STANDING BY MY STORY
I stand at the cusp of 65. In some ways, it feels like just another year, in others, it feels quite momentous. I am the longest lived woman in my nuclear family; my mother died at 54, my younger sister at 45. Since I have an incurable form of blood cancer and amyloidosis, another potentially fatal condition, I do not assume that I shall reach old age. My body already bears the hallmarks that many only experience in their eighties and nineties. It is hard to age prematurely. I often lack compassion for my body which has endured so much. But there are many times I feel feisty, even girlish regardless of my physical condition.
I am blessed to have outlived my original prognosis and have removed the expiration date from my forehead. Yet I have suffered enough to know that there will come a time when I will be ready to bid my body adieu and cease the treatments that have worn me down even as they have allowed me to survive. Audre Lord has taught me that silence will not protect me and that our vulnerability is also our greatest strength. I am committed to being both visible and vulnerable and pray that others may be touched by my life experiences.
Artwork and book cover photos this page by Joan Heffler Photography