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The Hope Letter

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From the tone in your voice, I felt your inner turmoil from clear across the country. I get a vibration when my attention is required to someone or something. I feel drawn to you in this particular way in this particular moment. 

I want to tell you a story from a personal experience. When I was a young child, I had an aunt on my mothers side that was very ill with a rare type of female cancer. When my mother had her first child, my older sister, she told my aunt that since she would not be able to have children of her own that she could treat my sister as if she were her own. On her good days, between rounds of chemo, she would take my sister and bond with her. They grew very close over time. I myself, remember one good day with her when she took my sister and I both out to eat, to the park, shopping and typical things that women do. She passed away at the age I am today, twenty-eight years old.

You are saying to yourself at this particular moment… How is this a hope letter? Things get much worse before they get better. Have you ever heard of that saying? If you keep reading, I will keep your attention.

The last memory that I have of her is in a hospital bed, so heavily medicated that she could barely move her head and look you in the eye from the yellowed whites of her own eyes. We were soon told a day later that she had passed. We went to her funeral and we cried and cried selfishly because we were so young. Crying because we would never see her again.

As an adult, I have female problems myself. My first period came when I was sixteen years old and my second came a long two years later. I have had miscarriages and an abortion to prevent a miscarriage. My problems were frequent and variable to include cysts, hormone deficiencies and quite a few mysteries.

Against many odds, I became pregnant in 2001, after September 11. I was with what I now call the ex-factor. That pregnancy, like the others, was at a high risk to miscarriage. It was not an occurrence free pregnancy by any means. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had a dream. This was of my aunt telling me that this baby would make it. She was right. About seven months in, I had to start shopping for a pediatrician. I decided to use a doctor that the other doctors’ wives were using. Her name is Leslie. Her husband rounded with my now ex-husband. He was a golfer, as was my ex. He is a surgical oncologist by profession and my ex husband specialized in internal medicine.

During stage two of labor, which was a long 21 hours, my heart rate dropped and the last numbers that I saw on the blood pressure monitor were 40/20. When I leaned up to tell my husband that I didn’t feel right, I felt a nausea that hit me like a ton of bricks pulling me down. The only thing I could see was purple around the edges and white near the middle. I vaguely remember the nurse coming in. She was quick and there with a syringe in hand. As she injected the syringe into my I.V., the weight lifted as I came back. Our child was born a healthy little girl, but was partially deaf due to the medication that saved me.

Our daughters’ pediatrician, Leslie and I became very close over time. She accepted us into their home and very close nit family. They made me feel as if I were a long lost family member. It was pretty obvious that we weren’t relatives being that I was the only woman of a pale color in the group. One day, while sitting at their dining room table eating dinner, I told her husband Pete that my biggest fear was to be his patient.

I had to bring my daughter in for her routine shots. Pete and Leslie shared an office. I asked Leslie if she would look at a hard lump on my leg. She looked and called Pete in to look at it as well. He said that he could surgically remove it for me. He told me to come into his office when I was done and he would pencil me into his schedule.|

I did not realize at the time that I was confronting my biggest fear as I walked into his office and made myself his patient. Of course, he gave me the lecture that I had received many times before. Use sunscreen, you are high risk and then proceeded to explain the different types of melanoma. Basically, there is the good, the bad and the ugly one. You pray for the good one. If it’s the bad one, you are on alert for the rest of your life praying that this one is benign and the next one that comes back in five years or so, will be as well. It’s like spinning a ball on a roulette wheel. It requires your attention. You only get to spin the ball every five years. Then, there is the ugly one. The ugly one is like an unstable bridge that you don’t want to cross.

You don’t think about crossing it unless you get to it. Cancer is a fear of mine as well. 


“Fear is a natural emotion. To confront a fear is a brave and natural emotion. The solution doesn’t kill your spirit. It only makes it stronger.”

—Windy Astara

"People come and go. Your memories stay. How you remember people follows you every day."

—Windy Astara

P.S. This letter was written for someone in fear of cancer and nervous about a procedure. 




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