by way of a conversation that last just over a minute--I watched as a plume of darkened debris fell sharply to the ground leaving nothing but a clear, halcyon sky in my view.

That moment was one of those that changes you; that changes your core. It altered my perspective on everything. Everything. And not for the worse. For that I am phenomenally grateful. I like what this has contributed to the architecture of me; the inner structure of my soul.

There's a lot more to come on this subject and I will be covering the details of cancer--it's detection, treatment, and the details of my journey through it--on a companion blog dedicated specifically to it. I will include a link here.

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." - Fredrick Douglass

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