Thankful

Thursday, November 28, 2019. Here I sit in my mom’s warm and cozy house in northern Idaho feeling thankful.

At this time last year I didn’t know what my future looked like. So much uncertainty. Every day felt surreal.

Today I’m still not sure what my future holds. Now it’s a matter of wait and see.

The real difference is that I make a conscious effort to stay in the moment and truly live every day. I try to stay present and find my joy knowing nothing is certain except for one true thing…the love and support and kindness and caring shared by and with all of you. I am thankful every moment for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. 🍁🍁🍁

I feel a very unusual sensation—if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude. –Benjamin Disraeli

Road trip

Wednesday, November 13, 2019. I took a road trip a couple weeks ago. It was on a whim, really.

It was a Tuesday, and I’d been emailing back and forth with my cousin in Wyoming. I mentioned I was hoping to drive to Mesquite to visit her folks in the spring. She said to let her know when and she would meet me there.

It got me to thinking, why wait until spring? The weather forecast was clear. I had no appointments. No obligations. I was feeling good. I hadn’t been on a road trip in over a year. I had the itch, and I decided to scratch it.

I emailed my cousin, and said I was thinking about leaving on Thursday and to mull over meeting me there. In record time she emailed me back to say there was nothing to mull over. She would leave the next day.

So, at 530 on Thursday morning I hit the road for Mesquite. I decided not to go the faster, more straightforward route that would take me through San Francisco, Bakersfield, Henderson and Las Vegas. Instead I chose to go through Reno on I-80 then venture south on NV-439 which took me through towns like Yerington, Coaldale, Tonopah and Coyote Springs.

On the way there, I drove straight through. There were lots of twists and turns, and what seemed like endless straight stretches through open range where you had to keep a watchful eye for grazing cattle. There were areas where the speed limit was 45 mph in deference to the wild horses of which I saw many. Still another had flashing signs warning of a major sheep crossing.

I also drove past Area 51 with its warning signs and giant alien statue towering above and in front of the souvenir shop.

area51When I got to Mesquite, 14 hours later, my aunt and uncle and cousin were waiting outside in the dark, welcoming me with shouts and laughter and crazy love. As exhausted as I was I jumped out of my car, gave massive hugs and kisses all around, and then jumped up and down in unbridled glee.

It was an amazing journey, and in retrospect a metaphor for the wild and crazy ride I have been on the last 14 months with all the twists and turns and deadly warning signs. It wasn’t an easy route. The long straight stretches were reminiscent of all my waiting and wondering and introspection. Area 51…well no explanation is necessary for that. The incredibly warm and love-filled welcome and shouts of genuine affection and relief that prevailed when I finally arrived, reminded me of all of you who have supported me and loved me and encouraged me and told me with genuine, unbridled affection I would make it.

And I did. I’m still here.

Just where you are—that’s the place to start. —Pema Chödrön

 

My new normal

Wednesday, October 16, 2019. I know it’s been quite a spell since my last post. I guess I’ve been trying to figure out, “what is my new normal?”

Going out in public and trying not to be self-conscious about my appearance is still a bit of a struggle. I’ve finally got enough hair that folks who don’t know what I’ve been through think I had it cut this way. The truth is that I don’t think I’d ever be that brave.

It’s good to be back in the company of friends and having a more social life rather than keeping myself isolated so as not to get exposed to any viruses. It feels like I’m back in the world of the living. For most of 2019 I’ve been content to be on my own little planet navigating through the trials of this disease, an active citizen in that corner of the universe that battles cancer on a daily basis. Another one of the patients of all those souls who choose a life serving those of us who are cancer’s victims. I miss my friends in the medical community, but I don’t miss the weekly journey or the poking, prodding and poisoning.

I got on the scales today and I finally weight 95 pounds! A goal I’ve strived to achieve for nearly 10 months.

So, I’m doing good. I’m happy. I’m “healthy.” People say I have my spark back. It’s good to sparkle.

Do I think that ultimately cancer will be my demise? Yes, it’s likely. Unless, of course, there truly is a cure (new cancer vaccine shows promise).

The truth is that cancer is always lingering in the back of my mind. It is my constant companion. When I wake up in the middle of the night that’s what I think about. They aren’t fear-based thoughts. They are mostly about how I want to live my life now that the worst of it is behind me. I’ve decided I’m going to do the things that give me joy…big and small. If I want to have a peanut butter cookie or two, then I’m going to have them. I’m not going to martyr myself in what seems to be a futile attempt to keep cancer at bay. After facing this disease two times in my life, and being in good health both times, I know that cancer doesn’t care. Life was meant to be lived, and that’s what I’m going to do as best I can, under my own terms.

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope, running down its hallways, touching the walls on both sides. —Barbara Kingsolver – Animal Dreams