Doris Cardwell received a life-changing diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer in 2007. While undergoing treatment, she co-founded a mentor program for the cancer center treating her. She also created community events to educate, encourage and empower people regarding cancer. Doris was the first Survivorship Community Outreach Liaison for her local cancer center. She is an advocate, educator and encourager on issues facing cancer survivors. Doris is a wife, mother, empty nester, survivor of life and lover of all things coffee. An avid speaker and blogger, she is available at www.justdoris.com.
Cancer can bring others to love into our lives. This can be costly, but I choose to believe it is worth it.
Do you have old emails, contacts, or texts in your phone? I have many names, numbers and emails in my phone that I never use. There are some from as far back as 2007. They all have a common thread uniting them. Even though I will never use them again, I can't delete them. I scroll through my contacts and I see different faces. I held their hand, they touched my heart.
Memories and emotions dance in the recesses of my mind. I see eyes, smiles, expressions of pain; they all flow from the corners of my thoughts. Cancer is how I knew them. Cancer is why I can't reach them anymore. The memories I hold in my heart from each of these people are as varied as the lives they lived. Friends, acquaintances, random strangers that suddenly became like family.
Most days if I see them, I choose to look at what I have gained instead of what I have lost. I gained from Josie the ability to look at every day with thankfulness. David taught me about quiet strength. Rodema taught me how to dance with joy to a song. Billy taught me the value of investing in a community. Carol taught me how to laugh louder than anyone in the room. Tonya taught me to never give up. Judy taught me about grace and beauty that never stops. I could keep going, but you don't know these people. I did. I'm sure you have your own people, your own names, lessons and faces you could list.
Many years ago I heard a speaker talking about viewing life as a tapestry. She envisioned one day being in heaven, showing God the tapestry of her life. There would be dark purple spots and beautiful shiny spots. She would explain each woven area and what it represented.
My tapestry will have threads of many colors. It will have the color pink for breast cancer. I see much teal for ovarian cancer and orange for leukemia. A tinge of burgundy for multiple myeloma beside purple for pancreatic. There will be some grey for brain cancer and a rainbow of others. It will be as colorful as a box of crayons. And within each color there will be memories of love, filled with laughter.
I recently read that experiencing grief is the cost of love. The contacts in my phone that I won't delete form part of the tapestry of my life. People are woven in and out, beautiful threads bringing a multitude of textures and color. Yes, there is grief and loss, but there's also love and laughter. Cancer may take many things, but it cannot unravel the beautiful tapestry of my life unless I choose to let it.
Grief is costly. But not loving so I won't have to loose? That is a price I am not willing to pay.