Clever Cro at Cro Magnon has a post today all about beautiful, artisanal french bread.
It started me thinking about memories and how powerfully they can control how we live our day-to-day lives.
My earliest memory of bread is wonderful. While visiting my paternal grandmother on Canvey Island just outside of London, my cousin and I would often be sent on the early-morning errand to fetch the breakfast loaf from Nanny's local bakery.
Denise and I would arrive to the aroma of warm bread being taken from the oven, and then we would carry the hot, crusty parcel home in the brown-paper wrapping, all the while sharing a freshly-made jam-filled doughnut given to us by the baker.
It's a memory filled with great love given me from my extended family; wonderful smells of sea air and warm loaves, and the taste of that crusty, butter-laden breakfast toast that the bread would be turned into when we arrived back at Nanny's house.
Because of this memory, I have had the pleasure of enjoying bread all my life. Hunting it down, baking it, sharing it, eating it.
Cancer...that memory is painful, ugly. It gives me a bitter taste in my mouth and a hard muscle contraction right in the middle of my chest. In recent sessions with the psychologist, I've come to understand that my earliest experience of the disease is warping how I should be reacting to my husband's current condition.
My dad was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was twelve. He went through multiple operations and treatments over the next six years, finally succumbing at the tender age of 45, I was 18.
Fast forward to the past twelve years and I have kept vigil at the bedside of two young women as one died of carcenoid cancer and the second of ovarian cancer. And then there was my sister, Lynne, just three years ago, another victim of breast cancer.
So now here we are with our current predicament of prostate cancer and this bitter-taste sits in my mouth all day long.
But what I am learning is that it doesn't have to.
I do have the power to change my reaction to this. I'm working very hard to disassociate my current reaction from the memory of that young girl's of oh-so-many years ago. To fix how I look at this cancer in the bright light of day...in reality, not memory. This disease is different, treatments are so very much better, and the prognosis is very good.
It's an ongoing task, and sometimes I fail miserably, but each day with the help of my friends, my sister Victoria, and especially my wonderful husband (yes...he's doing much better coping than I am!), I'm making great strides forward.
We can choose who we are.
It's a daily choice, and it's not always easy, but it certainly is doable.