I need to believe there is good in the world

What? Not what you’d expect from a woman trained as an astrophysicist? Not what you’d expect from a mother obsessed with keeping her small children safe, even as she encourages them to explore their world?

Cancer changes you. Cancer changes me.

I never really considered myself a fighter (except for that one well-timed WHACK over my friend Chaka’s head when we were 10 and he wouldn’t share a game in math class), but when I went back and read some old posts at New Year’s, the determined, war-like language jumped out at me over and over again:

We *fight* cancer. I am a *survivor*. We survivors *battle* side effects and *fight for our lives.*

Cancer has become a great evil in the world, against which some of us must ceaselessly struggle, and yet it is the most frightening evil of all to me, for it is not an enemy I can see. It is not something I can fight with corporally, for it is inside my own body.

The cancer is in my own body, and it grows and spreads and seeks purchase inside my body without my even knowing.

Having fought it back on the right (breast) and left (breast and then lymph nodes) flanks, it has now surged to the center, taking over seven lymph nodes in the soft tissue surrounding my lungs and close to my heart, and I don’t know how to even imagine killing it this time.

So I trust my doctors, and enter a research trial, and pray without ceasing. I pray using the same heart that is threatened by the nearby nodes, and I breathe, trying not to wake the cancerous nodes beside.

I no longer know how to trust my body, since it has betrayed me.

So I have to trust that there is good in the world, enough good out there to lift my spirits and give me strength to fight this cancer, and to spill out and help others besides, as I rage that I am not strong enough to help as I would want to, to take care of my friends and loved ones, to rush to canape’s side as she waits to hear the news of her father today. to sit with Stephanie and her sick child at urgent care. to cheer Jack on in a crowded ice arena. to care for Colleen’s little one as she goes to PT. to write checks to help the women who are not as lucky as I, with all the resources I have to fight this cancer.

Cancer changes you. But cancer cannot stop love or the power to act for the good of others.

To help provide lymphedema sleeves like mine to women who can’t afford them, please leave a comment at Kristen’s where she is donating $1 per comment, up to $500, or donate directly to Crickett’s Answer to Cancer, who is now partnering with LympheDIVAs to meet this need, simply because I asked them to, and it looked like a good way to honor Crickett and Rachel, and all the pathfinders who have fought before.

Updated: Kristen’s completed her donation, raising $377 to help breast cancer survivors directly! Thank you, Kristen! Visit Crickett’s Answer to make your donation in honor or memory of a loved one – I’ll link you up if you donate or post to spread the word.

Updated: Marty / Canape has taken up the cause – she’s donating $1 per comment on HER blog, up to $100! She says she’s only expecting five readers, so your comment will help cancer survivors AND spread a crazy big smile to her face! Wheeeee!


31 Responses to I need to believe there is good in the world

  1. Bon says:

    tears in my eyes, Susan. i think trusting there is good in the world is maybe the most important thing of all.

    you remind me of it, often. and i send you all the love and strength i can.

    but for all the love cancer cannot stop, i still want to stop IT. for you. for your kids. for your friends and mine.

    i am heading back to Kristen’s. i think she’s accepting comments from the same people so long as there’s 24 hours between.

  2. loran says:

    You do not fight alone. Although I know the fight is one of such loneliness – your willingness and ability to share this fight out loud allows us to fight alongside you. You bring such good to the world by sharing these words and you have my thoughts, prayers and strength. Even while you battle, you are modeling giving and goodness all around you. I’m trying to write a blog post inspired by you…it’s coming along. You inspire me with every word you write. Peace and strength to you.

  3. Kelly says:

    For almost 4 years, Susan, you have repeatedly shown all that follow your postings, that there is good in this world. Because of your personal battle with cancer, you have experienced that good, and shared that good, despite so many struggles. You have also repeatedly used your voice to talk about the importance of clinical trials, and now you will be able to personally make a difference by directly participating. It is my prayer that this trial will not only help others that come after you, but will be the miracle treatment that so many know that you are deserving of. You are a “fighter” in every sense of the word, Susan, and I hope that you will continue to win one battle at a time. Some days you give, some days you receive. It is ok to receive more than you give when you are battling cancer.

  4. Susan if anyone epitimizes The Good, it would be The You.

    Big Gentle hug to you today, and every day. xxoo

  5. When I heard about the 9 year old being killed at Arizona political event I had a similar thought/desire. The world is full of illness and evil, but there are good people trying to do good things. I know this, in fact I’m reminder of it every time I read your blog, or one of the many others linking to it.

