I was a bit surprised at just how excited I was to see all of my old classmates. After all, many of them I haven't even thought of in thirty years. In fact, there were probably a good number of people that I never really talked to even when we were in high school together. I'm from a pretty small town of about 12,500 people with only one middle school and one high school. Our class was small enough that we all sort of knew who everybody was, but it was big enough that we weren't all good friends. We all had our own little tribes that we tended to stick with, and some of us may only have encountered each other in the hallways of our school.
Despite the fact that I had almost nothing to talk about with some people, aside from the obvious, "where do you live now" and "do you have any kids" questions, I discovered that it didn't matter at all. I was still really, really happy to see everyone, even if I didn't say a single word to them all night. Every person in my class is a part of my history. We all shared a common experience that binds us together in ways that are hard to articulate. I spent the most formative years of my life with these people. It dawned on me at one point, that there were many people that I had known since I was 6 or 7 years old. Life has taken us all down different pathways, but as we danced to all the old songs and laughed with each other, I still felt connected to everyone there. They all played a part in making me who I am.
Cancer has opened my eyes just a little bit wider than they were before. I appreciate the connections even more. I see my own energy and the energy of those around me in a different light, and I am beginning to understand just how much everyone I interact with contributes to my sense of self and well-being.
Today, I had another infusion day and we had an appointment with my oncologist (who also happens to know one of my classmates - their kids go to school together - more connections). We received good news that I am still having a positive response to treatment with stable to shrinking tumors. Some have disappeared completely and everything continues to move in the right direction. We expected, based on my tumor marker numbers, that this might be the case, but it is always a relief when the scans match our expectations. My Dr. is extremely pleased and intends to keep me on what is appearing to be a very successful treatment regimen.
I, of course, wanted to share this great news with everyone, and I thought again about all of the people I am connected to, many of whom I have never met personally, and how much they all contribute to my state of being. I hear people tell me that I am strong, but I am not strong enough to make this journey alone. I have the strength of so many people walking with me.
The connections we make in our daily lives may not seem very important at the time, but those community connections matter. We never quite know what impact we may have on somebody, even if it isn't obvious. We are all so much more connected than we realize. I was grateful to be reminded of that by my classmates, and I am grateful every day for those that walk with me and keep me strong. If you are reading this now, that means you. I am grateful for you.