The details of certain awful moments stay fresh in your memory, such as where you were and what you were doing when the planes hit the World Trade Centers on the morning of 9/11/2001.
For me, one of those painful moments occurred on a Tuesday morning in 1990. Twenty years ago today, my oncologist walked into my hospital room and gently told me I had cancer.
This anniversary stirs two main emotions.
(1) I feel indescribable gratitude for:
- landing on the good side of bad statistics
- receiving expert and compassionate medical care
- having insurance and access to all available treatments
- being supported by friends, family, my rabbi, strangers
- the unwavering love and many sacrifices of my husband
- discovering my abilities to write and speak professionally, and the opportunities to use them to help others
(2) I feel humbled by the great mystery of my survivorship. In the course of my 20-years-and-still-counting journey, I've lost friends and family -- many of whom were diagnosed after me. I can only wonder why Wendy Schlessel Harpham is still walking, talking, writing, speaking, eating, loving and...living. Why me?
Today, with both gratitude and wonder I honor those who have helped me and the memories of those who have gone before me, consciously choosing to embrace life each day. And I recommit to fulfilling my obligation to my survivorship by doing whatever I can to help others become Healthy Survivors.
L'chaim! To Life!