(in a whispering tone) CANCER…

curing bacon

Today, or yesterday, or this week I acknowledge the year mark of the return of the dreaded C…. It is obviously not something to celebrate when my 12 cm tumor in my liver is only down to 8 cm and that is just the largest one.  We have “a long road” ahead still and though positive about the successes I will feel in the form of a remission gift, I do know that I won’t be finished this year with my treatment as I had hoped and meditated, it will be “on-going” so says the doc and that I need to remain the wounded warrior looking for a clear path towards healing, looking away from the battle and into pastures of freedom. Sometimes it is difficult to do so when you don’t want to make your entire life about cancer, keep things a bit normal and my health battles somewhat private while having to feel good and have conversations about politics and the latest crappy tv show.  And yet it is also difficult when we shouldn’t be whispering cancer as if it is spreadable by the meer utterance of the word. Sshhhhhhhhh…….(accompanied by eye roll).  We/I should be shouting from the rooftops:  “I am 38 years old and the gal next to me is 32 and we have Fucking Cancer!  There is something wrong with this picture, why are we just throwing chemicals at it…solve it, for (literally) crying out loud!” I could bitch on.  I began to think about the whisper of cancer because I don’t understand how Nora Ephron up and died from Leukemia and I had no idea she had it, within weeks of Donna Summer passing on, whom I was also unaware about her bout.  MCA announced his diagnosis the same year that I had my welcome to the cancer club talk but that was it, there was not much update on his health from his camp, until his death. I fully understand that one’s mortality and health is a private matter and the need to keep it close and safe, yet public lives might create so much more fuel for this cancer fire that burns and dies out depending on the trends of donations/walk/tv shows.  I just want to do more, help others, and yes help myself.  I know how my doctor works his ass off trying to heal us, he is at work all hours, calls me on weekends, at night, he is onboard my ‘fighting the good fight’ mission yet I feel there is something within arm’s reach that we are missing, why is it that we can put men on the moon and we can’t fight illnesses that strike millions.  Well, maybe putting men on the moon causes some of these illnesses.  I can smell the fuel from here.

One year ago, I was admitted to the hospital with toxic levels of calcium in my blood due to my bones falling apart, I had 105.2 fever, not eating, and was literally slipping into darkness.  My doctor said that a year ago the team didn’t think that I would look this good by now and had their fears, so I should and do feel extraordinarily blessed to have a bit of meat on my bones, a slight skip in my step and some eyebrows back.  On Saturday, I even attended an 8pm Sounders match with my hubby and our neighbor; I was out until almost mid-night and drove us home.  I was tired but felt so energized by the simple act of living life that I had tears streaming down my face when the opening cheers began.  Some of us are truly persevering, fighting the good fight, and breathing the fresh air and I am one of them.  As my goal of finishing treatment within a year was not obtainable, I will brush off my knees, get a new pair of jeans, and create a more practical one: my new goal is to hit remission by my 40th birthday, to celebrate with friends and family in Italy.  I can do this, I have a touch less than two years to complete the project of “curing bacon”.  (more on that title later…can you guess what it means 😉 So now, I continue to Live Life with gratitude and many more demanding questions, and I am still keeping the calm.

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enduring, wearing the belt of survivor

There has been a notion in my thoughts that I have wanted to write about but struggle with the whole PC-ness of my opinions. Recently, some writing of mine had been critiqued due to some inappropriate venting. It made me realize that blogging is a funny form of communication, as it is communicating with an unknown audience. As well, those thoughts that we all have that aren’t necessarily true to our hearts, once put out there for the world to see, become a reality that is an inaccurate description of our soul and a sadly permanent impression. My writing, at times, I had used as stream of consciousness venting to expel negative energy that would block my heart, negative emotions that I would otherwise be unable to speak out loud. Negativity, which in my opinion, contributed to my breast cancer for not screaming it out of my system.  Alas, now I am back to the age old, leather bound, Italian journal by my bedside for the icky thoughts that should only be spoken to a best girlfriend who knows you are not for real when banter about how much you despise so and so, etc. 

The current thought I have running about my head is not so ‘high school catty’ as my now deleted thoughts about, well about… This thought is real. It is a deep moniker that I struggle with in both society and science.  It is the word SURVIVOR.  In most descriptions I am deemed a cancer survivor. I came through a harrowing health scare that rocked my world for the latter half of last year. I lost a breast but I survived, I have lifelong challenges to face because of this dreaded C, but I survived, yes I did, but it got me dissecting this word, what it means and what it applies to in life, who wears this label.  You hear the word survivor replacing the word victim for many people who have experienced trauma.  Many people do not know that I have experienced trauma, which at the time, had me fearing for my life, a trauma aside from the most recent cancer, many years ago. Even then, I never ever used the word survivor or victim.  I honestly never thought I needed to put a label to shitty life experiences that had trumped happiness for a time being. I acknowledged the experience, talked, healed, meditated on it all and moved forward.  I haven’t thought about the moment I was bound and gagged and…for years, really.  I don’t need to, at all.  No, not denial, it simply was an experience that I had, and moved on from.  I floated above the “trauma”, the “cancer”, the “blank blank private stuff”, and have come out the other end at peace with it all, of course after much thought and struggle, but yes at peace…mostly.  At times, I do waiver to doubt and fear.  With all of this struggle and bullshit, was I a victim? Yes. Did I survive? Yes.  And do I have reminders of these crappy times?  Yes indeed. Though, do I need to walk around with this gigantic pink SURVIVOR bumper sticker on my missing boob area….I am just not so sure.  Seriously, to define oneself is to always own the negativity the experience has brought (to me, at least).  I could give a fuck about the crack head who grabbed me by the throat that day, the only reason I have thought of him at all recently is because of this word survivor.  The cancer: well yeah…that I have to think about often, daily because of the thin red line where once lived a nice looking boob, and the every 3 month doc visits are a pain in the ass, and I think about my alcohol consumption a lot more, however, do I need to own the term survivor like I climbed Mount Everest and should get a medal for it? Maybe I do, maybe to show the world that we can get past these harrowing life experiences we do, but sometimes it simply seems too much like a label.  Maybe for some, having the name survivor assists a lifelong journey, but for me I just don’t know how that helps.  

These days, it seems like every other person I meet is a survivor of something tormenting, and what of those who did not survive?  It almost makes it sound as if they are inferior, which is so not the case and so much more horrific to ponder.  When I hear of my dear friend who lost his sister at age 39 to breast cancer, I think of him and her daughter as surviving. The heartache is just unbearable and yet they must move forward.  If my husband were to lose me during such a strange time in our life together, what would it have been like for him…that too would be surviving?  So the bottom line, I guess, is we are all survivors of some heartache, trauma, pain, health issue, financial collapse, etc.  It is how we approach the new days ahead that give us the strength, not this label, but the actions of a calm spirit that can learn from our own, and the heartache of others. It is how we let those in pain expel it like vomit onto the sidewalk to clear our passageways to bring peace. It is how those ‘sticks and stones’ labels never allow you to break bones.  Keep the calm, carry on.  Peace to you survivors, but I say please try not to wear that word forever…let it float above as a fact to the experience, as we all carry it somehow.