She knew the prognosis wasn't good and she didn't want to die. Her father told her a Japanese legend that said if you folded one thousand paper cranes you would be granted a wish. She began furiously folding cranes.
I was told in the support group that if cancer didn't kill you, it changed you forever. I didn't believe it. It was too mythic, too sentimental, a TV illness of the week. You've seen the movie. To my surprise I discover that the myth reflects truth.
At a retreat for parents of children with brain tumor and neuroblastoma, a group of us discuss alternative treatments. One parent mentions vitamins, another brings up curcumin. I mention our foray into the pot club.
Conventional medicine advises that we start getting annual mammograms at age 40. And yet, as I have come to understand, mammograms have a difficult time detecting cancer in small, dense, young breast tissue.
What does it mean to be a survivor? And I'm not talking about outsmarting a bunch of other people on an island in the South Pacific. I'm talking surviving something that you're not supposed to. In my case, it was cancer.
I thought to myself that if Bobby, a senior in high school, a young man with his whole life in front of him, wasn't asking "why," then I had no right to do so. Instead, I told myself I would find a purpose, a purpose for this brain tumor.
We all fear radiation yet life depends on it. We each are radioactive, living on a radioactive planet, in a radioactive solar system, in a radioactive universe, in a radioactive galaxy. Radiation can both kill us and cure us.
I didn't really write much about the earthquake the month after it happened because after the initial shock, I didn't know how much it would change me or my life. I've only just started getting used to buildings rumbling due to large trucks.
Twenty-seven years have passed, and I'm still enjoying the miracle of being alive every day. I contribute it to a healthier lifestyle and organizing my priorities in life. I learned that accumulating possessions at our health expense are only useless.