My husband and I were having one of those conversations a couple who has been together a while have after a year like the one I’ve had.
Me: I will be so happy to see 2011 go! 2011 has NOT been nice to me.
Him: What do you mean, “not been nice” to you?
Me: Well, 2011 gave me cancer.
Him: But look how lucky you are! You got breast cancer! At least it is a cool cancer that gets attention, not like, let’s say, toe cancer.
Me: You know what, you are right! There are no parades for toe cancer!
And this is how it’s gone for me these last few days of 2011. I will be glad to see it go. It and its sister, 2010, have not been kind in terms of my health and well being. 2011 has been especially cruel–where 2010 had me in the hospital more for more than a month total, 2011 has biopsied, removed, replaced, or revised all of my lady parts. Not so nice, I must say. However, I am thankful for my life, for the friends I’ve made along the way on this journey toward remission from cancer. Throw out the sexiness of breast cancer–what it breaks down to is that I am a two time cancer survivor. The stage, grade, ER/PR status, the BRCA + or — all boils down to the same thing–cancer. Some are better, some are worse, but cancer is the kind of disease that people whispered in olden days (and still in some circles) as to not bring an evil eye onto themselves. One of those diseases that really causes dis-ease in everyone involved in the diagnosis–from immediate family members to acquaintances that just don’t know what to say so they avert their eyes from your gaze in hopes they don’t have to ask you how you are doing.
Last night I decided I needed to escape Cancerland for just an evening. A local shul was having it’s yearly Chanukah party, and I have a little boy that was just itching to go. We entered together, and he asked if he could take off and find his friends. Who was I to say no? I wanted to find my own friends, my husband was working and I needed to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while. I found my little clique and sat down. Soon the music started and people got up to dance. No mixed dancing–these were traditional Jewish wedding circle dances, like the Hora. My neshama (soul) was stirred. Dancing wasn’t usually a good choice for me–I have herniated myself dancing too hard (literally), and I am physically fragile right now. But something about the holiday of Chanukah, being out of the house at a social event, the conversation about the parade for toe cancer spoke to me. I got up and joined hands with women I didn’t know–and it didn’t matter. For once in a long time, I wasn’t a cancer patient. I wasn’t a reconstruction patient. I wasn’t that poor woman with <whisper> that <cancer>. I was just me, dancing, laughing, and connecting with Hashem in a way that only music brings. I was happy.
So, 2011, get out of here and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Yes, I will keep the lessons of the year in my heart–but I am a new person–perhaps because of the magic implants in my chest and the lack of female reproductive parts–and I’m ready to move on from this year. Next year, may we all find solace and healing in our physical beings, our hearts, and our neshemot (souls). May 2012 bring health to all who seek it.