My friend Gina and I arrived late, so woman of all ages were already seated at the tables. Some women were happily chatting with one another, while others seemed to be just sitting quietly and thinking. Still others appeared to be observing other women. Not that they were staring at one another. But you know the simple, brief looks that are shared between women as we all find ourselves somewhat plopped into chairs as we smile across the table at each other. Except for Gina, I didn't know anyone at my table. Gina is the woman I'd met three weeks ago, who I'd invited to join me for this event. We all introduced ourselves. We chatted warmly and then there seemed to be a temporary lull in the conversation. I wondered what the others were thinking about. I know what I was thinking.
"Karen, did you ever think you'd be here? Did you ever think that you'd find yourself at this place? And I'm not talking about the church. I mean this place. The cancer place. At a breast cancer dinner. As a survivor. As a mom with three kids who had breast cancer 3 and a half years ago. Every day, I still wonder when or if it will return. Two people at my table are currently undergoing treatment for recurrences. One woman said that she's been free of cancer for 19 years now. Nineteen years! Will I return to this cancer place again, or am I one of the lucky ones who'll never, ever, have to face it... again?"
I'll bet that those were some of the exact same thoughts shared by every woman in that room. In that place.
The evening represented celebrating life, blessings, and love. Gina is the survivor who amazes me because she smiles through her trials. (In fact, she's headed off to Philadelphia as I write this post today, to have her 6th dose of chemo for her 3rd - or is it her 4th? - recurrence.) At the end of the evening, as we walked to my car, she said these words to me, "You know what? I really think that this time will be my last time - my last recurrence." And she spoke with a smile. Again.
My thoughts of that place can't consume me. They can't hijack my life, or my family. Whatever comes my way, I'll handle it, with the help of God. That's the place - the only place - where I'll find my refuge and my strength! And it's not my place at all; it's His.