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"Not those people" [Mar. 17th, 2014|11:43 am]
On Thursday our goddaughter Rebecca will have yet another MRI to determine whether the toxic chemicals being poured into her system are successfully keeping her brain cancer at bay.

Rebecca is 5 years old.

She was diagnosed in August. Ferrett and I were there in Philadelphia with her and her family while she underwent brain surgery to remove the tumor. We were there to see the x-rays and hear the discussion of the diagnosis and the treatment plan and the prognosis. We cared for and cuddled her siblings, and hugged her parents and did what we could to help care for them. We have been along for every MRI results meeting since they were able to return home permanently after proton radiation treatment. We have walked for cancer in Rebecca's honor, donated to and helped raise money for her sister having her head shaved for St. Baldrick's just yesterday.

I still can't quite believe that Rebecca has cancer. Because the Meyers aren't supposed to be a family that goes through this. They are wonderful and amazing and I consider it one of the greatest gifts that I am part of their lives. In my mind, this can't be happening because they are simply "not those people."

The thing is, "those people" is not a derogatory designation in my mind. My extended family? TOTALLY "those people." If one of my siblings or cousins was diagnosed with cancer, I would be saddened and shocked, but I would be able to accept it. It wouldn't feel so impossible. When Ferrett's stepdad contracted ALS, it was awful, and that he died so quickly from it was terrible and tragic. But while I felt like it was unfair and I was grief-stricken, I never went through this ongoing sense of, "but...this just can't be!"

I'm not quite sure why Rebecca's cancer feels so different from so many other illnesses and tragedies, but I do remember the one other person I felt this way about: my friend Annie, who died of inflammatory breast cancer when she was just 36, the mother of four small children. Annie and Grant were also a family was wonderful and amazing, and the notion that Annie, who worked so hard to feed her family fresh, organic food and lived such a green lifestyle, could have this genetic timebomb within her that mowed through all those good decisions? It just wasn't right! It's been at least 14 years since Annie died, and I still get moments when it pulls me up short.

Because the fact of the matter is, there is no magic that protects any of us. There is no magical good fortune that keeps illness and accident and tragedy at bay. We are, each of us, vulnerable.

I don't know how to end this. It's not a happy entry. I have no deep insight that leads to a positive outlook right now. Do I just fall back on platitudes: hug your loved ones; appreciate life's every moment? The truth is that this is a dark and scary place, and I'm not in a good headspace about it right now. I spent yesterday afternoon cheering on Carolyn and her friends as they got their heads shaved, getting snuggles from Rebecca, and visiting with friends as we all hang on together trying to feel like we are making a difference. And we are, overall. The money raised goes to research that will help kids in the future, just as the money raised a decade ago and more went to the research that has led to developments that are giving Rebecca a good chance of beating this.

But each of us, in the moment, is just clinging to each other against the cold, howling winds of chance. We stick together for comfort and support. And right now all I can think about is Thursday, when we will be there with Rebecca's parents to hear the verdict once again. I believe right now that it will be fine, that the MRI will be clear. But believing it and knowing it are two different things, and we won't know until then.

[User Picture]From: blessedrelease
2014-03-17 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. There is nothing I can say except that I hear you and it's not fair.
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[User Picture]From: fountaingirl
2014-03-17 04:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. <3
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2014-03-17 05:56 pm (UTC)
That really sucks, and I am sorry.
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2014-03-17 06:02 pm (UTC)
So sorry to hear this. I will keep all of you in my prayers.
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2014-03-17 11:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, even though we know none of us is getting out of this life alive, it still comes as a shock when somebody we know passes on. I have never had that feeling you express, of thinking a particular person was in a different category than others. I've lost a lot of folks, including mom, grandmother, and two of my best friends, as well as a lot of other friends and acquaintances. The older you get, the more people start dropping off the edge of the path.

My philosophy is always that things have a meaning and purpose, even though most of the time we can't know exactly what that is. Life is too complicated. I know when my husband had colon cancer, we ended up concluding that it's silly to ask, "Why me?" So now we try to ask, "Why NOT me?"

Life is mostly ugly, most of the time. The moments when we find beauty and love are exceptions, but they are bright enough to light us the rest of the way. I think our job is to create as many of those moments as we can.
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[User Picture]From: meyerweb.com
2014-03-18 05:22 am (UTC)
We are all those people.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-03-19 01:08 am (UTC)
Yes, alas, we are.
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[User Picture]From: wednes
2014-03-19 05:55 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is immense and terrifying. The pain and helplessness must be overwhelming.
My best wishes to all of you.
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