I’m going to go out on (a very close to the ground and safe) limb and say that I think if you’re reading my blog, you probably like Michel Martin and her show Tell Me More. If you don’t know Tell Me More, go listen, ’cause again, I’m pretty sure you’ll like her and her show.
Yesterday, she featured a discussion with 3 women who have breast cancer. One of the women, Ann Siberman, has terminal cancer (and she has a blog). Her son is 15, and she’s just hoping that she can make it to his high school graduation. She talked about how in life nothing is guaranteed and that she’s living, but also grieving, grieving those moments she’ll never have, like being there for her son’s wedding or the birth of her grandchildren.
At the end of the show, she gave some advice to women who have just being diagnosed and told them that her story would likely not be theirs and that they should have hope. And, she urges them that once they’ve been healed to move on. I’m including her words here:
Well, I want to talk to newly diagnosed women. I know that you’re all afraid that you’re going to end up like me, stage IV. But you have to realize that 80 percent don’t. And I want you to give yourself permission once your treatment is over, to believe that you’ve been healed and move on.So many women live breast cancer years after their treatment is over, and I really don’t think that’s mentally healthy or emotionally healthy. I think that to become a true survivor you have to move on from this experience. You know, our attitude is everything. All the worry in the world you do today does not affect anything. It just makes you lose today. Whatever happens happens. So try to enjoy every single day you have, because they’re all beautiful, there’s something funny in every single one of them. And I would highly encourage everybody, whether you’ve had cancer or not, to try to live their life that way.
Oh, wow, I can’t even type or read that without starting to cry. In our world, of infertility and infant loss, I see so many people who need to take this advice to heart, including me. I want to tell all the women who are just starting and worrying about their chances: most women won’t be me (in that very small percentage who can’t ever get pregnant). I want to say to them, “you won’t be someone who can never get pregnant, who will spend thousands (tens of thousands) on treatment to never even make it to two pink lines.” After time and heartache, you’ll get pregnant and you’ll have a baby, and you should move on from that experience. You don’t have to grieve that loss forever.
The sad news for me, I guess, is that I will always have to live it. I’m excited about moving forward with adoption and I’ve stayed mostly focused on the happiness that I will have through my motherhood down that path. I saw an adoption quote the other day: adoption is when a child grows in Mommy’s heart instead of her tummy. My heart is open and ready and full of love for these children. But, oh, I still grieve those embryos that didn’t grow in my tummy. I still feel such heartache for my loss.
I know that I’m not experiencing what those women with breast cancer are, have or will, but I do think that we all share some common needs and goals. And, while I want to reassure those women with new diagnosis, I still want to be mad that I have to be part of that small percentage who won’t get pregnant, who barely received any insurance coverage, and who gets no walks, no pink bracelets, no pink ribbons, but still feels an acute and aching loss:
Infertility is not cancer. But it is debilitating. And some activists argue that infertility desperately needs the kind of awareness effort that helped bring cancer out of the shadows two decades ago. Breast cancer has its pink ribbon. AIDS has its walks, multiple sclerosis its bike-a-thons. Resolve does sponsor an awards gala honoring achievement in the field, but it draws primarily doctors and other professionals from the infertility world, not patients, and most important, it raises no money. Complains one Resolve member who walked out of last year’s event, “Everyone gets up and tells their success stories. Infertility treatment isn’t always about success. And that’s the problem with how infertility is being handled; as with any other disease, some people won’t be cured. That’s why it needs more recognition and funding, so people can get help. But no one wants to recognize the failure.”
But, I’m going to go back to those words of Ann Siberman and remember that every day is beautiful and every day has something funny it. Today, on my list of beautiful and funny: the Daily Show episode I missed last night, time with my dogs, some relaxation, catching up blogs, and dinner with my sweet man.