The Show Me State

I have had an inner debate about whether to write this post, but I am angry.

I have a cousin, a year younger. During my early childhood, the years before 12, I probably spent one month of each year with her family. We were too much alike, so we fought a lot of the time we were kids. OK, most of the time. I allied myself with her older sister, who is my age. I did things I should not have done. So did she. Our adult relationship has been an uneasy detente.

Tragically, her husband, whom I liked a lot, died of cancer several years ago. She has been through hell, of that I have no doubt. I have thought about her a lot during the years since, wondering about her trials. But I did not do that much to reach out to her. I think I sent flowers when her husband died. I did not go to the funeral, since I lived in New York and she lived in California. I know that at least I sent a condolence card. I have shown her daughters around when they have visited New York. I thought a lot about this family since cancer intruded on them. But, to be honest, I didn’t do that much.

I know she knows I have cancer. My brother told her. I have heard not a thing from her. We are Facebook friends. Email is a click away.

Today, she posted something on Facebook about people who have died of cancer, and those who are still fighting it. Something about caring about us cancer people. Something about how many people will not cut and paste this tribute, but she did.

That’s too easy. It’s easy to say you care, but show me.

I should have.


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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2 Responses to The Show Me State

  1. Michael Fawcett says:

    I’m so grateful for having gotten to know your family these past two years. You were actually one of my very first Grace friends. We talked for awhile at my first Grace barbecue. I’ve especially enjoyed becoming Erin’s friend. She’s such a special girl, for whom I’m certain there are great things in store. I’m so sorry to see you leave our fold but I know San Francisco will be wonderful…and it’s home. May you find added strength and peace there. I will be following your blog and you will remain in our prayers.

    Michael was so pleased to learn of Erin’s interest in horses. He is quite passionate about them. He wondered if Erin has a DVD player in the car. He wants to put together a little going away package to peak her interest in the equine world even further.

    I hope to see you next weekend. My best to you!

    • leftbreast says:

      Come visit in S F. E would love horse DVD. We have a portable player.
      Waiting for biopsy of right breast now. Valium is my friend. Also, breathing in, breathing out.

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