Monday, March 29, 2010

A Full Plate

My brother tells a story that I love. He was working in his tennis shop he owned at the time (just one of his three jobs-no wonder he got cancer) and a graceful gray haired southern belle, her hair pulled back in a bun and a double strand of pearls around her neck, walked into his store. As he did with many customers, he struck up a conversation with her. Somehow she found out that he had been through cancer treatment and she divulged that she too had been treated for cancer. As he rang up the items she had purchased at the cash register, she spoke these words of wisdom in a quiet voice.

“You know,” she began in her lovely southern drawl. “At the end of the day everyone’s plate is full.”

My brother called me and told me this story when I was going through my cancer treatment and it is one of my favorites. I think of it often as my plate fills up and I am completely overwhelmed. Lately my plate has been quite full of worry and sadness, not because of my cancer, but just the day to day challenges that my life is bringing to me now. Some days I have been on the verge of tears and feel like getting back in bed and never getting up. It is at that point that I remember this story and I think to myself, “Yes, your plate is full, but so is everyone else’s.”

Whether it is sickness, a parent dying, financial difficulties, or parenting issues, we all face the same obstacles and we must muddle our way through as best we can. So I continue to press on, knowing that life is going to have ups and downs reminding myself that it is just a part of life to have a very full plate.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Next?

“So what is next?” She asked me as we chatted in the bookstore, “My treatment is almost over; I am still wearing this wig and I am wondering how I am going to regain my strength and reenter my former life.” These are profound questions that any cancer survivor has. You spend so much time “fighting the fight” that when you’re done you look around and literally have to figure out what to do next.

I thought back to this time in my life, remembering how I thought that once chemo was over my hair would instantly reappear and I would resume my life as if nothing had ever happened. Then reality struck. My hair wasn’t growing very fast and I was exhausted from even the briefest activity.

“My advice would be to focus on rebuilding your immune system.” I told her. “I take a lot of antioxidants now and I will gladly drop some by for you.” I take a mushroom supplement that someone recommended when I was ill, Vitamin D, Calcium and Vitamin C to name a few. “Then there is yoga, that will help as well,” I continued. “I just started that and I really love it!” She responded.

“Also, remember that hair takes a really long time to grow,” I bluntly reminded her. “No one told me that and I wish I had known.” I continued. “I have to say that you look really great,” I told her. It was true. Her skin was beautiful and her eyes were bright. Her wig was very flattering and looked just like real hair.

“So do you,” she replied. “And you are going to play tennis. That is a good sign!” She walked away and I thought about what she said as I stood there in my tennis skirt. It is a good sign; there is so much life to be lived after cancer. That is what is next.