  6. Stimey says:

    You made me cry, my love. This is a hard world. There is a lot that is soul crushing out there. But there is so much good. There is Kristen with her post. There is you and Sue with your lymphedema project. There is a smile from a stranger and a shared laugh for no reason other than good will. There is the man who found my checkbook an hour away from my home, searched for my phone number, and met me to give it back. There are people supporting other people online even though they’ve never met. There is so much good. There is you. You are good in the world. You share so much and it is so unfair that even though you want to keep giving that your body won’t let you, but maybe that means that we get a chance to give to you for a little while. (We know you’re good for it.)

  7. Niksmom says:

    There is so much good in this world. The challenge is that we move so fast we blink and miss it. Most media don’t focus on the good because it doesn’t draw market shares (sad, in and of itself). But I do know there is so very much good in this world. All I have to do is look around me everyday— at the love of strangers (at school) for my son, the rush to assistance of strangers connected only through the internet, the outpouring of love for a friend in need, etc.

    You, my dear, stand at the heart of so much good. Let it lift you up today as you reach out to lift up others. Big, but gentle, hugs.

  8. Spacemom says:

    When you see a person holding a door for someone else, that is the good. When a child says Thank You unprompted because they really mean it, that is the good. When your friends stand by you and let you curse your body, that is the good.

    It’s hiding in plain sight. We often fail to see it.

  9. Sally J says:

    Thanks for sharing, Susan. Thinking of you and hoping for the best outcome. I also smiled because I remember Chaka! Wonder if he is on fb too. 🙂

  10. marty says:

    Check my blog, Su. And send people my way please. Let’s keep the donations coming in.

    You are by my side, by the way. Always are. Even in another state.

  11. imstell says:

    YOU are the good in the world, Susan. If you want to believe simply look in the mirror. Hugs.

  12. Elaine says:

    Susan, YOU are living proof that there is good in the world. I love the project with Sue.

    There are mysteries and miracles every day, and this trial could very well be the answer that rids this cancer from your body for good. I hope so!

  13. MaryBeth says:

    Hi Suasan
    Thank you for getting the word out about cancer. Thank you for being so truthful about this ordeal. I hope if I ever have health issues(cancer or any other disease)I will find the strength to fight like you. You are the good in this crazy world. You are an inspiration to women everywhere!! xo

  14. Amanda says:

    Last night I danced with my daughters. Some nights I sit and watch them, but last night I twirled and laughed and threw back my head. You’ve taught me to do when I can, to revel as i live and most importantly to honor what I’ve been given. There is much good in the world, a large part of it being echos made up from the beautiful things you’ve thrown out to the world. I am happy to turn my face so that the echos can fin their way to your ears.

  15. I will hold the christ light for you
    in the night-time of your fears
    I will hold my hand out to you
    say the words you long to hear.

    There is so, so much good in the world that it almost bowls me over sometimes. I will pray for you and picture this good swirling all around you, offering calm and peace and joy . . . and hope.

    I will pick my childen up early today, comfort them as they express disappointment that their beloved “atrium” class is cancelled, and I will snuggle them and work puzzles, thinking of you and your children and the love that you share for each other.

    There is good in the world – you inspire it in me and you inspire it in others.

  16. magpie says:

    You’re awesome. Every single day, I think of you – you make me a better person. Your grace is contagious.

  17. J.J. says:

    As others have said, you yourself are an example of good in this world. You have taught me so much about the right way to advocate for causes and I’ve cross-posted your lymphodema sleeves post on my blog and shared on Facebook to try to spread your message. I think about what you’ve taught us about “pinkwashing” and how people try to help but are misguided. I think about last March and how you came, even on a day when you were in pain, and spoke about your love of science, to help a cause dear to MY heart. The love you bring out of people and the way you connect people is an example of the good there is in this world. We’re all going to surround you with our love, our prayers, our hope, our energy, and all the good in the world we can muster up. It’s not strange at all for a trained astrophysicist — how can you look up in the sky and not be filled with wonder? There is something greater than us that created that awesome universe you love so much!

    Let us take up the cyber battle on your behalf and we’ll keep spreading the good!

  18. Susan, you yourself are proof that there is good in this world.

    I am railing at the injustice that cancer has come again upon you, and wishing I could do something, anything to chase it away for good.

    I hear you. I will spread the word about the lymphedema sleeves. I will send you all the love and healing energy I can muster.

    Thank you for being so inspiring. Thank you for being you.

  19. I have thought many times of how I would handle all that you have had to handle these past few years. And what I’m nearly sure I would not have the strength to do is turn OUTWARD as you have. To give and share and inform and advocate. I think I would be so much more selfish with my energy – but I can see that you have been so fed by that as well – it comes back to you when you most need it. Yes, cancer changes you and changes everything forever, but it has not taken away the quintessential you – because that outward looking giver was always there.

