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“Bending Into the Wind” by Liz Johnson – A #MetsMonday Featured Post

I’m pleased to share the next #MetsMonday featured post. This one is from my friend Liz Johnson, blogger at Breast Cancer Conscript. Liz was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in February 2015, less than four years after her initial stage 2 diagnosis. As Liz candidly shared with me in our email exchanges, moving through it sucks, and sometimes she finds herself regressing back into stages of processing it – particularly the pulling the covers over her head part. The event so eloquently described below happened in 2017.

Thank you for sharing your amazing writing on Nancy’s Point, Liz. Be sure to leave Liz a comment when you’ve finished reading her piece.

Bending Into the Wind

By Liz Johnson

My husband’s aunt had died and we’d shown up late to the funeral, parking along the street across from my estranged sister-in-law’s car. I’d brought her five-year-old son a Christmas gift that I planned to hand off to her rather than mail.

It was a cold, gray day with a piercing rain just before Christmas. My husband and I sat in the car waiting for the procession to begin, when she came out of the funeral home and approached her car.

I pried myself from the comfort of the heated seat, grabbed the gift, pulled my coat tight around me, bent into the wind and ran toward her.

“This is for Fabio,” I said with a forced smile. She fumbled with the package, a bit dazed.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I added.

She looked me in the eye, her face pinched with pain.

“It sucks,” she hissed.

Yes, it sucks.

And you’re angry and you lash out at everyone around you, including the stranger who stops you to scold you as your dog is taking a dump in a patch of poison ivy that you have no intention of cleaning up. So you take a step forward, invading her personal space and within inches of her nose proclaim, “I’ve just been diagnosed with incurable, inoperable cancer. I have bigger issues to deal with.” She shrinks back in horror and scurries off.

The people who love you will forgive you. Those who don’t stop talking to you. Maybe because they’re cruel and don’t’ care. More likely because they just don’t know what to say.

Yes, it sucks.

And you’re profoundly sad. You try to meditate, to just “be” with it as somebody – or everybody it seems – has told you to do in order to find peace. Except that all that comes is a stream of tears no matter how long you stay in the seat.

Yes, it sucks.

And you pull the covers over your head along with a pillow so you can’t tell if it’s day or night. You stop answering your phone or replying to emails or cards or gifts. It only feels like a few days, but it turns out to be weeks, maybe even months.

Yes, it sucks.

And you drive with the windshield wipers on because every song on the radio seems to be an ode to how much it sucks, until you realize it’s not rain that’s blurring your vision but your tears. So you pull over as your shoulders heave the way they did when you cried when you were a child and some primordial sound comes out of your throat that you don’t recognize and it scares you into not crying.

Yes, it sucks.

You’ve driven this road a million times through the years and nothing about it has changed. It’s another stark reminder that your world is shattered while everyone else goes on oblivious, just the way they always have.

Yes, it sucks.

Until you’ve cried so much you can’t cry any more. And you sigh a sigh of exhaustion which is the closest you’re going to come to peace.

Yes, it sucks.

And it always will, from now on. All that’s left is a choice. Will you wallow in misery or, knowing that there’s nothing you can do about how much it sucks, decide to be happy anyway because the one thing it’s taught you is that life is too short?

As the cold rain stung my cheek I relaxed the grip I had on myself and reached out to my grieving sister-in-law touching her gently on the shoulder while looking at her with soft eyes. I told her the only thing I knew to be true.

“Yes, it does.”

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Do you have a comment or question for Liz?

Regardless of stage, how do you “bend into the wind”?

Do you have metastatic disease?

About Liz:  Liz Johnson is a writer, journalist, Breast Cancer Conscript blogger, triathlete (emphasis on the world “try”) and aspiring novelist working on her first book titled Win by Defeat. After being diagnosed with a breast cancer recurrence in 2015, she ran for office and is now serving a three-year term on Frenchtown Borough Council and as sewer commissioner. “The shit has to run through me,” she says. She lives in New Jersey along the Delaware River with her husband and two dogs. Follow Liz on Twitter here.

Bending Into the Wind by Liz Johnson, A Mets Monday Featured Post

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Monday 22nd of February 2021

I just re-read my comment from last year and I want you to know that I'm sick of Bending. Now I just want to howl like the wind. Okay?


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Linda, Howl away.


Monday 27th of April 2020

It does suck. I'm not one to hide under the covers. Nope, I wear my heart on my sleeve and tell anyone who listens how it sucks and I'm ANGRY. But these past few days I've had people ask me about if it sucks more because of the Covid restrictions. Strangely, Covid did not make it worse for me. I've had to articulate how it's similar and how doing self-care for cancer has made being prepared for Covid a bit easier. And I agree with Liz: your family and true friends will understand and give you the time to be angry. Cause it does suck.


Wednesday 29th of April 2020

Linda, I'm glad you get to wear your heart on your sleeve and that your family and friends are so understanding and supportive. Because it does suck and not being able to do that would make it all suck even more. Thanks for sharing.

Marni Sanders

Saturday 9th of June 2018

Very powerful and well written. I have a friends whose mom told her, “People just say the stupidest things when it comes to loss.” When really, you should just say,, “I’m sorry!” And maybe add that it sucks. I have metastatic BC so I hear all the stupidest things all day long.


Monday 21st of May 2018

I thank you for your honesty, your courage, and fire. It is refreshing for these blogs and for our souls.

Andrea Harris

Sunday 20th of May 2018

Liz, you are astounding. Real, honest, and inspiring. I'm SO glad I found your blog. I am from NJ and have many times passed the French Broad River. The world can be delightfully small and Im glad. You are a fabulous writer.