Friday, October 16, 2009

Road Work Ahead

Two days ago, early in the afternoon, I was paging through the November issue of “O” Magazine. As I sat reading, I dunked homemade chocolate chip cookies in milk -- admittedly aberrant behavior, but justified under the circumstances.

In an essay by Uwem Akpan (the author of “Say You’re One of Them”), I came to this sentence:

“It’s like what Rilke says: ‘Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.’ ”

I went to the computer to see how Rainer Maria Rilke followed that amazing line. Here it is:

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final.”

What a welcome reminder.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Since then I have faithfully kept my annual mammogram appointment. A week ago, a smudge appeared on the mammogram, a “distortion,” indicating a change in the tissue of my left breast. I had a biopsy.

Just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, my radiation oncologist called to say I have cancer again. The doctor described it as a “favorable” cancer. The lump is small – much smaller than last time. It is a low-grade cancer. It is not a recurrence, but a new cancer. I have met with a surgeon and scheduled a mastectomy.

Terror is back. Surely beauty will follow.

This is a detour on my journey to San Francisco, where the Pacific Ocean waits for me. After some road repairs, I will keep going.


  1. May your load be lighter knowing that it is shared by so many who love you and feel it with you. We can't take it away - but we're here to lighten whatever we can. And you DO know that a wonderful life awaits on the other side of this detour - you've already done this before - so you know that for certain! But we'll have to come visit in shifts since the seating arrangement in your condo is MUCH different now!

  2. I'll be thinking of you, Pat. You have a very positive presence, I feel sure you will come through this to the beauty again.

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  4. I am so sorry to read this. I am thankful for modern medical technology that enables us to find cancers while they are "favorable" and we can take care of them. Please know that you are in my prayers, thoughts, and hopes and I know that you will in fact take good care of yourself.
    Cheri (deleted the above as crownde as you might not have known who I am by that ID)

  5. Oh Pat
    I am so sorry. Doesn't it sometimes feel as the universe conspires to thwart our plans?
    Anyway - I know you will get their - even if 45 years later than the rest of the flower children
    Love Peggy

  6. Whata great quote, says it all.

    Lots of love emanating your way from the Winter boys.

    Alex x