Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Sweet New Year

Exactly two years ago I was diagnosed on Yom Kippur. September 28, 2009 my life was shattered. Two years later, I am still dancing as fast as I can, but I can breathe again. Tomorrow I celebrate that two year milestone and by coincidence, it’s Rosh Hashanah. I think I’ll dip the apple in the honey. I always said I was an honorary Jew after spending 7 and a half years in Israel.

When I first read about Triple Negative breast cancer, the outlook looked bleak. Most breast cancer patients mark their 5 year mark. That’s when they can start to relax and not live in fear of a recurrence, but for Triple Negative it is the first two years that are most dangerous. Tomorrow, I step out of the fog and my diagnosis is increasingly something I see in the rear view mirror. I made it - though I am not foolhardy enough to pronounce “Mission Accomplished.” I am still Irish enough that I don’t need to tempt fate!

In the meantime, there’s time to be reflective. I still wish that I could pack everyone up and move them to Africa and live at Giraffe Manor outside Nairobi. Instead, I will figure out how to get Amelia up to Rockville for gymnastics tomorrow and how to do an interview by phone with a US general in Baghdad while I wait for Amelia during her orthodontist appointment. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen had his farewell at the Pentagon today in the press briefing room. I arrived at the Pentagon from Israel with Mullen and Gates at the start of the Iraq surge. My heart is aching as these two men leave their post because I secretly wish that I could walk out the River entrance and have someone force me into retirement. Their era was marked by so many momentous stories and historic moments and I was a witness to most of them. There was not one but two surges. An Arab spring that is about to turn to winter and the end of a decade long man hunt for Bin Laden. As we were preparing to say goodbye to Mullen, I sent his wife Deb some mementos for a scrap book for Mullen’s speech writer and aide, Captain John Kirby. He was with me at that outpost in the Korengal Valley when I realized stepping off of the Blackhawk with Mullen that I was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. Kirby wrote me some of the most eloquent e-mails during my illness telling me stories of his own father who died of cancer.

Tomorrow marks the end of an era for me just as Friday marks an end of an era for this nation as a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs moves in and Admiral Mullen retires. He joked that he an Mrs. Mullen were preparing to settle in for a long winter’s nap. I guess I should wrap things up and do the same tonight. I hope Rose peels the pomegranate that I bought for the New Year. As I sit here at my dining room table I look up at the far end of the table I see the painting of a pomegranate in Jerusalem by my favorite Israeli artist Andi Arnowitz. I think I better get some rest. I lived to fight another day. It’s going to be a sweet new year.