The Actual Dance is a play that presents the events of the year 2000 from the point of view of the spouse of the woman going through breast cancer. From diagnosis to her life as a survivor, Susan Simon, my wife has endured. An unlikely survivor. The Actual Dance is the story of that experience from my perch. The husband. My reaction to Susan’s diagnosis in retrospect is not surprising, since both her mother and my mother died from metastasized breast cancer. In my mind, it never was going to end well. This the 4th year of my October daily blogs, my focus is a bit more on myself.
Day 11: Waiting. “I am surprised. The waiting room is filled with family and friends. … I wonder why they are here. For me? For Susan? For themselves?”
I had waited with Susan in the pre-op bay until she was rolled into surgery for her double mastectomy. I then retreated to the surgical waiting area of the hospital where I found friends and relatives. I had not expected so many people to be there. I wasn’t sure they needed to be there. I remember wondering if they thought something might go wrong in the surgery. Cutting off the breasts I knew was just the beginning. What was going to be hard was getting rid of the cancer. I have come to understand that people who knew us and loved us needed a way to show it. They came to sit with me in the hospital I think as much for themselves as for me. That is, coming to the surgery gave them something to do for us by being present. At the time I was confused. “I don’t know what to do with them. We just sat in silence, not even small talk.” As I think back to that moment I realize that everything was just as it was supposed to be. Presence, not words, conveyed what needed to be conveyed. Being there says it all.
Stat of the Day: National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Centers: 69 designated Cancer centers in 35 states, including the District of Columbia. 59 of the centers provide care to patients. Seven Cancer Centers conduct only laboratory research.
Task of the Day: Visit, call, text or email someone you know who is sick. Or their caregiver. Being sick can be lonely and it can be scary both for the patient and their partner or spouse. Knowing people care is important. In the Jewish religion visiting the sick is one of the most important moral or religious obligations of the faith. It is equally important to the family and friends of the person who is sick. It is the Mitzvah of Bikkur Holim. What does your faith tradition call the duty of visiting and comforting the sick?
Resource of the Day: Check out Mayo Clinic’s advice on helping a loved one with a terminal illness.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.