Watch Out Europe – Here I Come!

Packing my suitcase!

Packing my suitcase!

It’s official.  I’m going to Europe!!   Woohoo!

Got the green light from my oncologist yesterday but didn’t make the final decision until I got into the chemo chair for treatment #4 on Thursday and happened to sit beside a lovely lady named Vivian.  Turns out Vivian’s family just happens to be from the town of San Giovonni Rotundo in Italy where Padre Pio’s shrine is.  Padre Pio is the reason for my whole trip.  Vivian’s family personally knew Padre Pio and used to regularly bring fruit from their trees to keep the friars nourished.  The moment I heard Vivian’s story I knew it was the Universe telling me to take this trip.  Do it now.  Don’t wait.  So I’m going.  I leave tomorrow!  And i’m over-the-moon thrilled!

My itinerary includes a few days in Lisbon, a visit to Our Lady of Fatima, a stop-over in Rome, some serious time with Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotundo, and a final pit-stop in Venice.  The challenge will be to honour my body, rest when I need to, and go with the flow instead of pushing myself to see and do it all.

On another positive note, I think I’m finally starting to feel better again.  Pulling myself out of the depressive funk.  It helps that the pain has been more manageable.  And I’m back to exercising again (low-key walks instead of running though).  I’m also starting to eat healthier.  My head space is clearing.  My confidence and inner strength seem to be returning.

Plus grandpa has arrived!!!  And he’ll be here for the next 6 weeks.  Hooray!  Having my dad here is a gift.  Just watching the joy in Miss M’s face as they play rhyming games and tell each other stories totally warms my heart.  Miss M loves her grandpa.  And I couldn’t go on this trip without his help.  Thanks dad!

All of this good news despite the fact that my tumor markers don’t seem to be getting much better.  We’re four weeks into chemo and already talking about changing up the drugs or adding new ones in.  My oncologist and I specifically talked about Perjeta (aka: pertuzumab) and Lapatinib.  I’ve gotta do more research before I decide.  Plus, I had an MRI done this week and the results came back with two tiny suspicious spots on my prefrontal cortex that are not confirmed to be cancer but definitely something we want to keep our eyes on in the future.  Oh joy!

Much to think about…  Thank god I have an 8-day solo spiritual journey ahead of me to contemplate what’s next.

In addition to the ‘standard’ treatment, I’m also consulting with an oriental medicine professional that my acupuncturist referred me to.  He’s based in Hawaii and specializes in integrative oncology that blends both conventional and natural/chinese medicine.  Right up my ally.  I’m curious to see what his recommendations will be.  And I have an appointment with a physical therapist when I get back to start dealing with the lymphadema.

Otherwise I continue to go to reiki, take my supplements, drink my green juice, make time to meditate, and see my acupuncturist two times a week.  I am always fascinated by my acupuncture sessions and the inherent wisdom that is contained in our bodies.  This week’s pain in the back of my shoulder corresponded with the acupuncture point for guilt in relationships (as I struggle with my guilty feelings about leaving Miss M for 8 whole days).  Plus, all my tumors and aches and pains keep appearing on the same chinese meridian – the large intestine.  And the main focus of that meridian is to surrender.  Which has been one of the most difficult things for me lately.  Fasciniating!

I realized last night just how much i’ve been operating from a place of fear lately.  I guess it’s hard not to when your body provides a painful reminder each day of your own mortality.  And even harder still when those around you are drowning in fear and leaking their fearful energy all over you.  But it’s gotta stop.  I gotta surrender this fear.  Give it to God.  Reclaim my faith.  Trust that the Universe has a splendid and beautiful plan for me.  For all of us.

