Friday, March 27, 2009


Tim and I went to the Cancer Survivor/Caregiver dinner on Thursday night. It was the first time that I had really dressed up to go out in a very long time. I wore make up, and experimented with eyeliner, with surprisingly good results. Even though my turtleneck was covered by a wool blazer, I felt self conscious and wondered whether my lopsidedness was evident. I experimented with a scarf, and finally abandoned that effort. I took a deep breath, slipped on a pair of heels, and Tim and I left the house. It was an interesting night, one that put me in contact with a wide variety of cancer survivors. One woman still wept when trying to tell her story. Another woman and her husband were very angry at what they perceived to be the failure of medical diagnostics. One woman claimed that our lives would never, EVER be the same again. I sat next to the most perfectly cheerful woman I have ever met, cancer free for 34 years. Across the table sat a retarded woman, an 8 year survivor. I ran into an old classmate, who has dealt with cancer 3 times in 7 years. She told me that when her hair finally grew in after the third chemo treatment, it came in pure white. I was surprised to see the elderly lady who had so quietly sat listening to our little group talk that morning at the Cancer Center. I knew that she had chemo just a few hours ago, but there she was, sitting with the same quiet expression on her face listening to the others at her table. People from every walk of life, their emotions, their responses as varied as their life experiences. I did not have too much to say. I listened. Sometimes, Tim and I exchanged a look, a wry smile when something was said that touched on familiar territory. At the end, when Tim's name was called as the winner of the doorprize, he received a big bouquet of daffodils. Embarrassed, he handed them to me. Before we left, I whispered a question, and his arm tightened around my back. I gave them to the elderly lady from the Cancer Center. "I think you need this bright patch just a wee bit more than I do at the moment," I said, and I gave her the bouquet and a hug. We talked about chemo for a minute, and then Tim and I headed out the door.

I thought about things as my heels clicked across the parking lot, my long red wool coat turned up around my neck against the cold. I looked at the stars as Tim walked beside me. I really wonder how I will look back on this time. Years from now, I wonder what I will say when people talk about cancer. Viewed from the future, looking back, it takes on a hopeful perspective.


Mrs. Spit said...

I think you had it right at your last post, that which cannot be changed must be endured. And in the eduring we learn such valuable lessons.

I won't say I wish this was different for you, because I would take something away to do that, but I will say I wish that this could be a bit easier, and that your eyebrows would come back.

Kelly said...

Debby, you never cease to amaze me with your wonderful entries!

Bob said...

I think you will look back with thankfulness -- that it's over; that God was faithful and taught you much; that you survived with grace, humility and humor; and that your husband was beside you.

Bush Babe said...

You will say: look at my blog. It will tell you what you need to know.

jeanie said...

I think it is so much an ongoing healing process for everyone - so glad that as part of your own healing, things like that can let everyone also be part of others process too.

quid said...


You've had a watershed experience, Debby. The kind of experience that is life-changing and life-affirming. The kind of thing that happens, and up to that time, anything else of significance in your "normal" life, sort of pales by comparison.

Giving mom dying...the day we realized that our daughter had disappeared and we didn't know how to find her (we managed).
Some high, some low.... all bring tears when you revisit. All cause you to take a step back and evaluate just how much you believe in that higher power.

What you have, beyond your ability to see this watershed event from a view so crystalline, that you make all of us see it with you... is a companion skill; the gift of defining the small moment. You've probably had it all your life; an exquisite connection to the beauty all around you.

I left you a poem on my blog. Enjoy. I wrote it about, well someone I cared for, and also for me. But it suits you.


Pam said...

Quid put my feelings about your post, Debby, into words.

I think most of us who are old enough to have some life under our belts have those watershed moments Quid referred to. I know I have.

I also think I was much further down the road from those events before I was able to look back with such clarity.

You are one amazing woman, my friend!

MuseSwings said...

You are such a wonderful gifted writer! That was sweet of you to share your bright daffodils! You can look back on these posts as a time of courage and grace and sharing. You never know how many of us will be minding our own business, taking a shower one day and make that unwanted discovery. We all know from your writings that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to the story.

Lavinia said...

I thought I had left a post here. I wonder what happened. I enjoyed this post. So heartening to see people alive and well decades after beating cancer. Yes, it can be (and is!) done.