Ronni Gordon is  a cancer survivor and long-time journalist who has written about her journey, about health and fitness, and about how she and others have prevailed in difficult situations. She brings to her writing a mix of personal experience with knowledge about the health-care system and how cancer patients can navigate it. A graduate of Vassar College with a master's degree in journalism from Boston University, she is a freelance writer who worked in daily newspapers for more than 30 years. She has been published in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dana FarberCancer Institute magazine, and Cancer Today magazine. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her dog, Maddie, short for Madison (Avenue) in honor of her hometown, New York, and is mother of three grown children, Ben, Joe, and Katie

Ronni Gordon

What Dreams Can Do for You

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 04:09 PM

By Ronni Gordon

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I once had a very scary cancer nightmare that made me wonder if I’ll ever really feel safe from the disease.
 
The dream I had was about a tooth that I was going to have extracted later in the week. In the dream, the dentist pointed to two big bruises on my arm. She said that before she could proceed, I would need to check in with my doctor. Such bruising can be a sign of low platelets.
 
I replied in the dream that my blood had just been tested. But the dentist insisted that I needed to have the test redone because I might be relapsing.
 
I was relieved to wake up and shake off my sinking feeling. Soon, the day filled up with good things. I cut into a ripe cantaloupe at just the right time. I played tennis. I walked my dog and did some writing. And eventually the feeling of foreboding brought on by my dream faded away. You can’t extinguish that fear of relapse, but you can refocus.
 
Sometimes, the meaning of dreams can be hard to decipher. Other times it’s crystal clear.
 
A close friend of mine has been a major source of support in my cancer fight. Recently, I called her at around 11 p.m. because I had chills and felt terrible. I knew I had a fever but couldn’t find my thermometer. My friend had to go out and buy a thermometer, and when she got to my house I was getting sick all over the place. I had a temperature of 102.7. I had to take an ambulance to the hospital.
 
Shortly after that, I found that my friend would not answer my calls. It’s been more than a month now.
 
Eventually, she emailed with an excuse for not speaking to me for so long — but it was strange and not very believable. You can never know why people do things. In my opinion, I hadn’t ask too much of her. But I suppose that the episode could have been the last straw in her feeling that I depended on her too much.
 
Recently I had another dream. The same friend had given me a large purse that came in handy during my travels. In my dream, I left a hotel with some friends but suddenly remembered that I had left the purse behind. I thought of going back, but realized I could do without it.
 
It seemed to be a sign that I could leave that particular baggage behind. Sometimes our dreams show us that we are stronger than we know.
 
And then there is the recurring dream in which I am running effortlessly. Running has long been my passion. Yet although I am able to play tennis and engage in other physical activities, ever since the cancer it has been hard to mount the sustained effort required for running.
 
But just the other day, motivated by another episode of the running dream, I put on my jogging shoes and went out for a little more than a mile. It was by no means effortless, but I was glad I did it — and I might not have gone if I hadn’t rehearsed it in my dream.
 
Sometimes dreams can do that for you too.

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