The year is 2017…the weather has been unusually cold and snowy for the Willamette Valley. We actually have snow on the ground and it has stayed for over 24 hours. I still find it nice to be able to sit outside and just meditate to the night sky, although it’s getting more and more difficult to do because of the cold and regardless of how many gloves I put on, I start to feel the pain in my fingers. I could handle sitting out there longer if it weren’t for my fingers.
With the new year just beginning, I have to stop and meditate on how much 2016 changed me. While many have been sad moments which have left a lasting impression on me, there have been some happy moments also.
If anyone had asked me when I was younger what I would be when I was older, I would have answered with Astronaut or Elementary School Teacher. Regardless of the position, I felt that I would be able to leave a lasting impression on the world. I was able to be an adventurer in the world. But I think that is probably everyone’s goal at one point in time in their lives; to leave behind a legacy worth remembering.
I bring this up because in the Summer of 2016, I was informed of my father-in-law’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s. This man who had won my heart many years before was hurting. He and I used to spend so much time watching kung-fu movies and him telling me about the different moves. I loved to make him smile. He captured my heart so easily.
I also bring this up because in August 2016, I lost a woman who TO me accomplished all of that and more. She was a warrior, nurse, teacher, mother, grandmother, someone’s rock, selfless and generous. She was strength exponentiated. She left behind a legacy that is worth more than any treasure available. She left behind a legacy of faith and generosity and community service to her beloved city. Along with the memories, she gave us each who knew her the gift of strength, faith, unconditional love, family, passion, sassiness, and the gift of giving. My Little Grandmamma lost her battle with ALS and left all of us with a gaping wound that is still healing.
Less than two weeks later, her sister joined her in Heaven. Finally all of her memories had returned.
Then, a little more than 2 months later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3A Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Since that day, my brain seems like it is on over load. One minute I’m doing fine, glass is half-full, it’s a positive day; the next I’m struggling to keep my composure, glass is half-empty, feeling lost and alone. I thought my mood swings from my Bipolar were bad…this is completely crazy.
But on the day I was diagnosed, I remembered this quote from Paulo Coelho:
“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.”
I kept thinking of how I couldn’t allow myself to be treated like a victim. That I am not a victim to this world. I can’t allow this disease to rule over me and take control over every aspect of my life….But it does. I’m not a victim in this. But Cancer rules my life every day. There are days I spend most of my time just trying to get comfortable either in bed or on the couch. There are days where I can only eat pretzels and drink Gatorade, lemonade, and Unsweet Iced Tea.
I finally broke down, 2016…I thought I was prepared for everything, but I wasn’t prepared to the actual action. On December 30, my scalp was screaming in pain…no amount of brushing, ice, heat, pain meds, or even just trying to cover it and my body would shake with the pain. It got so bad, I called a hair stylist and asked for a quote. I have to say Diviniy Salon in Springfield, Oregon is extremely welcoming and caring. The stylist I had gave me my shave for free. I feels so wonderful have her care and take the time to wash my hair and allow me to take things at my pace.
Maybe you are like me and start out in your diagnosis not wanting to have this “Cancer” dictate all of your life and to be all that you think and talk about…but before you can control it, it becomes all that consumes you. It’s all you breathe, think, pray, dream, and scream about during the night. You find yourself overwhelmed with all of the different treatment options out there, many not suggested by your oncologist because they follow a more natural path, and there are others with good results that work together with the treatment plan your doctor has for you.
And maybe you are even more like me in that you find yourself so overwhelmed by all that you desperately need that even though there are organizations that are able to help with things…you are so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, let alone the effects the chemotherapy is having on your body, that you are almost standing there at the crossroads, knowing which way to go, but knowing that in order to actually get help, you yourself are going to need help in asking.
I don’t want to be a victim in this world. I want to be that adventurer out seeking for treasure that I know the world holds for each of us. But I have to be honest at this moment…I just don’t know where to begin, or how. I go for my third a/c treatment on Tuesday and I know to expect that beginning on Wednesday night the bad times will come. It will be the start of an almost 10 day cycle of unable to get comfortable because of the pain, constant nausea, unable to taste anything, and having to live off of pretzels, Gatorade, water, unsweet iced tea, and diet ginger ale. It will take almost 10 days before I will be able to eat anything resembling food, and even then it will have to be extremely bland.
I miss my old self.
So…2017…you have a lot to live up to. This is the my year. This is the year I finish this Cancer. No coming back…no more chemo. You are to bring my disability case to an end with it in my favor this year…preferably sooner than later. And most importantly…you are to make sure my friends and family come for a visit. I miss each of them so much…
2017…I expect great things from you.
But let’s be honest for just a moment…I’d just like to be able to get through these next two a/c chemotherapy treatments with little nausea and hopefully with sleep. Sleep helps with the pain.
But in honesty 2017…you are expected to bring back my muse. I miss her and I’ve been feeling creative, but I look only on blank pages. One day I will be able to devote myself to bettering you and making you proud, but as of now…I am left with nothing to give.
Farewell my sweets…until next time. Keep your chin up. If you need to let out aggression, go for a walk, work out, or if you’re like me, draw or write it out.
Playlist song playing: “Fight Song” Wildfire