Her name was Mary. I caught her out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting for instructions from the young volunteer organizing our event. Mary stood with authority, with certainty, with mastery and a gigantic smile as if this were the most important thing in her life. I turned quickly to see the full form of this powerful presence in my peripheral vision. The teal colored glasses, pink baseball cap and a jovial voice gave me every sign that she didn’t care if the world approved; she was comfortable in her own skin. Something about that gave me comfort and I didn’t even know her. But WOW!
The eight of us survivors gathered on a bright glorious Sunday afternoon to throw out 8 unanimous first pitches. It was the first time I dared to mingle with other cancer survivors. Until now, I would just prefer to wipe the dust off my feet, clip the apron strings and move on from this horrible frightening world of the unknown. Something deep down said that if I hang out with these people who live with the same threat to their bodies that I live with, then I will never really live again. I’ll be stuck in this pit of sickness.
How can you live with a gun pointing at you all the time? If I get stressed, maybe it will come back. That makes me run for cover and avoid people who walk with flailing arms. If exercising is supposed to be cancer fighting, can you tell me what will happen if I’m too tired or don’t get to it? Does that mean I die? Ridicules thoughts… I know!!! Mary doesn’t think they are so ridicules though, because she has them too.
In fact, Mary is a 4 time survivor. She was told just 3 years ago that she only had 1 year to live. She laughs at the thought of not buying green bananas for that first year. She had to slowly convince herself that it was okay to buy toilet paper in bulk after the second year rolled on by and not a cancer cell could be found anywhere in her body. Her triple negative breast cancer had previously metastasized to her lungs… but no sign of cancer today. She said, “I am learning to live again,” as our conversation moved to the dugout while we waited for our signal to walk on the field.
I realized that the eight of us are playing on the same team and it’s time I get to know other survivors. Who else but my team would want to know the play by play details of the survival game? They can hear the same cheering or the same booing depending on the latest blood work up. These gals know what’s it’s like to wonder if IT will welcome back and they are not afraid to whisper it from their silent screaming voices. Thank you God , that I can be okay in my uncomfortable skin while in their presence.
We won the baseball game that day.