Cancer takes all the fun out of being cynical.
At the risk of turning into this guy, I have to say that it's interesting how much easier it is for me to feel good about the world these days. I've said to a few people that this diagnosis is, in its own way, a gift (this is usually the point at which they get the "Oh, God, maybe it's spread to her brain" look on their faces). But I'm sane, as far as I can tell, and also serious. When you're faced, even for a moment, with the very real fear that you might lose everything, you realize how much you have. And when you get past that immediate fear, it makes lots of small annoyances disappear.
Don't get me wrong - I haven't suddenly become a smiling bundle of joy and optimism. I still find myself yelling, "JUST. PUT. YOUR. SHOES. ON." at my kids when it's taking us what feels like hours to get out the door in the morning. And I still want to slap people who say that global warming must be a myth because it snowed last night. But I've found myself feeling much more tolerant of things that might have made me furious a month ago, because really, how much does it matter? It turns out that people are basically pretty nice. When they find out you're facing something really scary, it seems like everyone offers love and support. Not just people who know me well, old friends and relatives; everyone from the principal at my daughter's school to the clerk at the post office to a musician I'm a fan of and have never even met have offered to drop everything and help. I find it difficult to complain when I think about all this. I have a huge network of people who will pray, meditate, drive my kids around, run errands for me, put up with really unpleasant stories about medical procedures, whatever. I live in Boston, where I have easy access to some of the world's best medical treatment. We have good health insurance. I will be OK. Just knowing all this, without anyone even lifting a finger to do anything else, has been incredibly powerful for me.
I've never been a fan of positive affirmations and overly sentimental inspirational quotes; I've always been a little too cranky to see that stuff as anything other than decoration. But I've stopped yelling at other drivers in bad traffic, at least. Life really is too short.