Sunday, August 10, 2014
Day 30 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
Here I am, one month after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
I have started chemotherapy.
Today’s silver lining: I woke up to an email from Tammy Strobel, a writer/photographer who blogs over at RowdyKittens, welcoming me to her summer e-course Everyday Magic: How to Capture Creative Images with your Camera.
Tammy takes beautiful photographs. My favorites are of Siskiyou County, where I grew up in California. They make me feel like I’m not so far away from friends and family that still live there.
I’ve love taking Tammy’s e-courses. She’s a terrific teacher. She has a knack for creating a no-pressure virtual classroom, and she’s endlessly positive and encouraging. I’ve written about Tammy’s classes before, here and here.
Signing up for this class was different.
This time, I signed up for Tammy’s e-course after I was diagnosed with cancer.
Some experiences, good or bad, are so powerful they segment your life. Like someone took a big black marker and drew a vertical line down your memory.
From then on every moment, good or bad, falls on the before side or the after side.
Signing up for Tammy’s class was the first time I dared to make plans after being diagnosed with cancer.
Before being diagnosed I made plans casually.
Sure, I can come to your kid’s birthday party. Sure, I can meet you for lunch. Sure, we’ll catch up at Christmas when the family is all together.
Barring an unforeseen accident, I had no reason to think I wouldn’t be available to do any or all of these things.
That all changed on July 9, 2014.
For nearly a month, I hung in a terrible limbo where I wasn’t sure if I was going to live or die.
I pulled myself out of bed each morning with only my next blog post in mind, like a night swimmer feeling their way from buoy to buoy, desperately trying not to drown.
Projecting even as far as my next doctor’s appointment, usually just a few days away, was a stretch.
I was overwhelmed by utter fear and panic each time I tried to make future plans. My heart would race and my hands would start to shake.
If I thought of the kids’ first day of school, or Christmas, or next summer the thought was in terms of already being dead.
At random times, like while making dinner, I’d suddenly burst into tears because I pictured my family weeping at my funeral, or because I caught myself hoping that my husband’s next wife would be able to give him more children.
The future was something that existed for other people.
For me was a black void that I dared not think about.
One July morning Justin caught me mooning over Tammy’s webpage for her summer photography e-course. He asked what I was looking at.
“Tammy has an e-course. But it doesn’t start until August.” I tried to sound more casual than I felt.
After almost sixteen years, Justin is very good at hearing what I’m not saying.
“Will it make you happy?” he asked.
“I don’t know if I should.”
“If it’ll make you happy, do it.”
I looked at August eleventh on the calendar. It was a date deep in the void.
Surely I’ll live long enough to see a five week e-course through, I thought. Right?
Stepping out into that blackness made me want to vomit, but step I did.
Signing up for Tammy’s photography class was the first time I dared to look ahead after being diagnosed. It was the first tiny dot of light that appeared in a very long and dark tunnel.
Since then, other dots of light have joined it, but that one decision, choosing to live in spite of cancer, will always make this class special to me.
I’m looking forward to a new adventure with Tammy and learning to take photos for my blog.
If you are interested, you can take one of Tammy’s e-courses, too. Just click here and sign up.
What have you got to lose?
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!