Friday, August 27, 2010

Beauty Marks

SOMEWHERE IN NORTH AMERICA, USA - Out there on the web lives a gal who posted this note a few days ago: “Today, for the first time, I forgot I had been through cancer. Then I got undressed for bed…”. To say I can relate to that thought is a vast understatement. This comment was flooded instantly with sympathetic responses. Oh I’m so sorry, oh you poor dear, etc.

I have been thinking about this for quite some time, and have decided that while I am clearly empathetic, I am not going the route of pity. That is not to say that I minimize her pain, or to shortchange her personal journey. I just see it through an entirely different pair of eyes.

The scars that some of us wear won’t go away, even though they might fade. The bits and pieces of our bodies that have been removed won’t magically re-grow. We ARE reminded of our battles every time we take a shower, that is true. I see them, however, as reminders of the battles we have won, even though they were difficult. But we have won, so that’s the focus for me. Doesn’t mean that we cancer patients now possess superpowers or will live forever. (Although for the record, if I get to pick a superpower I want flight. Seriously.)

For those of you out there who were just diagnosed today; yes, you will have scars. Potentially quite a few, and maybe even a tattoo for radiation. They will be there forever. They are always around, but guess what – so are you. Take that, stupid cancer. For those of you who, like me, just crossed the 5 year mark; yea, most of us are still taking medicine that makes us feel just ask icky as we did at 2,3 and 4 years out. Who cares, we are still here too. Take that, too, stupid cancer. To those beyond the 5 year mark; I probably don’t even have to tell you how cool you are. Your scars are the most faded, but also still here. You are inspirations to us and we admire those scars – we see them as beauty marks. Now take THAT, stupid cancer. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gifts of the Heart

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - This past week I've received some pretty shocking gifts. Shocking only to me, in that I was totally floored that people would be so wonderful and think of me for my all-clear anniversary. Flowers (amazing), shoes (swooning just thinking about them right now), donations to the Foundation (I heart that), a coffee mug that reads CONSIGLERIE (perfect-o) and then this last gift, pictured above.

It is a blank triptych canvas set. The reason, my friend told me, is that I now can start a new picture of my life. Starting now, from this point on. I think that is such a beautiful sentiment, very moving. And it doesn’t have to apply to only cancer patients ... but anyone who finds themselves on a difficult journey.

Take a break, start fresh. Thank you, my dear one, for this gift. I can't wait to see how your canvas becomes more colorful, too. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

In Her Shoes - Thank You

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - Here at Vera Bradley headquarters last Friday, the family that I call mine decided to throw a celebration party. It was to mark the 5th year cancerversary. For cancer patients, that’s a big thing because for most people the five-year all clear means you can do things that you weren’t able to before; you’ve crossed the big marker. You can get insurance now (as long as you aren’t on continuing chemo, drat for those of us who have to), you can wake up in the morning and think "hey, I might just be ok today!" and you can declare yourself a survivor. I know a few people who prefer the term thriver, but I don’t really care what you call me as long as I’m around to hear it. I’m good.

So there were many people at this party, some of whom were there for the start of my journey, and oh what joy it is to see their faces every time I can. There were new friends, there were bosses and co-workers, there were so many for whom I am eternally thankful. Some weren’t able to be there but sent me sweet messages anyway. How many people are so blessed, so fortunate to have a team of people around them who not only know that these kind of anniversaries exist but what they really symbolize … outside the world of cancer workers, I mean.

So to you, my family of Vera Bradley - I love you, I thank you, I tell everyone every day how wonderful you are. Yes, Vera Bradley bags are fun. Functional. Pretty. Happy. But they do so much more, they mean so much more, give so much more. They mean the world to me, because they helped me when I needed it the most. And they continue to be there, and not just for me. I am allowed to help others as my full-time job. Have you ever heard of a better gift?

Ok, maybe a pair of pink Ferragamo shoes. Nope, my job is even better than those gifts.