he holidays came. And then they went. With barely a notice on my part. After enjoying a pre-Christmas celebration with my cousins, my tribe as I call them, I fell ill to a horrible stomach bug, followed by skin boils, followed by a head and chest cold. It definitely reminded me of Job. But this was not a plague from God. It was the normal consequence of taking the cancer drug I take, a compromised immune system. It challenges my normal sense of gratitude. But, I do remind myself that the latest research shows this drug is tied to better outcomes for breast cancer patients.
So, what is the upside of this period of illness beyond getting to stay alive? It gave me a chance to slow down, and as my head cleared from the fevers, I began to reflect. One of the things I reflected on was one of my recent reads, <em>Promise Me, Dad</em> by Joe Biden. It is the story of the Vice President’s journey as he walked with son, Beau, through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and death. It explored the inspiration Joe received from Beau, but also the heartache of holding onto hope until the very end. It detailed how Joe balanced his need to support Beau, at the same time he took care of significant matters for our country and our world.
Now, you might think reading a book about a father’s loss of his son to cancer is an interesting literary choice for a cancer patient. And I am not going to deny there were tears streaming and even a few sobs that escaped from my throat. But most of the book inspired me. It inspired me to balance heartache and struggle with gratitude. It reminded me to keep my eye on my purpose in life, not just on the mechanics of living it. It reminded me of the importance of relationship and connection and the legacy of relational memories we all will leave behind. It showed me, again, that when my body is weak, my heart can be strong.