(Kim: That was very
beautiful. I will do something tonight about the waiting
room, and you
and the woman sitting there in silence. My dad was tribal
too...he said he wouldn't trade the life of one of his for
1000000 kids that he didn't know. My mom cared about everyone,
though she probably would have made the same choice.
dream I was shooting a rifle, in a war that took place
on a farm. I missed, even though I shot both barrels of the
shotgun. Then I was in my house, still with the gun. I put
the safety on the gun and was practicing holding it.
of the exhibit about cancer that Mary Seager and I did depicted
the room (all shiny white) where a woman would
get a phone call telling her she'd need to come in for another
test. We got a nurse to let us record her voice as she would
deliver the death sentence day after day.
I wonder who is
responsible when people don't understand us?
Got a meeting
at the Millenium hotel at 715...am...and it is cold...)
The glow of my good news was undercut yesterday afternoon
by the probable diagnosis of another woman's cancer.
I was sitting in the waiting room and began chatting
with another woman there. It is such a strange environment,
emotionally, as people wait to be screened and then given
They tend to either isolate and sit very quietly or to make
the kind of small talk that women do, the kind of social
lubricant at which we excel. Except that the small talk quickly
moves into cancer talk., Do you or don't you? If you do,
when did you? How did you? How are you?
It gets down to brass tacks pretty quickly.
It is now predicted that 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with
breast cancer in their life time.
1 in 7.
I remember when it was 1 in 11.
I thought the woman near me was using a cell phone and
i was curious how she was getting reception in the building
She said it wasn't a cell phone, it was one of those video
games. That she was trying to distract herself.
I said I was writing holiday cards, trying to distract myself,
Then we discussed the fact that we had both had had cancer.
Only she has had a recurrence before.
They called her back in and said they needed to do yet
They did that to me last year.
They came out to tell me that I had good news.
I looked at her and knew that she thought that her news was
not going to be good. In fact, she was sure of it. She
dropped something she was holding.
I picked it up and asked if there was anything I could do
for her. And she said, no. That whatever it was, was
And I could see that even though she is a very religious
woman, she was still really scared.
I sat with her for a few minutes and then there was nothing
more to do, really. So I told her I would pray for her and
said good bye.
And as I was walking home, my relief at being ok--- at
least--- for another year, was undercut by the knowledge
that so many women are not. And that was brought home
so clearly by the proximity of another woman, who was suffering.
I would never tell this story to my mother. My mother is
very tribal. And the demarcations of her boundaries are very
I can just imagine her saying,"But you're ok. You
don't even know this woman. Why can't you just focus on the
fact that you're ok?"
She doesn't understand me. Even after all these years. Or
maybe, she knows what my reactions to some things might be
but doesn't understand how I arrive there.
And I don't understand how any of us can take full pleasure
in something when someone else's pain is so palpable.
Tuesday, Dec 20, 2005