Cancer Saved My Life…

At the time I wrote the words below, I was recovering from breast cancer and depression. Now I read them with joy and gratitude.

It is good, I believe, to pause to look back at the road to see how far we have traveled. Today, I share this with you because I had a mammogram last week…and I am entering my fourteenth year as a cancer survivor. Enjoy.

Cancer saved my life. Life began anew, in May 1996, when I woke from a single, simple mastectomy. The option of dying was handily available. For the past six years, in a fog of depression, I had stood at the edge of hell, and even, now, lying on a hospital bed, I could still hear them calling my name, but I finally turned away. The madness stopped on this day. Odd, but true, I did not consciously know I had made this decision. As it turned out, death was not my choice.

I bent the page here, marked the place; wrote the day in stone. In the evening of May 31, 1996, I began to chart the road home. As it turned out, death was not my choice. I did not consciously know I had made this decision.

I have often looked back to this day to wonder what core I tapped into, what it is inside me that caused me to decide to live, to recover, to begin the long stumbling walk back. What spark, ember, leapt to life strengthening me to reach for the light and to face the embarrassment, the mess of being me and to bravely claim it.

I did not decide to live because times were good. Or even, because I had just run out of drugs. I had cancer. I had lost a boob. I did not, even, have health insurance. I was, fortunately, surrounded by sympathetic nurses and morphine was being dripped into my veins. For a drug addict, things were going pretty good. For a person in recovery…it was subterranean bottom. A place to begin.

I recovered alone. Looking back, I see that it was by choice. No one was holding my hand, or promising to care for me. No one was offering rewards.

The last friend had pulled out long time ago. Family had turned away, but in leaving my daughter’s eyes told me of the legacy of me that would be left to tell among future generations and the present. To die of addiction, or suicide, could give an excuse to dear ones to follow my trail.

Truths lie within a child’s eyes. In that moment, my journey home and beyond began, but for others it could be something else, a stranger’s kindness, God, love, hope.

Recovery is customer made to fit our soul. Like faith, it is a flame that burns untended, until it is discovered. Recovery is a script we write in unison with spirit. I am so grateful.

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