Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Friend Began Chemo...

Several of you have asked about my friend who has breast cancer so I thought I’d post an update. She began chemo this week. They didn’t want to wait until after she and her husband took a trip for their anniversary because the form she has is so aggressive.

True to who she is, she didn’t wait for her hair to fall out (they told her it definitely would) but went ahead and got her head shaved. She got a wig and started chemo when they told her to. Because she’s not the sort to give up. Because she’s not the sort to avoid what needs to be done.

She says the staff is wonderful. And there are all sorts of advances in diagnostics and treatment these days. That’s the good part. The frustrating part is how long it took to get in to get the mammogram and then the biopsy. If her primary care physician hadn’t intervened it would have been even longer. Now she’ll need not only the chemo but radiation after that as well.

Not exactly a typical holiday topic to blog about, I know. And yet....maybe it’s not such a bad thing to remember that even as most of us focus on laughter and joy and fun at this time of year, we all know people who may be dealing with challenges in their lives. For some it’s a loved one lost this past year and this is the first time this holiday will be celebrated without them. For some, like my friend, it’s a physical challenge. For some it’s a financial challenge. For others, it’s...whatever it is. If we remember this and do not just assume everyone is having a wonderful time we will hear the note in the voice, the words perhaps tentatively spoken that will let us know this person could use a little extra support right now. This is a person we might want to show extra kindness.

I read today that this is a time of year when we all feel the sense of oneness—that we are all bound together and differences are all superficial. This is the time of year when we seem to come closest to understanding that what happens to any one of us affects all of us. We cannot hurt someone else without hurting ourselves. We cannot ignore someone else without ignoring a part of ourselves.

I often tell writers as they begin to plan out their stories that it is not the circumstances of the lives of their characters that matter nearly so much as what the characters do with those circumstances. It’s as true in life as it is in our stories.

I hope all of you are finding ways to bring joy into your own lives at this holiday season and into the lives of others around you as well.