Thursday, January 15, 2015

Truth is Everlasting

A tag from a tea bag I had.

Again, it's been a while since I've written anything.

Chemo is every other weekend, and though the symptoms aren't totally terrible, they do set me back a bit. And with the weather being so cold, I haven't wanted to do anything but get home from work and hunker down in my bed.

The chemo causes my fingers and toes (and nose!) to tingle when they get cold. Sometimes when that happens and I am walking, it's hard to walk because I can't really feel my toes and feet. So I prefer staying out of the cold, which is unfortunate because I do like winter. 

All things considered, I am doing well, though I do sometimes feel slightly like I am in a state of limbo. But that's okay, it's winter, a season of dormant rest, and so, I shall rest.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

What Do You See, Little Stone Angel?

She walked into the cemetery clutching two bunches of artificial flowers. Flowers and hair-she's obviously no good at arranging either of them. But every single time she enters the cemetery with her carefully chosen artificial flowers, she has high hopes of hitting perfection with her flower arrangement. Most times she is disappointed. Today was one of those days. She had to walk away with an inner sigh and an unspoken "It's good enough." Some things are okay being good enough. She didn't sit on her grandmother's tombstone as she usually did. She didn't sit on her son's vault as she usually did. It was cold. The concrete would have been cold.

All she had was silk and plastic. How could she expect perfection?

All she saw that day was imperfection and impermanence.

There was a lone poinsettia stem nestled between two graves that had blown from a nearby Christmas bouquet.

There were dead branches from a plant that had long ago seen its better days.

There was a stone that somehow got moved from its spot on a vault, leaving virgin concrete as white as the woman's thighs exposed and shining for all to see.

And there was Golden Jesus, nestled between silk fern stems and red poinsettias, with his arms beckoning wide.

Last, but not least, there was this pouting angel. She may have been the one who took the walk through the cemetery, and the one who wrote this accounting of the activities of the woman who can't arrange flowers or hair.

It gets lonely in the cemetery. Sometimes she likes to think about the lives of the people who visit the cemetery. The living ones. The sad ones. She may have imagined the part about the woman sighing and thinking it's good enough but she did not imagine the woman's sadness.

(When I write about my grief, I worry that people will think I am drowning in it. I am not. But there are times when the feelings wash over me, and sometimes I deal with that by writing about it.

My son's best friend, the one he was working and living with in Pennsylvania when he died, came by to visit us before he left to go back to work in Colorado. In about a month, he is moving back home for a while. He was a very good friend to my son, and my son to him. We had a very good visit, talking a bit more about the night he died, and the days before that. We told a few stories and shared a few laughs and good memories of my son. That's the other way I honor my grief, by remembering the stories of his life.

My youngest went by to see the friend and she texted me to say seeing him made her miss her brother so much more, that it was like peeling a scab. It's never been that way for me, though I know it has been that way for my husband. But this time around, he seemed better able to deal with seeing the friend, and got to ask him a few questions about our son's last days, which seemed to help him. Healing does come, but the scars always remain.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thoughts on New Year's Eve

I thought I'd surely write more on this journey, but things were a bit wobbly at first. I'm slowly settling into the routine of cancer fighting while simultaneously trying to continue living a worthwhile life! I've had my second chemo treatment, suffered through several days of nausea and am now feeling a little better and thinking about the coming year.

I guess I have not said it here, but I will be having chemo in Houston every other Friday for six months, twelve treatments in all. So the first half of my new year will be somewhat consumed with getting well. But I want more in my life than just fighting cancer. I know I want to live less wastefully. And with more awareness and intention. I want to live deliberately. I don't yet know exactly how that will look in the coming year.

Practically speaking, my house is a wreck. I want to clear some things out and lighten things up. I want to make room for serenity in my home. I want to fix some things that have been broken for a very long time. I am speaking both literally and metaphorically. 

I want time for creativity and art making. I want to do small kindnesses for others in ways that only I can do. I always have such good intentions. I want to make good actions.

I want simplicity. I want to take better care of myself. I want small rituals and consistent routines in my life.

I want less of my time spent mindlessly perusing Facebook!

I want to blog more.

Most of all, I want to live several more years. Cancer free, please.

That's all I have for now. 

A very Happy New Year to each of you....

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Poem (of sorts) and Voices of Friends After a Dark Night

Wide awake at 2:38 a.m. might be one of the scariest, darkest, loneliest experiences in the world. I'm back to sitting up at my laptop, trying to also move around a bit more.Working on making the necessary changes to keep my gut from hurting with the tension of all the adjustments I need to make. Sometimes, doctors don't tell their patients all they need to know, and they are left scrambling to figure things out.

Given Truths

#1: Low moments come.
#2: You're gonna need some help. It's okay to ask.
#3: Sometimes, acknowledging the darkness is enough to send it packing.
#4: If not, find yourself a safe place to scream, whine and b*tch without the need to feel perky. 


