Living on the edge

Undeniable wisdom from a friend who knows

My friend and I were standing in the school corridor in the midst of talking and pushing children and parents. In this morning ritual we’d say hello and exchange a few –normally jokey- stories. My friend who had been in remission of cancer last year, was yet again fighting this horrible disease. But because she had such positive news recently, I unwittingly asked her how things were.

No matter what they say, stuff them, I’m going for a cure….

“Got a second opinion”, she said, “the specialist told me that chemo will start soon and that I have 5 years”. It hit me unexpectedly hard in the stomach. I hesitated, desperately looking for something wise or clever to say, but nothing came. The kids were pulling us along into the classroom and I uttered: “When did this happen….you had such good news last time?” “I’m going for a cure. No matter what she says. Stuff ‘m”. Still reeling from the unexpected turn of events and kicking myself hard inside for asking this question, I said “how are you coping?” “I am keeping busy, I feel good, I keep going…because if I don’t, I will start crying and I will probably never stop”.

Denial to acknowledge signs of change…

My friend told me on many occasions that her ordeal was most definitely the result of a perpetual denial in her life to acknowledge the signs to make a change. Cancer had hit her like a hard rugby ball in the stomach, or the bowels to be precise. The part of your body unprotected by bones, the part that is supposed to process and distribute energy. Her doctor had been lacks to act even though she knew there was something wrong. Eventually she ended up in the medical merry-go-round of treatments. By the summer she had been a miracle on legs, surviving an illness that would have been fatal to any other normal woman. The autumn scan revealed yet again more trouble.

I’m living on the edge of life…

Everyone should have the privilege to speak to my friend. You will be hard pressed to find a person stronger or someone who is shining brighter than her. She is living on the edge, fighting every minute to control her mind which could easily derail into a land of self-pity, depression or complete and utter rage.

She must have her moments, but most of the time I see a beautiful woman with energy and determination. Someone who is full of life. “I’m on the edge of life”, she told me once. Without time to be complacent, she makes it look like an exhilarating place to be.

Dead Souls

“I’m never going to work like I worked before”, she told me another time, with the same steely made-up-her-mind conviction. “When I see people rushing in the morning, I see dead souls heading nowhere”.

We faithfully promise each other not to be like that. Life is decision, mostly enjoyed when you step out of the way of yourself. Acknowledge your gifts, your talents; no circumstance should deny you the opportunity to let those shine. My friend is an example of it. Not a patient, but a defiant woman showing the world what she’s made of.

Making myself better

I see my friend bounce off home. We both laugh ready to face another day. Again she’s put a smile on my face and made me think. “I see things differently, now”, she said. “Quite possibly, without listening to myself, without loving myself and always living in the fast lane, I might have been a contributing factor to my illness.

But, you know what? That means that I can also be a contributing factor in making myself better”.


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