Punchy Mommy Believes in Life

How I evicted the worst uninvited overnight guest and took back my life

The grand finale

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February 1st, my two-year-cancer-free anniversary was fast approaching. In like a lion, out like a lamb. This was the BIG milestone. The date we all held our breath for. There are no reported recurrences of this type of tumor after two years of remission. That means that I have every reason to believe that I will remain cancer free. Forever.

On the one hand I was feeling relieved and elated, finally, finally I can put this behind me, while on the other I was feeling cautious and not wanting to pop the cork before the clock struck 12. But I could sense a shift. I could feel that this whole episode, this saga, this utterly complicated soap opera, was finally over. The curtain closed, the orchestra packed up and and the last audience member had left the building. All I could see were a few of the maintenance crew quietly sweeping the floors and turning out the lights.

February 3rd was my last scan. I scheduled it as close to my two-year anniversary as I could. Hi Miz Wizeman, is there any chance we can move your scan on February 3rd? No! absolutely not. This is one appointment that cannot be changed. I waited long enough for this one. As the day approached, I still wasn’t sure how I should feel. Then, the night before, I got an email from a best friend.

…I just want to wish you lots of good luck! When you’re being scanned just know this is the after picture, the glam shot. This is better than any make-over shot, better than an “I just had my braces off picture,”  better than “I just went from B cups to D cups,” this is the ultimate picture of health! So don’t forget to smile 😉

I realized then, that I didn’t need words or feelings for those have long been exhausted. All I needed to do was smile and take a bow. I am cancer-free.

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Punchy Mommy Live!

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My blog post, Let’s Pretend To Be Normal, was chosen among hundreds of pieces to be published in the 2014 Visible Ink Anthology. Visible Ink is a writing program through Memorial Sloan Kettering where participants are paired with professional writer-mentors. The pairs work together on any writing project of the participant’s choosing. The goal of the program is to “promote creativity, stress reduction, and personal empowerment for people diagnosed with cancer.” My blog post was chosen along with 25 others to be performed live by professional actors, dancers, and singers. The night after the event I wrote an email to the Founder and Team Leader of Visible Ink…

Hi Judith:

I’m still buzzing from Monday night’s event. I have to say that I was totally blown away. It was awesome seeing my piece performed live. The scene I wrote about is still a vivid memory, but to have the opportunity to see and feel it once again was quite amazing. I was astounded at the care and delicacy in the interpretation that each of the pieces received. Your team, the actors, the dancers, and the vocalists clearly dedicated much time and effort in order to craft such beautiful and artful interpretations. The music, dancing, singing, and spoken word were so, so moving. I thought my piece, in its written form, perfectly conveyed my feelings but to my amazement the live performance really drove it home.

Judith, what I am even more grateful for was the opportunity to participate in an event that doesn’t celebrate the nonsense of “heroism” or “survivorship” or “bravery” of cancer because I feel none of those things. To me, Monday’s event felt like a public grieving. It was like a collective “hmmmm, I feel you.” A group hug, an acknowledgment of what I’ve been through and how terrible it was. It was humane and it felt real. I’ve learned that every stage of cancer is in some way isolating. All I ever want is to be near another warm body. Near someone who doesn’t forget who I am as a person and doesn’t treat me like I’m fragile or weak. Facing these fears, feelings, and emotions is so hard but on Monday, it felt like we all confronted them together.

It was just beautiful.

Click here for the video.

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