I drove by a woman in a wheelchair smoking a butt on the side of the road and I judged her immediately. Not only did I judge her, but I banged on the window of the car and yelled (with the windows up), “You don’t have cancer, and I do? FUCK YOU!” So wrong of me. So immature. But it’s just what felt natural. Maybe she does have cancer, maybe she’s been through a lot of shit in her life and just wanted to enjoy a nice cigarette on a pretty November day. I didn’t care. I wanted her to take my cancer.
First week of treatment is over. I had my first chemotherapy session with my chemo nurse Beth, Reiki with MaryAnn, my first 2 appointments of Acupuncture with Rebecca, and even went back to my beloved Jerry the Chiropractor to talk smack and get adjusted.
I’m 2 days out from chemo and I don’t feel any different. Except this disgusting sense of knowing how many drugs have been pumped through my body: anti-nausea meds, steroids, fluids, and a bunch of other stuff hung up like Christmas ornaments on my Infusion Tree. The chemo itself gets delivered from the pharmacy downstairs. It comes in a fluid bag but it’s marked with the poison logo on it and Beth “suits up” in a paper Johnny and gloves to hook it up to my drip. Really? Legitimately that’s what happens. And then the chemo drips into my veins. Gross. I hope it saves my life. I have pills that I take for a few more days- the deluxe package to be sure that I don’t get sick. I hope I escape the nausea wave that could so easily pull me under. So far, so good.
Radiation is pretty standard these days. Mask, Lego men zaps, an awkward and uncomfortable looking roll off the table (c section still a little “tender”) and then back to the parking garage and the traffic home. No change in side effects. Well… I think my voice is starting to get slightly raspy. Mike called me 2 weeks ago when he had finally gone back to work and said, “I think we should video you talking to Sam.” Instant tears. That, “I know he’s right but I just don’t want to deal with this next wave of hurt,” kind of pain. Sam won’t hear my voice for the next few (hopefully) months of his life. It makes my throat tighten just thinking about it. But. Like all of it. I take it in and decide how the hell I’m going to manage it, and then plunge. So my Mom bought a recordable book (actually 2), and someone sent a recordable book and I have an app on my phone that records my voice. I plan on reading all of his books in his little library to him (and the voice recorder) over the next week. And telling him how much I love him and how glad and lucky I am that I get to be his Mum. I’ll get it done because it’s important for me to have my son hear my voice. Even if my voice is a different tone or sound when all of this is over. I want him to know what the voice I had for 36 years sounds like. The voice that my boyfriend hears when I say his name, or my friends hear when I answer the phone, my yoga students when I teach, and my laugh that when I’m REALLY laughing, will make anyone else around me laugh because I look and sound so so stupid.
Energy/prayer/healing/thinking are all a little intertwined for me. I realize that each have their own identity, but overall I categorize them together as a means to promote Spiritual healing. “Energy work” is Reiki and MaryAnn is my girl. Her room is warm, the blankets are soft and I lie on the table and let the tears pour down my face as she puts her hands on me. It’s the one place where I silently cry and take my “cancer pants” off. I’m not fighting anything. In fact, I’m softening. I’m listening. I let my guard down. And thoughts come up. Have you ever noticed when you’re searching for an answer; you’re always looking in the wrong place? The answer is most likely directly in front of you… like put your palm against your nose- that close in front of you. It’s the stuff that comes up when you’re driving in your car alone, or waiting in line for a coffee, or taking a shower. The stuff that you think about when you’re doing the most mundane things- I guarantee your answer is there when you’re not over thinking. I don’t know what answer I’m looking for when I’m getting Reiki. I just have these visions of things that have been left unsaid, conversations that have gone way beyond their expiration dates. I think about who I want to become, if writing should be more than just an outlet. I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. It was always on my top 3 on the list of “things I want to be when I grow up.” Maybe cancer is leading me in that direction. It could all be part of the blue “throat chakra” telling me more, begging me to listen to answers to questions that I don’t even know I have. More on ALL of that in another post. It’s a lot.
I’ve never done acupuncture before cancer. It’s great. I lay on a cozy table that Rebecca has perfectly transformed into a little recliner for me so my head can be elevated for when I cough. The needles go in, and she leaves the room and I just lay there. I think about the decorations on the wall, how many times she has to wash her hands every day and I think about how she says that my body is tight as hell near my throat, my shoulders, the back of my throat, my shoulder blades and all of the spaces in between. She’s going to help release that tension with her needles. She’s also going to help prevent nausea, and when the time comes, to help keep my mouth wet and the dreaded mouth sores as sparse as possible. If putting a needle in my foot (this is my speak, not hers) can keep a mouth sore down so that I don’t have to swig lidocaine all day long, then hammer a nail to my heel. I trust her.
There are people praying for me left and right. 1:20pm is the magic time where my body goes through radiation and a lot of people I know, and people I don’t know say a prayer, or meditate or think of me at that exact same time, every day Monday through Friday. It feels amazing. I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the entire world. I didn’t know LOVE like this existed. I didn’t know that so many people from my past, from my present, people I don’t know at all or have only known for a brief moment would give money, time, food and gifts like they have. The words that people have written me leave me speechless. It’s overwhelming. More about ALL of that in another post. It’s a lot. I wonder if the lady in the wheelchair ripping her butt has this kind of love in her life. I genuinely hope she does. I want it for ALL human beings, smokers and nonsmokers alike. But to be honest, if it meant that I had to give up this shit cancer and go back to living my life WITHOUT knowing this kind of love, community and support existed, I am hesitant to say that I would do it. Hesitant. I’m forever changed. We can leave it at that for now.
Last Spring, I found this quote on a Humans of New York post on Facebook. I saved it in my photos and thought of it this week. It think it sums up this post perfectly…
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“When a wave comes, go deep.”
“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”
“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”