Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cancer: Game? Holiday? or ...Just Life

Well, I could apologize about the lack of updates, but between life, work, parenting, cancer, and work... did I mention work... it's been busy.

Lili and I received a wonderful gift last weekend--floor seats at the Houston Rockets game. We were very excited and grateful to our friend who kindly shared his tickets with us. After many long days, nights and weekends working it was a great blessing to have something totally FUN to celebrate TWO YEARS of LIFE with cancer.

Seems odd huh? 'Cancerversary' is a word lots of survivors use to describe the day you find out you have cancer. It is a pivotal life altering moment in time that seems as big as the Grand Canyon, but far less Grand. Not sure how to celebrate such a moment, but it's certainly hard to forget it. The crisp days and cold nights tend to make my bone pain kick up and the fallacy of living cancerfree comes into full view.

Speaking of FULL VIEW, Lili was less than excited about our 'floor seats' because she thought we would be sitting on the FLOOR! She was very excited once she knew chairs were involved! And now after two full years of life with cancer, I can say authoritatively that life without cancer is much preferred, but not necessarily better. (Chairs or no chairs.)

Sure, without cancer lots of horrible things would not be apart of my (our) lives. But I must say that cancer does provide a reality check each and every day. When I hold the chemo bottle in my hands I often close my eyes and just try to remember life without cancer. BUT, I also must admit cancer has forced me to see everything in a different way--not necessarily better, just different. Kinda like becoming a parent changes your life forever.

In my case, it's life with cancer. Cancer is not a game, a battle to be won or lost, it's not any one special day or holiday, it's life--messy, unpredictable and mine.

So I'm thankful for two more years of my life.
(Daisy at the Thanksgiving table!)

I'm thankful for laughter in all it's varieties. I'm thankful for friends and family--a mighty force of love and support.

I'm thankful for moments when I forget about cancer for even 10 seconds (watching Battier play basketball two feet away count double). I'm thankful for clean water, and a loving daughter who is responsible (she composts and recycles). I'm thankful for celebrations of any kind--the wackier the better. I'm thankful for dreams, because man can not live on reality alone.

Most of all, I'm thankful for that place between sleep and awake--where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell meet--because there I am cancer free.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Long's It Been?

For all the Hoyas out there, you know the proper response to that question...

It's been so long since last we met,
Lie down forever, lie down;
Or have you any money to bet,
Lie down forever, lie down.

There goes old... Georgetown,
Straight for a... touchdown,
See how they... gain ground,
Lie down forever, lie down,
Lie down forever, lie down...

The Georgetown University fight song continues on to bash the historic rivals (Harvard, Navy, Holy Cross, Princeton, etc.) and is long and complicated.--kinda like cancer. In any case, this little blog window into my brain let's you see how I get from 'how long has it been...?' to the Georgetown fight song.

Ok, the cancer news first. My PCR is less than 0.001% of a million. TOUCHDOWN! Which sounds like nothing unless you are talking cancer cells at the DNA level and you have billions and billions. Translation: It's great news, but I still have cancer. Or, the cancer would have me, if I didn't take daily chemo.

Speaking of chemo, here's a photo of my meds:

It seems someone at work has doubted that I have cancer since I still have hair and don't look like I have cancer. (Should I say thanks?) I do have hair, and I do have cancer. The chemo is a clinical trial and not your granny's chemo. During the first few months of chemo I did lose about 1/2 my hair, but I had a ton to start with. I cut my hair as soon as I started leaving piles of it on office chairs. Now it's growing in full and DARK, and I'm trying to grow it crazy long.

In other chemo news, I was allowed to lower the dose of Sprycel to 80mg per day. A 20% reduction doesn't sound like much unless you have mega bad headaches for months at a time, nausea, rashes, bone pain and general fatigue that saps the life out of every day. Right after the dose was changed I had two awful months of being sick with various sorts of nasty infections. Then three rounds of antibiotics and super steriods.... and amazingly I feel MUCH better. Really... Look...

It's good being an 'almost zero.' Even if my cancer was 'undetectable' I would still be forced to take chemo forever. The chemo is what keeps the cancer 'in check.' Maybe someday there will be a cure.

On to other news.

The holidays were fun. Lili was in the local newspaper for some great work with the local foster care gift program. Read all about my sweet baby girl here:

I slept through new years, but that's cool as I needed the rest. Didn't get Christmas cards out so here's a holiday photo:

It's me, Victoria our cousin, and Lili on the day after Christmas at the mall. We are doing our part for the economy. Trust me it was a sacrific at least on my part.

January is a blur as I put in some crazy hours for work. Things are better now, but there are always more deadlines coming fast.

Now it's almost Valentines day! I'm not so sure I like this holiday. Something about a Catholic priest, a flute, and some snakes right? Or is that Harry Potter 14?

Seriously, there have been some very hard days and weeks 'since last we met.' Lots of days I wasn't sure how all the responsibilities were going to be met with so little energy. Some how the sun sets and rises without regard for whether or not we are ready.

Speaking of ready... I wasn't ready to say goodbye to some friends who's cancer adventure took them on to their reward. Yes, they died. And sometimes it's hard for me to comprehend how the world just keeps on going as if nothing has happened. This brings up all sorts of questions about my own life, and of course losses large and small. Arbitrary is a word that keeps coming up. Why did my chemo work and their's didn't? It's not survivor's guilt, but survivor's stewardship.

May we all have the wisdom to choose integrity in each decision, and find strength and give strength in every human contact.

Lots of love,