It is October and breast cancer awareness month, so many people are thinking about breast cancer. But in the last few days breast cancer has been front and center in my personal life. By Sunday I felt like I had been crying for three days straight.
On Thursday Night I went to see the debut performance of Life in the Cancer Lane, a play by Barbara Watson Riley about life with breast cancer–a composite of her own continuing story with that of other survivors. (BTW it was fantastic!!) On Saturday I went to the funeral for a good friend’s mother, Jessie Patterson Crooks, who died last week after her journey with metastatic breast cancer. On Wednesday, I meet my sister in Boston for her post-treatment follow up mammogram. Three remarkable women; one who labored on a play as she fought the nausea, fatigue and impaired concentration that comes standard with chemotherapy and radiation and who insisted on attending the debut hours after release from the hospital; one who never stopped being a resource to her community, faithfully participating in a prayer group for a friend even as she was admitted to hospice; one who was diagnosed a few months after finishing the grueling journey through earning an MD, PhD and four years of ob/gyn residency at Harvard but has only renewed her commitment to making health care effective and empowering for women.
Through my tears, I haven’t thought once about a pink ribbon. Instead I think of the capriciousness of life, about how there is no answer to all the why questions, about how incredibly precious each day truly is. Each day is an opportunity to express love and gratitude to the people who should hear it. Each day is a day to choose to be happy. Each day is the day to act.