On Glowing through Tough Days

I am sitting in the waiting room of Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, as my best friend Diane goes through day twenty-one of radiation. She went in smiling and laughing with the nurse…I wasn’t a bit surprised- Diane has approached this challenge as she does all others, with optimism and humor. Each and every day, she posts an inspiring photo, often tinged with humor, to share her experience in the hopes of encouraging someone going through the same thing.  

 Here was today’s post, an homage to radiation…
As I look around the room, I see that cancer has touched people of all ages. A woman was here with her husband and two daughters, an old couple filling out paperwork on their first visit, joking and poking with an obviously long-standing routine; another old couple, the woman’s bald head covered with a wrap as she leaves her treatment. Black, white, young, old…cancer is an equal opportunity disease. There is a sense of hope in the room, and also, perhaps, resignation. I feel myself tearing up as my heart aches for them. Cancer has touched those I love too many times. 

Diane is in her second battle with cancer in five years- the first time colon cancer, and now breast cancer.  I lost my first love to cancer, my sister to lung cancer, my brother has battled cancer for ten years now (a lung tumor that metastasized, fourteen brain tumors, an adrenal gland tumor, and prostrate cancer…he is still going), my father and oldest brother had prostrate cancer, my Aunt Sara had a brain tumor, my Aunt Robbie died from lung cancer, my ‘Jewish Mom’ Eleanor, died last year from cancer…the list goes on. I pray every day that a cure will be found to keep other people from having to fight the battle, from their loved ones having to watch as they go through the fear and side effects of treatment. 

I am so grateful to be here with Diane. I so wish that I could make the cancer in her body magically go away, but I can’t. What I can do is to listen to her, laugh with her, help her with the things she will let me do while I’m here. Today we will rehearse for our upcoming duo tour- something that I hope gives her something positive to work toward and look forward to.  Anything I can do to take her mind off of the radiation countdown, the worry, the “what if’s”, will make me happy. She inspires me every day with her courage, her dignity in the face of this challenge, and her desire to help others by sharing her story. Some people crumble under the weight of challenge and fear, people like Diane only become stronger. 

When she is done with radiation, we will set out into this rainy day to leave it all behind for a while, laughing at the silly things as we always do, playing our clarinets, resting when the fatigue hits her as it does every day. She is my sister in life, and I will do anything I can to help and encourage her. And I will cheer her on as she kicks cancer’s ass yet again. 


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