Monday, June 21, 2010

Life is Good

Sometimes things can be so good that it is scary. I feel like I am at this juncture where all your prayers and support are pulling things together, and I can't even describe how appreciative and awestruck I am. I feel like the power of this group can move mountains, and I am so honored that you are moving this particular mountain. You are recalibrating my sense of what is possible. What a gift.

The big good news is that my CEA level (blood tumor marker) is down to 4.5. Normal is 2.5 and below. I am thrilled that this is moving in a healthy direction!

I'm not sure what specific thing is doing the trick. There is the chemo combined with all the prayers on my behalf, Chinese tea, raw vegan diet, juicing, wheatgrass juice, yoga, mind/body work, acupuncture....exercise should be in there, too, but I'm lacking in that area. In any case, I will keep doing all of that, and hope that you don't mind continuing to do whatever you are doing, whatever you can do. Thank you.

Your support leading up to my PET CT was immensely helpful. I think that was more stressful than I realized, and it made me feel really fragile at that time.

After my PET CT, the plan was to talk with the doctor in D.C. about being a candidate for HIPAC surgery. We still want to talk with him, but since things are going in a good direction, it is hard to sign up for such a huge surgery. I'm glad that it feels a bit less urgent.

This past chemo week was like the others, including the intense stomach pain. Thankfully, it passed, and I didn't need to go to the hospital. The pattern is familiar by now; even the conversations / arguments that Tiron and I have about my condition at different points of the week are becoming predictable. And then the good days help me to forget all that.

This weekend, we went to the amazing James Taylor Carole King concert. I arrived loving James Taylor, and I left wanting to BE Carole King. She is so strong, energetic, inspiring, talented and clearly a focused worker. She was smiling, upbeat and involved in the entire concert. If she wasn't playing piano, she was singing with the backup singers or dancing around the stage. For me, she made the show come alive, and helped me to see how being fully present and involved can strongly influence the experience of others.

And her hair -- thick and curly. I want that, too!

Just as I underestimated Carole King's sheer vibrant presence, I'm often wrong about people. I once tuned into Oprah to watch Randy Pausch (of The Last Lecture fame) but Kris Carr was the first guest. I thought, "who on earth is SHE anyway?" but I listened. She sparked my interest in juicing greens and in Hippocrates Health Institute. Since then, I've attended her workshop as well as Hippocrates and now believe that Kris totally rocks.

I'm constantly reminded that there is more to someone than meets the eye. I'm also learning that is true for other things, cheating just a bit on a food regimen.

I've been eating raw foods and juicing greens and wheatgrass pretty religiously for the past couple of months. About two weeks ago, I felt confident that my body had a huge stockpile of greens and I could eat one small piece of cheese. It tasted good. It felt creamy. It really hit the spot. How about just another small piece? And so I started down the slippery slope. Over a few days, I finished all the cheese in the house. Thank goodness. And, who would notice anyway?

Then I went to my acupuncturist. At the start of the session, she pressed on different points on my legs. When she pressed on a point next to my knee, it felt sore. Our converstaion went something like this:

Me: Wow, that's sore. Feels like a black and blue mark.
Marisa: Here? (she pressed again)
Me: Right there. Yes. Weird. It didn't hurt until you pressed on it.
Marisa: That point processes dampness. Like, dairy. Dairy is a damp food. But you are on a raw food diet.


So, I'm recommitted to my diet. No one else might notice the missing cheese, but that little thing must make a difference in my body.

Talking with some girlfriends, one of whom is a nutritionist, we noted that all the diets that are considered to be healthy also come from tightly knit communities, where the focus is not the individual, but the community. So maybe it isn't the diet. Maybe it is the power of being part of a community.

I am grateful for the power of this community for me and my family.

This week, I completed my participation in a prayer survey as part of a research project at the hospital. The questions in the final survey made me look anew at the support I get from you. Each time I answered a question like, "how often do you feel alone," or "is there anyone you can turn to when you are sad," I renewed my gratitude that you are in my life, in whatever way you can be in the moment. No matter what part of the world you are in, I feel a connection. That gives me energy, and makes me smile.

So while the lyrics from "You've Got a Friend" might be applicable here, these Carole King lyrics (from Beautiful) speak more loudly to me right now:

You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart....
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

I hope you are feeling particularly beautiful today.

Much love,

P.S. Chemo tomorrow. Thank you for any prayers and good thoughts, both for a good chemo week as well as good results!

1 comment:

ruth pennebaker said...

So glad you're doing well, Marie, and doing things you enjoy. I think we're all proud to be part of *your* community, too.