J Walking

A very moving interview with her in Newsweek can be found here. Of the many things that touched me deeply was this question:

Let’s talk about what I think a lot of cancer survivors think of as being almost harder than the physical pain: the emotional cost.

And her answer:

When I was first diagnosed, I was going to beat this. I was going to be the champion of cancer. And I don’t have that feeling now. The cancer will eventually kill me. It’s going to win this fight. I come from a family of women who live into their 90s, so it’s taken something real from me. There was a time during the day when we were getting test results when I felt more despair than I ever felt in any of the time I had the breast cancer. I have a lot that I intend to do in this life. We’re here at the house. I’m going to build paths through these woods so we can take long walks that I intended to take when I was 80. And I have a 6-year-old son. I was going to hold his children someday. Now I’m thinking I have only a slim chance of seeing him graduate high school. How do I accomplish, in what time I’ve got left, all that I’m meant to do? I’m writing a letter to my kids. It gives them something to hold on to and because you’ve got to butt yourself into their lives even after you’re gone.

When I first read it I felt overwhelming sadness for her – the heartbreak of the loss already acknowledged. Of course I thought of myself too and wondered about my future and my young children and my beautiful bride. But then something else – being struck by her bold revelation to live. She isn’t, as she says later in the interview, living with the covers over her head. She is living. And she brings to mind a favorite quote of mine from Jonathan Swift, “May you live all the days of your life.”

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