I had one job when I walked out onto the field during halftime at the Seahawks game Sunday: walk in a straight line, wave, and don’t trip.
Oh, and don’t pee your pants.
Why was I out on that field? I had the opportunity to join several other survivors in representing the thousands of women who have battled breast cancer in the Seattle area.
Of course, moments like this always seem to involve a lot of waiting…
And, a lot (A LOT) of walking.
Just to keep things interesting, I stepped on a piece of broken glass two days before the game. I drove myself and the little one to the ER and ended up getting seven stitches -and then all that walking in the stadium, and across the field, took place wearing this gorgeous bootie.
Don’t worry about the foot, it will be fine.
When I walked out on the field, I wasn’t worried about my foot at all. I had other things on my mind.
As we lined up under the goal post in the end zone, I suddenly realized that I had to pee. Fortunately, we were encouraged to dance. So that was me doing the potty dance to Katy Perry’s “Roar” as we walked across the field from one end zone to the next. Whatever works, right?
I also managed to get on and off the field without actually tripping, but at the first 20 yard line, I turned to look at my friend Pam who was walking behind me, and the guy in front of me stopped – so I walked right into him. I’m pretty reliable on these things.
I’m not the world’s biggest football fan, but I do love the celebratory feel of sporting events.
And the views…
But my favorite part of sporting events is the people watching. These were the people sitting right in front of me.
On April 15, 2013, terrorists detonated two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, and many others were seriously wounded.
There have been several occasions in my life where chaos and violence shifted my perception of time, even if I was physically far from the event. Time slows down, speeds up, sometimes feels like its hiccuping or repeating itself as we hit refresh over and over and over again on the browser, or the same scenes are replayed by each of the major networks. But these aberrations in my sense of time, and in my sense of safety, never stopped the sun from going down at the end of the day – and never stopped the sun from rising the next morning.
A new day, with a new set of challenges, including the challenge of wrapping my head around yet another wave of violence. But that fresh start is also an opportunity for a fresh perspective, for evolving the way I look at the situation, and the world.
This morning, it was the sunrise that woke me up. Our bed is on the west side of our home, but for a brief minute the rising sun lasered it’s way through the balcony, through our living room, down the hall, and across my bed on the far side of our bedroom. The precision required to get the light across that space is remarkable, with maybe an inch of leeway. I know the light did not have a will of it’s own, but it sure felt like it was trying to get my attention.
The sun always rises
The sun always rises. But it’s not really rising, is it? The sun stays in the same place, and we revolve around it. It’s our changing perspective, in the physical sense, that brings the sun back into our little corner of the world each morning.
In the moments when the world seems dark and evil, it’s a change in my perspective that shifts my attention to the light.
As a child, I was taught that all people are evil at their core, but I no longer believe that is true. I believe most people don’t want to hurt anyone. In fact, I believe most people would go out of their way to avoid causing physical harm to another person. I believe most people want to be helpful. I believe most people want to do good. I believe that right this minute, people from all over the world are praying for Boston, and for the victims and their family members. I believe that when I small handful of people do something evil, a much larger group of ordinary people rise up and perform heroic tasks without even realizing it. They do it because they are there, and it’s the right thing to do. There’s no time to think about whether or not their good actions will be recognized.
Nature always seeks a balance
Yes, there are evil people in this world, and one way or another, they’ll get what’s coming to them. I want them stopped, to prevent another tragedy, but I refuse to invest any of my own limited life in thoughts of revenge. Karma will get them, even if no one else does. Nature always seeks a balance.
In the meantime, I choose to focus on the people healing, and the people doing good. These stories keep reminding me that despite the presence of evil, there is so much hope for the human race.
I was one of 5 authors reading our work about living with breast cancer at Courage Night.
I was challenged to chronicle just one hour of my life for a blog post, and the results were magical.
I realized that I am still re-learning how to dream after cancer. “I’ve reached the point where I understand what I have been intuitively trying to do, yet simultaneously resisting – to improve the flexibility and range of my imagination, of my ability to re-dream my future.”
Two years after chemo, I finally got my hair back into a ponytail.
Every year, I run away with my girls from the Young Survival Coalition (young women with breast cancer) for a retreat at the Harmony Hill Retreat Center. It’s a slumber party for grownups, but even more important, for a moment, we’re in a place and group where life with cancer is normal, and everyone understands what we’re going through.
I wrote a piece for Survivorship Partners on Cancer and Guilt, when I noticed how much judgement there is around a cancer diagnosis. Nobody deserves cancer, not even me.
I traveled to Indianapolis to attend the Affiliate Summit for the Young Survival Coalition, and to participate in the process of changing much of the structure of that organization. The experience left me with a powerful lesson in change management.
My husband went to Istanbul to present his research at the International Society for Iranian Studies Conference. While he was there, he had a significant health crisis. I didn’t blog about that part, but it was more terrifying to me than my own cancer diagnosis. He’s healthy now, however, and he did manage to get a few great photographs of Istanbul while he was there.
We attended the cutest birthday party ever. Our cousin’s daughter’s 3rd birthday party had a dinosaur ballerina theme. Perfect, as Gem is into dinosaurs and ballerinas, as well. You really can’t go wrong with homemade dinosaur tails and tutus for each of the kids.
My husband and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary, and I reminded the universe that the sickness and poorer parts of our vows were not an invitation. I also challenged to universe to remember that there was a richer and health part in there as well.
In Taking Back October, I mourned the loss of one of my favorite months, October, to the Breast Cancer Awareness money making machine, and I discussed the difference between working towards awareness for the most well known cancer, and working towards a cure.
Plans for my second mastectomy and reconstruction surgery started in earnest. My surgery is scheduled for 2/4/13. Mom will be flying down from Alaska to take care of my little one.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
This weekend, I’m planning on making a few laps around this tree with that thought in mind. This labyrinth, and the Harmony Hill retreat center where it resides, is one of my favorite places in all of Washington. I’m also planning on spending my days doing yoga and soaking in the beauty of hood canal, followed by nights filled with girl talk, laughter, and the 3 Bs: booze, B-movies, and contraband bacon.
And boobs. There is always talk about boobs. It’s de rigueur at a getaway for young women with breast cancer.
I’m hoping a weekend away with women who know exactly what I’m going through is just what I need – a lot of fun. It sure was last year. And this year – no homework!
I’m just not at a point where I can talk about it all. It’s just so much…
So much what does this cancer diagnosis mean to the rest of my life? to what extent will I let it define me? what do I want to do when I grow up? will it have something to do with cancer? should I change my major? what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything? does it even matter? where are my shoes? how will we pay rent? did I take my pills this morning, or was that yesterday? who am I? who are you? will Lizzie and Mr. Darcy ever work things out?
In spite of all of that, I still have this…
the meaning of life, the universe, and everything is such a small thing compared to the beauty of my little girl in a swing. Pondering can wait; it’s time to play.