In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 22: Going Dark. Yesterday I described my decision to be in the exam room as the oncologist conducted his first post-surgery exam. I stand back squirming as Dr. Blonder, the Oncologist, runs his finger along the lips of the incision point on Susan’s bare chest. “All of a sudden he stops. He does a military style about-face and walks to the opposite wall and picks up the phone.” I hear the muffled voices of the office staff over the doctor’s office paging system and decide that Dr. Blonder was paged. While I can’t possibly make out the garbled words of the system I decide that he is so use to it he can tell when his name is called. It takes him some time. I’m starting to get agitated, who is this guy anyway that he take a call in the middle of an exam. It better be important. He wasn’t paged. He has called Susan’s surgeon to make an appointment for her (us) for the next day to check out a lump he just felt on Susan’s chest at the incision point. There is NOT supposed to be a lump on Susan’s chest post-surgery. Hell, there wasn’t even a lump pre-surgery, just cancerous breast tissue. Dr. Blonder is clearly not happy. Nobody, not the oncologist and not the surgeon and not me, is happy. It is as if the lights of the future have just been flipped off. I can’t see the future anymore. I look out in my mind’s eye and everything is black. I understand in a different way the aphorisms of “putting one foot in front of the other” or “one day at a time,” it is because I can’t see beyond each step any more or each day. It is just all dark.
Stat of the Day: The National Cancer Institute spends more on Breast Cancer Research than on any other type of cancer. In 2013 it spent $559.2 million on breast cancer research compared to $285.9 million on lung cancer research, the next highest category. However, the amount spent in 2013 on breast cancer was down $65.9 million from 2011.
Task of the Day: Finding peace in the moment of stress is not easy. “Take a Breath” is the advice given often. I have talked about meditation before. This task is about mindfulness in the moment. Developing techniques to deal with the “dark moments.” The task is brought to mind by an article in the Washington Post this week about the growing popularity of mindfulness as a strategy during the morning commute. And isn’t the breast cancer journey also like a commute – getting from here to there.
Resource of the Day: Carol Fox Prescott has taught me for nearly 15 years as an acting coach, teacher and mentor. Her method is known as “On the Breath.” I am lucky to have found fellow student Gabrielle Maisels to be my dramaturg in creating The Actual Dance and who also now teaches the technique. I recommend the process not just as a tool for acting, but a tool for living. There is no better gift than breath and unwrapping that gift is what learning how to breathe through the most important times of our lives is about.