Columnist Must Take a Break

Will this Fourth of July be Liberty Day?

Will masks become a choice instead of a mandate?

Will the government back out of our lives, and the citizens begin to feel some self-governance?

Hard to know. But at least for a while, with schools neither in session nor Zoomed, here’s hoping kids are playing outside without masks. 

I long to hear shrieks of laughter and people singing patriotic songs without being muffled.

A pandemic is too amorphous an enemy to declare victory and have ticker-tape parades. Yet optimism abounds.

Ironically just as all are unmasking, I’ll be donning one. 

I don’t hate much, but I do hate evil cancer.

In the blink of an eye, following a routine endoscopy, a large tumor was discovered in my esophagus. That adage, “first you cry,” didn’t hold true. Disbelief and incredulity, but the speed with which my family and family of friends helped me with a plan, was truly humbling. It’s a terrible way to hear from and see everyone you care about, but I’ve never felt so encircled.

People of faith, my clergy, my friends, and my family have helped stay the nausea, the queasiness, the fatigue, the blahs.

I live on a feeding machine for the next several weeks or months; I juggle medications and tubes like a mixologist; I sleep a lot. Swallowing is a luxury. 

But there are so many gifts.

Humor. The first time my sorority sister and I tried to wrestle the lines and hoses of the feed bag that churns a milk drink into my gut, we looked like Lucy and Ethel in a skit. When an old neighbor came to stay, we looked at wigs and got the giggles. The cards people find are seriously funny. And sweet. And inspirational. And real. No chit-chat with cancer.

Love. Constantly, I am amazed at what is being done for me. Ladies have organized radiation and chemo carpools, make sure I’m never alone for stretches at a time, have not fled from the unpleasantness that is cancer. The many kindnesses from all sorts of people are what bring me to tears. Not self-pity.

Why me? Why not me? Why anybody?

I don’t hate much, but I do hate evil cancer.

So while my columns may take a break, please feel free to follow my journey, which is at once singular and familiar. Every day has a gift. This July, mine is that chemo ends.

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Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at [email protected].

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