As a Survivor you always live in the past.
Some will argue this isn't true. I don't believe it.
Sure, you may not look back often. But the flashes of a reality's past are there. They wait to spring at a moment's notice. You don't know when or where they will come but they do. It may be a sound, or a change in the weather.
Today was one of those moments.
On November 7th, the local hospital is hosting a Survivor's Ball. Very swanky. Black tie, perish the thought, and all of the accouterments of a royal wedding.
It's a money affair. The local rich and famous gather to bid, dance, eat, yadda yadda yadda.
This year there is a unique survivor table. Cutting to the chase, I've had the opportunity to attend and part of that attendance includes a special appearance page in the extravaganza program. The party committee requested a quote from each of us at the table and, if possible, a 'before and after' pic.
Before, meaning pre-treatment. After, of course, well, being after treatment.
Back in the day, before phones, shut it, before selfies, thank the maker, before texting, pictures of events were for special occasions. It was a process to simply take a picture and catalogue the event. Instagram was more a mail delivery idea than present day social media.
My parents dug through their artifacts....today was a flash of memory I wasn't 100% prepared for.
It's not the Flashback Thursday most are used to seeing.
The first picture is post resection of the 1st cyst my father found on a summer day. Below are the multiple lumps that were later removed through radiation (insert ominous thunder crash).
The second, in a fit of irony (Note the cartoon face), was the original markings for my radiation on the recurrence of my Hodgkins. Also note the careful drawing around my heart...If someone, anyone would have had an inkling into the future, that picture would have been more finite - oh well, I am breathing today.
The pictures are surreal to me. I have to admit, I marveled at the fact that I am almost smiling in both even under duress. In the next instance, I am filled with sadness.
And in the next instance, my dad put it all in perspective.
"Joseph, you are still here. You are going to still be here."
In a span of minutes, the tide had flowed and ebbed. The sights, sounds, smells, and fear, I admit that, flowed over in wave after wave.
Then nothing. There is still reverb, don't forget that. But the worn path was already set behind me.
That's exactly that....behind.
Yes, there was personal suffering, pain, emotion upheaval...feel free to add the descriptions you see fit.
But I am here.
We are here.
It is something a growing band of brothers, sisters, husband, wives, siblings and strangers all share today.
All striving to have a Before and After. We can never forget those who don't have an After. It's a reminder that we should cherish every moment.
We all have had our stitches removed and we would all go through it again to put our flag in the ground.
It will wave and say "Still Here".