verb | ˈrādēˌāt | 

1 [with object] emit (energy, especially light or heat) in the form of rays or waves: the hot stars radiate energy

[no object, with adverbial of direction] (of light, heat, or other energy) be emitted in the form of rays or waves: the continual stream of energy that radiates from the sun

• (of a person) clearly emanate (a strong feeling or quality) through their expression or bearing: she lifted her chin, radiating defiance

• (radiate from) (of a feeling or quality) emanate clearly from: leadership and confidence radiate from her.

Radiate. It has several meanings for me these days: I am radiated upon, as in receiving radiation as part of my breast cancer treatment plan. And, more philosophically, I try to radiate from within some form of optimism and hope.

The first one is easy, I just show up and let them zap me. The second one…well, it can take some effort.

Sometimes the universe helps me along. 

The other day, while on my daily walk (or run, depending on my mood), someone had chalked a simple message onto the sidewalk.

“Radiate Positivity”

I’m pretty sure the writer had no idea that I needed to see that as a reminder to me to keep trying to shine and move forward. 

Having cancer at any point in life sucks. Hence the ubiquitous Internet “bumper sticker”: Cancer Sucks. But having cancer during a pandemic? Feels like a cruel joke. *shakes fist at sky

Today, I needed that reminder.  It has been a damn crappy day. It started, as always with coaxing my aging and radiated body out of bed and down what feels like 18 flights of stairs. I get a cup of coffee and check my phone to see how the world has changed while I slept. I then grab the coveted disinfectant wipes and start the routine of wiping everything down (feels like a never ending chore).

In my exuberance, I wiped my phone right into the dog’s water dish. 


I dive (felt like slow-motion) for the device as it does a triple-lindy into the stainless steel vessel. 

Too late.

I submerge my hand in the drool filled water, and pull out the 5 ½ year old iPhone 6s, begging it to stay with me. “C’mon baby…don’t die on me now. I can’t lose you. Not now.”

I had just paid a guy a fist of cash (I basically threw it to him, surprised he took it, considering how aware we all are now of germ-riddled bills) to remove a giant, encroaching tree-bush from next to our driveway, and have nothing to spare. So, I put the phone in my dish rack, race to get ready for the 1st kind of radiation I mentioned, willing the old girl to come back to life. 

I get home and realize the phone is on life-support. I can’t get that damn Apple logo to do anything but glare at me. I press the power button, I hold down the power button with the home button, I do the hokey-pokey and turn myself about. I do a little dance to Dr. John’s 1968 classic psychodelic-gumbo masterpiece “Gris Gris”, hoping it will have some mystical, magical Voo-Doo effect. 


I resort to pawing through a junk box in my den, and find what I am looking for: an ancient Motorola flip-phone I have held onto through all of our upgrades, just for an emergency such as this. I find the charging cord, and plug it in. Doesn’t take long to light up.

“Nice”, I say to no one, “it will be kind of cool to go old school for a while”.

I use my son’s phone to talk to a Verizon rep, jump through a bunch of hoops just to find out Verizon no longer supports old-school Motorola flip-phones.

My son reminds me he still has his cracked, somewhat working Google Pixel phone. I’ll take it, I say. Jump through more hoops, and end up with a partially working device.

As the Apple sits in a bag of rice, I keep thinking about that chalk rainbow a random stranger drew for me. They don’t know they drew it for me, but I reflect on what is beautiful in this weird dystopian world we all find ourselves in.

I realize a phone is a phone, and I may or may not get to replace it. But who cares. I will send smoke signals to radiate positivity if I have to. 

3 thoughts on “Radiate

  1. Joanna K Haeck

    Oh geez. It’s just one damn thing after another. But … you DO radiate positivity, and strength! You’re doing such an amazing job of it all (and I hate using the word “amazing” unless something is truly amazing!). And, it beats a block-style portable phone from the early 90’s. Hang in there, beautiful lady!


  2. Pingback: Cancerversary – Run. Ride. Live.

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