When I received my cancer diagnosis, I didn’t immediately run to the nearest support group or therapist. But thankfully, there is no shortage of support in the cancer community. Art classes, Eastern medicine practices, fitness programs, massage – the resources are plentiful.
Then last spring my cancer had metastasized to my liver and it scared me.
I had met a couple of women who had told me about a local support center called WomenCARE in Santa Cruz County. A place for women (and their families) living with and living through cancer.
It was there I found ARM-in-ARM (women with Advanced, Recurrent or Metastatic cancer). These women have become part of my village. A place where we are brutally honest about our disease, gentle to one another and down right jovial. I am actually quite awkward with strangers and never thought I would be comfortable in ‘group therapy’. However, this feels more like coffee with friends who happened to all have cancer.
Many of the women have been in the group several years together, but there are two of us who are ‘newbies’. The others have shared stories of friends from the group of whom are no longer here, but how their presence and friendship is still felt and thought of.
Sadly, most recently, a firecracker of a woman is now gone from our tribe. Her memorial was beautiful and heart-wrenching. Her brother reminded us that she did not see her metastasis as a death sentence; she was an advocate for much including metastasized breast cancer. Every fiber of my being wants to scream “this is not fair”! She has clearly gone too soon but during her time here she had done so much for so many.
I believe, more than ever, that each today is not a gift for my unwrapping but the beauty is the gift I give.
Instead of anger I will give you honestly. Instead of bitterness I will give you wit. Instead of doubt I will give you hope. Instead of hate I will give you love.