|Saturday night, doing surprisingly well.|
|Sunday night, tired and a bit sick to my stomach.|
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and coming to terms with the road ahead, I thought about an annual winter weekend retreat I've attended for many years running. It's a workshop attended by a state-wide community of peer counselors, some of whom I've known and loved and felt loved by for close to twenty years.
By pitching myself forward in time, picturing these people as my witnesses, I was able to grasp a few strands of the reality that faced me: I would soon be bald and scarred and sickly. I would still be myself. I would still be loved.
All of this was so hard to fathom. But every time I put my mind there, it became just a little more real and I'd break down crying.
The workshop was this weekend.
In spite of chemo on Friday, I managed to attend most of the event. I let people take care of me, fetch me tea and pillows, ask questions and care and really listen to how I was feeling. I lay in the arms of trusted beloveds and repeatedly cried my heart out.
In a burst of well-being Saturday evening, I joined a group of beginners practicing Capoiera, a Brazilian martial art set to music. I'd been introduced to it in my twenties, enjoyed it, but hadn't played since.
And at one point, I got to share mastectomy war-wound show-and-tell with a woman who'd gone through her own breast cancer saga thirty years ago. Her scar was just the thinnest silvery line. It didn't occur to me that mine could ever look that tame. It was very encouraging.
When the weekend came to a close, it struck me: It's true. I am bald and scarred and sickly. I am still myself. And I am still loved.
And I'm fighting for my life.