Saturday, December 1, 2007


"Where can we hide in fair weather, we orphans of the storm?" Evelyn Waugh asked this in Brideshead Revisited and I ask it now.

We have lost many sisters these past few months, and even more have had progression of disease and worsening of their metastasis and there seems to be a steady tide beating away at the beach head of any ground our doctors have conquered.

While we are in remission or stable or even cured, are we ever safe? Can we ever take a moment and enjoy freedom from the Beast's grasp? It seems like every time we exhale and think we are safe, someone else is given horrid news. How and where can we hide from the pain and fear and yet still be there for our sisters who need us?

Running a breast cancer website, message forum, blog, and belonging to two other breast cancer websites, being in chemotherapy and writing for breast cancer magazines, I have felt inundated lately. I feel every where I turn I am in cancer in some way, shape or form. Worrying about my friends with advanced disease though gives me the drive to continue and go on and keep fighting and finding ways to help smooth rough patches of road, ease a fearful mind, hold a trembling hand and hug someone who just needs it.

When I was healthy, before cancer, I had no idea of this world I am living in now. It is large and getting larger every moment. We all seem to know one another. That goes with the territory and it is one of the nicer parts of this world. That tacit understanding between two people which needs no words at all. We just know. Know what each other is thinking, feeling, and fearing.

That is why I know many readers of this blog are afraid now because we have the same friends and we are all sad for those who have passed and scared for those who are facing difficult times ahead.

Should we, the orphans of this cancer storm, indeed find a place to hide, for even just a moment?

We could. But reality will be waiting for us when we come out- come out from where ever we were....

Or should we instead realize that we all have today. And today should not be spent mourning our diagnoses and the changes that have come with them. It happened. We were diagnosed with breast cancer. But is that all we are now? No. There is so much more to life, so much more to us than to spend the rest of our todays thinking of them as yesterdays.

We may have given over a part of ourselves to cancer, but we have not relinquished control over our lives. We still decide how we choose to spend our days and what is important, and what we want to remember.

In fair weather, when things are going well, we need not hide because we deserve to enjoy every moment of every day when things are going well. We should resist the temptation to feel guilty that we are well when one of our beloved friends is struggling. We can take our energy and send it on to her in hopes that she will gain strength from us.

We can't hide from the Beast or bad news or reality. But we can control how we spend each precious moment of every day we have here on earth. That is something the Beast cannot touch.

Let the storms rage. We have each other. We have today. We will be here for those who need us always.

We owe it to ourselves to live the best lives possible while we can.

We owe it to all who went before us too. For they would want nothing less from us.

And I owe it to those who give me the greatest joy in life. My twin nephews see me as just their aunt- not the cancer patient... and that is the way it should be. Because I was their aunt first and will always be. The patient is only a passing thing and we will move on to bigger and better things. Here we are at Thanksgiving, no hiding here.


Sam said...

I know what you mean. I was sitting around today wishing I could get cards in the mail that didn't tell me to get well and be strong. But, I also need to remember that people care. I was able to do some normal stuff today and that is important.

Mark said...

Holy crap! Your gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Dear Gina,
I met you at the adelphi party and you were so gracious to take the time to help me figure out what I needed to do with my next decision. I don't know if you remember me, but I was with my sister and I had the new cancer diagnosis and didn't have a plastic surgeon and I didn't know I could have surgery because of my condition.
Everything you explained to me was right because I did go to the doctor you suggested and he said all the same things you did.
I just wanted to say thank you for helping a complete stranger. I feel really confident now about my future thanks to you.

I read this blog and your forum all the time and you have given me a home away from home and you need to know that you really are amazing.

Merry Christmas,