Bravery Session

This past summer I had a couple of speaking engagements at Relay for Life events in Highlands, NC. I shared my cancer story at one of them, and afterwards a woman named Marcy approached me, asking me to come to a cancer support group meeting in Gainesville, GA. She is the spunky lady who coordinates the group, and apparently invites most of those in attendance. She felt my story might encourage some of those still in the battle.
Yesterday, I finally got to check out the Women Surviving Cancer Support Group. They meet one Saturday each month for about an hour and a half for lunch and fellowship. I met an amazing group of people, all touched by cancer. Some still actively in the fight, some, like me, survivors. October is festival month around North Georgia and yesterday’s weather was glorious, so it wasn’t a large group. That didn’t matter, because I felt an instant connection with those in attendance.
I have compared the bond cancer patients have as similar to the one mother’s have. When you are a new mom, your conversations in the line at the grocery store change. There is no embarrassment in discussing childhood constipation or wetting the bed, or any other formerly off limits issue with another mom. Being with other cancer patients is like that. We can talk freely and easily about the crazy things others have told us to do to cure our cancer. (Did you know that if you take a spoonful of honey with some baking powder it will kill all your cancer cells?) We openly shared our experiences with chemo brain, and I was relieved to know I was not the only one who ended up on a road without knowing how I got there or how to get home. We could laugh about not being able to find the right word and playing guessing games with others to get them to understand us. One woman was facing upcoming tests with bravery. Another just had a bad report. Some of us were past the five year mark, others were just months out from treatment. There was one brave man in attendance…he lost his wife to the disease, and as her caretaker he wants to raise awareness and support of ovarian cancer patients. The discussion ranged from how we found our various different types of cancer, to a little known fact that you can take your own crystal light mix for your CT scan so you don’t have to suffer through a bad flavor of the dye you have to drink. (I wish I had known that before now.) We talked about God’s miracles, and doctor’s treatments. It was a wonderful time to be with those who get what you have been through…I mean really get it.
What I SAW yesterday, was what courage looks like. It comes in different ages, shapes, and sizes. It has different faces. Different viewpoints. Different ways of coping. Bravery is contagious when so much of it is concentrated in one room…and courage feeds hope. Hope is an essential part of any journey through Cancerland. Under the surface, there is a quiet determination in the face of life threatening circumstances, which stays with you beyond the cancer journey. It is love of life. It bubbles up and tells you to fight. It is what allows you to sit in a chemo chair, endure unending tests, and live fully despite the fear that is a constant in the back of your brain. Life. Yesterday in a room of people who have looked death in the eye, and one who is within its grasp…but even in that I SAW life. Passion. Desire. The hunger to live, which outweighs everything that comes against it. It is what makes those who walk this road strong…even in their weakest moments. Even when survival may not be an option.
Courage. Bravery. Hope. Love. Passion. Faith. Desire. Hunger. All add up to Life. A room full of it. A powerful testimony that cancer does not end life, but magnifies it.
If you are in the Gainesville, GA area and would like to participate in a Bravery Session with other cancer survivors the website is http://www.ngwsc.webs.com if you want more information. Or just send me a note and I will get you the details.

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