While I recognize the need to visit the dark places of life.  I also realize that staying there is not where I want to be.  Once again, I thank all of you for your tough love, your supportive and insightful comments, and wisdom…  The reality checks…  The reminders not to be so tough on myself…  To let go of trying to be so perfect…  To not beat myself up over the emotional eating…  You guys are some seriously insightful and caring folks!!  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On Friday I met with my fantastic naturopath (and was accompanied by Auntie L who loved her just as much as I do!).  She is thrilled for my upcoming trip to Europe.  At the end of our session she reminded me to stay open on my journey.  To be aware.  To be fully present to all that is around me.  I am asking the Universe for guidance so I better be ready to receive it.  And to recognize that the answers and lessons may appear in unexpected packages.

All my prayers lately have been the same…  Show me the next step on my path…  Help my ‘family’ heal.  I can no longer live in fear.  It is not a fun place to be.  Just gotta keep focusing on the present moment.  Appreciating the beauty around me…  My daughter’s giggle as grandpa tells her funny stories…  The setting sun…   The smell of the ocean…  Watching the local holiday light parade…  The moments when my body is not in pain…  The thrill of traveling to new places.

Watch out Europe.  Here I come!

Storytime with grandpa

Storytime with grandpa

Walk on the beach with Aura

Walk on the beach with Aura

12 Responses

  1. So happy you are making that trip! I just know it will fill you with peace & strength. I agree, leave yourself open to all it’s wonders. I am always amazed by your determination & spirit. You always truly live life which is more than most of us can say. Can’t wait to read your next blog!

  2. If you have time while in Rome,go to the Pantheon!It is full of so much wonderful energy…not surprising,as it has been a place of worship for a couple of thousand years.It left me with a sense of wonder and awe.Remember to take care of yourself while travelling…it’s so easy to get caught up in the amazing things that Europe has to offer.Also,you mustn’t feel any guilt over leaving your girl…she will be having the time of her life with her grandpa while you are gone,and it will do you so much good to shed the skin of the woman who has cancer and just be your travelling self for a week!

  3. Tell your dad he looks like some kinda hippie! :)
    Have a great trip, and try not to worrry. What will happen is partly controlled by you, partly controlled by the universe. You can only do your part and let the worrying go.

  4. Bon Voyage! You have a FABulous time, you hear me!

    I had to laugh out loud at the “looks like some kinda hippie” comment. As some who reads his books knows, why, yes, he is! He is!

  5. Putting myself into your shoes… well, me, I wouldn’t try to shed fear. I mean, I’d *want* to, I’d love to be able to be not-afraid, but I’d also realize that I wouldn’t be able to be not-afraid. Or, at least, I wouldn’t consciously be.

    I wish I could find a reference, but I keep remembering a story of a flying carpet that would work perfectly, unless one thing happened. What was it, the owner asked, and kept being told “it’s better if you don’t know.” It turns out that if wouldn’t work if you thought of an elephant. (Or maybe even “a green elephant” which would be a lot more risky in today’s world of brighter colors and animation.) And, of course, as soon as he knew about that, he tried to fly again, and plummeted to the earth halfway through.

    If you try not to think of an elephant it doesn’t work, because at the very least you have to check in. “What’s that thing I’m not supposed to think abDAMMIT”. I did think that a person might not think of an elephant if they fill their mind with something else… I imagined that was a goal of meditation, kinda-sorta.

    One other thing that comes to my mind here is that if I think of something as a defeat – like, self-condemning thoughts – then it’s worse when it happens. But if I just accept it as “yeah, it sucks, but it’s going to happen, that’s the pattern my brain hits,” it’s easier to deal with, because it’s only one pain. It’s the pain of my brain saying ugly things, but it’s not *also* the pain of feeling I’ve failed by letting my brain say those things.

    Of course, there’s a flip side to this – if my brain is condemning me, something is wrong (unless I’ve just done something stupid and deserve admonishment), and I shouldn’t ignore that, either.

    But in your case, some level of fear is perfectly normal and perfectly justified and the question would probably be how to channel it into a useful direction, rather than just letting it hammer at you. You’re right – don’t live in fear… just live.

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