What do you think of when you hear these words; "Don't Spill the Beans", "Kerplunk", "Teeter-Totter", "Labyrinth", tight-rope walking, a gimble, a weighted scale, and "Jenga"? They are all games or things which involve extreme balance right? Well I have arrived at the newcomers conclusion that Cancer should be added to this list of balancing games, as it truly involves a balancing act like I had not ever realized. It is a Labyrinth of obstacles to weave around and through to get the prize of being cancer free.
In one corner you have the heavy weight giant, "CANCER". Just the word alone causes this side of the scale to plummet to the floor. It carries with it words like "life threatening illness" and "terminal disease". Often this corner will tip that direction when another organ unknowingly gets attacked and then by default the weight of this corner increases. It's heaviness is amplified when you toss in words like fear, pain, testing, loss, treatments, and hair loss. It is a corner we all dread and hope we never have to deal with.
In another corner, we have the cancer treatments including biopsy, surgery, chemo, radiation, and diet. These are all designed to fight and eliminate the cancer. The problem is that there are many side affects with each of these. Now I can't speak yet on the side effects of radiation, but the side effects of surgery, chemo and diet are enough to occupy a whole new corner of there own. Infections, nerve damage, sickness, headaches, bone pain, sleeplessness, insomnia, weight loss, diet changes, and not to mention the scars. I'm thinking of just referring to my scars as body art. Then it will feel like I chose it. This is my optimistic side singing its' way through. And do you know how hard it is to "practice" being a germ a phobe when this is not who I am by nature? I am the person you might catch on a camping trip not pulling out the hand sanitizer after using the outhouse and plowing right on into lunch. Don't judge me! You know you've done that too.
Now it's time to treat all the side effects tugging down their own corner of the giant gimble. Que the anti-biotics for infections, Tylenol or Vicodin for the splitting headaches, and Loratidine for my bone pain radiating from my sternum. And don't you just cherish the days where you juggle the fiber and laxatives as you realize you are on a separate teeter totter between the green apple two step and the I can't poo a pebble to save my life problem. Really? Another strange effect that I'm really looking forward to, but not quite sure how to explain is the feeling like I can hear my brain humming. Yes, I know. Now you all think I need to add a special white coat to my list of remedies and maybe I do. It really is a curious juggling act.
The fourth corner holds my faith. Most days it allows me to look at the other three and tackle them with hope and my big pink gloves. I feel the peace I need when my mind is racing because my body is full of chemicals. It fills me with grace to endure when I feel like I don't have much left. It allows me energy to move forward on my snails pace walk because I know I need the exercise. It gives me the will power to eat a little when nothing sounds good. And when all else fails, I know I can drop to my knees in exhaustion and find rest in the one who holds me in his hands.
So while I do have to deal with each of the corners in this crazy balancing act, I am able to do so because I have been held up in prayer by so many of you and encouraged by texts, cards, and meals. My amazing kids hover over me to make sure I am not being hugged to hard, that I am getting plenty of rest and not walking to far, and that I am drinking plenty of water and juice and eating whenever I can. I have a sweet sister that I am so thankful for, who sends me cards to keep me laughing every week. I have other sisters and brothers who text or email to see how I am doing frequently. My brother has been a great texting buddy who keeps me in good spirits. My kids can identify when I get a text from him by the deep belly laugh that comes out in tears of pain when I am laughing so hard even though it hurts so bad. On a side note, he seems to think I am crazy because his daughter told me that the Easter Bunny killed their dog. I ask you.... who is the crazy one here? Clearly not I. I'm just sayin.... I really don't need that white jacket. I have dear friends that have brought me crackers, Popsicles, special teas, juice, bangs, hats with hair and eyebrows (remember these for the next time you are out of gift ideas). I have been given home made gifts of knitted hats and beautiful hand drawn cards. I have been showered with kindness and am so grateful.
Last Sunday was my birthday and my kids came up with a great idea of something fun to do that didn't involve a lot of moving. We went to Creativitea and made pottery and fused glass. It was the perfect activity. We just sat and created. I did opt for the gloves as I am supposed to be super careful of cuts which can lead to secondary infections, blah, blah, blah.... Whatever. Anyway, we had a great time. The finished products come back tomorrow. And though we didn't stick with tradition and have a Blizzard, we did enjoy Frosty's and Fries at Wendy's and they were equally as yummy! I snuck in a short nap in the later afternoon and then I was treated to homemade beef n broccoli stir fry and a movie. It was a perfect birthday.
All the blood work looked good last week and my echo results came in showing a strong healthy heart. I had a Dr. appt. Friday that went really well. She said my body responded well to the treatment and she was very pleased. She gave me some suggestions to help with a few of the side effects, in other words, throw a rock in one of the other corners.
Tomorrow, I do it all again. I am not nervous like I was last time because I know what is coming. I am not looking forward to how I will feel, but I also know that I can do this. By Tuesday this last week, I started to recognize myself again. Certainly the stamina was a lot lower than normal, but I felt like me again. I even snuck in a couple short, slow jogs. This allowed both my kids and me to see that I can fight this and I can recover. It felt good. It gives me the courage to start the process over again tomorrow. I know this week has its' own adventures in store. As long as I have a case of Gatorade, a box or two of mini saltines, and a roll of cookie dough, it shouldn't be a problem.