This I Believe

Margaret - Johns Creek, Georgia
Entered on January 12, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: illness

The Sewing Room

All of us have seemingly insignificant pastimes that help us cope with the stresses of day-to-day living. I believe that these diversions transform into corner stones for courage during deeply troubled times. That is why I headed to the sewing room as soon as I found out that I had STAGE 3 breast cancer.

Lining the passage to the sewing room are light stands filled with violets and streptocarpus. These beauties provide a meadow of bloom regardless of the season. What a tribute to human engineering. For years people have created exotic strong hybrids from wild plants that showed potential.

The sewing room has such depth….the promise of a sassy New Year’s Eve gown….fitted “Mom” shorts that match the color scheme of a Little League uniform…. So much creativity to crowd one’s brain in order to keep out unwanted thoughts of cancer, sickness and unfilled responsibility.

I believe that to face adversity you must have places to retreat for healing and sanity. Before the two years of procedures began, I set up projects that would coax me out of bed. I took leaves from favorite plants, sliced them and put them into rooting medium to make babies. I planned several sewing projects at various levels of difficulty. I knew that there would be days when I would only be able to surface for minutes at a time.

Of course there was the marvelous /surprising gush of people to help. It is overwhelming. No matter what horrors are reported on the evening news, belief in mankind’s inherent goodness is undeniable. It was almost worth having cancer to learn that.

And for the days when I could not get out of bed there were books on tape. The unabridged travelogues by Bill Bryson took me far, far away. Thank you Mr. Bryson for the wonderful one-sided friendship.

I believe that my mental health and heeling were so successful because of all the activity I planned. Yes, the people who poured out of the woodwork to help were a treasure but I believe that ultimately a person must find her own methods of creating strength to avoid the uselessness despair. I believe there is always something constructive to be done in the face of any adversity.

I watched the leaves miraculously sprout babes. Separated from the mother plant they grew stronger until they bloomed. By the end of treatment they were ready to be given away. I also had a lot of new clothes. The difficulty of an intricate plaid skirt still astounds me. I remember the hours submerged in matching and basting.

Now that normal life has returned so has the routine stress and daily yucks. I still sew and grow plants but I do so absentmindedly – the treatment intensity is gone. Now these little stress relievers are doing their part in the background but I believe they are there as a catch net if I should ever need them.

P.S. I also believe that if you insist upon getting Stage 3 cancer – you should do it in Atlanta where the doctors work miracles.