Cancer, Love, and More Cancer
It’s Wednesday. November 5th, 2008. Tomorrow is the Big Event. I’ve been gearing up to it for weeks now. I’m still trying to find the words I need for my speech and I want to pick up a pair of slippers to match what I’m wearing, but pretty much, I’m ready.
I’d been spending time lately sort of planning out the next move for myself. I looked into places that I could visit where I would step into the next stage of healing. There are clinics all over the world that have programs designed for people “living with cancer”. Often they include education about diet, exercise and lifestyle. Sometimes colonics, massage and acupuncture are included in the fee as well, and often you are close to a body of water, or there is a pool, so that the journey toward health is really quite luxurious. It also makes up for the stringent dietary limitations (raw, vegan, wheatgrass) in these places, just in case you were about to mistake the experience for a “holiday”. It felt good to think that I was almost well enough to consider big changes and that I could, perhaps, begin to take some risks: A glass of wine with dinner or a candy bar. I considered that after all the sacrifices I’d made, and all the progress in respect to overcoming this disease, it was likely that my immune system would even be able to withstand a trip to Rajastan or Mexico City. I bought a new camera.
On Sunday night I felt a bit punky. I was tired and sluggish, and for the prior few days had carried around a vague headache and achy muscles. Then I found the lump. It was under my arm, my left arm, the same spot where seven years ago they fished out lymph nodes that would be implicated in my breast cancer. After the initial heart stopping moment, once I’d thought it through with a straight head, I decided it wasn’t a bad thing.Was I crazy? This was a spongy, somewhat painful lump, not like cancer, and my oncologist had not detected it last week when I had a check up, so after a few deep breaths I realized I was overreacting, and cancer was probably only a remote possibility. In fact, a ridiculous and paranoid projection. More like an infection. Yeah, that’s right. Whew!
Monday I had a CT Scan and blood tests. Tuesday, late afternoon, I saw the doctor. We looked at the blood tests, and the results of the CT Scan from the day before. It’s the breast cancer, he said. We’ve got to hit it hard with a big hammer, or you will not live past February.
Whenever they say stuff like that, I always think how do THEY know when I going to die? What kind of arrogance gives them permission to play God? But this guy, this oncologist, and I have been to war together. This is not just some cold, analytical response from a relative stranger. This man has become my friend. My family. I said please don’t pump me full of drugs and diminish the quality of my life just so I can squeeze an extra month or two out of this life. Please look at me and tell me I can actually kick this thing. Tell me the truth about my chances of survival. I am not going to go thru with this and die from treatment. With tears in his eyes, he turned his swivel chair to me, and looked me square in the face. You don’t want to die, do you? I shook my head. Then, let’s get started! We shared a slow smile.
I’m not sure if he answered my questions, but I keep seeing that slow smile, and that is where my trust lies. I trust the twinkle behind those eyes and the warmth that embraced me as his head moved up and down in a “yes”. Ok. I’m going with him on this. I have to. So, right here, right now, marks the beginning of new hope. I am going to kick this cancer in the ass. Watch me.
I went straight to Walter’s office. Dr. Lemmo. Talk about family. I just may be the luckiest person on the planet. You cannot imagine the amount of love surrounding me and my family. Honestly, think of what you can do with so much love. I do believe one could even…dare I say? heal. I bet that much love could even make a miracle happen
But no matter what happens, there cannot be a better feeling in all the world than knowing you are loved. If this cancer wins, and I do not survive this challenge, please know that it was just my time to go, because love of this quality and duration is so beautiful and so powerful that it can’t be wrong. There are things we just don’t understand. Isn’t that why life is considered a mystery in the first place?
So, Walter. He and I are working out a support plan for when the chemo begins. I will let you all know the details once it’s worked out, based on the kind of chemo, and the amount of the dosages. There is some difficulty getting BCMedical to approve payment for one of the drugs my oncologist wants to administer, but I’m going to try not to stress out about all that right now.
And, please don’t forget the event on Thursday night. It will be so nice to see you there. I’ll be that woman in the room that’s shining. I’ll be basking in the light from all your love.