Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me … Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. –
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott
Hope – with it we are able to take that first step forward. It is so very important but it is not something that is always easy to obtain. Rising up from the deepest place within us, hope requires work and determination.
Recently I have been aware of how much energy is required to be hope-full. I am now a breast cancer survivor(x3). I have been a survivor since the day I learned of my first diagnosis 19 years ago. This was four days before I celebrated my 40th birthday and having breast cancer was the farthest thing from my mind.
That is how it happens. While moving through life with plans and ambitions, the path changes, abruptly and with little warning. In a single moment on a normal afternoon, I was told I had breast cancer – a diagnosis that would change my life forever. Enveloped in the bright light of a doctor’s office, all plans dropped away – priorities shifted – I started living as a survivor.
So I have found myself once again inthat single moment. In December I sat under the bright lights of a new doctor’s office to hear I had breast cancer again. Being a survivor feels empowering and overwhelming. In my experience it does not matter how often you face a new diagnosis the resolve to continue life as a survivor has to be made anew.
I am inspired by the survivors I have known and know today. These women and dear friends have shared their living stories with honesty and extraordinary courage. During my new ‘single moment’ I honor and remember these amazing women. They have taught me much about living life to the fullest from day one.
Hope does find a way. From learning of the first test results I learned how hope would reinforce the ground underneath my nervous stance. I know this “stubborn hope” that Anne Lamott describes. It is what stirs the courage to take my next step in life. When the news seems unbearable and the options for healing sound impossible hope has been there.
Like a seed planted deep into the ground, hope has taken root within, creating a strong foundation to support my steps toward the gentle light of Dawn.
(This video is one of my favorites. It has been my inspiration on more than one occasion.)
A week ago today I wrote to say that I was entering the steel and sterile doors of an operating room. A week ago tonight I was gradually climbing above the fog of anesthesia.
In seven short days I have experienced strength and weakness. I have felt brave and fearful. The recovery required more hospital time than I had anticipated. The second day I had to pray my fighting prayers to stay hopeful while new and VERY unpleasant tests were required. In the end all was well and I returned to my home where family and friends surrounded me with comfort and care.
Getting well takes work and attitude. Healing is never simple. Always details that require attention. Details that would normally make my skin crawl! But these were and are my details. Important to oversee with the bravest heart I can manage.
I am in the midst of positively healing. With surgery behind me I came home to wait for labs that would reveal the next road to be taken. In three short days (I was told it would be a week), the phone rang and my surgeon shared the best news- the cancer was contained, all lymph nodes were clear.
I felt my breath enter as if anew – as if this were my very first day.
And now I hear – ‘pay attention’. Healing is never simple. The mind and spirit join the body’s work to heal. I have been here before and each time the call to ‘pay attention’ grows in intensity.
The chance is before me once again- to discover secrets, cover uncharted lands and most especially – to open doorways.
With gratitude spilling over, I wonder – what could be waiting…