Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Monday, May 23, 2011

Creating the Symphony for my Happy Dance

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich;
to study hard, think quietly,
talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages,
with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never;
in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common--this
is to be my symphony.
William Henry Channing
I love this quote.  What a beautiful credo for living.  How easy it is to confuse fashion with refinement; luxury with elegance; richness with wealth.  How wonderful to listen quietly and with an open heart, and to be gentle and kind. 

And how grateful I am to be here to continue to compose my own symphony, chose the instruments and melodies of my life, even when I weave new and unexpected melodies into that symphony. 
I had yet another six-month mammogram last week.  To those who've never had cancer, a mammogram can be a slightly nerve-wracking experience (or worse or better, depending on your inclinations to anxiety); to those who've been through any level of treatment for breast cancer, you know that no matter how sure you are that everything is OK, and how much you know in your head and your heart that it will be fine, and how calm you feel going into the exam room... there is a bubble of fear that sits there and expands until the technician comes out and tells you everything is OK.* 

I actually thought I was doing well leading up to this mammogram -- my third since treatment ended.  But as I walked into the exam room that bubble of fear expanded and I had to fight to not cry.  I knew with all my heart I was OK -- but the fear was there anyway.  It's impossible to describe, and I don't have the words -- at least at this moment -- to explain how impossible it is to control the nerves and the anxiety.  The only people I know who get it are those who've been through breast cancer.   No amount of meditation, belief, prayer, yoga, running, denial, whatever, makes it go away.  There's an extra layer of anxiety, a few notes of suspense, that are added to my symphony that day.  A Twilight Zone variation creeps in quietly in the background -- or even, at times, a jarring bit of "da dumph, da dumph" from Jaws.

We all know there is no cure for breast cancer (and if you don't know that, please, educate yourself).  We all know that no one who's had it has any guarantee that it will or won't come back -- only statistics -- and no matter how much the statistics are tipped in your favor, none of us are numbers, we're people.  I've seen a woman with stage 1 breast cancer with incredibly good survival odds find out a year later she's stage IV; she quickly passed away, despite a hard fight to survive, leaving daughters ages 2 and 14.  I know stage IV people who've lived with cancer for years.  We're people, not numbers.  We're people who've been through an experience that forever changes us and who live with a change in our melodies.  Our symphony is rearranged in a heartbeat, by our own hands, by our own emotions, by our own choices, and carries themes and variations that can't be written by anyone else but are recognized by others for what they are;  beautiful, sad, sometimes full of fear, sometimes joyous.  Notes written with a depth and complexity that is new.

And yet, those notes are only one small movement in a much larger symphony, with any luck at all. 

I have today to continue to write my symphony, and I try to write themes of gratitude and joy.  Of quiet, and gentleness.  And as I move forward, after 6 more months of NED, I add another variation, a light movement... a happy dance. 

*for those who don't know, after you've had breast cancer, every mammogram is a diagnostic mammogram.  That means two things:  one, you get the results before you leave; and two, if there are any anomalies, they immediately follow up with more testing.  It's good to not have to wait for results, but a bit unnerving to know that extra time is scheduled for you to do more testing in case of a problem.