Happy New Year!
Been a while since my last post… Guess the holidays do that to ya. I was just re-reading all the comments from my last post and decided in this moment to make one of my goals for 2014 to respond and connect more with everyone reading this blog. You guys are amazing! I also want to connect more with the other awesome cancer bloggers out there whose posts I read on the regular and intend to comment on but never do. Plus, I’m finally ready to transition to a new format for my blog. Will hopefully have the new site functioning for my next post.
It’s a new year. Time for a fresh start. I love fresh starts. I try to remember that each day offers a chance at a new beginning. Each moment can be a turning point towards something better… (And on that front, I have to give a shout-out to fellow MBC warrior Paulette who preached an amazing sermon on ‘turning points’ last weekend at Community Baptist Church! Thanks for inviting us!)
I am feeling positive about 2014.
Hubby and I have been on a spiritual quest since I returned from my trip to Europe. Searching for a spiritual community we can feel at home in. One that blends nicely with my Buddhist background and hubby’s Catholic upbringing. We’re hitting up all the local churches; Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, United… You name it. And bringing Miss M along for the ride. Already I can see that she understands the sacredness of meditation, prayer, and being in church. And I feel like we’re connecting more as a family since we started our church exploring too.
I continue to draw on the strength and serenity of my spiritual journey to Europe. I feel like my whole life has shifted since I took that trip. My depression has lifted. My decisions are no longer based in fear. I’m enjoying life more. Speaking my mind. Surrendering and feeling more hopeful. Feeling like the challenges I, and my family have endured are about to morph into something beautiful.
I remember the thrill and joy I felt as I flew into Lisbon. The tears would not stop coming so I just let them fall as I watched the sun rise over Portugal from my little airplane window. And the tears continued throughout my time there… Being in Portugal felt comforting and uplifting. It felt like home. Which makes sense when you consider my heritage and connections to both Portugal and Brazil. I devoured meals of seafood and fresh olives. I walked the magical winding streets of the Alfama District and listened to live fado music. I took the tram to see the Monastery of Jerónimos and the Belém Tower… (And was delighted that the trams run on an honor system with no one keeping track of who pays)… But that’s the kind of place Lisbon is. Friendly. Beautiful. Charming. Trusting. I fell in love.
When I went to Fatima my heart grew even more. In this small Portuguese town Mary appeared to three shepherd children numerous times over the course of a 6-month period culminating in a “miracle of the sun” that over 70,000 people reportedly witnessed. I had heard from a friend just how awe-inspiring Fatima was. In fact it was this friend’s account of his journey there that inspired my trip. But I was still not prepared for the level of magic and energy and healing that would overcome me as I set foot in the Chapel of Apparitions where Mary reportedly appeared. Immediately I was overcome with emotion. I was on my knees crying and sobbing, snot running down my face, puddles of tears pooling by my knees on the floor. It was as if I felt all of humankind’s suffering at the same time as I felt the radiant and unconditional love of Mary and all ‘mothers’. My pain disappeared. My thoughts ceased. Even though I was only partially sheltered from the outside I was not cold. I stayed there for hours praying and meditating and crying. Each time I thought I was done crying I was surprised by another burst of fresh tears. I prayed for those closest to me, for those caught in the struggle of cancer and illness, for all of us dealing with life’s difficulties and traumas. I lit candles and said more prayers. I didn’t want to leave. But eventually I had to.
Since that day my pain has all but disappeared. The swelling in my arm continues to go down. The tumors in my neck and shoulder appear to be getting “softer” and smaller. My headaches are gone. My energy is returning. My attitude has completely shifted. All of this despite the fact that my tumor marker numbers are not getting better and the strength and dexterity of my left arm and hand has deteriorated to the point where I can’t put an elastic in Miss M’s hair or scrape leftovers from a frying pan.
This Thursday I am scheduled to start a new drug – Pertuzumab (aka: Perjeta). My oncologist is hoping it will add an extra kick to the Taxotere and Herceptin I’m currently doing. When I asked her how long she suggests I continue with chemo her response was basically for as long as I can tolerate it. As of right now I seem to be tolerating it very well. My white blood counts haven’t dropped at all. My red blood counts are a little low but nothing to worry about. My immune system has stayed pretty strong. And I credit all the holistic treatments I’m doing for keeping me healthy (weekly acupuncture, regular reiki, supplements, diet, meditation, etc.). But still, I don’t want to stay on this chemo crap forever!
I’ve decided to place the biopsy on hold for now. Once I found out that taking lymph nodes from my neck is a procedure requiring full anesthesia, a visit to the OR, and possible complications, I told hubby I’d rather just take another drug than put my body through more surgery.
For now, I am choosing to focus on the fact that I’m pain free and feeling good. The fact that I can still function, be an active mom, and live my life is what matters. And I’m choosing not to focus on the tumor marker numbers or the things that I can’t do, or the fact that my fingers are cracking open, my nails are falling off, my hair is gone, and my libido is shot.
With the new year upon us I am actively seeking to connect with what’s truly important. To identify my non-negotiables and make them a priority. For me this includes daily prayer & meditation, regular exercise or movement, healthy eating, finding time to read & write, traveling, quality time with my family, and connecting with people (those I already know and those I have yet to meet).
Here’s to a fabulous 2014 for everyone! Let today be the turning point that leads you to discover and prioritize your own non-negotiables of life. Each day, each moment, offers the opportunity to make a choice. Are your daily choices in line with what you value and deem most important?
Love to all. – T