Buoyancy

Have you ever watched little beetles land on water and walk across it as if it is made of glass?

Water lilies always stay afloat even if a wind makes waves on their pond.

It takes a lot to sink a beetle or a water lily, but we humans are often not so buoyant.

Or so I thought.

My friend, Bron had a double mastectomy three years ago. After enduring chemotherapy and radiation she has been in remission for two years. She handled the ordeal with such dignity that I was blown away. I’ll never forget it. She made me feel like a petulant child for carrying on about all the stupid stuff I carry on about like somebody not changing the toilet roll when the old one is finished. I mean, that kind of stuff is irritating, but is it really that important?

Something else has happened to Bron which made me realise that you don’t have to be in water to be buoyant.

A woman’s appearance after she has had a mastectomy is hard to get used to. I have seen Bron without her breasts. I prepared myself mentally for it and looked at some images in books and on the net first because the last thing I wanted to do was appear horrified in front of her. It wasn’t that bad. Really. And since her reconstruction surgery her breasts are amazing.

The trouble is her husband doesn’t think so. Cancer has side effects that spread out like ripples on that pond the water lily stays afloat on. There are layers and layers of side effects and most of them have nothing to do with changes in appearance.

Bron’s husband was terrified of her cancer. He couldn’t talk about it. He wouldn’t talk about it. His terror drove him into the arms of another woman whom he has been seeing since Bron’s first round of chemotherapy.

His terror made him cruel.

Those are Bron’s exact words. She blames the layered side effects of her cancer for him acting so dishonourably.

Have you ever put your hand in front of your mouth in horror as someone dives into a deep body of water and takes 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds to resurface? Each second is an eternity, but most people, unless they become entangled at the bottom will eventually rise to the top.

If I were Bron right now I would struggle to swim to the surface. I would be weighted down by the despair of dealing with such a terrible illness and such an awful betrayal.

But Bron remains buoyant.

I can’t hate him for being afraid, she says.

There are some people in life whose very presence is a blessing, who take you aback with their goodness. Who just unravel your sense of the ways things should be.

Bron is such a person.

She will always be a water lily dancing on the surface of the pond.

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27 thoughts on “Buoyancy

  1. Her dignity takes my breath away Sel. One of the truly good people to grace this earth. I really can’t say much more as I am speechless at the bad luck some people have to endure and yet they do so with dignity and grace. Awe inspiring is the expression that comes to mind.

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  2. Such a lovely and inspiring story, thanks so much for sharing it. It is wonderful to read you again, I’ve missed it incredibly & I hope to return to some fashion of regular blogging myself soon.

    Thanks again for this – it is really uplifting.

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  3. Cancer sure changes a lot – more than we think. I admire your friend for being so strong! You tend to see things differently and don’t let the little thing get to you, mind you having her husband cheat on her is not small. We all have different ways of making it through life. I sometimes say to myself that I am a much more happier person now than BC (before cancer). I don’t see myself going back to the life I had – I am moving forward and enjoying every minute of it for how ever long I have!

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  4. “She made me feel like a petulant child for carrying on about all the stupid stuff I carry on about…”

    I so “get” that feeling. I often get caught wallowing in self pity just as I’m made aware of someone else dealing with something far more serious and I realise just how good I have it. Oh if my foot could only give my butt a good kick sometimes!

    Your friend Bron sounds like an amazing woman. I wish her everything of the best.

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  5. Hi GYPSY:
    I will admit to having had a bit of a weep about this. Some people just have so much to bear and just do so with grace. I am like a spoilt brat in comparison. I am in awe of anyone who can cope with something like this.

    Hi KAREN:
    Oh, absolutely. The whole thing has left me kind of speechless. Some people are incredible.

    Hi KAYT:
    How nice to hear from you. It has been far too long. Hope you have been well. I can’t tell you how lovely it is to have you visit.
    I do hope you start blogging again – you have been missed. Wishing you all the best for 2010!

    Hi TBALL:
    It is so interesting you should say that – that you are a much happier person than you were before cancer. It has made you appreciate every moment, hasn’t it? I am so moved by that. You are awesome XX

    Hi DAOINE:
    If my foot could kick my butt it would pretty much go on all day. Really and truly. Sometimes I really annoy myself.

    Bron is one of my heroes. Absolutely.

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  6. Hi ABSURDISTRY:
    Thank you for your lovely comment. I really appreciate it and you taking the time to stop by!

    Hi HURRICANE:
    To possess that grace is just awe-inspiring. I don’t know how she manages it. I would be a mess. Some people really have a touch of class!

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  7. This is a wonderful story about overcoming. I know a woman who had a mastectomy. She did not have reconstructive surgery. She has a longtime boyfriend who adores her. Love has nothing to do with breasts. It has always been the person that I have fallen in love with…nothing else. Best wishes to Bron and her will to overcome.

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  8. I know several women whose husbands sought another after a mastectomy; could it be that they somehow see it as a loss of femininity?

    Or is it fear of the disease itself? As my late cousin would have said; it’s quite all right to give me a hug … cancer is NOT CONTAGIOUS!!

