We are quick to make resolutions come January 1. Eat better, exercise more, reduce stress – but I like to think that most of us take care of our mind, body and soul each day without conflict.
I’ve decided to spent today reflecting on all that was great about my past year. I’ll start with My Top Ten Moments of 2013:
- City trips to SF and Oakland with special friends
- Relaying For Life with my favorite people on the planet
- Numerous visits and parties with friends and family near and far
- Starting this blog
- Beach house days
- Holding my son’s hand
- Welcoming our beautiful niece Gia AND my dear friend’s baby Naomi
- Spending three days in the Happiest Place On Earth with my Sydney
- Relaxing in Maui with my husband
And the #1 moment of 2013… REMISSION! Kiss my ass, cancer.
The past three years have been ‘Hell In A Handbasket’ (literally gave my bladder and colon to the cause). Yet with every treatment, scan, surgery, poking & prodding, I remind myself that this bullshit is a pothole on my otherwise scenic life. And the potholes make me appreciate the beauty of my road.
I know each day will continue to bring joy and a pothole or two. So I am abundantly grateful to have love in my house; friends and family that mean more to me than they will ever know. May the New Year bring you all that is good and that your challenges keep you grateful and grounded.
I am ready for 2014.
I pitch my tent in the holiday happy camp (I am married to Mr. Xmas). I love decorated trees, holiday lights, festive music and the good cheer that really can be found within our fellow (wo)man.
I must admit that over the decades, I haven’t always been ho, ho, ho happy. Holiday magic can be hard to embrace when you are alone or struggling with health issues. Or it simply brings up crappy childhood memories. Stress and anger used to override my joy quickly.
Now I try to pass on a little cheer where ever I go. Make someone laugh in a long line at the craft store, play a holiday song from my iPhone for the Fed Ex store employee who was ‘dying for a radio’ or just smiling at a stranger. I’ve received nothing but kindness in return.
Physically feeling good helps keep me joyous and I am very grateful. My every three-week Avastin drip has side effects that are manageable for me. Sinus pain/drip and some joint swelling/pain but not enough to keep me from a little yoga and walking.
Mr. Christmas and I are decking our halls and preparing the festivities. I hope all in my amazing village can embrace the good this year. I am holding you closer than ever before and still loving those I can no longer hug. Happy Everything!
My CT scan results show ‘previous described hepatic lesions are no longer visualized. No suspicious osseous lesions.’ This means the chemo cocktail I’ve been on since April has done what it’s suppose to do and my oncologist has deemed me ‘in remission’. I have never heard these words before and let me tell you, it was music to my ears (I literally heard Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah). I’ll take remission, thank you very much.
Given my reoccurrence and metastasis, my oncologist suggested I continue with Avastin (Bevacizumab) every three weeks. Since I like the idea of doing something instead of nothing, I’m signing up for this course of action. My life is joyous and I will do everything necessary for more days on this planet with the people I love.
I am hoping the Avastin will continue to give me minimal side effects as I return to work soon. Work stress seems laughable compared to fighting cancer so I got that going for me, which is nice. I do like having something ‘normal’ to do each day but I honestly know that work will always be work and that the time I spend outside of work is where I thrive.
From day one, I have been armed with love and healing energy from countless souls who pray, meditate, email and telepathically send messages of hope my way. No one could be more grateful for these acts beyond kindness. My heart is full, my soul enriched and my body is strong.
I have shared these words from an unknown (to me) cancer patient before but they are worth saying again… “Cancer may take my life but it will not take my day.” Hell yeah.
Waiting to continue treatment (or not). Waiting for scan and doctor visits. I have spent the past few days in a ‘waiting pool’ of despair. Okay, despair is way too dramatic – I had some blue moments.
I have not always been at ease with waiting. At my worst, I was an impatient single mom rushing my kids here and there, forgetting that time means nothing to little ones. Patience was not my virtue and the unknown just frustrated me.
Then yesterday I was reminded that life is the living we do in between (cancer patient or not). The dash between our birth and death is where we live, and what we do in that time either feeds our soul or sucks us dry.
How I face each day has changed. I no longer rush myself or anyone else about; I no longer carry the weight of things I cannot change and I no longer speak harshly. I do appreciate my gifts (visits from my son/daughter, a sunset, my husband’s smile); I listen closer and I love with reckless abandon. I also wade in the shallow end of uncertainty from time to time, because we all do and that’s okay.
Most days I will focus on the chapters of my story and not the ending. Enjoying the humor, adventure, love and heroic feats of happiness.
Yesterday I closed out my fourteenth (cumulative over two years) chemo treatment.
After my third treatment in 2011, I declared that my last treatment was indeed my last. Then I found myself doing five more treatments and adding 28 rounds of radiation too.
I decided that this time I should choose a different word to mark the occasion. Closure. Closing a chapter. Closing time. Then my infusion nurse Shelley starts singing, “closing time, you don’t have to go home but ya can’t stay here.” Song lyrics have always spoken the words in my heart and those couldn’t have felt truer.
I do need to celebrate milestones. If I’ve learned something from cancer, it’s that every good day is meant to be cherished and celebrated. And the ‘bad days’ get held with love and compassion.
So I put away my chemo bag for now and since my insomnia kicks in heavily the night of treatment, I joined a couple girlfriends for dinner and a concert. We ate a delicious meal and danced a little salsa to the Gypsy Kings at a beautiful venue overlooking the valley below. I am happiest dancing to beautiful music with beautiful friends.
“… I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” ~Agatha Christie
I participated in my first Relay for Life with some of my favorite people by my side. As a team, we raised over $10k and our Santa Cruz event exceed $140k. We had very generous donors; some who sadly know too well how cancer can take a loved one.
If you are unfamiliar with Relay for Life, it is the American Cancer Society’s fundraising movement. Relays take place across the U.S. (and in other countries) as local, community events. People come together with a common goal of seeing an end to cancer. And we walk for 24-hours because cancer never stops.
For me, the event held so much hope and love. I met breast cancer survivors, colon cancer survivors, ovarian survivors – all with their own stories of compassion, pain and hope. It was the first time I stood with my cancer not in fear but in strength; as if my cancer were something I could physically manifest, wrap in a tight ball and drop kick to the moon.
I have always been grateful to have a supportive, loving village who rally together when the need arises. Since my diagnoses two years ago, these truly loving souls have showered me with love and kindness. It’s hard to be angry when you’re surrounded by so much goodness. Even though cancer is a bitch, I refuse to be one.
Relay for Life – Carol’s Cancer Avengers