I’ve officially hit the double digits on my chemo- 10 down, 8 to go. Never thought I would be so obsessed with dates, but here I am marking my mental calendar in an attempt to sooth my psyche. I want hair! I want useful fingertips! I want to lose this steroid weight! Mostly, I need to know when life will get back to whatever normal will be post chemo. As if there is ever such a reality as normal. Seems “normal” shifts and changes minute to minute, second to second. Oops- that was normal this morning, but the afternoon normal has shifted to include urping and watering of the eyes. Tune in for this evening, when normal may well involve manic housecleaning and sudden onset of nausea….there is no planning for what a body on chemo will do, and it just adds to the excitement. When I feel great, like on most Saturday mornings, when I have steroids pumping through my veins, I feel as though I could run the hills of Seattle without taking a break- then I go to walk the dogs, and my muscles ache and I’m gulping for as much oxygen as my mouth and nose can ingest. Good thing Franny and Emma don’t judge me or require me to bound hills or even walk at a fast clip. I’ve found joy in just walking slowly and noticing the very small things. Only occasionally do I lose patience with myself (or those sweetly neurotic dogs).
This past week also marked my last class for fall quarter. I spent last weekend attempting to maintain my energy for writing a final paper, and it took every last bit of brain capacity and physical stamina I could muster. It was challenging, to say the least, but it also made me reflect on the fact that I am so thankful to have been in this program during this time in my life. Who would have guessed that I would have the opportunity to use my classmates as a therapeutic healing force in my breast cancer drama? But that’s exactly the gift that I have had, and so this week was both exciting (knowing that I’m taking a quarter off to rest) and sad (knowing that I won’t have class as a blissful distraction as well as a healing tour de force). I will miss having the anchor that school has offered. I will also very much miss the hugs, tears, and open hearts that I have encountered each and every time I entered the classroom.
And so here I am on my first “free” Saturday morning, reflecting on the past year, which has been, um, wild. I have no doubt that the year ahead will offer just as much thrill. My hope (fearful of the word “plan” these days- too many expectations attached) is that I can stay on this ride and yet keep as rooted as I think I have been. To be present. To be joyful when I need to be, and to allow the tears to flow when they will. Isn’t that what life is? I actually had just this reminder this past week when I had the opportunity to have what can only be described as a heart connection with my niece, Destyni (how perfect is that?). I won’t go into the details of our conversation, but I will offer that I remember being a “tween” and I could relate to the feelings that she offered of being lonely and smothered at the same time. Because who knows at any given moment what we may need as human beings? “Right now I need some space- WAIT! Don’t leave! I need you!” Random acts of being human. Give us all a break. We are filled with hormones (don’t I know it) that make us wildly irrational sometimes. It’s so damned fabulously wild and irritating that sometimes you just have to sit and laugh (or is that the hormones talking?). I am thankful for those heart connections. And I have lots of them. I experience pure bliss when I have what is a painfully rare opportunity to chat with my sister, Tami, who I admire beyond words for what appears to be an infinite capacity to be loving and giving amidst chaos (it’s humbling, believe me). I look forward to my weekly connections with my parents, who are a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and always leave me grateful for being a daughter. I am joyful for friends who are experiencing new love (joy, joy, joy), who send me emails and cards, gifts of free facials (I’ve received two gifts for facials- yahoo!), as well as those who need to vent how pissed off they are about this or that. Truly, I am just disgustingly thankful. I just need to figure out how to tie these damned scarves.