Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Breast cancer is a foreign country I'm learning to live in. When I was first diagnosed, it was as though I had been parachuted into enemy territory, an unwilling draftee. I had to learn the language and customs of this new place quickly, as though my life depended on it - because it does. I am engaged in a war that is going to change me forever. I have no idea how profound that change is going to be or where it will take me. This new country will be my permanent assignment, my new home. I am learning my capacity for courage, acceptance, strength, humor, joy and persistence. I am getting to know and trust myself more than ever. The common thread woven throughout is living with breast cancer, not dying from it.
I appreciate the fact that my body, which rallies and responds to treatment over and over, shows strength and endurance in the face of a persistent enemy. Yet I sometimes feel betrayed by it. I view my scars as evidence of battle, sometimes even as signs of having been ravaged by this disease, but more often as badges of effort and courage. Not that I'm too philosophical about this. I have to pry myself from an attachment to how I wish I still looked and felt physically. But I remind myself of the profound truth I have discovered -- it's how I live my life that matters. I have spent these past few months with cancer looking for its higher purpose. I don’t profess to have some cosmic understanding of that, but every day I see evidence of the opportunities it opens to me.
Sometimes I feel like I'm all dressed up with no where to go. I walk the tightrope between maintaining hope that I will live to a ripe old age and living in the moment. I have every reason to be filled with hope. I am fairly sure that I will be able to face wherever this journey takes me. I hope to be a whole person, one who loves, accepts, serves, rejoices and opens up to others honestly and without hesitation. Then I might be someone worth knowing. That will be a life well-lived.

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