You Are Not Alone

Picasso's Blue Nude

In September 2012,  I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer. Treatment was successful, and I am happy to report that I am cancer-free and doing well. I wrote for a private circle of friends and family about my experiences at the time, and am now sharing some of my musings here. 

Two packages arrive today. One, from my friend Gale, is a CD called “preparing for surgery: guided imagery exercises for relaxation and accelerated healing.” I wonder about the all-lowercase title. Is it meant to be soothing and low-key, the typesetting equivalent of hushed tones? Or reminiscent of ee cummings from decades ago, when none of us worried about preparing for surgery?

The other package, from my friend Mary, also contains information about surgery preparation, including another CD. “Successful Surgery and Recovery” promises to help me “LEARN AUTOGENIC PRESURGICAL TECHNIQUES, MINIMIZE COMPLICATIONS, ENHANCE THE HEALING RESPONSE, CONTROL POST-OPERATIVE PAIN.” The full caps are even more alarming.

I’ve told my friends, By all means, bring it on–send me anything you think will be helpful. I am open to all resources, good wishes, prayers, and casseroles. But now that the material has arrived, I think, Get this stuff out of here! I do not wish it in my life. More accurately, I do not wish to have cancer and the kind of life that requires knowing what “AUTOGENIC” means.

Mary has enclosed a card. It’s orange and red and grey, with a picture of a smiling little girl with straight-cut bangs holding a cake. (Mary and I are both good bakers, and know how to deliver comfort by creaming butter and sugar.) The front of the card says “shine a light where it’s dark and scary,” and my goodness, hasn’t cake often been that kind of light?

Inside the card Mary has written, in her beautiful Catholic-school cursive:

 Hope some of this ‘shines a light.’ You are, of course, in my thoughts and prayers. Get better soon!!!

The last thing I pull from Mary’s care package is another booklet: “You Are Not Alone: A Guide for Women Newly Diagnosed with Cancer.”

I burst into tears.


4 thoughts on “You Are Not Alone

  1. I am so grateful that you are on the other side of this, looking back, your spirit and humor intact. Albeit slightly weathered, perhaps. I remember walking with you and Joy and hearing you say how you despised the word “journey” to describe the path you were currently on. I wonder is it still a trigger word for you?

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