The Cadence of Cancer

I am not a dancer. Grace, beauty and form in its purest form. I admire those who do it well, making it look effortless. Misty Copeland is as close to earthly perfection I’ve ever seen.

In high school I was the consummate band geek, at least I thought so. Years of color guard and marching band, hours of year round practice. We took our small town band to competitions all around central New York State and garnered dozens of trophies now gathering dust somewhere in a closet of my alma mater.

There’s a cadence still echoing in the recesses of my mind. Those four anticipatory beats given seconds before we were to begin. Get in position. Know your spot. Rehearse the next sequence. Give it your all. Strive for perfection. Execute it like the world is watching. Places everyone. Here we go…

And then, when we were frozen like mannequins and the hush enveloped the space for a brief second, we anticipated her staccato shouts and metronomic claps. We felt her expectation. Just a few steps closer to the illusive perfection. FIVE… Do whatever it takes, move another patient, get her in here on the 5th for a double biopsy. SIXJust ice the bruises, rest, wait. We will call you with results. Try not to worry. SEVENI’m fine. I’m going to be fine. I have to be. But they said everything except the C-word. She kept saying…really worried…about me.  EIGHT! The call came on the 8th. So sorry to give you this news over the phone. It’s cancer. You will need to come in right away…MRI…blood work….meet with surgeon…chemo…radiation…treatment has come a long way…excellent  doctors…support groups…survival.

At the flash of EIGHT, your legs snap to the precise steps, pressing toward the next movement. It’s second nature; you’ve practiced it a thousand times. You’ve got it down. Everyone surrounding you comes together in calculated movement and melodic sound to create a masterpiece. Unique. Exciting. Captivating. Winning.

So I march onward. I never expected this performance, auditioning in silence, awaiting my turn on stage. The spotlight illuminating, accentuating. I bend toward the Source. I was chosen for this performance. He leads me through every movement. I will sway to the cadence until the light fades.

And be humbly grateful.

If you know someone going through cancer, reach out to them today. Don’t offer solutions, just listen. Bring a gentle breeze of fresh air. A small effort on your part can have lasting impact. It is often the words and deeds offered in humility that last longest.

And if that person is you – wake up, rise up. You have today. Be present. Worry less. Pray harder. Love intentionally. Forgive. Pass it on.



  1. Donna Baker says:

    I know you are a beautiful person, inside and out but I didn’t know what a beautiful writer you are. That was so moving. We are so proud to call you our daughter and so grateful to have you in our family.

  2. Elegantly well said. Pray you are doing well.

  3. Sarah Patterson says:

    Beautifully written, Jennifer. Such an encouraging blog to those going through hard times.
    I am always available to listen. This has been a difficult fall for us with Stephen being in
    St. Mary’s Hospital for three and a half months. I had another heart stop and reset on Dec. 14
    at St. Mary’s. That’s my third one. So, I am with you in the surprise times and the recovery times.

    The Lord is the God of all comfort. May He comfort, bless, and strengthen you. Sarah

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