Thursday, June 27, 2013
........ a private life?
Yesterday was quite a day!!! The neighborhood bully has expanded their reach across the street to my house on probably the one day I chose to sit quietly and reflect on what life for us will be like in the coming months.... days before my children really start their summer holidays and a day after seeing my Oncologist. Something tells me that their adjacent neighbors will finally solve the issues that have plagued them for years from these people. I am leaving Karma to deal with them... and saving all my energy for more important things....
A surprise visit with Kirsten was cathartic in so many ways. She went through this illness with her Mom who would eventually pass of the disease when she was in her early high school years. She needed to tell me all the things a Mom should hear about what the illness will try to take from their children while they are trying to survive. I know my first instinct is to just withdraw and try to pull in all my energies.... but her words hit home and I will remember to make recordings to my children to let them know how much I truly love them and to be consciously aware of when I try to withdraw. She also said that I needed to teach them about who I really am... beyond just being their mother. Its true that we only become truly aware of who our parents are when we ourselves are grown and raising children. Our perspective becomes richer and our awareness more honest with experience and time. I was never close to my mother even though she lives a few miles down the road from me now. She has dementia which is worsening as the days go by and a recent phone call to let her know what the diagnosis is starts her talking about poor so-and-so who is 92 and dying of cancer a few doors down. "Oh, its so hard for me to see this resident going through all this", she says..... I let her know that I have to go and she asks me how I am doing. I think to myself that at least the 92 year old got to see their children grow up and has lived long enough for my 80 year old Mom to feel sorry for him. She doesn't know his name...... I tell her I am fine. Later I would sit with Lydia and watch while she expertly built her latest Lego project. She loves to build these kits and create imaginary villages. She is so incredibly amazing and I adore every single freckle on her face, her bright blue eyes and her amazing smile. I hope she lives each and every one of her dreams as I think I have lived most of mine.
My neighbor friend Brenda made her way across the back yard when she knew my company had left. She gingerly stepped onto the back deck and made her way over to me. She says she is sorry as she wraps her arms around me and kisses my head. She is not a demonstrative woman, usually choosing humour to offset her discomfort, but today is different. She wants to know what is and what will happen in the months to come. I myself am not sure, only that it will not be as straightforward as the first journey. I will know much more in the weeks ahead. We sit together and watch her tree being chopped down while enjoying a cup of coffee. Keep the humour going Brenda, I know at some point, we'll both need it.
Max is such an amazing husband and I try to remember to keep some of my most private thoughts to myself, as I know he does too. We both know each other well enough that we can read each other's minds. We both know the score and we talk about what our options might be. I need to really think about what is best not only for me but for my family. There is no quality of life at all on chemo..... it has taken me three long years to finally feel like myself - strong and capable of taking on the world. I remember reading a touching and heart wrenching blog of a woman who started the LympheDIVAS company after a battle with breast cancer and the lymphedema that followed after her surgery. I came across her blog when I ordered a sleeve online. (http://www.lymphedivas.com/rachellevintroxell.asp). It was well written and spoke to the desperation of a young woman who was trying everything to survive her second diagnosis .... while living her life the best she knew how. I wore my sleeves and loved them for the creativity and ingenuity but still preferred to show off my 5 Koi fish tattooed on my upper arm which the sleeves hid. My koi fish has a tiny pink ribbon on its belly which was supposed to be covered up after my journey ended but as luck would have it, I am not able to finish the art work on that arm because of the edema risk. Ironic how I can not erase that from my arm or from my life journey. The koi are often seen as 'lucky fish' but really, they are a representative of our life's ambition to achieve the status of Dragon... resilient and powerful. I am born in the year of the Dragon and even have a little blue eyed dragon tattooed next to my koi. My husband and children are all represented by their own koi fish permanently inked weeks before my breast cancer surgery four years ago this weekend.
As we talk, I note a 'pink' gift given to me by a friend weeks before my diagnosis.... it was just a weird, 'out of the blue' donation..... I picked it up and walked it to the kitchen counter. I believe Max found a good home for it in the garbage can. I like the color pink... just not all the 'pink awareness' garbage found in every store these days. The money lines the pockets of manufacturers making them wealthy beyond belief.... according to one FB pink company, they are enjoying their newly expanded warehouse. Comments on their pink site are mostly women gooing about the latest pink ribbon flip flops. Put your money into something much more valuable, like research. London Ontario has one of the finest research facilities right in Victoria Hospital and of course Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Believe me, breasts in and of themselves attract attention!! As a girlfriend of mine often says (who survived colon cancer), "where are all the brown ribbons? Do they even have brown ribbons?" There are so many ribbons out there, even I do not know what they all mean.... I have yet to come across a brown ribbon though. Go figure?! She says "it's just not sexy enough".... we both laugh at this because really, what is sexy about cancer? How much money has been raised or spent on breast cancer over the past 30 years? I am sure the numbers are staggering and yet.... here we are, on a secondary diagnosis wondering what the hell happened?
Well, its a few days later and the emotions are starting to settle.... tears have fallen, fears felt, love expressed.... let's just keep on going. I am going to live my life. All of us living in this mortal world are brave and not because we face our worries and fears but because we have no choice. We have a life to live and we make choices on how we are going to live it despite the fact that none of us have any control. Our attitudes and our ability to stand up when we fall down are a testament to the enduring human condition. We believe ourselves to be immortal despite knowing we are not. That is how we all make it through the tough times because they are blended in with moments that take our breath away.
I wish to dedicate this blog to EVERYONE brave enough to live a good life.