I'm having trouble adjusting to the dietary changes that are necessary after my surgery. It's a matter of seeing what works for my body. It's like walking around with a bit of a tummy ache all the time, because you aren't feeding your tummy what comforts it and helps its little feelings. Food in the South is a source of comfort and love and eating is a way of enjoying life. My tummy is not at all happy, most of the time. I told my family earlier today that it is distraught, and misses its little colon friend. I don't know how to comfort my tummy.


I should soon know what stage my cancer is in, and will have an idea of what further treatment I will have to endure. I'm told my body will adapt. I even know of some folks whose bodies have adapted. I'll keep you posted. I've been told I'm courageous. My aim here is to be as vulnerable and honest as I can be. I would appreciate your prayers and holding the light for me. Even in the depths of darkness, there is light and love that will carry us through those times.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Been Draggin'

I don't know why it's been so hard for me to begin to write the news of what was begun at MD Anderson. It took a little while for me to absorb, and there were people I had to talk to in person, and through texting, to let them know what was going on, and I ended up not knowing who I'd told what, and then just plain got tired of talking about it, partly because, well, I'm still waiting.

Turns out, the surgeon wants to take more of my colon that I thought she would. I wasn't sure I wanted that, and she seemed to be offering me the option of taking less, but she ended up saying she really recommended taking the more aggressive route. If the insurance will cover it, they will do genetic testing to see if I have a certain genetic marker which would indicate future problems, and help them know how to watch me in the future. It seems hardly anyone ever gets colon cancer after the first time, and this puzzles them, so they are looking at a possible genetic cause. So, I'm waiting on news about that.

In the meantime, I have a date for surgery. I will go for pre-op appointments on the 29th, with surgery on the 30th. I will not know the time of surgery or even the location of the surgery (inside MD Anderson) until I call them between 5 and 7 on the 29th. It will be like before, 5-6 days in the hospital, with anywhere from 4-6 weeks recovery time (including the hospital stay, I think).

 I won't know until about 8 days after the surgery whether or not I will need further treatment (chemo or radiation). If needed, I hope to be able to do that in my home town under the direction of MD Anderson.

I've had a roller coaster of emotions and imaginings since I've come home. There are a lot of possible variables but I trust that I will be all right through whatever comes, as always, by the grace of God.  This does not mean all will be easy (dang it!).

The dragon is an art project that was done with the help of some of the younger cancer patients at MD Anderson. There are lots of peaceful areas to sit and be still. We explored a bit in between appointments when we were there. And when I am able to walk the halls after my surgery, I will explore a bit more.

I don't know if I will post again before I leave. If I don't, I will see if I can get one of my Facebook friends to leave word in the comments on this post (or on my most recent post) to let you know how I am faring. As always, I would appreciate your prayers and warm thoughts. I am grateful for them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Deja Vu`

For those of you who are not my friends on Facebook, and do not know, I was found to be anemic at my last check-up. That prompted the doctor to recommend that I have my colonoscopy in September (I was due to go in for it in October). They removed a couple of precancerous polyps and found a tumor inside my colon. I did blood work and a CT scan. The blood work was clear, the CT scan showed no swollen lymph nodes.

I was referred to MD Anderson in Houston. I had some trouble getting my records sent out in a timely fashion. For one thing, the radiologist who read the CT scan said there were no masses. When I asked about what the doctor that did the colonoscopy saw, they said they would have the radiologist reread the CT scan. Well, that took, like, forever, and the radiologist finally said the tumors just sometimes don't show up on scans. And by "forever," I mean, about a week. But when you know you are facing something like this, it can feel like forever while you're waiting on the paperwork to be shared.

In the meantime, MD Anderson, having not received all my paperwork, moved me to what they call an inactive list while waiting for the rest of my paperwork. Everything eventually got delivered and now I have an appointment at MD Anderson for Friday, October 10. And Monday, October 13. And Tuesday, October 14. Friday will be more blood work, an EKG, and another CT scan. Monday and Tuesday will be appointments with two different doctors. I hope when I leave on Tuesday, I will have a date with a surgeon.

I'll be in and out around here, I'm bringing my laptop with me. I'm also going to try and do something fun in Houston over the weekend.

I'd appreciate all the prayers and warm thoughts you can muster up!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Can't Keep Dancing

This is another one that is done completely on my phone with an app that allows me to combine two pictures into one. The angel is one of my most favorite cemetery angels ever. The background is a page of handwriting from my journal with the words blurred. I found the poem while looking through my email draft file for suitable quotes (I used my draft file as sort of a picture-less personal Pinterest account to save things that are interesting to me, mostly quotes and links, and sometimes bits and pieces of my own writing).

Anyway, I wrote the poem sometime in January of 2012. I'd just had the first colon cancer surgery in November of 2011 and my son died in December of 2011. One could safely say I was pretty raw at the time. But here's the thing--I am still dancing, or doing my best to dance. And I realize there are arms that are stronger than mine holding me up, along with a bevy of friends and family who are surrounding me with their love and prayers and support. I'm very grateful.

Another thing I am slowly learning is not to keep telling myself "I don't think I can...." The fact of the matter is, I can, and I have. We must be so very careful about the stories we tell ourselves.