Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Joyce Minor

Recovery is a patchwork of emotions


Published:

April 25 - After two days of medical tests and procedures, plus a two-hour drive from Tampa, I was glad to be home. As I dragged myself into the house, John grabbed a package that had been left on our porch.

I recognized the return address as that of my college roommate and lifelong friend, Donna, who lives in Arizona. John cut the box open and there, nestled in tissue paper, was a beautiful handmade quilt. I spread it out on my bed and couldn't believe my eyes.

Blocks around the quilt's perimeter bore Bible verses screen printed in delicate script - verses about love, peace, and comfort in times of distress:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. The Lord bless you and keep you. Be still and know that I am God. For I know the plans I have for you; plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

A note in the box explained that the verses were chosen by five of my college friends, who now live all across the nation. The six of us have kept in contact over the years, via Christmas cards, birth announcements and now Facebook. The note said that each friend had submitted her favorite verses to Donna, who pieced them all into the quilt, praying for me with every stitch.

As I ran my hands over those verses, tears dripped on the beautiful patchwork pattern. Donna had designed it in shades of red, gold, and lime green, the exact color scheme of my bedroom, which she has never seen, but God has.

One special quilt block listed the names of the six of us and called us "The Harlem Sista-hood," a fanciful moniker we adopted when we were silly 18-year-old college freshmen. Now we are all grandmothers, but still "Sistas".

May 4, 2013 - I am feeling better and stronger each day. I can shower without help now and even wash my hair by myself. For so long I couldn't get my arms up to do that, or even to take a shirt off over my head. Now I'm nearly back to normal.

Yesterday I drove my mother to her eye doctor appointment. We went to lunch afterward and even stopped to look around an antique shop for 15 minutes. It seems like forever since I was able to do such simple things. Today I went grocery shopping with John. Of course he did the lifting and reaching, but I was there every step of the way.

If it were not for the belly cramps, which seem to be getting worse instead of better, I'd feel like I had my life back. Of course, that's all an illusion, a carrot dangled in front of me only to be jerked away when I reach for it. Two days from now my oncologist will prescribe for me a regimen of chemo treatments that will put me right back on the invalid list. God, please help me accept whatever comes and power through it in your strength. My own will never be enough.

May 6 - Dr. Khan said all my tests look good - no sign of cancer. She still recommended chemo, but only four treatments with two drugs, which means fewer side effects. I'm happy; however, I will still lose my hair, so we visited Moffitt's wig salon. I tried on a dozen styles and colors but couldn't decide. Strangely enough, it seems harder to accept losing my hair than my breasts. Why? Hair will grow back. We women are indeed strange creatures.

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