But my aunt — the one I grew up next door to, the one who drove me home from school every day — has a rare incurable cancer that’s going to take her from us sooner than later, and we are all devastated. Honestly, I can’t rein it in. Not this time.
If there’s one thing I learned when I had cancer, it’s that you need your family and friends most of all at times like these, so I went to the hospital to visit her. I brought along a drawing of flowers that my sixth grader had made for her, and a “Cancer Card,” created with my seventh grader, that grants its bearer the right to use it whenever and wherever she needs to “you know, play the Cancer Card.” The first one made her tear up. The second one made her laugh.
The whole heart-wrenching ordeal reminds me of a hike we took during a recent trip to Mohonk Mountain House (Thanks, Mom!), when I got in over my head on a “trail” (really, just a lot of harrowingly steep rocks) called the Labrynth. Somehow, I’d pictured it as a maze made from hedges leading to a leisurely walk up to the tower that overlooks the lake and the hotel, so I agreed to go along with my husband and the boys. Instead, it was, for me anyhow, a too-tough climb in bare-treaded sneakers, relying on weakened muscles that have only started to work out after months of sitting it out — doctor’s orders. Unfortunately, once my family was into it, there was no turning back.
I was going to end this post with some clever, sweet and funny ending. But just as I started to write it, smack dab in the middle of my the sentence, my oncologist called with good news: The semi-annual PET scan I had yesterday was clear. No cancer…again.
So, on behalf of my family — a bunch of Jersey people — I will instead let Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band say it for me: