My first CD

Ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer (Oct, 2017), I have had an almost visceral reaction to hearing about, reading about, or being told about a Cancer Death. Like many survivors, I have been told stories by some people who seem to need to share their (name the relationship)’s valiant fight and peaceful death from cancer.  Or stories about their relative’s amazing recovery. Neither was helpful. These ideas are.

I am me, the only me with Stage III Triple Negative Breast Cancer, the only me who today learned that her dear friend and church cancer support group member, Terry, passed away last night, the only me who signed on many dotted lines for a clinical trial that may “prolong” . . . the nurse didn’t finish the sentence. I learned of Terry’s death on the way to my signing, and I compartmentalized well until the drive home. My husband was driving.

On my last visit, Terry and I spoke about her memorial service. She was drifting in her pain medications, but her eyes lit up every time a friend walked in. I softly sang and hummed some of our favorite Unitarian Universalist hymns, including one she’s beginning her service with, “Blue Boat Home.

I could write a eulogy for Terry here, but I swear I hear her voice saying, “Go on! Enjoy!” She was a tiny, lively woman who leaves a hole in our congregation, Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North (UUMAN) and in my heart.

All of us with days, months, and only a few years as survivors have to face the fear of remission in our own ways.  Cancer is a horrible, evil disease.  Terry was a beautiful, lively person. She’s my first close friend Cancer Death, and her inner beauty and dignity have me less fearful of what, should I be granted long life, will probably be many other CDs.

Another song for her service will be, “I hope you dance.”


Webs, Light, and a Chalice

Who has the light? Or the Light?

It’s the season again, with blue and white and red and green. And above is my Unitarian Universalist chalice, burning at home, beside my bed. This light reminds me that I am a part of “the interdependent web of all existence.” That’s our UU seventh principle, paraphrased. The chalice flame helps me slow down and reflect, holding dear those in my congregation who are so special to me . . . who have given me the gift of Light during the dark days of my cancer treatment this past year.

Sometimes I find myself repeating those words, “the interdependent web of all existence” as I consider what it means to share life on this beautiful planet with other people, other nations, other forms of life, and even the fossils that show us life that has come before.

Be careful what you give a curious child of eight or nine.  I was given a box of rocks by a geology professor at Emory who was friends with my dad. Each was carefully labeled, stuffed with paper to keep them from scratching each other . . . where is that box now, 50+ years later? It’s in my fascination with the history of our amazing planet told through rocks. My degrees and professional life have had nothing to do with the flame of interest sparked by that box of rocks. But I am always learning.

It’s not yet Solstice, but the days are growing dark so quickly. My chalice light does not represent the lights of this winter season, yet it mingles with the neighbors’ lights.

Who has the light? Or the Light? May it grow in you and me.