Breast Cancer Taught Me the Urgency of Saying ‘Yes’ to Adventure

Breast Cancer Taught Me the Urgency of Saying ‘Yes’ to Adventure
“You’ll wear it in Tahiti,” said my husband, Gary. It was Christmas morning, nearly a decade ago, and I unwrapped a fabulous dress perfect for the islands. “Try it on, Mommy,” Lauren said. Shiny red ribbon twirled in her chubby fingers and she had tinsel in her hair. “Three tickets to Tahiti will cost us a fortune,” I told Gary. “I’m not sure we can swing it.” “Lauren’s not invited, so we only need two tickets," he said. "She can go with her own husband in 20 or 30 years.” I looked at my elderly mother-in-law whose hearing was so bad that she wasn’t following the conversation. “Your mom can’t take care of Lauren,” I said. My mom suffered from Alzheimer’s and my dad had myasthenia gravis. Gary’s dad died a year after Lauren was born, so there was no one to watch her if we left. But the truth is that even if we had a team of nannies with doctorate degrees in child development, I couldn’t imagine leaving our daughter on the other side of the globe while we snorkeled in the tropics. “We’ll get there someday," I told Gary. I hung the dress in the back of my closet. A few years later, when an earthquake broke a water pipe that saturated our drywall, we moved everything from that closet, and out came the dress — tags and all. “I wonder if it still fits,” I said, slipping it over my head. The soft cotton felt like silk and the colors popped just like I remembered. But instead of booking a trip, I tossed it on the “keep” pile and went back to my task. The following Christmas, I talked to my sisters about it. “We’ll take care of Lauren,” they both said. “She’ll have a blast.” By that time, Lauren was old enough to be separated from her parents for a couple of weeks. I visualized Gary’s shoc
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