survivor stories. perhaps that is what my stories have become. it is a new category for me. a graduation of sorts. i faced the cancer. treated it. shrunk the tumors. and now i am a survivor. i mean, i still have to get the scan next week. and hear what dr z. has to say a few days after that. but i believe the chemo worked. i am trying to live like that. stay diligent with my thoughts. i do know that i am regaining my strength. settling in to another phase in my journey. watching with slightly awkward curiosity as my hair grows back.
i know that my oncologist has explained the nature of chronic lymphoma. described the diagnosis as a cancer that will occasionally flare up and need to be treated. in some ways i am right back to that place where the doctor said i have cancer and now we just watch and wait. i will find out more when i talk to him next week. take steps as they come. try to live without anticipation distracting from being. in each moment. try to embody what i know is true now. and not fear what may be. faith trumps fear. every time.
earlier this month i met a girl who took my class at soulcycle in union square. not a girl as in a child. a grown up. young and beautiful. working in nyc. at white + warren. cashmere. clothing. and she wrote me a note about being in my class and realizing my story of cancer. about being inspired. what that meant to her. she happens to be working on a campaign for her company in honor of breast cancer awareness month. 50% of the proceeds from their pink label going to help fight breast cancer. not my particular type of cancer. but really we are all the same. fighting the fear. taking it one step at a time. dreaming of a world with less cancer. and she talked to me about being included in a series on the company’s website called survivors speak. http://www.whiteandwarren.com
survivor. not jeff probst and a deserted island. but me. i’m still processing what that word means to me. our days on this earth are not endless. the goal for me is figuring out how to stay diligent in each moment. now. i am certainly surviving. living and breathing. adjusting and coping. in this moment, a survivor. no finality. just existence. being who i am. joyful and present and strong. a mom. and all those other words of description. the truth is in the living and not in the description of it. i need to continue to decide who i want to be and be that. or maybe i just need to trust who i am. no decision necessary. i am now. a survivor. not because of one battle. but because i am.
is surviving and being a survivor the same thing?
i don’t want to fixate on the notion that if the goal is to be a survivor – one day i won’t. maybe from the cancer. hopefully not. hopefully life is long on this earth. but sometimes it is hard to hope. sometimes even the strongest and fiercest fighters don’t survive. i also met another girl in class. last week. soulcycle east. introduced to me by my college roommate. a girl whose dear friend recently died after living for years with a crushing diagnosis. her friend had a voice of fearlessness that inspired countless thousands of people. http://www.youfearless.com/ her cycle for survival events raised money for rare cancers. for memorial sloane kettering. for research that included studies into the lymphoma i am diagnosed with. we shared the same doctor. she is a survivor. but her days on this earth have come to an end.
after meeting these two women, i am beginning to associate with the word survivor. beginning to process what that word means. it is a marker in my journey. as much as getting through the chemo was. my story is now featured in the survivors speak series. http://www.whiteandwarren.com/blog/ a survivor story. a story that is continuous. humbling to be included. stories of survival are glimpses of intense personal experiences. of triumph. of determination. faith. living. an honor to be a survivor. i have good company.