I’ve been meaning to dust this old thing off for a while, and even more so wanting to switch the whole thing over to Word Press like the rest of the world, but until I get 10 free hours and 50 other things done first, here we are.
So a few months ago, my doc notified me of some funk in my lungs that he wasn’t sure was cancer. So we kept an eye on it. Eventually we decided we were tired of keeping an eye on it, and we thought we would crack me open and scoop that sucker out.
Lung surgery is about as icky and painful as you might imagine. They put a camera down my throat and into my bronchial tubes and injected dye into the tumor. Then they went in through my ribs on the left side and back. They performed a lung resection, removing a portion around the mass and sewing it back together. I woke up with a chest tube sucking blood and gunk out, snaking across the floor to a little plastic suitcase I had to carry with me to the bathroom. I took one look at that thing and said “Leave the catheter in so I don’t have to go anywhere. And can I have more pain medication, please?”
I left the hospital in a few days, stayed home recovering, staring at my cat and working from home. Then I got a colonoscopy because, why not? 🙂 Three days later I headed to LA for a work trip and some fun catching up with friends who insist on living way out there.
I got home late last night and headed straight to the doc today to find out that the funk was, in fact, cancer. Sigh. This is my THIRD time having cancer. Sometimes I honestly cannot believe this is my life. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s my life because I’m 38 and super active and eat pretty healthy and I have cancer. And not one of those “good” cancers that just needs to be treated and probably won’t come back. One that keeps coming back and attacking different organs. And on the other hand, I can’t believe it’s my life because I have persistent stage 4 cancer that keeps trying to kill me, and yet I just ran my fastest two miles of my life 2 weeks ago, had major surgery, got on a plane 13 days later, and the same day was swinging around my friend’s loft apartment on aerial silks like an acrobat. An enthusiastic but mostly unsuccessful, hysterically laughing acrobat.
I stayed out until 1am in Hollywood at the coolest jazz club I’ve ever been to, and managed to get up the next day and make it through a full day of meetings that I actually fully enjoyed.
I’m three and a half years into this cancer experience. (I will refrain from using the word “journey” because even though it totally makes sense and often it seems like the only apt word, I just really hate it. You can totally use it if you want. In fact, if you want to send me a card, good luck finding one that doesn’t have the word “journey” in it.) Anyway 3+ years in and the third round is on. Treatment for now is “watch and wait” but chemo may be in the future. My goal is to get through the Spring and Summer without needing treatment and then, come September, if it’s back to the chemo bar, then back to the chemo bar we shall go.
People ask me the same few questions, so I will post them and the answers here for you:
Are you ok? Yup. I am. I’m not thrilled. I would plan things out differently if it were up to me, but that is God’s job. Most of the amazing stuff in the Bible I would not have been able to plan out, so I leave that to Him. I am not always happy. I am not always filled to the brim with joy. But I am definitely ok. And even when I’m not, good, familiar company, delicious healthy food, a song I love, a trip to the beach or maybe a nice Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc cheer me right up.
Are you scared? Generally, no. Sometimes I get scared about a specific thing, like an aspect of surgery, recovery or a chemo side effect, but between prayer and bugging my nurse friends, I usually get over that stuff quickly. As far as being scared to die, I want to live as long as I possibly can. And I feel hopeful that it might be quite a long while. But heaven awaits. Then the real adventure begins, I am very convinced.
Are you mad? Nope. Occasionally, I am mad if I have to miss something I want to do, but I have been fortunate to minimize that. I get upset if I feel like I’m letting everyone down because I can’t do as much as I am used to being able to do. I get frustrated when I can’t be as productive as I would like to be. I think you are only mad about this kind of thing if you somehow think that you don’t “deserve” what is happening to you. I do not believe that challenging circumstances are punishment, and therefore the whole “deserve” it idea is very foreign to me. No one deserves it, and yet we all do. And, also…there is SIGNIFICANT growth and maturity and strength that comes only from suffering. I basically don’t put a whole lot of weight to the words of those who have not truly suffered. It’s the only way to show what you’re made of. And it makes you tough as hell if you let it. I don’t choose my suffering but the results of it, when faced with the proper attitude are a blessing you can’t get another way.
Do you need anything? There is not anything specific that I need right now. But occasionally, I let my friend, Kait, know if there is anything that would be helpful. If you know me, you almost definitely know Kait. 🙂 For example, sometimes lending me a book is very welcome. (I’m all set with books right now, fortunately, thanks to a few thoughtful friends.) 🙂
What is the hardest part? Not knowing if or when it will hit again. I struggle with long term planning. Like…you should plan a vacation a year ahead. That is stressful to me. That’s when I know I’m in a different life than most people. You don’t not plan a trip to Fiji because you MIGHT get hit by a bus. But I honestly would not plan an expensive trip six months out. More like…can we go next month? Great, I’m in. Long range planning makes me nervous. The other hard part is people I love worrying about me. This worrying business is endless. They worry about me, so I worry that they’re worrying, then they feel bad that they’re making me worry. Everyone stop worrying, ok?! Just pray and trust God. Seriously.
How do you do it? I don’t know. Focus on what’s right in front of me. Appreciate each day. Refuse to miss out on something amazing. Buy every shade of red lipstick ever invented. Basically I choose to throw myself into all that I do, reject fear, love as hard as I can and embrace the adventure. So, who’s with me?