by Debbie Woodbury, founder WhereWeGoNow
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity. Gilda Radner
I recently posted the above quote from Gilda Radner on my Facebook page, WhereWeGoNow as Cancer Survivors. A lot of people liked and shared it. I guess you could say it hit a nerve. That made me think about how touched I was by Gilda’s honest and moving memoir, It’s Always Something: Twentieth Anniversary Edition. I found an old copy of Gilda’s book at a garage sale a few months after my second reconstructive surgery. I had heard a lot about it and wanted to read it, but was a bit afraid. I knew how it ended. When I stumbled upon it, I figured it was meant to be in my hands and I paid the 50 cents.
Gilda originally intended to write a collection of comedic observations, but she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the book took another turn. Instead, she takes us on her journey through active cancer treatment. The overwhelming effects on her body, mind and soul, and on her family and friends are all there. I couldn’t put the book down and read it in a day. Primarily, it spoke to me of transformation – learning to let go of expectations and living life as it is being dealt to you.
The strength, vulnerability and hope of this book makes it a guide for everyone living with cancer – or any other life changing transformation. Gilda’s was the first voice that spoke to me of mindfulness and living in the present. Her acceptance didn’t come easily and can best be attributed to the support she got from other patients and survivors at The Wellness Community, which is now officially merged with Gilda’s Club and known as the Cancer Support Community. Although I had been initially afraid to read a book about dying, her memoir is in truth a powerful book about living.
If you’re interested in reading this unforgettable memoir you don’t have to wait to find an old copy at a garage sale. It’s Always Something: Twentieth Anniversary Edition is available at Amazon. (Amazon associates link.) I guarantee you will fall in love with Gilda’s warmth, strength and thank her, as I do, for leaving behind this breadcrumbs trail for the rest of us to follow.
“The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens, whether the cancer never flares up again or whether you die, the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.” Gilda Radner
Originally published on WhereWeGoNow
ABOUT: Debbie Woodbury is a cancer survivor, blogger, speaker and advocate. She created WhereWeGoNow, an interactive online community for cancer survivors embracing their “new normal” life after cancer. Join her to share and connect with other survivors!