"Nobody knows when their time will come... look at you beating cancer! You're going to make it. You have the determination to kick Cancer's a$$!" and, "You know that there are people who just drop dead or are killed out of nowhere?!"
Yes, I know.
I can step off of a curb and be hit by a bus.
I could be be struck by lightening.
I might get shot in the back by a psychopath.
I could die from an endless exaggeration of the imagination. Nevertheless, the tragic deaths of others does NOT make me move my feet to some imaginary rhythm. Surprise!
I'm very grateful that I have stage 4 ovarian cancer and I'm STILL alive after 5 years and telling me that other people died or were killed in tragic circumstances lends me zero comfort.
I'm very blessed to be able to fly across the world to receive exorbitantly expensive treatments unavailable to many women in my situation. The love and support that nurtures me is beyond sensational. I am profoundly grateful for each day that may lead me back to living with my husband and children; like the family we once were.
It's not death I fear.
I tremble with terror - not every day of course - but there are plenty of occasions. My life involuntarily revolves around hospitals, surgeries, oncologists, bad news, good news, chemotherapy, pain, drug trials, nausea, old drugs, new drugs, biopsies, CT scans, PET scans, waiting for news, radiation.... Tumors grow and tumors shrink and sometimes tumors just appear out of nowhere.
Cancer is as unpredictable as life.
I've been away for 4 months and returned to a thriving, fully functioning, burgeoning and peaceful family. I don't need to be reminded that I was missed and that I am loved. I know.
Praise God, my family is magnificent. My children are celestial in their strength, determination, and age appropriate normalcy.
Yes, I'm saying this: they are fine without me. As a mother of five extraordinary children, I'm not distressed that my leaving them, in the most tragic of circumstances, will damage or scar them for life.
I mourn Bat Mitzvahs and graduations without me.
I'm brokenhearted thinking about who will take my place walking my children down the aisle.
I grieve over the grandchildren I may never know.
I envy the woman who may prepare my daughters for the magic of becoming mothers; instead of me.
I'm sick at heart knowing that each happy occasion together could be the last. I haven't been hit by a bus nor struck by lightening and it is I who has lived so blessedly with appreciation and acceptance of my reality for more than 5 years. I concede to the reality of persistent aggressive cancer that loves me so.
Lance Armstrong was once a beloved cancer survivor who was legendary on a bike, transcended cancer, and won 7 Tour de France Tours. His doping case was ablaze and coming to a verdict mere months after I was diagnosed, but I had already read his books. His determination and spirit had already touched me. He defied nature on a bike and albeit we all discovered why - before Lance Armstrong became a profanity; his words and his journey gave me tremendous hope. Lance was found guilty in his athletic superiority but his survivorship of cancer is nothing short of miraculous.
At the end of 2001, Lance said, "Without cancer, I never would have won a single Tour de France. Cancer taught me a plan for more purposeful living, and that in turn taught me how to train and to win more purposefully. It taught me that pain has a reason, and that sometimes the experience of losing things - whether health or a car or an old sense of self - has its own value in the scheme of life. Pain and loss are great enhancers."
There's one line that Lance Armstrong wrote, that often reverberates in my head. Just 8 kilometers before he won his first Tour de France in 1999, he yelled triumphantly:
How do you like them apples?!
I know he wasn't the first to say it but I felt his glory and it changed me. Someday in the future, I yearn to cheer those words with emotion and triumph that "incurable" Cancer Survivor and elite athlete Lance Armstrong did.
I still have hope and I'm still terrified.