Thursday, October 4, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month.  And breast cancer is a theme that I've written about a great deal over the past decade.  In fact, I now have an entire book on the subject that is currently being reviewed by a publisher.

Beyond that, I've written many essays and poems.  A few of these have won awards. Some years back, Becky even got into the act and wrote a piece for a travel magazine: a first-hand account of hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim as a way of showing solidarity for several friends who were themselves cancer survivors.

Cancer certainly changes lives.  The old ways pass away.  The new emerges.  And there are days of grace.  I don't think one views life in quite the same way after a cancer diagnosis.

I'll spend a few days here sharing a few insights about breast cancer.  Some of these thoughts may be poignant, others funny.

But I hope you'll join me.

Toward that end, here's an excerpt from an essay I wrote more than a decade ago . . . a personal account of visiting the local bookstore to purchase books about breast cancer and the comfort I discovered that night among the shelves.  I was there for hours, finding my bearings, until the manager informed me that the store was closing.  Later I wrote this essay entitled, "The Bookstore and the Breast." 

     That night in the bookstore was more than a moment of commerce for me.  The time spent there, and the hours I would spend later reading all of the titles I purchased that evening, was something of an epiphany.  The books offered me a space and a time—a type of holy chronos--a place set apart to work through my feelings, to come to grips with the fact that cancer had invaded my wife’s body.
     Although I purchased several books about breast cancer--books that my wife and I would later read cover-to-cover--there were other titles that offered far more to both of us. It is difficult to measure the impact of a poem, an essay, a short story, or even a novel on the human psyche.  Some books simply change your life.

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