My family and I went to a little party for brunch on Sunday. This would not have been a big deal except that it was going to mostly former co-workers in attendance and since the cancer returned I have been avoiding these kinds of events.
But this brunch was different. It was a surprise in honour of a friend and former co-worker who is in ongoing breast cancer treament (she is also one of the women with whom I am involved in a writing project and that I wrote about in my post entitled "the building." There is a new building now but my friend still works for the organization). She has been treated quite shamefully by her employer (a supposed advocate for "workplace accomodation") who has consistently refused to accomodate her need for regular time off for treatment. The case will be decided over the next two days by an arbitrator and I knew I needed to overcome my trepidations to show her my support.
And I had a great time. There were so many people there who I was happy to see (I think it is a testament to my friend C. She is a wonderful person who attracts wonderful friends, all of whom wanted a chance to show her how much we love her). The food was great. I loved being there with my boys (all three of them). I always enjoy showing them off and they made me very, very proud just by being themselves.
I am so glad I went, despite my fears. I always tell myself that I avoid these things because it will be awkward and sad. But I don't think that I have been giving people enough credit. The truth is my tendency to experience social anxiety (which predates the cancer) has been exacerbated by spending so much time on my own (something I quite enjoy). I think I use the cancer as an excuse.
From the moment I stepped in the door, and saw all these people I genuinely like, I felt happy and excited and I know that my face and body language expressed that. It was lovely to catch up with people and easy to put them at ease. I know that going did me a world of good.
This post was inspired by "Do It Afraid" by Lahdeedah, one of my co-bloggers over at Mothers with Cancer.
One another note, I urge you to go read a post by Andrea Collins-Smith, who faced the ultimate fear with tremendous grace and courage. Andrea (who wrote as Punk Rock Mommy on her own blog and at Mothers With Cancer) passed away on July 5th, after succumbing to inflammatory breast cancer. She leaves behind six children and a loving spouse. I only became aware of her blog shortly before she made the decision to stop treatment and go into palliative care. She moved and awed me with every post. This last one was written a short while ago, to be posted after her death. It is terribly sad but also hopeful. I hope to one day face death as bravely.