Unexpectedly, for me, during my four weeks of radiation, the small space holding five chairs six feet apart had become sacred ground. For the last four weeks I had peered into weary masked covered faces,hospital gown clad women, sporting caps and scarves on baldheads, while purses rested in nervous laps. We seemed eager to put our cell phones to the side, peering into each other’s eyes while we tossed a fragile common thread across the heavy waiting space, trusting it would be caught without being torn.
Thankfully, each time it was not only caught, but woven into a shared tapestry of hope and encouragement. The woven fragile threads of hope were life giving.
As I looked into the faces of my fellow breast cancer friends on the morning of November 12th, I was suddenly keenly aware that I was possibly entering into a season of “survivor guilt.” It was my last day, and I knew their paths were so very much harder than mine. Though my cancer was found on both sides, when surgically removed it was discovered to be non-invasive, negative for the presence of hormones, and self-contained. My oncologist told me that I was in the minority of 20% of women who have this favorable diagnosis. I wanted to believe him. Yet, surprisingly, I now knew for to certain, after hearing the stories from these very brave women, that he was right. I was definitely in the minority. However, I had difficulty being joyful on this day of ringing the bell, knowing I was leaving behind friends who were physically scarred and spiritually scared.
When this questionable journey began for me in mid-June, I knew that, if it were cancer, my precious mother would not be able to process this information. With her experiencing the beginning of dementia, along with a significant decline in cognition, I knew I could keep this secret and gift her with one less major life event to worry about. I succeeded. So, if this is the first time you are hearing about this news, please know it was with good intentions. I ask that you continue to keep my secret sacred from her.
You may have a sacred secret experience of your own this memorable year of pandemic 2020. If you do, you are not alone. Ken and I pray that God will give you a few compassionate friends, to whom you can toss your thread. You just might be surprised how quickly someone may grab on for dear life; both yours and theirs. We sometimes forget how utterly and extremely connected our threads are until we are in desperate need of someone to catch our dangling, lonesome string. Let us take a cue from Mary as she tossed her secret thread to Elizabeth, praying it would be caught and held in holy space (Luke 1:42).
Along with my favorable cancer diagnosis, our year ends with Ken’s leukemia remaining in partial remission, while he continues to participate in the clinical trial. Our scheduled trips to Houston will now include follow-up visits for both of us. We are grateful beyond words to those of you who secretly prayed for us and gave significant secret financial assistance during our frequent and tiring visits for tests and treatment. Thank you!
This Christmas letter is dedicated to all those brave cancer souls who continue to fight the terrible battle.
Blessed new year from two extremely grateful cancer survivors!!
Ken and Sandy