Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year's Revolution

Like an retired pro athlete or a mom with an empty nest, an early stage breast cancer patient finished with treatment faces an interesting challenge. Some women want to go right back to their old lives, others are inspired to re-think and even re-boot. (We felt compelled to start a web site.)

So it's a pretty proud moment for Loop as we present our first original article. Pamela Beth Grossman kicks things off for us.

New year, new chances—and for the first time in a while, I feel ready to generate some real forward motion.

It’s fair to say that 2008 was rough for me from the start; I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in January. The year was consumed with treatment (chemo, surgery, and radiation, in that order), my work life and social life arranged around a constant slog of doctors appointments, scans, infusions, and other such joys. 2009 was less dramatically rough but certainly not easy; the lingering medical bills of 2008 and the economic crisis of the new year were not a pretty combination. I focused, that year, on working as much as possible and doing what I could to plant my post-treatment feet back on the ground.

We might have to wait a while for a strong economic recovery—but I’m thrilled to say that I, at least, am recovering and feeling stronger. And beyond the obvious, there’s a tremendous plus attached to that. When the chaos calms, our vitality starts to return in earnest, and the parade of doctors appointments trails off a bit, we realize that we’re not just as powerful as we were before; we’re more so. We took on cancer and cancer treatment; now, really, what *can’t* we do?

“I feel like if I suddenly had to walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers, I could,” said my painter friend Jane, about a year after her treatment was done. She’s sticking to painting rather than running off with Ringling Brothers, but her sentiment is clear. My survivor friend Debbie, who runs a fantastic charity called the Pink Daisy Project (, put it this way: “At first we imagine the worst, but then you realize you can do it—and when you do, you know you can do anything.”

And so it was that with Debbie’s words in my head, I found myself singing Helen Reddy’s over-earnest-but-fun pop anthem “I Am Woman” the other day: “Yes, I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained! If I have to, I can do anything! I am strong…” And so are you.

Pamela Grossman is a writer ("The Village Voice,", "Ms., etc.), editor, breast-cancer survivor, and music junkie living in Brooklyn.

1 comment:

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