I had to write a second entry for today, because this is a really important day for me, it was right about now, seven years ago, 2/22/2002, that I woke from anesthesia and my surgeon told me the news, that I had breast cancer. There is no way to predict or describe how one feels or reacts to that kind of news, numb, stoic, shock, indifference because you are groggy and not processing anything being told to you, denial, this of course can’t possibly happen to me. No fear, not yet, that comes later.
Seven years later, though the experience is still fresh, it has clouded over by time, and it has been, properly in my opinion, reduced to just one chapter of an interesting and creative life. To say that this experience changed the way I view life would be an understatement. Ask anyone who has tasted mortality, and they will tell you that each day becomes precious, and that fear dissipates, what’s the worse that can happen, I might die? Well I’ve been there. I remember being on a tiny plane, tossing about in the sky, on my way to the Pendleton ANWG conference not long after I finished my treatment. I was coincidently sitting next to someone who was attending the conference as well. As we were tossed about, there was an odd calm between us, she had also been through a medical issue that allowed her to see her mortality, and we both knew there was nothing to do but ride out the storm. And if it wasn’t in our deck of cards to survive, well then there was the trust that the universe had a plan, and we were a part of it. I know that all sounds like a bit of pontification, but survivors know, it isn’t about what happens in your life, it is what you ultimately do with it.
I did survive, seven more years, and I’d like to think I’ll be around for another 7, or 14, or 28 or more. And I’d like to think that in that time there will be many more pieces to create, and grand adventures to experience. I created a piece of artwork, that made the memory of my experience very visible, yet celebratory, titled Survivor, which I won’t post here because it is a graphic piece, but just click on the title and you can view it. I rewove the piece in miniature for the Small Expressions show and for the Economies of Scale show, both talked about in earlier blogs.
Life isn’t about how many body parts you have or don’t have, it isn’t about the body at all. It is just a vehicle to get us through the life we have at the moment, and making the body we have do what we need it to do to celebrate each day. So every 2/22, I celebrate my own personal anniversary of survival, and remember to seize each day, and make the most of it.