Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating Wellness

I appreciate all the gratitudes you are sharing with me. It is fun and energizing and I love that you have so many good things in your life. Thank you for sharing all that with me, or even just doing it on your own. Today, July 16, is officially the last of the 50-day celebration and it has been so fun to be partying with you! 

If you sent money to Dana Farber (or anywhere else on my behalf) and I did NOT send a thank you note to you, please let me know. It just means that they didn't make the connection. 

It has been fabulous to enjoy summer without doing chemo. I still go to Dana Farber once a month to get my port flushed. (I have a power port in my chest, which we use for anything for which you would normally use a vein. They flush it to keep it clean and clear.)

This past Tuesday was my port-flush day, but before going to Dana Farber, I went rowing, had lunch, and glanced at the New York Times. The front page showed a story about a woman with cancer in her retina, and she had to have her eye removed. One of my children looked at the post-op photo of her eye and asked me what someone would look like if they took out your eye. I don't know much about eyes, couldn't tell much from the photo, so our discussion was brief, and I headed out to DFCI.

While waiting for the elevator at DFCI, I started chatting with the woman standing next to me. She seemed to be about 65 years old, stood 5 feet tall, and had a slender build. As we spoke, I noticed her eyeglasses. The right lens was clear but the left lens appeared cloudy, like it needed a good cleaning. When she turned her head to look at the elevators, I suddenly saw behind her glasses and noticed that there was skin covering the spot where her eye once was. I guess our questions generated by the NYTimes news story were answered.

Going to a place like Dana Farber provides constant reminders of the many ways to have cancer. Of course, there are a myriad of other ways to be sick, too.

The flip side of this is that there are a myriad of ways to be well. Every patient I meet, who isn't exhausted beyond all belief, is pleasant, friendly and interesting. One told me her story about having lung cancer for the past five years. She was in her late sixties but looked at least 10 years younger and had a tough, street-smart way about her, like she would take crap from no one. Aside from cancer, she carried a toughness and optimism that many would envy.

Another woman had ovarian cancer and was off and on chemo as needed while enjoying her retirement and time with her husband and grandchildren. She had a joyous air about her, as if this were a visit to the dentist, an inconvenience in an otherwise pleasant day.

And the woman with one eye appears to focus on what she can see, rather than on what she can't.

All of these women, and so many others getting treatment, may be ill in some ways but well in so many others. They have a sense of humor, the ability to connect with others, appreciate nature, or share a cheerful word. We are each dealing with something and it is so easy to have that take over our lives, at least for me. 

However, meeting all these folks reminds me that we are well in more ways than we are not-well. Their good health is contagious, and instead of being depressed by their illness, I walk away buoyed by what is well and strong in them. It carries not only them, but me as well. 

I hope that you are able to find someone who generously shares their cheer and positive vibes, and that you always feel the good in your life and the ways in which you are strong and well. And that will be contagious, too!

Thank you again for your continued prayers as they carry me through the summertime, and sending much love and gratitude your way,

No comments: