Cancer gifts
Months of planning and praying led to this moment. The moment when I get to say “Okay I am ready to go!”
To go where you ask?
On an amazing journey, one brought to you by cancer, specifically Breast cancer.
See 2 and a half years ago I found a weird lump in my armpit. I thought it was an infection. So did everyone else. Instead, it was cancer. Cancer that started as Stage IIIb and then seemed to be elsewhere.
A bad diagnosis.
For me, and how I lived, it meant a fight. Hard, fist punching, life altering, jump-all-the-way-in fight.
Another family battle, one waged with some ragged travelers from another fight – my husband’s brain injury – but a team that was willing to step into the battle, albeit a bit uncertain.
We find ourselves in the calm after the storm, which we refer to as the recovery phase of this unfortunate experience. And this phase has at times been harder than the fighting phase. This phase has required patience that I don’t have, sleep that I don’t get and trust that has been badly bruised.
But it is here.
Once I leaned in a bit, I found others in this phase as well. And an opportunity to LIVE presented itself.
To pay for a trip to Italy and to get on the plane to fly to Italy are two very different things. The first is such an abstract concept.
The second is reality.
We (the we being my eldest child Mariah) and I arrived in a place where we did not speak the language, but didn’t care. We got lost in the airport, stuck in the train station, but none of it mattered.
We are here on our first leg of this journey – in Paris.
Our apartment is on Rue Rambateau, in a lovely area of Paris filled with shops and tiny streets, people speaking languages of all types around us, walking by and greeting us with an occasional Bonjour.
It’s almost too much to describe.
Because we arrive mid day, we stay up and walk. Look for small café to get some food and something to drink. Small tables and chairs, crammed next to one another, so you are almost sitting in your neighbors lap – such a contradiction to the large open seating of the US.
We are offered menus in English, but Mariah and I have found that we can figure out the food, directions and requests from those we greet fairly well. It comes from small smatterings of Spanish and French understanding, but ever better, those we meet care to communicate with us, and even if the languages are not the same, the intent is.
People are people.
The couple next to us smile and laugh as their dessert is brought to the table – we notice as well. We smile and exclaim over its deliciousness, and they ask where we are from.
“Minnesota – where are you from?”
“Brazil” is their answer. This gentleman (who’s name I will never remember) began to talk of this great business in Brazil, many people work there as he did. He says it is located in Minnesota, have you every heard of 3M?
My heart skipped a beat at the mention of the place where my Dad worked for over 30 years. I have been thinking of him and this journey over the last few weeks, knowing that he knew I was going, and that he would have had so many suggestions of things to see and do. I miss him so.
To hear his company mentioned less than 2 hours after we arrive in Paris makes me feel like he is here with us – it was his way to say “Have fun and bring me a croissant!”
He sure would have loved to see us here.
As we finish our meal and we begin to walk through narrow streets with shops for everything, I silently wonder to myself where one would purchase cat litter? Or printer ink? How does that work in this strange place?
Mariah laughs, telling me that if I lived here I would probably know that information.
The motorcycles zipping by, cars, honking and moving around people, so many sights and smells different from where my life is.
Experiences I can thank to a dreaded cancer diagnoses.
What will tomorrow bring?
The plan for these 10 days for me is to realign my life. Even now, it feels like cancer has a hold on parts of my life, and I want to just reset, regroup, and move on. To do that, I am spending these 10 days enjoying every moment I can – with my daughter, absorbing everything we can find, see, hear, smell and taste.
The goal will be an immersion into life, a completely different life, that focuses on living. Finding things each day, that bring joy to my heart. This reset will be brought home to use in my day-to-day life, and I hope that you find yourself able to shift your thinking to the positive.
Although life may bring us tough times, hard moments, and fearful anticipation of many times in our lives, we do not have to “live” with them. They are moments, just like the good one.
If you surround yourself with the good, the bad is just a piece of a great life.

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