I’ve been driving my dear friend Susan to radiation treatment for breast cancer in Marquette several times in these past couple of months. She’s traveled to the hospital for treatment over an hour and a half away from Baraga five days a week for almost six weeks. (That was after a round of chemotherapy up in Hancock earlier this year.)
She (and we) have driven through snowstorms, slush, rain and ice white-knuckling the wheel, feeling nowhere near radiant. Just praying to make it to Marquette and home alive. That’s all part of the challenges when you’re faced with cancer and live in the rural areas of the Upper Peninsula.
I have learned so much from holding Susan’s hand as she experiences this challenging time in her life. I have watched her be so very brave. I’ve witnessed her laughter, her angst, her grin, her struggles, and her beauty.
Wow…I’ve learned that it’s not a person’s spirit who “gets cancer”. The body may produce cancer cells, but the person’s essence remains the same, shining out radiance and being even when times may feel tough.
Susan is my hero–well, she has always been my hero–even before those cancer cells appeared. She seemingly understands and loves me as much as I love her. She and I often chat and laugh all the way to treatment. Can you imagine laughing and loving and living vibrantly at a time like this? But that’s what we do. We allow the cancer to sit between us in the car, but it’s not going to become the focal point. What is the focal point is the radiance of being alive and acting silly and telling word jokes and trying to figure out life.
Yesterday we arrived in Marquette a half hour before her appointment, since no imminent snowstorms or slush or dreaded ice interfered with the drive. We headed down to the Lower Harbor and noticed–ohmygoodness!–a magnificent sunrise staining the sky above Lake Superior.
We jumped out of the car and grabbed the camera (since resuming blogging I decided to start carrying the camera around again) and scurried toward the water.
Equally amazing–a beautiful freighter parked at the pier, its lights shining in the orange-pink-yellow dawn sky.
Barry (who also once drove Susan and me to Marquette during a challenging snowy morning) later visited boatnerd.com where you can look up the names of the freighters on the Great Lakes. We suspect it’s the Lee A. Tregurtha, although the Algosteel was located off Marquette when we looked later in the afternoon. (Boatnerd shows the boats’ locations in real-time, so it can be confusing when you search six hours later.)
Now a little practical information about this freighter:
This ship was built in the early stages of World War II as a tanker for Mobiloil. It launched in 1942. It was taken over by the Navy for the Atlantic Fleet, and then commissioned in Pearl Harbor. In 1960 Cleveland Cliffs bought it to carry ore in the Great Lakes. In 1989 Ford Motor Company renamed it the the Lee A. Tregurtha.
But Susan and I weren’t thinking practical yesterday morning. Instead, we were basking in the radiance of the skies. In a feeling of mystery and magic and awe.
Life can sometimes be just so beautiful, can’t it?
Even in the midst of fear or worries or confusion, the brightness of dawn can continue to shine forth bringing hope and gratitude.
Loving the radiance of your being, Susan “Dee”. Keep on shining, my friend…
It’s been my honor to accompany you on your journey.