It’s like a snap of a finger for me, likely most people who have had cancer feel the same as me, you feel an instant connection with any survivor. It just clicks and it doesn’t matter your age, walk of life, religion, or gender. If you think about it, the cancer community kind of has this whole life thing figured out (we don’t discriminate because cancer sure doesn’t).
I have been blessed by this connection. It has brought the most real people in my life and those people are here to stay. Thus being the blessing. I remember a woman coming up to me at the Loft of all places (guilty obsession) and talking to me about cancer and how she was also a survivor, at that time I was easy to pick out because I embraced scarves or hats. That lady and I chatted for probably 40 minutes in the middle of a retail store. We met again a few weeks later at a tissue bank event, instantly hugging because of the instant connection.
Cancer connects survivors together in one of the most magical ways I’ve ever come to know. It’s a bond of sisterhood and brotherhood. It’ll always be a deep unspoken emotional connection where you don’t just know each other’s thoughts, you feel them.
While cancer can take many things, it’ll never take the connections. They are some of the most powerful ones I have ever known. The connection will stop you, make you stand still and then like a soft, firm hug you just feel it. It’s profound. I often times think that there are people who go their whole life without feeling that instant connection and that’s heartbreaking to me. It’s one of the gifts that cancer gives.
I almost feared that connection at the beginning of my journey. I know that sounds odd. I was so afraid of getting closer to other survivors for fear of one of us not making it in the journey that it almost paralyzed me. Today is a much different story. I no longer let that fear stop me. I recently celebrated the life of a survivor who gained her wings and while it’s a punch to the gut unlike any other I’d like to think no one else knows how to celebrate life better. For us, it’s literally staring our worst fear in the face and honoring life in the most profound, uplifting, and respectful way I’ve ever been witness to.
Other survivors understand that while our scars may heal and that our blood counts may normalize and years can pass, we’ll never take another boring, normal day for granted again. I stopped in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an outdoor mall to feel life. I could hear the reindeer hooves, their bells, the laughter of people, a Salvation Army bell ringing, the chatter, the warmth of the sun, yet the crispness of cool air on an unseasonably warm December day. Survivors get this and they relish in it, instant connection.
Cancer is the one thing that I would think most survivors didn’t know could make us feel like we were drowning yet be soft enough to cleanse us and completely deep enough to save us. Cancer saved me from a life of being devoted to work more than I’d care to admit and graced me with deep connections and life balance. Today I care more about creating my life and no longer am I consumed by making a living. Rather I seek those instant connections.
Today I greeted another survivor in the middle of a grocery store with a warm smile and told my story, she shared hers. I reached out so she would know she was not alone. We began to pray in the middle of a bread aisle. We cried and then we hugged. These are the moments I thank god I was graced with cancer, instant connection.
Raise those Cabernet glasses to instant connections unlike any other! Celebrate life, the people in it, and the moments that take our breaths away, those instant connections are so worth it!