Thanksgiving weekend has been a collection of days recounting all that I am thankful for. My daughter loved her trip and has been bit by the travel bug which makes my heart sing with joy for all the adventures she has ahead. She is home and I got to give her the biggest hugs we have settled back into our old routines for now. Sam and Charlie the cat came home for a night which was pure joy. We had a lovely Thanksgiving day with my Dad, Step-mom, and two of my step-brother’s families. The kids and I had such a good time we didn’t want to leave. We did leave to go visit my mom and have pie which was lovely. Ella started a game of tag between her and Sam, which was hilarious as my kids are 5’11” and 6’5″. To hear the roar of their laugh and to hear Ella yell “Your arms are too long!” has me still giggling now.
The evening closed off with Sam and me taking a walk in the park. I do love my late-night talks with Sam that we have had almost all of his life. As he has gotten older the conversation topic and themes change. We discuss life, politics, family, music, movies, podcasts, and relationships, he nudges me and I gently nudge him on our desired paths. We have made a plan for me to come down to have dinner with him at his place more often. I bring dinner from his favorite places in Ypsi, like Ma Lou’s, and he will introduce me to video games I would like or we will watch movies off the must-see list we will be compiling.
Yesterday, I made the kid’s gluten-free Trader Joe’s Pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. It was a chill lovely morning with my humans. I could not have asked for anything more. That afternoon I settled into a book that a lovely human shared with me called Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen. (Here is the On Being podcast that was shared before the book showed up at my door.) I love this woman’s mind and perspective on living. So much of her wisdom is resonating with me, that I am making so many notes in the margins of this book and plan to read it again immediately after I am finished. Thank goodness hibernation season is among up Michiganders.
I am so full of gratitude for this beautiful little life I have found myself in.
A couple of weeks ago I shared here that my cancer may be back and that I got a PET scan to follow up. About ten days ago I received a call while I was at work from my oncologist. My medical team (I find it amusing that I have a team) met and they are concerned. They think my cancer is back. They want to do a biopsy to be sure. I have so much scar tissue in my belly that they don’t want to do it via laparoscopic so they will open me up. Which, on the bright side, if my logic serves me correctly they would then be able to repair my abdominals when they close me up. I will get the repair that was canceled due to this new development.
They say is early and small, like a jelly schmear my oncologist said as she knows I like visual comparables. My last tumor was the size of a baby squirrel, hence it was named Cameron. This current anomaly has been named Smuckers. Jelly schmear = Smuckers and it is fun to say. It is hard to be upset and serious and say Smuckers. It’s so ridiculous that one must chuckle in my opinion. I am contemplating having the doctors say Smuckers rather than cancer or tumor in our upcoming visits. My ride, my rules.
Naming and anthropomorphizing the foreign agents in my body helps me. It turns the “fight cancer” into “asking an unwanted guest to leave the building”. I am not a big fan of the word “fight”. I don’t like fighting people and I do not like the idea of fighting my body. Also, I don’t feel angry. I don’t know how long this ride of life is going to be and anger is just not high on my list of puddles to sit in. It’s not that anger doesn’t pop in for a momentary check-in to rummage through the fridge and maybe do a load of laundry. But as I open the front door to anger, I then open the back door for anger to move through my house once it has done its thing. Anger does not get to reside here. Today, Smuckers does but we are working on a compassionate exit plan.
After the follow-up call ten days ago, I left work early. Overwhelm flooded me with my oncologist’s words ringing in my ears. It felt like I needed to do all the planning, make all the decisions, and schedule all the things at that exact moment. I did not need to do all of that. I needed to go sit, breathe and do absolutely nothing. I just needed a minute.
The past 18 months, I have taken in stride but have been far from stress-free. A divorce, a move, a new job, care-taking, parenting, healing many aspects of my life – if I am to be honest, I did a great job juggling it all but I did slip into a high-functioning depression. I was getting all the things done but the weight started to get to me. I lost my energy to walk every day as I had for two years previous. I would treat myself to food that was not on my recommended diet more than I should have, to feel normal or to just “treat” myself. I have been struggling to keep my head above water, definitely not close to doing a functional swim stroke to get me anywhere in these waters. Just flailing and gasping over here, don’t mind me.
With a previous Stage IV cancer diagnosis, I always knew this was a possibility. My body has no genetic markers which lead me to feel like this is a way my body chooses to speak to me. I almost made it three years cancer free after my second tumor. That is much longer than the first time when I did chemo and they said it wouldn’t come back. It did come back with a vengeance in less than six months. Advice: Never prophesize when it comes to healthcare. The body is its own mystery. At this moment I feel like my body is giving me a big wake-up call to get back on track. For that, I am full of gratitude.
I have been quiet the past ten days as I was waiting for my daughter to come home from her two-month trip to give her the update and to settle into this new norm. I met briefly with my Chinese doctor this past week and will be seeing him again on the 15th. I have reached out to other practitioners who do have modalities I have not tried yet. I am reading and researching all the options out there which are many. I have pulled my cancer books off the shelf. I am cleaning up my diet. I ordered a new juicer on sale for Black Friday. I am back to walking every day even when I don’t want to. I am optimistic.
For now, I am planning on my biopsy to be in early January as I have a couple of important trips coming up. Sam did ask how soon I could get the biopsy to exit this land of nebulous that we are floating in with the almost certain but not sure diagnosis. My reply was after my planned trips. I am spending time with a very important person to me and I would like to enjoy that time, NOT healing from a gaping wound. I explained it like this – Being human is a three-legged stool. One leg is the body self, one leg is the mental self, and one leg is the emotional self. All three of these hold the weight of life itself. Hiking in Big Sur with a lovely human staying in an old cabin and hiking up north Michigan with a lovely human staying in an old cabin is very important for my mental and emotional health. Focusing only on the body without the mind and the emotions create an unstable stool.
For now, I sit here on this beautiful Saturday morning doing something I love, writing. I am going to go thrifting with my daughter and bonus daughter. Then maybe a walk in the woods and some reading time, who knows what the day will bring. As my dear friend, Stacia said “You have today. Live for today.”
So I shall.