Monday, June 13, 2011

Shift the Energy

Thank you for being there. Thank you for being there in so many ways: for support, for listening, for laughing, for sharing. Thank you for allowing me to share in your life, and I feel so fortunate that, especially in these past few months, I've been able to do that more actively.

I am thrilled to share the news that my CEA level is holding steady. The CEA is a marker in my blood that can often indicate the presence of a tumor growing.

Below 2.5 is considered to be normal. My numbers, every month since January have been

Notice a pattern? Data-oriented me was pretty worried about the one for May, but it was flat at 2.2, and for that, I am immensely grateful. My next test is a PET CT at the end of June -- all prayers and positive thoughts are welcome!

I feel so fortunate to be off chemo since mid-January. My energy and stamina are returning, along with my hair and weight, and the stress level in our household is noticeably reduced. This all makes it easier to look outside myself, and I now see so many people with cancer who can use help and prayers. Some are older, most are my age, quite a few are younger than I am. I hope I am a fraction of the help, support and presence that you have been to me. I know that this is big part of my good standing these days. Regardless of your beliefs, I feel like the divine is working through you, and that you are blessing me with your grace.

I heard an inspiring story last night. Friends of ours had a home destroyed by water. It is a relatively new home, and needs to be totally gutted and rebuilt. I can't imagine the stress that goes along with this. However, like many resilient people, they put a positive spin on it: No one was hurt. It isn't our primary residence. 

That alone was impressive, but then these folks went one step further: They took the negative energy from that episode and swung it around to the positive by making a donation to flood victims. While they were experiencing the pain of extensive water damage, they realized that they were still in a position to help others, and then did so. I stand in awe.

You all have done the same: While you each have your own life stresses going one, you have been so incredibly generous with me, with your time and prayers and support. I am continually touched by this, and I hope that I can shift the energy in a positive way to others and back to you.

Much love and gratitude,

P.S. For those of you interested in "cancer experience" stories:

I entered the elevator at MGH to get to the seventh floor for my blood test. Over the past year, I developed a phobia of touching these particular hospital elevator buttons. 

Like many people with phobias, I have my own coping strategy. I enter the elevator then wait to see if anyone else pushes the button to my floor so that I don't have to. Luckily, a blonde woman standing by the buttons pressed 7; I breathed a small sigh of relief. 

Just before the doors closed, an older couple entered the elevator. Both were tall and thin and the woman seemed to be in slightly better cheer than the man. She looked at the display of buttons and said to her husband, "Oh, seven has already been pressed." 

At that moment, my brain-mouth filter didn't work and I blurted out, "Popular floor."

The couple and the blonde woman looked at me like someone who didn't fit into the club. I felt a mix of things: grateful that I no longer looked like a patient, desire to prove that I am part of the group (what was up with THAT?), and a small bit of embarrassment at simply saying something that may have made someone else uncomfortable. I willed my mouth to stay closed.

The blonde woman by the buttons turned to the tall, thin man and said, "I recognize you. You and my husband got chemo together. You look like you put on weight."

Only in chemo-world can that be considered a compliment.

He and his wife shared a puzzled look. Clearly neither of them remembered her, so he just said, "How is your husband doing?"

"Well," she said. 

Where was this husband? I wondered. And why on earth would you ever bounce around here alone? 

I looked at the three of them. It seemed like the tall, thin man was still in treatment, that the husband of the blonde woman was in the clear, and I was somewhere in between. I very much didn't and don't want to be back on chemo. Despite the cheerful banter of the couple, I could feel the stress and worry. I also realized that, at any moment in time, I could be in any of their shoes, and they in mine. So much of life is out of our control. I was again grateful for where I was.

"Is this your daughter?" the blonde woman asked him. His companion in no way looked like she could be his daughter. But then again, cancer ages all of us.

"My wife," he said curtly.

The doors finally opened to the seventh floor and we all marched toward the doctors' offices and down our own, unique paths.