What is NOT Cancer 4

Having so much to do to get ready for a cross-country move that I forget—for a few moments, on a couple of occasions—that there are breast cancer cells in my left breast doing things that I’d rather they not.

Hearing my 9-year-old daughter’s voice for the first time in two weeks, then seeing her run toward me full tilt to jump on me like a little monkey and give me a bone-crushing hug.

Seeing that 14 days at sleepaway camp has done the kids good.

Camp Sloane 2010, Pioneer Section, Tent 2, l to r: Kate Head, Erin Young, Margaret Cassidy

Listening to my child brag that she has not brushed her hair in two weeks. Marveling that this does not really annoy me.

Concluding that my daughter Erin and her pals went to camp as elementary school kids, and returned preteens.

Listening to Lady Gaga—endlessly, by request—on the drive back to New York City. If you don’t take her too seriously, or analyze her too deeply, Lady Gaga is all right. Take the kids’ lead:

Going to church and having the assistant rector give us a send-off blessing. But we have one more Sunday! We get to say good-bye twice.

Seeing my daughter accept an incredibly thoughtful gift of books and videos from another parishioner who loves horses.

Having friends give us an amazing going-away party. Lemon squares. Wine. Beer. Shrimp gumbo. Gazpacho. Figs with prosciutto and cheese. Shrimp and cucumber on water crackers. Cheese. More lemon squares. More wine and beer. Kids distracted with chips, juice boxes and annoying movie about commando guinea pigs. God’s gift that we don’t have to see that movie in the theater.

Listening to embarrassing/touching speeches about how we will create a void when we go. Got a flash for them: their absence will create a void for us too.

Not having a hangover on Monday morning, a true miracle.

Seeing the joy in the kids’ faces as I dropped them at horseback riding day camp. If you enjoy the smell of a horse stall when it’s 100 degrees at 10 a.m., that’s love.

Too much: packing, paper, laundry, bags to pack, forms to fill out, filing, last minute gardening, shopping. Better busy than brooding.


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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3 Responses to What is NOT Cancer 4

  1. Sarah Goodyear says:

    Yes! You posted video! I love it.

    • leftbreast says:

      Can’t figure out how to get “Put new title here” text out of the opening frames, and quality of video is atrocious, but I think that adds to the charm. Yi bu yi bu, as the Chinese say, one step, one step.

  2. Alex says:

    Love this post – fun!

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