Monday, February 27, 2012

Light in the darkness

Once again, I want to say thank you for your prayers and good wishes. We got to take a 10-day ski vacation last week, and I know I would not have had the energy to enjoy this wonderful trip without you sharing your energy so generously.

I am going into chemo tomorrow (Tuesday), so if you don't mind, would you say a quick prayer for a relatively easy and very effective chemo session? Thank you!

Lately, when I wake up in the morning, I immediately thank God that I am awake. I am not kidding. And then, when I can get up and move around, I give thanks for that. There have been plenty of days when I could not, so I'm trying to remember that even that seemingly little thing is a gift, not to be taken for granted.

I feel like I know so many people either dealing with or affected by cancer. This week alone, two of our friends with advanced disease got bad news, and another went in for surgery to try and get off his feeding tube. This is nasty crap. 

Also, a couple of weeks ago, Jeffrey Zaslow died in a car accident. He was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and he wrote several books, including The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch. Jeff impacted the direction of my life on three separate occasions, and we were in occasional email contact that was always uplifting to me. He was concerned for my health; I don't think that either of us suspected that he would go first. 

Why I get to still be walking around is a mystery to me. Life feels more and more random. As it does, I do find peace by trusting that Someone Else is in charge. Frankly, when I try to put myself in charge, I don't always make the best choices. So now, when I am worried and can't sleep, I literally hand over my worries to God and tell him that He is to hold them for me overnight. I usually add that it would be great if He solved them, but, if He didn't, I would take them off HIs hands in the morning.

Often, I forget to take them back. Whoops. When I do take them back, I ask for guidance on getting through them. Sometimes I wonder if He thinks about me the way I do my kids: Can't she do this on her own? Does she need help from me for every little thing?

Yes, i do. 

Then I go about my day. I literally look for tiny miracles. Here is one: I called my friend on Sunday to say Happy Birthday. I'm horrible at remembering birthdays but working on that. Anyway, I happened to step outside with the phone. The crescent moon shone brightly, along with two bright "stars" nearby. I'm not a regular stargazer, a nature-lover or an outdoors person, but this was breathtaking to me. 

She told me that it was Venus and Jupiter lined up with this very cool and bright crescent moon. Amazing. The number of things that had to come together to make that happen - for me to even step outside, notice the sky, and be talking with someone who knew what it was - just made my day, and best of all, I got to share it with an old and dear friend.

Those stars were so bright that everything dark just faded into the background.

Your support is like that. It is bright and shiny and breathtaking.  It makes all the darkness fade into the background, and it feels like a miracle to me that you are there, hanging in there with me, staying on this path. Thank you for sharing your light and love.

I hope you se light in your life, and many blessings in your week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mind-body connections

Once again, I send my deep gratitude for your prayers and good thoughts. They make a huge difference in my life.

I can be even more specific. When I started doing chemo four years ago, I was frequently exhausted. Not initially, but the effects of chemotherapy are cumulative, so over time, I felt chronically exhausted. Each day, I would seem to be fine, then hit a wall and need to sleep immediately. My energy levels were generally low, and I never felt like myself.

With your prayers, and with your sharing your energy, I now find that I have full, good days! Quite a few of them, strung end to end. Sure, there are some yukky days in there. Chemo is a rough road. But your prayers and your positive energy truly makes it so much different for me. Thank you. And if my kids knew, they would say thank you, too. It helps to make me a more present mom, and an easier person to live with.

At my last treatment (two weeks ago), I got to see two friends who are also patients.  One is a friend who was diagnosed at the same time that I was, and the other is a new friend. She is actually a friend of a friend. She was newly back to treatments - this is her fourth diagnosis, all different cancers. No matter how long I do this, so many stories make me say, "Oh, CRAP" inside. She was bravely and barely holding it together; I recognized in her eyes that she was in that dark scary place we all went at one time or another. I hate that I know that place. I hate that she had to be there. I am lucky to know that there is light on the other side, and hope that somehow, I can shine that for her.

As we pulled our chairs into a circle to chat, I thought, there has got to be a better place to socialize than Dana Farber. But, we do the best with what we have.

Eventually, we were each called to get weighed, see our doctors, or enter the infusion room, and we went our own ways. 

Because my chemo session prior to this one went so well, I decided to duplicate my actions from that day. I even ate the same thing for breakfast, though that was a waste. While I was sitting in the infusion chair, before my bags of chemo even arrived, I started to feel sick. I used every technique I know to avert it. I tried telling myself that nothing was even happening yet, which was true. I told myself that I was fine. I closed my eyes and envisioned myself outside Dana Farber.

But my body decided to protest anyway, and I finally gave in. Good-bye breakfast. A few times over. As soon as I could swallow, I took a couple of anti-nausea pills and the nurse knocked me out with an injection of some other drugs. 

Before I went unconscious, my friends Lisa and Marilyn were visting. I could tell I wasn't thinking clearly, but had no control over myself, and little memory of it later. I'm told that I said things like, "Don't worry, the flight attendant will heat that up." What????

I am constantly amazed by our mind-body connections and realize there is so power that we, or I, don't yet tap into. For me to get so sick without even any drugs, without a physical reason - it is almost as if there are cues that do this that lie outside of the physical impact. I would love to enter the realm where we can manage that energy.

In the meantime, I do need to rely on the antinausea drugs. Then again, also at that appointment, I learned that they will no longer be giving me Emend, one of the drugs that is KEY to helping manage my nausea. If I want it, I need to get a prescription, pick it up myself and bring it to my appointment. Has to do with insurance coverage. Not mine specifically, but most, so they are just changing the way they do it for everyone. 

So for now, I need to make sure that I remember to bring that pill, at least until I can manage to avert that anticipatory nausea with the powers of my mind.

Although I myself cannot seem to connect my mind and body in some ways, I remain in awe that you can channel your thoughts, feelings and prayers and help to make life not only more bearable, but more enjoyable. Thank you.

The chemo party starts at 1:15 on Tuesday (the 14th) with a blood draw, and infusion around 3:00.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Lots of love,