"At one point, I had an allergic reaction to one of the chemotherapy agents (Taxol) and started to 'crash.' A vivid image kept me from losing my grip - both physically and emotionally.
"As I slipped from conscious awareness that I was crashing, I imagined myself dangling by my fingertips from a very high, very thin wire. Below me was a great black void. Unable to bear the emptiness, I began to make out faces in the darkness - those of my family and friends, and those of my medical team.
"They were linking arms to create a kind of safety net below me. The longer I looked, the farther out the safety net spread. I saw neighbors and servers and merchants and people whose lives I'd touched in some way. I imagined people with cancer who'd come before me - those who had survived, and those who had not.
"Beyond them were people who researched and produced the drugs that, I hoped, would save my life. And among them were the generous philanthropists who supported their work, as well as the support programs that supported me at the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia.
"The net kept expanding and spreading. And soon the energy from all those interlinking arms pushed back against the force that was pulling me down - and I returned from the brink."
She woke to a medical team standing over her. She remembers a nurse saying, "I can't seem to get a pulse. . .."
"Those of us who have had a cancer diagnosis, or who have had a loved one with a cancer diagnosis, are repeatedly faced with our own mortality. In subsequent moments of sheer terror - terror at the thought of such emptiness - this image has comforted and sustained me.
"I hope that as others face similar moments in their lives, they know that I, too, will be there for them - ready, with so many others, to be part of a vast safety net of cancer supporters and survivors."
- Michael Vitez