In August 2004 I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare aggressive cancer that appears suddenly as a rash or thickening of the breast.
I was in the midst of moving my offices after 20 years and went for a mammogram in Kingston on Tuesday afternoon. By that evening was in NYC having a biopsy and being told that I would have to start immediate aggressive chemotherapy before I could even consider surgery.
When I returned home the next day, my life was in an uproar. My wonderful dog of 16 years stopped eating, within four days she had died in my arms. Shock.
Then came the rush of tests, endless scary tests, second opinions, financial details, insurance, a living will, wills, even funeral arrangements. Nights spent on the Internet researching this rare form of breast cancer and my treatment options and mortality rates. I learned about muga scans and pet scans and all about the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy.
All the while watching my fiancee and son try to look stoic as their fears flared.
I saw my life quite possibly ending as summer began to exit the Catskills. Quite a new chapter. Not what I was expecting. Not at all. Today I am one of millions of women coping with breast cancer, a statistic in an epidemic. The breast is that which nurtures the children. Our milk glands are our life giving attribute.
I believe that we are reflections of the harm that is being done to the Mother. Perhaps through learning to heal ourselves, we can learn more about healing the whole.
Right now, my life centers on chemotherapy treatments and inner journeys. The balance points of suffering and transcendence. Not knowing what tomorrow brings, I learn about the gratitude and the mystery of the present.
Here, in the mountains, as winter closes in, I am in virtual house arrest, so I journey through spirit and consciousness, held by the web of life and by the love of my friends.
These months are teaching me the wisdom of the Prayer of St Francis. Life is a gift and an open heart is the way we receive it.
I oscillate between faith and fear, pain and gratitude. The future is clouded but today the sun shines. I am grateful to my family and friends and for the support of this site.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life