Monday, January 24, 2011

From the Heart

The word courage comes from the Latin cor or heart.
Because I grew up in a military family, many of my male high school classmates went to West Point, and then to Viet Nam. Twelve years ago, I reconnected with my high school sweetheart and learned he'd been awarded The Bronze Star for "heroic service" in Nam. When I asked him to describe the events leading to the medal, he said "I don't think of myself as a hero. I wasn't feeling courageous. I just did what I had to do."

That's what it was like for me, as I moved from a "suspicious" mammogram to an MRI and biopsy, to bilateral mastectomy all within a two-week period. I just did what I had to do. As have many of you, I always wondered if I would be frightened by life-threatening circumstances. I was not, and so I don't feel "brave" or "amazing" as others have suggested.

Last week I went to my first breast cancer support group meeting, and the other women there said their experience was similar to mine. 

It's like driving in a heavy rainstorm late at night. You'd rather be home by a cozy fire, but you're on full alert, every sense attuned to what's happening in your immediate environment. You don't have time to be afraid.