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Excerpt from Today Cancer, Tomorrow The World – in book form mid-February!

January 25, 2013


Photo: Coming out of Chemo’s effects and growing the hair back

There’s a key distinction that ranks cancer survivors apart from others. Most people cruise life’s highway. They’re rapidly continuing on their journey to save time. Cancer survivors drive in a different lane with an inevitable toll plaza looming ahead of us. I slow at the approaching sight of blinking red lights and pull into a cylindrical front-loading yellow tollbooth. A gate lowers to prevent me from speeding through it. I stop. I toss and deposit my hope and soul into the toll’s copay receptacle basket. I’m lanced with pet/ct scan radiation. Is cancer dead or making a comeback? I stare at the lowered gate and await the test results to say I’m still cancer free. I’m jittery, waiting for the starting gate to released in the human race. The gate must rise. Then and only then will I be allowed to continue my journey. But what if it doesn’t? Will I be remanded into chemo custody?
Tears roll as I stammer,“Please, I don’t want to get sick again. I don’t want to get sick again.”
The gate rises — this time.
When cancer survivors drive through the toll, the unimpaired carefree are irritated. We aren’t going fast enough to merge back on life’s highway. We’re slowing them down. They honk, gumble, “While we’re young!” and pass us. After all, they have things to do, places to see. We don’t care. We pull over and let them speed by. Why get into with them? There are too many flowers blooming for us to dance among the weeds. We brake to allow reflection, wisdom, judgment and innocence to safely make it across the road. We’re riding with the top down, taking in the scenery of quiet moments of exhilaration with a different kind of slowed-down acceleration. The passing of time doesn’t steal our enjoyment. And sometimes we happily cry too much on beautiful days — and there’s a beautiful every second. We’re an equation that solves itself. For our tentative lives are but inflections in this wonderful jet stream. We’re doing chin-ups on the horizon. Isn’t it wonderful living up to just being you? Surviving cancer inserts you into a different totality of perpetuality. You’re ultra sensitive and attuned to every moment. Bland colors acquire sheen. Shallow values have a deep section. You’re tuned to pick up every aroma, slight, spice, daydream, drum beat, and the crisp nippiness in every waking note. Every day is a life resurfaced. You’re a walking palette that tastes beyond sweet and sour. You see deeper in darkened rooms. There’s more warmth from the sun. You’re fascinated while others are bored. In the middle of the night, you don’t mind being unable to get back to sleep. When you’re fighting cancer you’re in a world where gently swaying filaments of sensitivity extend out from every pore and hair follicle of your body. The dreamless people don’t have those filaments. They have tentacles to catch prey, so every new sensation is paralyzed by their bitterness. But as you heal, these highly reactive filaments retract. But your tendrils didn’t desert you. They were there when you needed their energy to stay alive. When you finish treatment, everything is reversed. Instead of fighting to remain alive, you have to live in the world. Every color, breeze, and breath, drifts its filaments towards you, but you have to give of yourself to feel them. The dreamless ones who learned nothing from their suffering. They leave the hospital with sharp quills of resentment popping out of their every pore. They are armed against themselves. To dumb to see their own karma.Their lives are their punishment. But the fortunate ones stung by the suffering of others and touch forever by the healing of love are endowed with the haunted blessing of being baptized and cursed by The Big C and emerge into a vibrant flavor-enriched world. Hey, make no mistake, if you dare tell us our lives are meaningless, our souls can still make a tight hard fist but they can also extend open a warm palm to help others across the unsteady dance floor of whatever comes next.

All we can hope for is a Fast Pass to get through the many checkpoints ahead.

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