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You gotta have hope (09/23/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

At the risk of having you think Iím losing it, I am going to tell you about an experience I had on Wednesday morning.

I had an early (6:30 a.m.) appointment at the Mayo Clinic for a physical, to see how Iím doing with all the drugs and infusions that treat my breast cancer. I set the alarm for 4:30 a.m., thinking I had better get on the road at 5:15 or so to get there in time. I was not to eat breakfast, as some of the tests required fasting. The night before, I had to eat before 7:00 p.m., which is fine. But I had to follow these instructions: Do not eat foods containing fat such as butter, margarine, cream, whole milk, ice cream, oils, salad dressing, gravy, fatty meats, or fried foods. Drink as much liquid (no alcohol) as you wish with your evening meal.

Well, then what could I eat? Cereal without milk? A lettuce salad without oil or dressing? Pasta with no sauce? A piece of poached chicken? Nothing sounded great, so I had a piece of bread and a tomato with two big glasses of water. By 8:00 p.m. I was hungry, so I went to bed.

When the alarm woke me at 4:30 a.m., it was dark out. Iím not used to getting up that early, so it was like going to sleep in September and waking up in December, all dark and cold. I couldnít stop for coffee, because I like milk in mine. I just got on I-90 and joined an amazing number of cars, for that hour, going west.

I had planned so well I got there early, but so did about 100 other people, and we all had to wait for the gates to open. We made a mad dash to the place where blood is drawn, and after that ran to the cafeteria to get a bite to eat.

I took a banana and a cup of coffee up to the 18th floor of the Gonda Building, where I had a wait for my 7:30 a.m. appointment.

I sat in a nice high-backed leather chair, facing east, and watched the sun rise. It was coming up above a cloud bank, and black skies were on either side of it. As I watched, the clouds formed a silhouette of what looked like my house and trees as seen from my driveway. Slowly, the sun backlit the silhouette, and I thought I could see a tiny figure standing beside the house. Gradually, the house moved to the right, the yews to the left, and the sun diffused the scene. And then it was time for my appointment, of which I was glad, because I didnít want to see the entire scene gone.

The experience gave me a sense of calm, as if I were being shown that my world is not filled with darkness, but with light. Light to me means hope and happiness. So I went to my appointment feeling very relaxed and as though I had been given a sign.

And apparently that was a good thing, because my blood pressure was 110/70, my cholesterol was good, and everything else checked out perfectly, even things like the liver, which can be adversely affected by the chemotherapy I have had and am having.

So life can be good, even when it seems otherwise. Like the old song from Damn Yankees says, ďYouíve gotta have hope, Mustnít sit around and mope!Ē But donít think this is going to encourage me to get up for the sunrise every morning.



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