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Comparing scars.

Last week, we welcomed to Milagro a new guest who walked slowly and with a noticeable limp. On her get-to-know-you form, she answered our question “For what are you most grateful?” with one simple sentence:

“The chemo seems to have worked.”

When I was in cancer treatment at 31, two acquaintances near my age also received diagnoses. They did not survive. This changed my soul immeasurably more than the cancer changed my body. And it left my heart with scars I don’t plan to hide.

This is probably more honest than I’m supposed to be with you all, but I’m going to share it anyway. Last month, I had this text convo with Smitty:

I’m a fun person, I really am. I make people laugh, I can recite the first 5 minutes of “Clueless”, and I’m always game for a serious conversation about Chicago deep dish “pizza” (it’s not pizza). But continuously lurking in the back of my mind is a strange but useful type of cancer survivor’s guilt. And I’m so grateful for it.

It reminds me I’m lucky to be here and I owe it to those who aren’t to use my life wisely. It’s how I choose what’s important (pizza) and what isn’t.

And every time I’m discouraged and think “it’s just a spa”, life sends me battered folks desperate for Milagro. In comes the recently widowed and the recently diagnosed and the recently laid off and the recently left single with three kids.

In comes the “caring for my mom with Alzheimer’s” and the “scheduling my four-year-old’s third surgery”.

Milagro is for them. And Milagro is for the rest of us who just (really really) often need a reminder that life is short and it’s a gift and we’ve promised ourselves we’re gonna give it everything, not just what’s left over after chasing s#!* we really don’t care about.

So come for the reminder. And stay for the pizza discussion.


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