A moment in the history of my life … 4:30 in the afternoon … standing in the aisle of the grocery store … the sun streaming through the store’s windows … my lifeline telephone ringing and vibrating in my jacket pocket … not feeling particularly one hundred percent since the recent lumpectomy on my right breast, where I had found “a bad girl cell invader.”
My wonderful breast cancer surgeon promised me that the minute he had the lab report about my lymph nodes he would call … a promise kept.
“Eileen, your lymph nodes are NEGATIVE, CLEAR,” he said. “The cancer has not reached your lymphatic system. This is great news! Take care, I will see you next week.”
Sobbing with tears of joy in the aisle of the grocery store, shouting at the top of my lungs to my husband who was in the adjoining aisle, “I have negative nodes! I have negative nodes!”
Shoppers starring at this seemingly crazed 60 year old woman who was crying hysterically and then those who realized the moment, were smiling.
As I turned around, a woman who had observed everything, approached me, touched my arm and said, “make good of this time that you have been given. It is a gift.”
That evening I reflected on the days’ events and my life, way back to my youth.
My life has been like a handmade potholder, all the loops made of colored cotton thread. I used to make and sell these potholders when I was young. I sold them for the outrageous price of twenty-five cents. I remember walking up and down the street where I lived to sell them, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells. I even took custom orders for potholders of special colors with unusual designs.
Today my potholder is woven with the weaving loops, all of which are my friends of all backgrounds, ethnicities and religions from all the seasons and years of my life.
My x-ray girlfriends, the brides and their mothers for whom I did the invitations and assisted in planning the joy of their wedding, the houses I sold to people from all walks of life. And now I am building a “sisterhood” of hundreds of women.
I continue to touch base with my girlfriends from all the experiences of my life and it I think of when I was a Brownie Scout. I was flying up to be a Girl Scout and was earning all those badges. My favorite was the Sewing Badge. I had learned how to sew when I was a Girl Scout. It was the beginning of me being a threaded needle.
I think the word sew is the key word in my imagination to link me to the all wonderful women that have come into my life.
I will never forget my Brownie friends, Girl Scout friends, friends from camp, from high school, from my technical training, and all the jobs I have been so fortunate to have held throughout the years.
At this point in my life, I am linked to breast cancer. The women I have met sitting in hospital waiting rooms garbed in their “johnnie gowns” who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and are beginning their journey of going through the tough road of treatment. Biopsies, more surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and perhaps years of medication. Most don’t know what lies ahead of them, and many I have become close to as a breast cancer mentor and women’s wellness advocate.
I am networking all the time to find use of my “Breast Cancer Soap Box.” I will talk breast care prevention to anyone who will listen. I never know where my threaded needle will bring me.
I would never have imagined my becoming a successful author. My book has given me the opportunity to have made hundreds of friends, near and far. From Alaska, China and Canada to California, Minnesota and Maine. The friendships that bind us together are so strong. The nurses, the doctors, the techs, the receptionists, the assistants, my needle and thread weaves its way through all of them, from my youth to the present and brings us together in friendship.
A second chance for life is so precious. It has lead me to reaching hundreds of “sisters” walking the same path and the inspirational humor I have been able give them which has been part of me my entire life. This wonderful sense of humor given to me by another thread, my dad, whose zest for life and engaging ways have been handed down to me.
Carrying my sense of humor and caring for friends and those around me with the positive approach I have for life has made me very strong. Strong enough to be the needle that guides the thread which is stringing my life together.
All reminds me of the song we sang at the end of our Girl Scout meetings: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.”