Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cancer is a Bitch!

This is a long one, bear with me.

The one thing I have learned in life is the importance of getting something off your chest.  It isn't good to hold pain, fear, worry and anger inside.  Not that I advocate negativity, but keeping things bottled up only creates stress and as we know stress leads to illness.  I've been pretty good about letting my emotions flow with regard to cancer.  I've cried both fearful tears and tears of joy.  I've never found myself angry.  So, when I encountered it from my son, I had to tread carefully.  My son is 15 years old and high functioning autistic.  He's absolutely brilliant but communicating his emotions are often difficult.  As parents, we try and give him the ability to express how he feels whenever and however he wants, but most of the time, as with any teenager, the emotions are below the surface until something ignites them.  The other day, he got off the bus with a friend that he had invited to the house.  I was a bit shocked, because the last time he had a friend over, he was around 10 years old and that didn't go very well.  This boy was very polite and a year older.  Once they were settled, I pulled my son aside to explain that while I was happy he had a friend over from school (a friend that I knew of), I stressed that he had to ask permission first before inviting someone over. I explained that right now, with the cancer, I'm vulnerable to anyone who comes into the house that might have germs or viruses.  Regardless of this, I would want permission even if I were 100% well. My son took it very well and apologized.  They went off and had a wonderful day together and I was happy to hear him so happy.  The next day he wanted to go over to his friends house.  I was feeling alright, and decided to take him.  Unfortunately, there had just been a snow storm and the roads were a bit dicey.  We were having trouble finding the apartment and so we parked and walked around the complex.  This was unnerving for me as a slip and fall could be very bad.  Of course, I make know bones about my frustration.  We find the apartment and no one is home.  We try calling and no one answers.  So, we make our way back to the car.  My son is upset, but I explained that we tried.  He becomes angry, but I'm not exactly sure why.  My nerves are on edge, and I ask him to please loose the attitude.  If he can't, I won't try and bring him back in another hour.  I'm frustrated and he's frustrated.  I get home and he goes to his room.  I go to mine.  I suddenly began thinking and after a while I go into his room to talk about what happened.  Something in my gut is telling me that this is more than being upset that his friend was not home.  So, I ask him if he was just angry about his friend not being home or if something else was bothering him.  He begins to cry.  I ask him what's wrong and he said, he didn't want to risk anything happening to me if I fell or got sick. The bulb suddenly goes off.  So, I begin to explain that I understand his feelings and guess that like me, he wants normal again.  He wants healthy mom and that all of this has been incredibly stressful for him. He nods, still crying and says, "I want to say something but I don't want you to get mad."  I tell him I won't.  He says, "It's a swear word."  I begin to laugh.  My son does not swear, nor does he tell a lie. I promise him that I will not get mad.  So, he takes a deep breath and says, "CANCERS A BITCH!" There is a moment of silence, and I ask him if he feels better.  He says no, so I tell him to say it again, only louder.  "CANCERS A BITCH!"  One more time I tell him.  "CANCERS A BITCH!!!"  He then sobs, and I say, yes, Cancer is a bitch.  You are right.   Now take three deep breaths and tell me how you feel.  He does as I instruct and dries his tears.  I ask him if he feels better.  He says he does, but is still afraid something will happen to me.  My son has had to witness a lot of loss at an early age.  He lost a cousin in a car accident a few years ago, a child he was good friends with to brain cancer and a close next door neighbor to an unexpected death.  Way too much in such a short period of time.  So, it is not surprising to me for him to feel anxious about this cancer.   I reminded him, as I would like to remind anyone reading this blog.  The past cannot be changed.  We must forgive and let go of those we have lost with love.  We cannot live in a place of pain. In doing this, it does not mean that we are forgetting them, but we are choosing to let go of the pain that resides in our hearts.  The type of pain that keeps us from moving forward.  I am sure our loved ones would be upset if we stayed in a place of pain and misery over their loss.  The future is yet to be.  We cannot live for the future. We cannot worry about what ifs and fear ofs.  The present is where we are right now and that is why it is called a gift.  I looked at him and said, am I here right now?  "Yes".  Am I doing well in this moment?  "Yes". Then you cannot be worried, because right now is all that matters, and living in fear is only false, evidence appearing, real.

Later that day he told his dad that he felt giddy, as if he had just won something.  His dad said, "Do you think it is because you got everything off your chest and now you feel better.  He looked a bit surprised and shook his head yes.

Yes, my darling boy, cancer is a bitch.  For me, it has been a learning experience.  Everyone feels differently, and that is okay.  But, the point is to feel.  Feel with your whole being.  Feel it all and let it go.

