Celebrations of spring have been a constant of human cultures for thousands of years. Some say Easter was named after Eostre, the great mother goddess of the Northern European Saxons. Others says it was Ostara, a Norse goddess of fertility. Both names are variations of an ancient word for spring, eastre.
Many of us have faced a hard winter, both literally and figuratively. The weather throughout the world has been brutal, with hurricanes and earthquakes, tornadoes and ice storms. The lucky among us have taken refuge in the comfort and warmth of our homes. The less fortunate have lost homes and livelihoods and lives. Still others see this weather as a gift and head to the slopes to revel in the beauty of the snow.
In winter, mother nature can be gorgeous, but she can also be foreboding, a killer.
A diagnosis of cancer is a bit like winter. It is dark, menacing, dangerous, a killer. Yet, it can challenge us to strengthen good relationships and rebuild bad ones, to give thanks for the good we have as we gird ourselves to face the bad. To see that life itself has been a gift full of beauty that we often have been too busy to appreciate fully, sometimes to even notice.
Today, most Christian churches begin the season of Lent, a time of reflection and meditation in preparation for Easter. When I was little, we always gave things up for Lent—usually candy. And on Easter we would gorge ourselves on jelly beans and chocolate eggs. As I got older, I saw the weakness of this plan—who cared about what Easter meant spiritually when you finally got to eat lots of sugar?
My adult choice was, too often, to just do nothing different in Lent, or worse, to criticize others' choices. The colleague who was giving up French fries, I thought, was making a spiritually meaningless gesture. Yet I made to effort to make a gesture at all of my own.
Like many cancer patients, I rediscovered my spiritual side on this journey to regain my health, and that was a true gift. So, as we go through this season in preparation of the rebirth of spring and as many of you go through the cancer journey, I plan to take a few minutes each day in this blog to focus on the good, to share love and caring, to celebrate life and rebirth.
And this coincides with a milestone on my passage through the land of cancer. I was diagnosed on a beautiful May morning, when the air was warm and clear, the sky azure, the blossoms sprouting, the natural world green. On May 16, 2006, that all turned grey for me as I heard the words, “Patricia, the test came back; it is positive for cancer.”
I will soon celebrate five years from that day. Those of us with hormone-negative disease get to breathe a little easier three years after diagnosis, as that is when the risk of recurrence drops significantly. Five years, though, becomes an important benchmark.
So, journey with me, with hope and love throughout the ending days of winter and help me welcome the spring with joy. Cancer-free joy, the best kind.