Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Every so often I feel weak and vulnerable. I am almost always so good about keeping my emotions in check. Almost always. Note the qualifier there.

Looking ahead to the summer already, I am trying to figure out how exactly I am going to fit in all of the things I would like to do. The places I want to go, need to go. The camping trips the kids look forward to. The baseball games and swim meets. The county fair that I keep promising myself I will submit my photography to. The baptism of my soon to be niece or nephew. And the relay. I'd like to squeeze the relay in there. That relay that just made me suddenly so overcome with emotions that I had no ability to control the sobs coming from within.

Every so often I break.

I want to do this relay. I just don't know how feasible it is. With all of the other things happening in my life right now, all of which can be changed or dropped at a moment's notice depending on one of those things, I'm not sure it will fit in. But I want it to.

It's important to me.

In June, there is a local Relay for Life, through the American Cancer Society. It's a 24 hour team event, a relay walked continuously by friends and families, survivors and fighters. They do a couple special laps. One is for those who are fighting. Strangely, that isn't that lap that set off my tears. The other lap did. The survivor lap.

I find it odd that up until today, I had never really thought of Tom as a survivor. Yes, he was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, he had surgery. Yes, he had radiation. Yes, there was a lot of pain and worry. Yes, it was a long time ago. And yes, he is healthy today. But for whatever reason, I had never really put him in that category. Never given him that label.

I think part of the reason is that once cancer invades your life, it never really ever goes away. It's hard to feel like a survivor when you are always worried. Always looking over your shoulder a bit. Will it come back? Chances are good with him that it won't. But still, there really is no such thing as ever feeling truly cancer-free again. Even if, for all intents and purposes, you are.

Cancer takes a lot away from you. That feeling of invincibility. The notion that life will go forward without interruption. The idea that you can makes plans and life will go down the path you anticipate. Those aren't things you ever get back, even if you do regain your health eventually.

From today forward, I will think of my husband as a survivor. The label imparts some degree of finality. That his struggles are over. That he has won the battle, his opponent been destroyed. I hope and I pray every day of my life that it is the case. That it doesn't come back. That he stays healthy.

I need to do this relay, somehow. Not just for those who are fighting, but for those who are surviving too. And for those, like me, who are fighting and surviving with them.

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