Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Club

I probably don’t want to join your club.
I’m probably a bit too
overly sensitive and
unnecessarily analytical to be a reliable club contributor.
I probably want to stay home and
just read my

Those in charge of fate decided it would be funny if I was forced to join a club.
Those in charge of these things chose the CANCER club.

I was highly reluctant.

Despite my hesitation, I was a good club member.  I cried.  I was numb. I researched the traditional.  I researched the alternative.   I announced it on social media with a statement mohawk and just the right amount of verbal ambiguity that was worthy of any new product launch.  I thought positively. I thought negatively. I went to bed angry and woke up terrified. I found ways to be happy.  I convinced myself that realistic trumped naive and hopeful trumped realistic.  I wrote the required cancer blog.

I followed the club rules.

I recently passed the one year anniversary of finishing chemotherapy.  One year later, cancer still invites itself into my day.  Scar tissue says good morning. Green tea glares at me during breakfast. My favorite boots mock my feet that hurt when I wear them now.  A good club member would acknowledge this important anniversary day, pin on a pink ribbon and spew forth a grateful outpouring of thankfulness.  

Thankful they were alive.

I stayed silent.  

I had
nothing to

There are a shocking number of women with my story. They’ve had cancer at a relatively young age and sometimes they write about it on their blogs.  It has been helpful to read their blogs and know I am not alone and I am not going crazy. These women openly wrote about their diagnosis, surgeries, chemo, radiation, and many complementary therapies and alternative treatments.

They wrote about feeling powerless and how they were afraid the
overwhelming vulnerability
The wrote about their families.  
Their written words, cried and screamed out loud for their children.
They fought for their lives.
They fought for every single
breath they could

These women became my invaluable therapy.
They were my online friends.

I was so grateful these
women had
something to

One year ago I followed 12 blogs.  
Today, there are 6 blogs left.  

One woman has stopped writing because it was too stressful when people commented that she had caused her own cancer and had chosen the wrong treatments.

5 women have stopped writing


6 of my blog friends still have something to say..
These are women like me. These are people like you.
These are women who don’t want to become a tragedy.
These are women who massage that scar tissue away even though they think they might be massaging a new tumor. They drink that green tea even though it tastes like dirt and they doubt it will help at all. And they put on those boots, no matter how much they hurt, because they are determined that NOTHING will keep them from wearing their Doc Marten's.

No, I still don’t want to join your club. One year after chemo I am still here as a highly reluctant cancer club member.  Maybe, though, I shouldn’t ignore these anniversaries. Maybe I should be more aggressive in spewing forth a grateful outpouring of thankfulness. Maybe I should honor my blog friends by saying something,


They would want that.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Border Clash

There was no foreign financed wall to stop us from leaving Canada.

But there was a border agent with a badge, sitting in a small, grey booth in front of a fancy computer.

Our passports were taken.

The husband, the children and I stared at each other, wide eyed, while sitting on a bench inside a building that was presumably, the bastion of first world border security.  I whispered to the children, giddy and with a smile, that this was, “so exciting!”  I knew it would be an experience they would remember.  

They were not amused and told me to be quiet.

We were surrounded by people who were there for random vehicle searches.  We watched them come in the building and attempt to explain why their hypertension medication was not in its original bottle.  We watched them explain their arrest from 1994 when they were 19 and careless.  We watched them worry about their fluffy white dog, waiting outside, who “never did anything to deserve this kind of treatment.”

We were not there for a random search.  
We were there because of the husband.

He was suspicious.

The husband spoke to a border agent.  The husband was polite and respectful.  They asked him if he had ever been questioned before.  He tried to explain why he crossed the border with a bunch of long haired, pot smoking hippies in 1988.  They told him he had a common name. He casually mentioned his years of dedicated, patriotic, naval submarine service.

They told him there were problems.
They told him to wait.

We all waited.

I cheerfully mentioned to the children that this adventure might be used in an essay for one of their classes this upcoming school year.

They were not amused and told me to be quiet.
They did not use their polite words.

I smiled and assured the reliable, patient husband that we’d be out of there in minutes. I made jokes about his “criminal past”.  

He laughed.

The border agent stared at his computer, typed furiously, paused, and stared at the screen. He repeated this several times.  He grabbed a piece of paper that had just ejected from a printer and walked quickly to the back of the room.  He gathered all of the other border agents around. They looked at the paper and discussed super secret things about the husband.  They glanced back and forth toward our family.  After half an hour of this,  I turned my now nervous head toward the fidgety husband, cocked my head sideways and raised my eyebrows.  I made my skeptical eyes big and silently asked the husband, “Do you know what the heck they are talking about?”

He seemed unaware I was speaking to him.

Over an hour passed.
We were still being held captive.
All because of the husband and his dubious, hidden, unlawful identity.

I put on my strong woman, resilient, happy survivor face and told the children that, “We were lucky because not many people get to experience American border security at such an intimate level!”

They were not amused and told me to be quiet.
The did not use their polite words.
They seemed a bit angry with me.

I stared long and hard at the husband and began to fuel a senseless rage in my head, “Gosh darn it! We’ve been together for 31 years. I thought I knew him!  What has he done? What is he keeping from me?”  

Our captivity had gone on long enough that I began to anxiously, wonder, way deep down, if my life with him had been one big lie.

The border agent eventually returned, explaining that he had cleared all the criminal activity associated with the husband’s common name. He apologized for keeping us for such along time, but there were some bad guys with the same name as the unblemished husband's name.  He wanted to make sure the husband would have no trouble in his future border crossings.

The husband was innocent.
We were free.

As we continued our drive toward home, I turned an ever-loving eye toward the reliable husband. I grasped his strong, steady hand and was grateful knowing that he hadn’t been hiding a serious criminal habit from me.

I said to the children, “Well, that was fun!  How many people get to experience that?!”
They were not amused and told me to be quiet.
The did not use their polite words.
They seemed a bit angry with me.

They asked me how long it would be until they could get wi-fi.