Last of the Red Death

I know it has been a while since my last update.  I've finished with my third dose, which was a bit more of a rough ride, but to be expected.  Yesterday, was my last does of the big four (so kindly called the Red Death), and now I navigate the next couple of weeks to heal before I begin the next regime of Chemotherapy.  The wonderful news is that I am responding so well, that my tumor cannot even be felt physically and through ultrasound has shrunk to less than a cm.  Maybe even more so now, as it has been a couple of weeks since that ultrasound.  The news is so promising that the doctors believe they can reduce my next regime in half, 6 weeks instead of 12.  So many blessings that the issues I have had have been tolerable.  I won't kid you, I do have very bad days, but I stay in faith that I am being healed.  I am blessed through the support of many friends and family who have encouraged me with love and prayers. I am grateful.  Here is the last pic of me receiving my last of the big four chemos. And yes, I've got a lot to smile about.

In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy from the couch with drawing and writing a little here and there.  I'm compiling my thoughts on the journey, and have received much encouragement to create a book for others.  We shall have to see.  Below are a few more statuary drawings and one drawing of a beautiful Ziegfeld Folly girl.  Again, these are for keeping myself from getting rusty and I don't own the images  that were referenced, although I do believe the Ziegfeld girl is in public domain.  

Burano tomb ~ sculptor Piero da Verona. Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno, Genoa, Italy 

Statue in Baden Würthenberg, Germany 

Ziegfeld Folly Girl Public Domain

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fly like a bald eagle!

As promised, here is a picture of me sporting an almost bald head.  I've still got some peach fuzz up there and the eyebrows are holding on.  Girls and guys, be strong!  Be brave!  Roar!  Let your beautiful light shine for all the world to see!

You are loved!
You are beautiful!
You are Divine!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Beauty in the midst of chaos

I've been meaning to blog for a few days now, but my energy level has been pretty low after the second dose of chemo. Two more rounds of the big stuff and then it is 12 weeks of another type of chemo. I've been told that it is not as taxing on the body, so we shall see. Round two produced immediate hair loss. It was coming out in handfuls, so I gladly had my husband shave my head. I was experiencing what I can only call follicle pain. Not sure if that is even correct, but it actually hurt to have hair on my head. In the meantime, I've been sketching and tooling around on the Internet.

I stumbled upon a fb post of an image of a flower created in sand by a pendulum during an earthquake. The premise is that in the midst of chaos, beauty emerges. This is the actual picture and the explanation that went with the image.

Flower from Chaos

When a magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook Olympia, Washington in 2001, shop owner Jason Ward discovered that a sand-tracing pendulum had recorded the vibrations in the image above.

Seismologists say that the “flower” at the center reflects the higher-frequency waves that arrived first; the outer, larger-amplitude oscillations record the lower-frequency waves that arrived later.

“You never think about an earthquake as being artistic — it’s violent and destructive,” said Norman MacLeod, president of Gaelic Wolf Consulting in Port Townsend. “But in the middle of all that chaos, this fine, delicate artwork was created.”

This got me thinking about shaving my head and the strange beauty that occurred in the midst of chaos. It was freeing and somehow I felt a sense of inner calm when I just let it go. Life often presents us with a balance in even the most difficult of times. We may not initially see it, but it often comes though in unexpected ways. When I think back over events in my life and of course, the cancer diagnosis, I can see a strange beauty that has occurred in the midst of chaos. No one wishes for Cancer, for the loss of a loved one, or tragedy of any kind for that matter, but it is interesting to me how like the Flower from Chaos in the earthquake, much beauty can be gleaned in difficult circumstances. I think back to 9/11 and how terribly tragic the events were, and yet, I saw so much beauty in how humanity came together. The same can be said for natural disasters, and how communities rally around one another for support. The chaos of Cancer has allowed me to see the beauty in this life in so many ways, from the support of a neighbor, to healing prayers, but especially for allowing me to view this life though a different lens. I know it isn't always easy to see beauty in the midst of chaos. I know it doesn't always appear right away, but I do believe that it is always there waiting to be discovered.

This lead me to an article about Stephen Hawking, in which he indicated that our biggest threat to humanity is aggression. (,manual

The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all,. A major nuclear war would be the end of civilization, and maybe the end of the human race.

And yet, he further said...The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.

So, that got me thinking once again about beauty and chaos. I tend to believe it is not so much our aggressive nature, as a lack of empathy, or ambivalence toward others and nature that would be our ultimate undoing. My hope is that in the midst of chaos, we can look within each of ourselves to see the beauty that we have to offer this world, and to each other. It is my hope that if chaos is part of the process, that our survival is in our ability to create beauty.