Defining How Your Breast Cancer Has Changed Your Perspective on Life
Editor's Note: We were sad to learn that NPR's My Cancer blog announced Leroy Sievers' death on August 16. Please share your thoughts and tributes in the comments section below. We also invite you to continue responding to Leroy's prompt, "My cancer..." as well.
There’s a blog I read called “My Cancer.” It’s on the National Public Radio Web site, and is written daily by Emmy award-winning TV journalist Leroy Sievers, formerly of NBC nightline and CBS News. Sievers covered more than a dozen wars in his career; now he’s covering his own, with cancer. And it’s a war he’s gradually losing, as he details his battles with multiple metastases, with pain, with a stroke… cancer is ganging up on him. He’s surviving; but it’s an awfully tough challenge.
The other day, Sievers’ started his blog with these words: “Finish This Sentence: My Cancer…” Sievers asked his readers to respond. And 328 of them posted comments, ranging from to-the-point posts like ‘My cancer made me feel lonely for the first time in my life,” and “My cancer pisses me off,” to multiple paragraphs expanding on those two simple words. Some changed it to read “My mother’s cancer…” or “My son’s cancer…”, so eager were they to respond.
Scrolling through the responses, I wondered how I’d finish that sentence. Now, 2 days later, I have time to sit down and write. Without thinking too hard, just writing whatever comes into my head, I’m going to finish “My cancer…” 10 ways. And then I invite you to do the same: Post a reply at the end of this blog.
10 RESPONSES TO LEROY SIEVERS: MY CANCER...
1) My cancer isn’t the best thing that ever happened to me. But it’s pretty darned close.
2) My cancer has left a physical echo that won’t let me forget it. It’s there in my aching joints; the tingling space on my chest where a natural breast used to be; in the shoulder still stiff from surgery, and in a peculiar side effect of Arimidex: the eerie feeling that my bones have become loose and are grating against one another.
3) My cancer sucked me up in a slashing, burning, poisoning tornado, then flung me down: bedraggled, bewildered, but ready to get back on the path.
4) My cancer is still inside me somewhere. Wherever it’s hiding, I hope to God it stays there until I die of something else.
5) My cancer has given me a giant push into the next part of my life. It drew a line in the sand: before cancer, and after. Everything came to a screeching halt while I battled cancer, and when I’d finished treatment, I found myself headed in a whole new direction: helping my fellow survivors.
6) My cancer is a magnet that draws me to other people with cancer. We’re all in this together. We know what death looks like. It’s a club based on black humor, multiple shoulders to cry on, and the great and abiding strength of its members.
7) My cancer breaks my heart because it breaks my mother’s heart. Because it puts the weight of constant worry on my husband’s shoulders, and makes my son wonder how long his mother is going to be alive.
8) My cancer has been the gateway to a world of new experiences. Blogging. Reiki. Touring New England and appearing onstage with the cast of Bosom Buddies, offshoot of a survivors’ writing group. Donning a crash helmet and climbing through the trees, part of a survivors’ retreat ropes course. Doing volunteer work that’s become more important to me than my 30-year career as a journalist/author ever was.
9) My cancer isn’t painful memories. It’s the pleasure of lasting friendships made in waiting rooms and infusion suites, at survivor days and here, online.
10) My cancer reminds me every day to relax, enjoy, and LIVE. I’m determined that happiness—not sorrow—will mark all the rest of my days, however many remain.
Good-Bye, Leroy Sievers. Please share your thoughts on "My Cancer" and tributes to Leroy in the comments section below.