Friday, July 12, 2013

The Survivor Card

Yesterday in a business setting, a woman-- a complete stranger to me--said, “I’m a breast cancer survivor.”

All day I thought about that and wondered at her need to describe herself that way. I don’t know if she’s married, a mom, has cats, belongs to the Libertarian party, hates the sound of chalk on a blackboard but I know about her breasts and her health.

What I also know is that this experience has so colored her life that it has become her identity. That seems as great a tragedy as the surgeries and treatments she has been through.

Many years ago a therapist who was trying to help me with the thoughts and behaviors that kept me stuck, said to me, “Play another card.” She explained that we are all dealt a hand of cards--maybe 7 to ten cards each –and it includes both good stuff and hard stuff. But, she said, some people just play the same card over and over. “Look at your hand,” she said, “and play another card.”

I wanted to say that to the woman—whose name I don’t know but who believes that the most important thing about her is breast cancer, “Please, for the sake of your life, play another card.”

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