Last night we had a few friends over to our house as well
as my dad and step-mom. My step-mom, Donna, was diagnosed a few years
ago with Lung Cancer and since her diagnosis has had multiple rounds of
chemo and radiation to fight it off. Where her tumor is located is
inoperable however the chemo had helped to keep it from continuing to
grow and allow her for a few months to do Optivo to which she stopped
because it was starting to effect other organs.
She took a 4
month hiatus from any treatment because the tumor had shown signs of no
further growth and the Optivo was only negatively affecting her body. If
you had looked at her, you would never in a million years known she was
facing that battle.
A few weeks ago, they did a PET scan which
revealed the cancer had spread to other areas, Stage 4 and so she
immediately started treatment again. Cancer can leave you in a state of
devastation. It can be a thief and challenge you to your knees.
mom had breast cancer and since treatment has been clear of it for this
past few years. My step-dad was recently diagnosed and just finished a
month of treatment and is prepping for surgery in Indianapolis to remove
what’s remaining of his tumor. Donna’s journey is one that there is no
roadmap and one of constant faith, prayer and making some tough daily
mental decisions of how one chooses to live each and every moment.
can’t imagine what that must be like nor will I even try to but what I
do know is that yesterday I saw through my dining room window, a woman
with a shaved head step out of her car in a beautiful leopard dress,
with a stunning turquoise necklace and her face of perfection with
stunning red lips. I was mesmerized. I thought to myself, F**K You
Cancer. In front of me was the most badass warrior of a woman who was
showing up for herself in spit of uncertainty swirling around her.
was inspired. I wanted to capture that look and that energy so I
grabbed my camera while Cole was wheeling around the house with his
little scooter. In that moment, the past and the future didn’t exist and
all that we had was that moment and I truly felt that in every ounce of
my soul. A picture can capture that moment more so than anything else.
In that moment I saw what Derek Walcott had described in his poem “Love
After Love”. I saw a women before me who was embracing with
courageousness her own life on her own terms:
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
told me at dinner that she felt so tired (which I would NEVER had
known) but that she had promised herself that at 3:30PM she was going to
be at our house; she was going to show up for herself. That to me is
what life is all about. When you show up for yourself in-spite of your
hardships and struggles, that flame is powerful enough to be the spark
that helps light the world.