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The tsunami of cancer

Posted Mar 14 2013 9:32am
March 14, 2013 - Posted by tamilb

The incredible force of cancer cannot drown out my spirit.

I think God wanted me to watch Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday episode. I have the series taped on my DVR and I saw that Nate Burkus was the guest. “Why is she talking about interior design on this show?” I thought.  I selected it, trying to delete it and inadvertently pressed play instead. They were talking about how he survived the tsunami in 2004, but lost his partner in it. I recently saw The Impossible about it, so I was intrigued.

So many things he said resonated with me. He talked about when the worse thing happens, you release fears you had before and get things done. He talked about moving on and living life to the fullest instead of staying in grief about the past. And he says his experience was a gift that has changed who he is and how he lives his life. He realizes that people are the most important part of his life. I think Nate is beautiful inside and out and I saw the light shining from his gorgeous eyes as he spoke. (Yes, I think I have a new celebrity crush! :) )

For me, cancer has been my tsunami. Like Nate, I have lost people I loved to this disaster, but it has made me a different person. I have done so many things and have connected with so many people … I wouldn’t have done this before. I realize the sacredness of life and how each individual is a precious being.

I’m noticing an interesting dichotomy since I returned from the C4YW in Seattle. (For a full update, visit my blog HERE ). I’m facing  the prospect of death while living the hell out of life.

I went to a breakout session about getting your affairs in order. I usually avoid such topics like the plague, but I knew Molly MacDonald from the Pink Fund and another woman at our Friday night dinner was attending. It inspired me to face, in a dispassionate way, my fear of death. I think I’ve had some magical thinking going on, that if I focus on it, it will come. You know, kind of like “If you build it, they will come.” But the session helped me realize that planning for the inevitable (we’re all going to die, after all) is a gift to your loved ones.

So Mike and I met with a lawyer to revise our will and living will, which we originally did before cancer reared its ugly head again. This weekend, we’re checking out cemetary plots so we can preplan our burials and memorial services. The funny thing is, I really like to plan parties. So I’d like my service to be like one. What’s interesting to me is that I feel relieved to do this and get it out of the way so I can focus on living.

And I’m certainly living life to the fullest! In addition to the great trip to Seattle (a destination I’ve always wanted to visit), my family is planning a trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate my 5oth birthday! According to some statistics that I don’t believe in, I had a slim chance of reaching 50. Well screw statistics, we’re heading for paradise! I’m even taking an online course to learn a little Spanish, although chemobrain and age are making it a difficult task. I Skyped with a young man from Buenos Aires last weekend who was helping me learn some basics. That was an adventure in itself!

There’s no doubt about it, cancer is a disaster. It has swept away too many people, and has forced me to face my mortality at a young age. But I don’t have to drown in it. I can enjoy moments of calm and beauty and ride some gentle waves instead of always bracing myself for the next storm.

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