Thursday, February 28, 2008

some parting gifts

Tiffany, otherwise recognizable on this blog as, "Hey, isn't that my fan?" wrote to me recently and said that a friend of hers asked this question:  Does anything good come from cancer?  My first thought?  No.  Nothing good actually comes from cancer.   But I do think good can come from facing it.  Blechk.  The whole what-doesn't-kill-us-thing.  I have a lot of good in my life - perspective, faith in the incomprehensible, appreciation, a greater sense of humor - and it all either came from or grew stronger after cancer.  Here are some more good things that came from [facing] cancer:
1.  This shirt.
2.  And the friends who brought it to me.

Actually, I think they would have brought me this shirt even if I didn't have cancer.  This is Danny and Sarah.  They went to New York City a couple months after I was diagnosed.  They came to my house on my birthday or shortly after, and they brought me a t-shirt from their trip to the First Response guys with the fire department.  You know what the numbers are?  Regis and Kelly, baby.  These were their seat numbers in the studio.  Like I said, I don't think this was exactly a cancer gesture so much as a "Serenity is going to freak completely out when we bring her New York stuff on her birthday!"  But it makes my point - facing cancer brought friends.   They were there before the cancer, but they were so there during it.

3.  My worst fear - one of the very top ones anyway - has been involuntarily but thoroughly faced.  "Just think," Felicity told me a few days after my diagnosis, "You have just faced your worst fear.  You actually had to hear the words, 'You have cancer."  For you, life can only get better."  That was so true.

4.  I laugh now like Rachel (on friends) learned to run.  If you haven't seen the episode, it's like this:  with abandon.

5.  I wrote a book.  I always wanted to.  Ever since I was very young, and I could hear Mom clacking away on her typewriter in the other room.  I started at least three novels as a child.  I had the houses completely mapped out and all the characters named and described and about three pages of the actually story.  But after cancer, I finally had a story, a whole story, and the motivation to finish it.  

6.  I got my first tattoo.  It's the size of a teeny tiny pin prick that I can't really even see any more.  Or to quote another friends moment, "This is a tattoo of the earth as seen from a great distance."  (really, really great)

7.  My shoulder doesn't hurt anymore.  It hurt for probably ten years, and none of us really knew why.  Dr. R., because of cancer, made all that pain go away.

8.  On that note, as Dr. R. said later when I could still move my arm, "See, you don't need a deltoid muscle."

9.  I sing more.  Not nearly as much on a stage, but way more in the car.

10.  The ability to say to millions of people who've been there, I know just how you feel.


Lori said...

OK, you made me cry first thing in the morning. Now my mascara is shot & I have to walk around work w. no mascara on. But it will be so worth it! I am so thankful that you are alive! I guess this is my "thankful my friends are alive day". I know I won't be able to sit through Dana's wedding tonight w/o bawling my eyes out just because he's alive to get married!
Oh, we watched Fiddle on the Roof last night. Evan was in awe! Harold had never seen it & he now finally understands all your families endless references to the movie. :)

Lori said...

Obviously I meant "Fiddler". Couldn't see the "r" key because of stinging mascara in my eyes...

Felicity said...

My parting gift? An even more compassionate and empathetic sister. As well as one who takes herself less seriously (most of the time). And these were all things that I didn't even think could be improved on (except the not taking herself too seriously part, I knew that one needed some work!).

And, Lori, isn't Fiddler on the Roof wonderful?! That movie offers you something in every season of life. As a little girl I loved "Matchmaker." After I got married, I cried buckets during "Far From the Home I Love." And now I wish I could sing the Passover Prayer the way Mom used to, but I can never remember the words.

Anonymous said...

And now I'm crying buckets. I remember Serenity climbing in the hospital bed with Felicity after we had said good-bye to Ellery. And I remember Felicity nearly strangling the anesthesioligist who didn't move fast enough for Serenity's epidural with John Michael.And I'm thinking about your husbands and your families and I'm singing in my heart because you did grow up to "be like Ruth and like Esther." You are shining stars.

Anonymous said...



Sarah said...

I thought of you all during that trip to New York. "Oh, Seren would love this" "Danny, wouldn't Serenity think this is the coolest." I hurt for you during those days because of all the things you were going through with the cancer. But in New York, I honestly just thought of how much my dear friend would geniunely love to be there with me. Not because of the unknown of what your situation might bring, but because I knew you would have the time of your life.

Jenny Hudson said...

What a phenomenal post. Friends are amazing, especially the ones who know what really makes us tick and want to help that dream come true in whatever way. You have always been that to me. So I guess you are my Danny and Sarah

Denn said...

Well, I didn't ruin my mascara, but that's probably a more comforting thought than if I had done so; however your post was moving. I also spent some time trying to figure out why you got such a tiny tattoo. I mean it sounds cool, but who gets such a small tattoo...

It's rare that I am able to communicate some bit of what I do (professionally) in a way that relates well to a discussion, but I do have one concept that is apt and helpful (I hope). Philosophers would say that cancer is not intrinsically valuable (i.e. it is not good in itself). It can be extrinsically valuable in its relation to how you and your loved ones respond.

It's my opinion (and one I think that would gain wide support) that someone good came through cancer, even if nothing good comes from cancer.

Anonymous said...

Ah Seren....I knew you would do this in such a way that I could provide my coworker an insightful and valuable answer to her question. In the words of Drew; "you ROCK!"

serenity said...

These beautiful, moving comments just became my number 11.

(And to Den, because I can't tell whether or not you found the answer, they tattoo tiny dots on you as markers for the radiation. I should have made that more clear. In Phoebe's case, her dot was because it hurt too much for her to continue and receive something like the earth as it appears only from, say, the moon.)

Anonymous said...

I would agree whole heartedly with Den's opinion, adding only one thing, a curly headed little boy asleep in the next room, who's usually a pain in the butt, that I wouldn't trade for the world. He'll never really know the struggle he was in, but he knows his mama.