Sometimes, cancer fear takes a back seat to magic.
As well as being a cancer blogger, Laura Yeager is a religious essayist and a mental health blogger. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Kent State University and Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Laura survived cancer twice.
Today I'm afraid the cancer is going to come back. And if it comes back, who will help raise my son? At 13 years old, he needs me to teach him about the ways of the world – how you can be joyous one minute and in despair the next; how sometimes the most important thing can just be to show up; how you've always got to have hope; how you need a support system.
When my cancer came back last year, my mom went to see her dentist. Of course, she told the dental hygienist and the dentist about my malady. The dental hygienist was struck by my mother's love for me and she gave her a magic bracelet for me to wear. The hygienist said that the jewelry had been blessed by a priest in Peru, and it was very special. I've been keeping the bracelet around my stick shift in my car—a good luck charm.
Today, I put it on. I need magic in my life.
Years ago, I suffered from agoraphobia. Airports particularly drove me batty. One year, I was flying to Rhode Island with my husband. To get through the awful experience, I tied a scarf around my head. I pretended it was a magic scarf. I told myself that if I just kept this scarf on my head, I could make it through this airport and get on the plane and get to my destination. Guess what? The magic worked.
I'm sure we all have "magic" objects. Good luck charms and all sorts of security blankets, special beloved sweat shirts that calm us. We need a little magic when the going gets rough, when we're in despair.
My magic bracelet is made out of plastic bright yellow and pink beads. It looks like something a child would wear. I don't care what it looks like, just as long as it works.
Who's to say it won't?
I've actually been very optimistic about my cancer, knowing in my heart that it won't return, but today, I'm not so sure. Today, I'm thinking about loss and death.
Christmas is coming on. Maybe if I wore the bracelet night and day, in the shower and everywhere I go, I'll feel better.
Chemo, radiation, surgery, a pink and yellow bracelet. It's all magic.
I go to the thrift store to buy a nativity scene. When my son was little he used to call the Mary, Jesus, Joseph and wise men statues “action figures.” At the store, they have a shelf where they place all the magical Catholic objects such as the St. Joseph statues that are used to sell homes. The legend goes that the seller is supposed to bury the statue of Joseph upside down and, poof, his home will sell quickly. I see the statues of St. Anthony, the Patron Saint of lost Items. How many times have I prayed to this saint and found what I was looking for? Many of the nativity scenes are still in their original boxes. I’ve been eyeballing one that’s priced at $6.00. Christmas is a magical time. God came down to earth as a baby. I truly believe this.
Today, I buy the nativity scene I’ve had my eye on.
I go home and set it up. Around the little sheep statue’s head, I loop my yellow and pink bracelet. It’s a strange fusion of religion, magic and good old fashioned love.
I will make it through this Christmas. I will be optimistic again. The cancer won’t come back. And I will see my son dance at his wedding. I will see him through to adulthood.
I just have to.