March 21, 2014. March 21, 2016. And so I celebrate this day, this two year survivor mark, even as the probability tables predict death, I defy them and live.
To my Chapel Hill faith community, who lift me up and give hope when I am too scared to find any. To my faith community at the beach who pray daily, read my blog and run to give hugs when I come to worship. To my faith community in Lumberton who invoke not just the mighty name of God but Dot and Wilton Wilkerson, my parents, believing in my healing through the precious powers of Jesus. To my faith community in New York who place my name on the prayer list and read it out loud every Sunday. To my family and friends who sent food, flowers, love and cards, I thank you for your faithfulness. I know that all of you, believers and doubters, got down on your knees and beseeched God to save my life, reading Psalm 91 daily. To my blog enthusiasts, for your devotion and belief in me as a writer and not just a patient. To my sister and her children who text, call and give love and strength on days when mine deserts me. To the providers, pharmaceutical and clinical researchers who spend their days trying to save mine. To my Ayurvedic community, who taught a five thousand year old Hindu tradition of daily hygiene, breath work, meditation, fasting and eating with herbs and cooling teas so that my body nourishes health. I am deeply and profoundly humble, so glad we found each other. To my little cousins who wanted to talk about where my breasts went and what happened to my hair so frequently that meaning and humor were enhanced. To my patients who continued to come week after week, even when the chemo fog rolled in, “Remember that Dr. Burns? I’m pretty sure we spoke of it.” And I had to tell them, “No, I don’t remember. Please remind me.” To my sons who prayed for protection and life, “Ah, come on Mom, stop being a baby, you’re not going to die. I promise, get up and take a walk.” To Norma, who was the only one who let me talk about dying and what that might be like. To my daughter, words and worlds cannot express the loving, tenderness she held physically and emotionally for me and my healing. Indebtedness for her and what she endured is an infinite stream of living water flowing between us. Last and first to my husband who looked at me as we drove to the hospital two years ago and said, “Now Julia, you know this is nothing and we are not going to worry.” And then lay beside me that night, wide awake, holding my hand, after we discovered it was something. Laying awake because we didn’t know then how long our time together would be. And because we were scared and worried. He has held my hand daily ever since. To my Mom and Dad and all my ancestors who have come to me in visions and dreams encouraging me to fight the battle and claim this victory. And to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, who with me decided less than 25% was enough.
Two years, less than 25% and holding. That is this year’s theme. That and eternal gratitude. I couldn’t have done it without you.