No, sky-diving I will never try. But I had wanted to ride in a hot-air balloon. And I did so the other day. (Click here for a little video of the take off).
My friends Teri and Barry DiLibero, who own this crazy cool experimental balloon shaped like an American flag called America One invited me for the special 9/11 ride. They had America One in the works being built one week after the attacks in 2001. They tour all over the US with this balloon.
This balloon was one of several which went up to honor first responders and commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I wrote about 9/11 a few years ago, and you can read about it HERE. Truthfully, 9/11 had significant meaning for me, not just because of what it was and all the people (including some I knew from college and days past working in NYC who perished) but because fate is a very strange mistress and in 1993 I was with a woman I worked with at the time on a trading desk in NYC named Deirdre, and we happened to exit the World Trade Center shopping concourse as the garage was blowing up. Yes, the first attack.
Feb. 26, 1993. was the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I worked in New York at that time at an office located downtown in the financial district.
Anyway, post-shopping we were back outside the Trade Center buildings, getting ready to cross the street, when suddenly the ground shook and moved. I remember that we were looking directly across the street at Century 21, a department store in Lower Manhattan.
Then something happened that rarely happens in New York: Everything went eerily still and quiet. We looked up at what we first thought were snowflakes beginning to float and fall from the sky. After all, it was February.
Then car alarms began to go off one by one like the cacophony of many distorted church bells. The snowflakes, we soon discovered, were in reality ashes. We had no idea what was going on, people started screaming, sound erupted once more, and we returned to our office at 44 Wall Street and found out what had happened.
So on 9/11, I knew what was going on once the news broke: they had come back. Now of course, this 9/11 there were attacks on US embassies in Cairo and Libya, and in Libya the ambassador was murdered and I think three aides. I am so incredibly tired of Middle East conflict. Let them have their holy war on another people.
Of course I had no idea about what was going on overseas as I went up in a hot air balloon.
It was so incredibly moving as we lifted off to see this green field in Chester County, PA dotted with the blue uniform shirts of the nearly 100 first responders from multiple local volunteer fire companies who decided to show up for these balloons – mind you that wasn’t really part of the initial thing, but when all these fire and rescue personnel heard about the balloons going up on 9/11, they showed up.
So in addition to the emotions of 9/11, I also had the emotions of being a breast cancer survivor floating high above the earth. As we glided, I could see for miles and miles. It was a very soft feeling, and oddly freeing to soar like a bird for a little while. It was very, very cool.
Maybe the balloon ride was my next zen moment post breast cancer, or maybe I just enjoyed it that much. I don’t know. What I do know, is I can cross it off my bucket list.
So I am still dealing with Tamoxifen and the hot flashes and lack of sleep, but some days are a lot better now. So I guess my body is adjusting. I have a mammogram again on Friday. I wonder when I will stop being anxious about those?
In the news, actress Kathy Bates told the world she is recovering from a double mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. She had previously survived ovarian cancer.
As opposed to those celebrities/news talking heads like Giuliana Rancic and Andrea Mitchell, her style of letting everyone know was realistic, down to earth and had some very much appreciated by me slightly self-deprecating humor. She said (and I quote):
“I don’t miss my breasts as much as I miss Harry’s Law,” added the Emmy-nominated star of the TV legal series, which was cancelled earlier this
She also did not pronounce herself “cured”, nor did she give the series of interviews on various shows doing the happy-perky-it’s-o.k. schtick.
Kathy Bates is a real woman, and handled the disclosure of her personal business beautifully. And with dignity. To her I say Brava for doing that and keeping it real. I chose to be positive and get through my breast cancer, but that being said the fake chirpiness from celebrity types over this is slightly nauseating.
I have a few hundred photos to sift through from my balloon ride, if you all would like, I will post a set link when I am through. Life marches on with my sweet man, I have a few more professional bylines under my belt for little pieces I have written, and I am in a cookbook being released in October by Epricurious.com.
So all in all, how crazy is it at the end of the day that in a sense, having breast cancer was a very positive life altering experience? Maybe my thought process is skewed, but I think becoming a survivor freed me in a way, so I could live a better, more fullfilling life. It also has made me more comfortable in general with who I am, and less apologetic.
Surviving is a really big deal. And I am continually proud of myself for facing the reality of my disease and living through to a better place.
Call me crazy, I think the balloon ride was as significant as it was symbolic. I think all breast cancer survivors should take one.
Over and out.