We got the biopsy report, and Diana has breast cancer.

There was some good news--the lump is small, it's not an aggressive type of cancer, and it looks like it will respond well to certain chemotherapies.  And there was some bad news--there is a possibility that it is infiltrating another area of her breast that would make a full mastectomy advisable.  So more tests, more waiting.

We are canceling our honeymoon plans, since surgery is likely next week sometimes.

Yson burst into sobs when he heard.  Eson kept a stiff upper lip.  Many people called as the news spread.  We have met some wonderful people here, and they are reaching out.

Diana keeps saying "I'm sorry."  We're all sorry.  She has been so responsible, hyper-responsible in her life.  It's hard for her not to take responsibility for the cancer, to see it as a judgment.  If only she'd taken more vitamins, or whatever.  I fear I'm impatient with that attitude, but she has to work it through.  It's hard to help someone who is so responsible...

One of the many ironies that keeps intruding into my thoughts was how worried I was before we were married that I was playing the role of "rescuer" in her life--coming in with my high-tech income and sweeping her away from a life of poverty and overwork.  Well, the sweeping away was certainly more complete than we had planned--away with her job, her house, her parents, her friends.  And the strain of a cross-continent move.  But the rescue part certainly doesn't seem to have panned out...

Another irony is that I am writing this on my father's birthday, which is also the day he died.  Of cancer.  As my mother did.  He was in denial--never made a will, despite being in and out of the hospital for months.  And I'm now older than either of them were when they died.

Diana's family has no history of cancer.

I attribute my own relative good health to an attitude of embracing health and life, rather than avoiding disease.  While Diana lives an exemplary life (exercises regularly, watches her weight, takes tons of vitamins and calcium, uses sunscreen, etc.) and looks wonderful for it, to me it seems that much of this is based more on a fear of getting sick than embracing life.  And fear draws the things you fear to you.  I eat too much and exercise too little, but feel wonderful.  My fear is that she will divide herself--in an urge to thrust the cancer away from her, she will not get the message her body is sending her.  But I can't walk that walk for her--I can only hold out my hand and walk with her on this journey.  And manage my own fears, so they do not draw what I fear to me.

A few years ago, being alone would have been my biggest fear.  But living in my house in the mountains, I found a lot of peace in being alone.  And knowing that I can live alone freed me to enter marriage out of joy rather than fear.  I love Diana and would be exceptionally sad if the cancer takes her from me, physically or emotionally.  But my love of life is still strong, and I would go on and find other joys and other paths.  It's a comfort to me that this is so.

I struggle with how much of this to share with her.  Can I say to her: "Tell me about that part of you that thinks your life is over now that you don't need to struggle to raise your boys alone."  I do believe in unconditional love, and she could well feel criticized if I say this.  And yet I do believe these are the questions she needs to be asking herself.  And it's hard to sit by and bite my tongue.  But right now, she is focused on getting rid of the lump.  Perhaps that has to happen before the bigger questions have room in her mind.

I know she has a strong spark of passionate love of life.  I need to find it in the midst of her fears, and fan it.  I pray for the strength to do this.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2002 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.