Yes, This Really Is A New Post – With Some Final Reflections From Europe

My letter to Padre Pio which I slipped under his still perfectly intact corpse on display in the church at San Giovanni Rotundo.  What a sight.

My letter to Padre Pio which I slipped under his still perfectly intact corpse on display in the church at San Giovanni Rotundo. What a sight.

So it seems my email subscribers have been receiving old posts masquerading as new posts in their in-boxes over the last few days.  Sorry about that.   I am in the midst of transitioning to a new server and host for my blog.  The technicians have assured me the problem is now fixed so you shouldn’t be receiving any more of those old posts.  But to clarify…  No, I am not in Ohio…  Nor did I have recent surgery.  Sill here in Connecticut.  Still doing chemo.  Still soldiering on.

But as the old posts came in I thought it would be neat to re-read them myself.  To revisit life as I went through treatment the first time around – two long years ago.  Everyone points out that I beat cancer once before so why shouldn’t I be able to do it again?  But in re-reading these old posts I realized how different everything was then…   We had so much more hands-on support during my last round with chemo (family and friends stayed with us in Ohio almost the entire time I was in treatment)…  Plus, I seemed to have more determination, motivation, and fighting spirit in me…  I wasn’t experiencing the same levels of pain and discomfort…  I was exercising every day and doing regular visualization and guided meditation.  Back then, cancer seemed like a blip on the radar of my life…  Now cancer feels like my whole life.

Some things haven’t changed between then and now though – Like my frustration over parenting during chemo.  Just like last time I find myself crying and upset because I don’t have the energy to take care of my daughter.  To have fun with her.   To play in the snow.  To come up with creative activities or projects.  To handle her outbursts (which have been increasing substantially as of late).  It sucks.  It’s not her fault I have cancer.  Why does she have to suffer too?  I try to remind myself that in the big scheme of things I AM a good parent.  She WILL be ok.  But in the small moments when she won’t brush her teeth or go up for her bath and I don’t have the energy, patience, or mental wherewithal to deal with it I feel frustrated, sad, and sorry for us.

But you know me, I also refuse to remain stuck in the feeling-sorry-for-myself space.  If given a choice (and we all have the choice each & every day) I choose to make a conscious effort to live in hope, faith, and gratitude instead.  So today I chose to get up early to sit with a cup of tea, read my daily meditation books, and write a few new affirmations for myself.  My favorite is:  “Today and everyday, I am getting better in every way!”

The last few weeks have been a real struggle.  The new drug I started (Pertuzamab) did a bit of a whammy on my system.  That, plus the cumulation of the other drugs, and this horribly cold weather.  I’ve been unable to pull myself out of bed in the morning (despite 10+ hours of sleep).   I’ve been late getting Miss M to school every day.  I’ve had days where I was glued to the couch, unable to move – literally.  Days i was chilled to the bone and no amount of blankets could warm me.  A whole week with intense stomach cramping and diarrhea.  Days of lightheadedness and being short of breath.  I’ve had to cancel appointments, classes, and resign myself to letting Miss M watch a full 8 hours of television at once.  (Which I posted about on Facebook and resolved my guilt about after all the great comments from other mamas out there!  Thank you ladies!)

My oncologist is running some test to see if these problems are related to something else (perhaps a parasite or a bug or bacteria infection??).  If not, and it really is from the new drug we may hold off on taking it again.  She also wants to do another echocardiogram to make sure my heart isn’t causing the shortness of breath I’ve been having.  To be continued…  In the meantime, I’m still able to continue with the Herceptin and Taxotere (got my weekly dose yesterday).  And I finally decided to move forward with the biopsy of my neck – Only because we’re avoiding surgery and doing a ultrasound guided fine-needle biopsy with a radiologist instead.

And amidst all the medical crap I continue to reflect on my trip to Europe.  Wanting to identify the healing properties from that trip that I can carryover into my every day life.   Because it was that trip that rid me of all my physical pain (which has still not returned!).   That trip brought my cancer tumor marker number to its lowest level since I started chemo (unfortunately the number has steadily inched back up again since then).  That trip was a mini miracle.

