Thursday, August 27, 2009

Know That My Cancer Has Returned....

I'm vulnerable... and I want to take advantage of that vulnerability. I want to keep on to keep on being the new me.
Maybe I'll slide back with time. Perhaps my footprints on the sands of time won't be so fresh, so nicely edged, but instead will show patterns of decay. Steps that show one step forward two steps back. Maybe I'll go back to shaking hands instead hugging. Maybe I'll go back to holding in the tears instead of letting them flow. Maybe I'll go back to being strong instead of open.
But I don't want to backslide. I don't want to wall myself off. But I know that it could happen. When my drug therapies are over and the cards and well wishes trickle down to almost nothing and I have finally pasted my five year test? What happens when I become the old "strong" me again?
Being strong isn't bad.... but it isn't everything either.

I like the new me, who weeps to see S&S (you know how you are) smile and share a few words with me about their Mom, Dad or brothers. Or Sarah C. showing me how well she can ride her bike. Or Tomas or Anthony telling me some small thing that has made their world a larger, brighter place. Just seeing a healthy child in motion is such a beautiful sight.

I like the me who talks to the plants in her garden to see how they are doing, letting them know how beautiful they are.

I like the me who is still learning the strange but wonderful language of my four cats.

I like the me who sings her prayers, and laughs at stillness, and hope all the time, without even knowing it, because it's so much a part of me.

I like the me who wakes up in the morning feeling joyful that there is so much to do instead of being encumbered because there is so much to do.

I like the me who welcomes pain as a friend because it reminds me that I'm alive.

I like the me who isn't bothered by the clutter and chaos of my desk but covers it over with sure knowledge of what is important and what is not.

I like the me who trusts the spirit more than the calender, date books and lists.

I've always had the cool silent, determined courage of strength. Now I have the warm flowing, wining courage of weakness as well.
So I pray, "Let me grow in health and illness, into the new me. Let me be worthy of the new me. Let me be thankful for the old me.... for the old me was a gift too.... but keep me vulnerable. Let every part of me move toward the whole me."

Now that my cancer has returned, I'm vulnerable, scared and glad.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Now That My Cancer Has Returned... ... ...

... I don't count up how many pages are left in the books I'm reading. I don't count the minutes or seconds in my walks. I don't count the number of stitches as I do my needlework or count the number of beads in the birthday bracelets I love to make.
Love does not keep count. Love trust the spirit and listens to the body. Love stays in the moment. Love does not look back to keep score or count moments passed. Love doesn't count on degrees, statistics, records or personal best for justification. Love reads because it's good to read... Love walks because it is good to walk... Love does needlework because it is good to do needlework... Love is a beadier because beading is good. Love does not keep score.
There is something within each of us that wants to keep score, that wants the records to prove where we've been and to point the way we might want to go. Engineers have degrees... Soldiers and police have ranks... academics have levels of professorships, students have grades... organizations have goals... businesses have sales charts.
In its own way, Cancer is a record-keeping disease. There have been time when I have had to take my chemo-drugs away from the watchful eyes of my doctors and chemo nurses. I have had charts on which I recorded each chemo-drug dose. Those same nurses also wanted charts of diarrhea episode and blood workups. My oncologist has a protocol that tells him what to do with me. In the early days of my chemo, I was asked to keep a journal of all of my side effects... when they came, how severe they were and what happened.
As I settled in to my chemo routine I began to realize that my doctors and nurses weren't paying much attention to all the records I was keeping. They would ask to see them and than give the a quick glance before filing them. They would than put all their emphasis on me. I realized to them I was not just a history, or a bunch of statistics. Once they were satisfied that nothing unusual was going on (as if everything about cancer isn't already unusual). Those doctors and nurses trusted their instincts, they trusted me and they trusted the spirit. I have stopped keeping those records and have started to listen more closely to my body. It has become a much better guide.
I'm not saying that there is no place for history, records, statistics or scores. But if you live by the statistics you will die by those same statistics. When we live by the scoreboard we have no other way of knowing whether we are doing okay. I believe when we live by that scoreboard it indicates a life that must be justified and that our life is useless unless we can show the world our records of production.
One thing I have come to know as a cancer survivor and patient better than others is that you can not live life by statistics and that those same statistics are not always that reliable a guide. Not a reliable guide to the past or to the future. My spiritual changes are much more important than my personal statistical changes. Keeping the faith is more important than keeping score.
Some will we say, "What's the use of playing if you don't keep score... If you don't know who's ahead... if you don't know who won?".
If you can play, you're ahead. If you played, you won. If all you know is the score, Than you don't know the score.
Now That My Cancer Has Returned, I Don't Keep Score Anymore...

Friday, August 7, 2009

The New Car

OK.... It has been over a month since Henry (my Honda) left my life for greener pastures. After 20 years (all most) and nearly 300,000 miles his passing was sad but timely. I have to say thanks to all my friends (you know who you are) who made the NEW CAR possible. I waited to unveil her (yes its a girl) Helga my new (07) silver Hyundai Elantra! She is young with only about 26000 miles. So as you can see she has been a few places and seen a few things. I'm hoping Helga and I will have a few more adventures together.
So with out further a due her she is...........

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now That My Cancer Has Returned....

I'm Learning to be silly.....
I make up silly songs and jokes. I use my time in silly ways. Doing cat and dog puzzles, doing really easy sudoku when hard or monster are more my speed. When I get a Sudoku puzzle (easy) done in less than three minutes I act like I've won a gold medal. My imaging and visualizing and daydreaming are silly. I have become quite amazed by my world.
I was not always silly central. I was responsible. I was efficient. I was productive. I was deadly serious about life... my life.
What is the difference? Silliness is much more responsible, efficient and productive... that's the difference. Being too serious is silly. I could do serious imaging about heavy matters, about people I might dislike, injustices that make me angry, how the world is going to the dogs, if it hasn't already. I know how to do serious thinking about great problems for which I have no solutions.
I use to do serious visualizing. I would imagine what I would do or say if someone did something nasty to me. I visualised the breakdown of my car( with Henry these visions usually came true!). I anticipated getting caught in a traffic jam or in the slow line at the bank. I spent a lot of time being serious. I see now that this was really silly!
If were silly... than we are very serious about being healthy. I found that when I really started laughing at the funny sitcoms on TV (Seinfeld, Frasier...) I would began to feel better.... even well. I had some doctors and nurses... serious medical people who told me that I was just being silly. What was silly was them.
I will tell you that being a little or a lot silly keeps me from thinking depressing thoughts. The sort of images that lower the number of healthy agents in the body. Prayer is the same way. If I'm praying for myself, others or for the world, even if the prayer is doing nothing else, it's using up my mind and energy so I can't see images or think thoughts that are negative. Thoughts that will make me depressed or sick. Some people think prayer is silly.. if that is so... well than I'm silly and silliness and prayer are good for me.
Attitude makes a difference. Silliness is the best attitude. You get well on silly.
Life is given to us as a joy. Little children know this... there is no business like the silly business! They look at the world in wonder and than just start to laugh and swing a little higher.
I wanted to be childish when I first heard that my cancer had returned. I was scared, hurt and and could not think beyond myself. Getting well is moving from childishness to child likeness. In truth my task as an adult... as a cancer patient I am responsible to myself to become more childlike... more perfect like a child.
It would be so so so silly of me not to be silly. No one gets well with out a little silly. It's never too late to be happy... have joy... and some silly.
Now that my cancer has returned, I'm learning to be a little more silly....