I traveled a different path, one of faith and trust–trust in my God and the body that I was given at my birth. It is a constant test of my faith and trust, and it is a constant research project for my always curious and creative encounter with life.
In my professional career, I wonder about the questions I might have had in the progression of jobs that I have been so blessed to have. I don’t even know when the beginning time of the cancer was. But it has been there for decades, that I know. What would have been different about the questions of the reporters when I ran for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1970 if they had known I had breast cancer? Would I have been able to be an Associate Professor of Education at Cal Western University, if the Dean had known that I had breast cancer? Would I have been invited to be an Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies, at the University of Cincinnati? What questions would have been asked about my health at Oregon State when I was chosen Dean of Education? Would cancer have been a part of the reason for retiring from Oregon State University if it had been known? Would I have been able to have the wonderful career I had at National University for 13 years after my retirement? I was then in my sixties. It wasn’t in the mix at all.
Age was starting to factor in employment. What would cancer have added to the mix? I had wonderful years at National University. Would I have had the same incredible relationship with my students over the years if they knew I had breast cancer? Would they have attributed anything they disliked or saw in my behavior to cancer? As it was, we could always have a dialogue without any thought about what might be happening “because I had cancer.”
Would I have had the same relationship with my church family? This was a little tougher. I often had the desire to share my secret with them because I believe in prayer. But I didn’t. If I could have suggested only positive prayers and a concentration of wellness with trust in our Lord, it might have worked. I’ll never know about that past. It was a conflict for me. Somehow I had a pact between me and my Creator; that was my source of support, hope, and comfort. It was, and is, a constant struggle to keep in the river of faith.
I still consider My Lord to be my Great Physician. I believe everything that I need is there; being able to access it for my cancer and life is a daily challenge. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude is so important. I have to think each day about what I can do, not what is lacking. Every day. Every day.