I know the biggest lesson from that trip is the importance of finding silence each day.  Silence to just sit.  Meditate.  Watch the sunset.  Pray.  Enjoy a cup of tea.  Clear my mind.  I also know that I need more than just 10 or 15 minutes of this here and there.  Ideally, I’d love to get away on spiritual retreats on the regular but I recognize my family and wallet cannot always support that.  So I need to proactively carve out a good chunk of time each day for this.  It’s hard when you’ve got little kids, a house to run, a million appointments, and oh yeah – breast cancer.  But I am discovering this is a non-negotiable for me.  By taking the time to be silent and reconnect with my authentic self I know good things will follow…  My immune system will be able to ramp up and fight this cancer…  I will get in touch with my wants and needs…  Be better able to find my joy…  Have more patience with Miss M and with life…  And find more beauty in the every day moments…

In order to do this I recognize I need to ask for help more.  I need to let the laundry pile up and leave dishes in the sink.  I need to cut back on the number of appointments I have.  I need to say “No” to certain people and commitments.  I need to be ok with not going full throttle all the time.  I need to focus on me more.  And that’s ok.  No it’s more than just ok, It’s necessary.

I am eternally grateful that I took that trip to Europe.  Travel has always been a source of insight and reflection for me.  Maybe that’s why I love it so much.  A chance to get away from the hectic day-to-day and just “be”.  We all need to do more of that.

So that’s exactly what my family is doing!!!  Tomorrow we leave for Puerto Rico!  Hooray!  We booked the trip earlier in the month but I was awaiting final approval from my doctor (which I received yesterday) – So off we go!  Looking forward to exploring the Island, soaking up the rays, exercising in nature again, eating fresh & local fruits and veggies, and of course spending time with hubby and Miss M.  I’ll try to post some pics on Facebook on the GWW page while we’re there.

I encourage each of you to carve out some moments of silence for yourself.  And just BE.

Peace.  -T

Entrance to the grotto of Michael the Archangel in Monte Sant'Angelo, Italy.

Entrance to the grotto of Michael the Archangel in Monte Sant’Angelo, Italy.

Little houses set against the hills of Monte Sant'Angelo.

Little houses set against the hills of Monte Sant’Angelo.

My favorite meal in Italy at Fil & Max Taverna in San Giovanni Rotundo.

My favorite meal in Italy at Fil & Max Taverna in San Giovanni Rotundo.

The alleyways I had to navigate to find the restaurant.  So worth it!

The alleyways I had to navigate to find the restaurant. So worth it!

12 Responses

  1. Terri, it’s okay to let Miss M bend the rules about teeth or bed once in a while. It’s okay to let dishes pile up; your health has to be paramount.
    And whether one is religious or not, the “moment of silence” is terrific advice. The human person needs to stop occasionally. For body and soul!
    Keep fighting! You’re a very strong person and, I think, your parents’ daughter. Which is a Very Good Thing!

    • Thanks Steve. And I totally agree about the moments of silence transcending religion. We folks here in North America are always going too fast & doing too much. We need to take a lesson from other parts of the world where they move on “island time”, take daily afternoon naps, spend 3 hours enjoying a meal, work less and enjoy ample vacation time. And if that seems impossible I guess we can just aim for regular time to relax & decompress. It’s still a work in progress for me.

  2. Sweetie, when you are feeling low, try to visualize all the people around the world who are pulling or you, there is so much love for you, floating around like a giant cosmic mist of energy. All of that energy is positive and healing, draw it into your body and hold it tight.
    TRy to rid your mind of guilty, regret, remorse, those feelings have no point they just bring you down and zap your energy. Know you are doing the best you can every day, no more can you ask of yourself.
    Have a beautiful trip.

    • Beautiful words Kerry! And a great reminder. Just gotta keep silencing the fearful inner critic and embracing all the love that’s out there. With gratitude & blessings. xoxo

  3. A beautiful post — and that plate of goodies from San Giovanni Rotundo is making me rotundo (well, rotundo-*ER*…) just looking at it! Have a great time in Puerto Rico!! Much love, — John

  4. Hooray! Enjoy your trip to Puerto Rico, and for the next trip please consider visting my island Dominican Republic, lots of healing places there too. Blessings,
    Scarlett

    • Thanks Scarlett! We actually were considering Dominican Republic for this trip. Decided on PR cuz we didn’t feel like doing an all-inclusive & wanted the added perks & ease of still being in the “USA”. But I’ve heard the beaches in DR are amazing! It is on our list for sure!

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