I’ve been touched by your comments and emails thanking me for my honesty in my cancer posts. Many of you wrote that I’m brave to share my story. Nah. I’m not really that brave; I just like to tell stuff.
But one aspect of the experience does feel extra-personal.
Within hours of my diagnosis, I saw a circle closing in around me. A real circle. No joke. No figurative talk. I saw it. Many times. It looked like the circle above.
The circle closed out everything in my future but the cancer. No new house. No grandchildren-to-be. No travels to Prague or Costa Rica. No finishing the novel my agent has been patiently waiting for.
The circle squeezed out bad stuff too, stuff not related to cancer. No thoughts of old hurts or unresolved issues. No worries about projects left uncompleted or what ifs looming ahead.
There was no space. The circle was that tight.
After my surgery, I heard good news. Really good news! The cancer had not spread. Within minutes, I saw the circle open up. Even now, I can close my eyes, put myself back in my hospital bed, and watch it grow.
For the first two or three weeks, only good drifted back into the circle. Then, as a bit of post-op funk sank over me, some negatives drifted back in too.
The other day at a Duke alumni event, I met a wonderful cancer survivor. (I’m finding that all cancer survivors are wonderful, with stories to tell and intriguing lessons learned.) I told her about my circle. She nodded her head. “Yes,” she said. “I saw it too.”
Like the beckoning white light when we die, maybe circles represent some universal experience with the Big C.
But you know what? I love round things like polka dots and happy faces and the moon and pie. But I don’t want to see a circle around my life again. Not a tight one, for sure, but not a bigger one either.
No circle, no black lines, letting stuff in or keeping it out.
The American Cancer Society’s website has some excellent resources on dealing with the emotional side of cancer. Check it out here.