    (((GIANT but gentle HUGS TO YOU)))

  20. Linda Lawrence says:

    Thank you for always keeping us updated!

  21. Deanna says:

    I looked everywhere for good news and was about to give up – everything good that I found was linked to something sad. I almost sent you the story of a cross-eyed opposum in Germany, but she’d been abandoned in the US. Other stories of human courage and kindness were set in tragedy. Then I watched a clip of Jon Stewart discussing the events that ocurred in Arizona, and he pointed out the goodness that is in regular people, people we never hear about, but that are just decent normal good people going about their lives. Good is often portrayed as points of light that push back the dark… and we see the stars the brightest against the backdrop of the night.
    Just think of all the people who read your blog and send you love and prayers and strength as points of light – even though you may only see them when it’s dark, they are always there. A sphere of light that surrounds you, and protects you from the dark.

  22. NicoleB says:

    You define the word warrior. Small battles…Big War…your grace throughout is inspriational. Your courage and your fight has changed me; not a day goes by where I do not think of you and the many others fighting their wars. I will continue to pray for you and for miracles.

  23. BMom says:

    Susan, I pray for you often. For you, for your husband, your children, your family and friends. Your strength is amazing, your grace inspiring. You are an incredible advocate, in spite of anything that you are going through and the world is a much better place thanks to you and what you share and teach each of us.

    Take care – prayers always,

  24. Mary says:

    Susan —

    As everyone has said, you are the good in the world, you and people like you who see beyond themselves to move toward others in big and small ways. When i saw your post i thought of the song we sang on Sunday at church which has been in my mind all week: http://www.spiritandsong.com/compositions/225 especially the last verse — it is the people who reach outward like you toward anyone in need (big like your sleave project or small like someone said when a person holds the door open for someone else or smiles at someone who is having a bad day) “you are the light of the world” and that is where the good is

  25. Khara says:

    Headed over to comment. You are a beautiful and strong woman. You ARE a fighter! I am so proud of you and so humbled by your strength! I pray with and for you. You can beat this Susan. Love to you!

  26. NYFriend says:

    At times like this I wish I could be more poetic. There is good all around, being born in the first place is good. To feel the good, take a peek in on your little ones tonight as they sleep.

    Your battle is a unique one, a rare one – a research project in the making. I hope your recovery is also unique and rare – a research project that succeeds wonderfully. I am holding steadfast to hope.

  27. Lesley says:

    I have seen so much good in the world, and I know you can see it too as you are part of it. The good does exist alongside the cancer, and regardless of cancer outcomes the good will always be there- the good always survives. I’m off to Crickett’s Answer to make a donation, because I know how lymphedema sleeves helped a friend during her breast cancer.

  28. Others here are far more eloquent than I can be. But whenever I need to know there is good in the world, I come here, to Toddler Planet. You are such a great parent, such an amazing advocate and such a good friend. And for more good, I read the comments, and re-read them. You are surrounded by light and by love. May it buoy you up as it has cheered me just knowing about it.
    Lots of love and gentle hugs to you.

  29. My parents are Nazi concentration camp survivors. They never would have survived were it not for small kindnesses in the face of enormous evil. My mother was imprisoned with her sister at ages 15 and 16, lying that they were adults. They had a cousin who worked in the kitchen and would often risk her life throwing butter to them over the electrified fence, because they were still young and needed nourishment to grow in spite of the starvation. There were many other stories I grew up with of good in evil times. Individuals quietly saving lives while risking their own.

  30. C.Mom says:

    As I reach for the tissues… oh Susan. I have not known you for that long, but what I do know- is that YOU- are an example of all the good in the world. You are right- it does change you. And it does take over. It does lots of things that we wish we could stop. But you my friend, are unstoppable, with a heart that knows no bounds. xoxo

  31. Andrea says:

    Feeling like you’re in a constant state of war… a constant state of having to fight. I wonder if that’s good for you: your mind, your soul, your spirit… even your body.

    Maybe it’s time for Susan to stop waring & stop fighting… and let the doctors & medications do it for her.

    Maybe it’s time for Susan to take off the combat uniform… and make love, not war.

    The uniform will fit the doctors & the medications just fine. Let them shoulder the burden & run the war for awhile. They’re capable. They’ve done it before.

    You can let go… the doctors, the medications… they’ll catch you.

    I think you’ve been discharged from the army, kiddo. Most honorably discharged, by the way. The battle won’t stop just because you’re a “civilian” now.

    Love but no tears… cos you don’t need my tears… but if you did, you’d have them~ Andrea

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