Go ahead. Make my day.

The next-door neighbor kids, who are three and almost six and cute beyond belief, ring the doorbell.

“Can Erin come over to our house?”

Erin is downstairs in her room, engrossed in Legos, so I counter, “Would you like to come play here for a while?”

“Well,” says Lilah, an incredibly self-possessed 6-year-old. “We’re not supposed to come over while you have the sickness here.”

I’m not sure what she means. Erin had a bad cold about 10 days ago, could that be it?

“I’ll call your Mom and let her know. Would that be OK?”

“Sure,” Lilah says, striding into the house with her little brother Lucas toddling along in her wake. I could listen to Lucas’ cute little voice all day. He entertains me just by saying “Kitty Man!” over and over.

I call their Mom. “Just wanted to let you know that your kids are here. They said something funny about not being allowed to come in because of the sickness here.”

“Oh!” she laughs. “I’ve tried to explain to Lilah that you’re sick, and that if you’re feeling tired, then Erin should come over here to our house. I don’t think Lilah really understands. She keeps telling me, ‘Mommy! Heather is NOT sick! She doesn’t act sick! She doesn’t look sick!’ I keep trying to explain, but I don’t think it’s working.”

When I stop chuckling, I tell Lisa, “That’s OK. Erin is 10 and I don’t think she really understands cancer either.”
Then I start chuckling again. Obviously, Lilah and Lucas didn’t notice all those months that I barely made it out of pajamas. It makes my day.

Next time I have to have some pathology work done, I’m going to tell the doctor, “But Lilah and Lucas say I am NOT sick.”


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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1 Response to Go ahead. Make my day.

  1. kymlucas says:


    Just stumbled on your blog (while looking for another one on a different server entitled the same). Diagnosed on 3/18. Surgery 4/27. Looking foward to reading the chronicle of your experience.

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