Thursday, 9 August 2007

On broken cancer bracelets

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I like to find meaning in ordinary life events. Like my dreams, for example. The other day, I had a dream about a friend from high school. In my dream, this friend was a doctor at my local hospital, where all my cancer poking and prodding takes place. It makes sense this guy was a doctor -- last I heard from him, he was in medical school. Where he practices medicine, I had no idea. But maybe my dream was a clue. Maybe it was sign this old pal is right here in Gainesville, Florida.

Nope. I did a Google search and he's in Ohio -- right where we graduated from high school and he attended medical school. Not so much meaning in that dream. That's OK. I'm on to my next life interpretation now.

Ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer my brother-in-law has been wearing a pink bracelet -- the one that says: Share Beauty. Spread Hope. For almost three whole years, the same rubbery band has been hanging from his wrist. Everyone in my family started out with one of these trinkets of support. And every one of us has since abandoned our pink fashion statement -- everyone except for Jack. He has stood firm in his support. I'm not sure he ever took that thing off. What a guy.

The other day, Jack's pink bracelet broke. It snapped right in half, from what I hear. Without delay, Jack called me. "Hey, do you have another pink bracelet?" he asked. I told him I did. I gave it to him the next day. And now, after barely missing a beat, he's appropriately decked out in pink once again.

So maybe Jack's commitment to his bracelet kept me strong in my commitment to fight breast cancer. We've both held strong for almost three years. Maybe this is no coincidence. Maybe we are in on this together. Maybe the snapping of the bracelet symbolizes something eerie -- will I experience a breakdown in my health? I don't think so. But if this is the case, I hope I bounce back as quickly as Jack replaced his jewelry.

I prefer to think of the snapped bracelet as merely a testament to how we handle challenges in life. I like to think I accept my challenges head-on. I admit I usually must process a bit of anxiety with each one, but I tend to come out on top. Just like Jack. Give him a broken bracelet and he handles the set-back with speed and ease.

Perhaps the bracelet break is a reminder that we can only be super strong for so long. There comes a time when we must let go a bit, take a break from always standing tall, accept that it's alright to be weak now and then, and allow others to lend a helping hand.

I suppose there are many interpretations I might concoct from this little snippet of life. They may or may not have any validity. But they keep me thinking, keep me analyzing, keep me reflecting a disease that no one can completely figure out.

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