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  9. What a sad (Bron’s husband is a serious schmuck) and brave and inspiring story. Don’t we all wish we could be more like Bron. I’m the opposite of Bron. I would have been recovering from cancer in prison after I killed my husband and likely the woman too. I’m going to try to keep Bron right at the front of my mind. I wish her all the best, she deserves it.

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  10. Just stopping in to see “what’s new” Sel.

    What an awful ordeal for your friend to live through. Amazing the strength that humans can find, when there is no other choice but to be brave and to carry on. You are blessed to have her as a friend and she is blessed to have you as a friend too.

    Hugs my dear, G

    PS: Love your new avatar!

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  11. Bron is a an amazing lady who “gets it”. She sees the bigger picture. You are blessed to have her as a teacher in your life. Thanks for sharing this story.

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  12. What a rare gem Bron is! You must feel blessed to have her as a friend. Please send her hugs from your blogging friends and thank you for sharing her story with us. I hereby promise to try not to take myself so seriously.

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  13. Hi Selma, Your friend truly has the grace that only God can provide – a peace that surpasses all understanding. I suspect very few of us would have the same reaction Bron had to her husband’s cruel betrayal – “I can’t hate him for being afraid” – wow, now that is empathy at its deepest spiritual level. I wonder if her husband even knows how wonderful of a person he has betrayed. He will never know a greater love. I almost feel sorry for him . . . almost.

    On a different note, I am starting a new meme. I want to get back into blogging again since my life is settling down a bit. I hope you will check it out. I would love to hear your thoughts on the thoughts of others.

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  14. Hi Selma,
    Your friend Bron is a better human being than most! To stay positive in the face of such adversity must be one of the hardest things to do. From the way that you’ve described it, Bron does it with grace.
    I can understand her thoughts towards her husband. Cancer does have many effects, and not all of them are physical. I feel that I must question his decision to find comfort in the arms of another woman rather than providing comfort to the woman the he says he loves. I guess he put his own feelings first, which is a shame.
    Despite his reaction and subsequent betrayal, the way that Bron has handled the situation and herself is an inspiration to us all. Please let her know how her story has touched other people, and that we think that she is absolutely wonderful!

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  15. I just wrote a post tonight about unfairness, though I wasn’t thinking about health issues and betrayal. It was more about systemic unfairness. However, the feelings I have are the same when it comes to someone like your friend Bron. My initial reaction would be the desire to take on the doofus husband, which really wouldn’t help in the long run.
    Bron’s capacity for empathy knows no bounds. What a beautiful beautiful woman.

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  16. Hi PUNATIK:
    If only everyone thought like you. I agree with you 100%. It’s the person on the inside that counts; the outside really shouldn’t matter as much as it does. Here’s to people with the courage to overcome!

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I’m really not sure what it is. I think a lot of people become completely overwhelmed by cancer and just don’t know how to act. I also think that rather than seeing it as a loss of femininity it’s viewed as a loss of normality, which many people have trouble coping with. Either way, it’s a crying shame and adds more stress to an already stressful situation. I wish it didn’t have to happen that way for some people.

    Hi VIC:
    She’s amazing in every way. I think that song from Beaches, Wind Beneath My Wings, cheesy as it is, really applies to her. She is an inspirational person.

    Hi LAURI:
    I would be in prison right alongside you. Or on the run. I wish I could be as dignified. It is my new aim in life!

    Hi GERALDINE:
    Great to hear from you. Hope all is well. I love your new avatar too, such a pretty colour. I agree with you on that – the strength some people have is mind-bending. I am a flawed person, I couldn’t act with such grace. Bron is definitely a blessing.

    Hi TOBEME:
    She is a teacher, isn’t she? It is often the people we feel most empathy/sympathy for that teach us the most. I have learned so much from her this week.

    Hi PUDDOCK:
    Oh, me too. I am sick of taking myself so seriously. As my grandmother used to say:’ Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?’
    I will most definitely pass on your hug!!

    MELEAH:
    Really and truly, she is. It makes me want to be a better person!

    Hi CRICKET:
    That is the really sad part. Does her husband realise what a wonderful woman he’s lost? He can’t know. Surely if he did it would crush him.

    It is so great to have you back. You can count me in for the meme!

    Hi MANOJ:
    What a kind comment. I question his motives too, but I guess I will never know what made him do what he did. I will certainly pass on your kind words. I appreciate the visit!

    Hi DANA:
    I am the same. I’d be making sure the poker was red hot before poking it in his eyeballs, but my reaction seems petty in the light of Bron’s good grace. Talk about a class act!

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  17. Hi NAT:
    I want to say that I think I could be so forgiving but I know in my heart I couldn’t be. It would be hard for me to get past the betrayal, especially under the circumstances.

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  18. Bron is very forgiving. I would be slicing off something of his, without a doubt, so he knows what it feels like to have a major part of your body removed. That would make me feel pretty buoyant!

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  19. It’s not just the betrayal, but the danger spouses put their mates in when they cheat on them – there are some really bad STDs out there – and don’t tell me he got a blood test before he did the deed.

    She’s an amazing person – she understands and loves at a deeper level than most of us will ever get to. Wow.

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  20. Hi TEXASBLU:
    I know. The ramifications of infidelity extend beyond the betrayal.

    Bron really has taught me so much. I am extremely lucky to know her.

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