Smells Like Life
My doctor said that I could not go for a walk for 30 days after surgery.
I was annoyed.
My body said it needed even longer.
On an invitingly warm May evening, it finally was time for my first walk. A slow going stroll, but I could do it.
As I walked down the street, a woman and her dog walked towards me.
The dog came right up to me.
“She likes you!”
We began small talk while I reached down to pet her dog.
I soon found myself heading to some big talk.
It seems removing cancer removed some filters.
“This is my first walk in six weeks. I’ve been sitting in a chair, recovering from breast cancer surgery. It feels really good to be outside.”
“I’m so glad you’re OK! I am an ovarian cancer survivor of twenty years.”
We swapped notes, her compassion softening my heart as the words flowed back and forth.
With the sun beginning to set in the sky, we began our goodbyes.
I went to give her a hug.
She exclaimed, “Be careful! I stink!”
I laughed, “You don’t smell bad.”
“Your nose must be broken, ” she said. “I’ve been outside all day. I smell like sweat and bug spray.”
“You smell like life,” I said as my arms wrapped around her in a big hug.
She smiled, sending me off with a final wrapping of care, “You best be heading home now before it gets too dark.”
I thanked her as I left to go, and she said, “I didn’t do anything!”
“Oh, but you did,” I thought.
You showed up.
Open. Real. Loving.
Sometimes, that’s everything.
Timidly setting out on my first walk alone as a cancer survivor.
Returning home carrying the glow of the moon, the joy of a curious dog, and the warmth of a caring heart.
And a reminder, that even amidst the sweat, life can smell awfully sweet when we walk it together.
Oh, and that photo above. I was fortunate to be among 756 other breast cancer survivors to participate in the Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer in October of last year (standing with my two-time survivor sister, Laurie, and my newly diagnosed friend, Jen – stronger together!) .
Photo credit: Especially For You Race Against Breast Cancer, Cedar Rapids IA