Archives for category: Inspirational

I remember one night when he was just weeks old.  Me, exhausted at 4 AM trying to feed and soothe him when I heard footsteps on the dry leaves outside the window, along the side of our house.  At first I thought it was a person, but at some point I realized by the shuffle-shuffle sound that it was likely an animal. As I looked out, there peering back up at me were four tiny sets of wide eyes, their little bodies riding on their mother possum’s back as she made her way through the night foraging food. What struck me was how instead of leaving them unprotected in the nest, she carried them with her. This night came just as I was adjusting to motherhood, and the notion that always, always… this child would go wherever I went, both physically and mentally. I was grappling with the hugeness of that responsibility; it seemed so immense in those early days. Then and even still at times, I questioned my ability to be strong enough to carry him through everything that life threw his way. 

It was then I realized that no matter a possum or a person, we are meant to carry our children, always. Little then did I realize the power in this sweet infant boy to carry me.

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I am challenging your definition of survivor because I know differently; because I know a story of an extraordinary survivor. Now, I fully realize that a story of survivorship should have as its centerpiece the one who lived through breast cancer. Keep reading, and you will learn of that survivor.  Identical to the smooth stone dropped quietly in a pool, the ripple effect of breast cancer echoes through lives, through families.  It cascades into the emotional and physical lives of those who stand witness to the struggle. Those who also live through and survive breast cancer.  Lives that in my opinion are equally as brave, if not braver. Lives that demonstrate a different brand of survivorship; that of pluck and determination in enduring the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer equally. For I have come to understand that you don’t have to have cancer cells in your body to be inside the frame of the breast cancer snapshot. And that most often it is those who stood witness and strong in a host of brave and tender ways who define survivorship, who promote it with laser clarity. They are the ones who breathe life into survivorship and never let it out of our site.

In my mind, the tiniest, yet bravest of these survivors are our children.

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Last week I sat in the home of a very wise woman; okay so she is my therapist but I prefer to think of her as a wise sage, like Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas. This woman has seen me through a rather nasty and painful divorce and breast cancer, job loss and creating a new life…several times. She has held my hand through oodles of cases of the willies and frequent niggles of self doubt. I have grieved openly and rawly in her presence. And last week, after I informed her that in December I had crossed into year five of of breast cancer survival she said for the gazillionth time, “You know you have a book in you, it’s time.” “I can’t,” I whined, “I just don’t know how to tie all these things together in a meaningful way,” and she said, “Blog.”

Anne Lamott offers in her book Bird by Bird, that while growing up, her brother was once faced with the overwhelming task of writing an entire paper about birds. She writes, “…he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” So, here standing bird in hand at the place where many of us are “immobilized by the hugeness of the task” that is breast cancer, I will begin this blog. Launching a bird at a time from my cupped and loving hands, setting them free to carry the lessons and hope and insights I have learned navigating breast cancer…after five years.

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