So apparently my mom (despite continued check ins this week) put out the call that I wasn't feel so well when she posted her Jessie-update. I still haven't addressed this with her or her mass emails, but it seems we now need finally have the boundaries talk. What is, and is not stuff I want her to share with her email list. Here is the email that I sent out yesterday that reflects how I actually feel:
Warning: long, rambling email about cancer, general state of mental health, lots waxing philosophical, unforgivable bastardazations of Eastern Meditation practices, some irony, and wholy OK to skip through. But a progress update seemed necessary for many in my fan club. I won't be bashful, I have a fan club.
So here we are: the final 10ish weeks of intense chemo. It's kind of scary if I think about it too hard. Every morning I wake up wondering what my blood counts look like. Do I have an immune system today? Those blueberries I just ate—I forgot to wash them! I hope they don't have killer fungus! Etc, etc. But I've also gotten used to this cancer-life and really, I don't think it's that different than life in general. We never know what our day will bring—I'm just more… ready for the infinite possibilities?
Status: doing good! My GI track is losing cells which means I have to remember my antacids and not do things like eat spicy food and drink 10 cups of coffee a day if I want to be happy. I'm ok with that. Last night I made egg drop soup for the first time. Mmmm.
Despite an emotionally rocky July (this cancer business is taking WAY too long and I was getting a little burned out), lately I've been feeling extremely peaceful again. I feel lucky for so many things everyday: my job, my health insurance, my body's enthusiastic response to killing cancer cells, the practice of yoga and meditation, but mostly my wonderful, supportive, family, friends and community. I have heard so many people iterate that cancer cost them friends—that they learned who was really there for them. What I've learned is that EVERY one is still here from me: that my community and the love people have for me is stronger than I ever knew. And in this process I've also made friends: both cancer-related and non. I actually have MORE friends now I think… Weird. So thank you so much to all of you for your loving thoughts and words. Again, it's woo-ey shit, but I feel all the vibes you send me.
Right now my life is taking every day as it comes. It's mellow. I go to yoga, I go to work, I clean my house (massive doses of steroids again), I cook with my friends, I walk around Seward Park, and I hang out with high school students who make me laugh really hard and like to touch my Hickman line and hear about all the crazy, legal drugs I get to take. Fall should be exciting for me professionally—more turn over and rearranging has left me in a great position at work—autonomous, respected, in control of my own programming but great opportunities to collaborate! Yes!
I think of myself as building a bridge right now--a bridge back to normal life (having cancer, my use of cheesy metaphors is immediately taken without irony-relief!). Physically, my body has changed, and I'm learning where she's become so strong and the other places I've lost her. Mentally and emotionally, I'm still grasping all the issues I put on hold last January--namely: who am in the face my own life? With disposable income, a wide career track, burgeoning communities in several locales, food and clothing affectionada: how do resolve and distill what I really love above teh general hum? How do I make my life meaningful and in service of others? This was a journey I started in earnest about a year and, just above this last set of chemo-stream crossings, I see the path is back and it inevitability will look very different. Deep, huh?
I want you to know, that I have really come to accept the reality of cancer in my life: the drugs, the possible long-term effects, the sitting and waiting, the patience, the vulnerability, and at time deep exhaustion. And while I do try to save some of my emotions for healthy things like anger and sadness, I've mostly found that acceptance makes daily life do-able AND pleasurable. I'm still breathing and functioning every day and even though my emotions are often close to the surface, I kind of like the rawness and with which I get to experience things. But the over arching thought I really feel is peace. It's easy for me. No one thinks this is terminal and we (my onc team) feel like we're going to the end of something entirely curable. This process will leave scars, but maybe not the kind people associate with a cancer battle. And that's where I am.
My hair is also growing back (even though it will probably fall out again next week) and I'm including a picture of my re-grown eye brows. Following this period of intense chemo, I'll be on a maintenance protocol until 2010. I may or may not be able to grow my hair back, so I relish these last few weeks with my eye lashes. However, who knew I looked so good without hair? Other things that pertain to the future are that I will be in Corvallis in late-September for my friends' Clint and Ashleigh's wedding. I am so excited by the possibility of seeing so many of you! I promise not to drink too much at the wedding on Saturday night so I can go to church on Sunday morning, the 21st! Also, watch out for a big bash in late October when they pull my Hickman line. I haven't gotten very far, but there's going to be party and nothing about this party will involve Denial. The party will be about moving forward, purging the house of chemo deamons, and hopefully me figuring out a way to honor all the wonderful people who have supported me ceaselessly in this process. Oooh, I get excited just thinking about!
Here is something my yoga teacher shared with me the other day that I find particularly inspiring: Every day we're all looking for truth, beauty, and immortality, and really, it's everywhere…
Lots and love,