Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Christmas Carol

Everything was cancelled this weekend, for me anyway. Soccer tournaments (rain); a birthday party (not actually cancelled, I just did not go); basically all of the plans for the weekend that I had as of yesterday afternoon. I have a head cold. nothing with a fever; nothing particularly notable about it, just a head cold. But man, am I sick!

I have been fighting it all week, taking plenty of vitamins, sleeping as much as possible, the usual. And I thought I was getting better, until about 10:00 on Friday morning. When suddenly, I realized that I should be no where near my office.

However, instead of coming home and going to sleep, I began addressing our Christmas cards. Instead of adhering to our couch, I made myself busy with Christmas-type things. Around 4:00, I succumbed to my sickness. As my body relaxed, the cold hit in full force and it sucks.

Sitting here today, though, I am appreciating all that is holiday. I am enjoying our tree. I am proud that we actually mailed our Christmas cards today, hoping people like the poem that I drafted as a meager way to offer our thanks for all of the support we received this year from our friends and family. We talked about how Santa stops time. We watched a movie and a couple of Christmas cartoons. I made my girl hot chocolate and enjoyed some coffee. I drank Gatorade. Lots and lots of Gatorade.

The best part is...this year, I do not have cancer. Last year, I seem to recall that we did all the same things. However, I also recall an underlying code of stress and anxiety unmatched by anything we had known before. Exhaustion at every step. A tear around every corner. But we did it. Life went on. That was the most important gift of last Christmas season. Life went on and Christmas came. Family came. Santa came down the chimney. He traveled through the night spreading Christmas cheer that cancer could not abolish. LIFE WENT ON.

Perhaps, I am forgetting the nausea or my gray skin tone or the implicit fog that plagued my brain on Christmas day.....but looking back, none of that seems important. I am proud that we got it done for our kids.

Looking back at pictures, I am sentimental. And I think about many Christmas seasons from now when chemo will be a distant memory, when I am completely reconstructed and I think about that special Christmas as a blessing. A blessing that taught me to appreciate all Christmas's past and future. My own Christmas Carol and the ghost that was our escort was my own.

How many people get a second chance like that?

So, I am going to sit on my couch and continue to enjoy our tree. I am hoping desperately that my cold goes away very soon because Christmas is coming. Good thing that most my shopping is done.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Are You?

Home sick for the past couple of days I got to thinking that I have missed some obvious opportunities to compose entries for my blog. I cannot even tell you that I remember what they are, because my memory is not my strong suit these days. However, as I put together my family photo collage that I am hoping to use for our Christmas card this year, I started to think about my supporters, confidants and friends, and my intermittent lack of connection through my blog entries.

So, how are you? This is what really crossed my mind. Lovely people have posted comments to this blog. Some of them that I know and some that I do not. Like the friend you never knew that you had, I came to rely on these comments to help boost my confidence and on those days when I felt a little lonely or lost. They reminded me to stay positive. Even though my writing portrayed my positive outlook, I did not and still do not always feel that way. Comments on my blog were the reassurance I needed to help me through difficult moments.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is THANK YOU!

As far as what is going on with me physically, this weekend I have been sick. A winter cold. I fell ice skating a couple of weeks back and bruised my tailbone, too. I am still nursing that injury. My left breast is ready for reconstructive surgery. Though, surgery has been postponed until March for personal reasons. It is hard as a rock though, full of saline and ready for implant. My husband and I laugh about how it just sort of sits there, not moving or wiggling. (Sorry, if that is too much information!)

I also have discovered lately that I am physically very weak. Combined with the fact that my balance is a bit off, I am being more careful than ever. I recently joined the YMCA and am planning to start rectify this, while my daughter attends gymnastics at the same facility. I think yoga might be good for me as well, so I am working on finding time and a class for that.

My Christmas shopping is nearly complete and I am more organized than I have ever been in this respect. Maybe it is just because I am appreciating the holidays a little more? Not that I never did appreciate them, I am just sayin'.....

My kids are participating in their Christmas programs at their elementary school this week and last. I remember being at those performances this time last year, waiting for my hair to fall out from chemo, wondering if the next person who shuffled behind me to find their seat and bumped the back of my head would make it so. I remember it so clearly. It is so nice to have hair again. And a lot of it.

Anyway, I am truly having a joyful Holiday season. Who better to share it with than you all? Thank you for always being there for me this year. Thank you for reading my blog. I am truly honored.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

RIP Elizabeth Edwards

I do not follow the news as I should. I rarely follow politics. Only enough to keep up in conversations and about issues that are important to me around voting time.

So, when following the John Edwards presidential campaign in 2008, I have to admit I did not know a lot about the guy. I thought he was fairly handsome. I thought it was remarkable that he had young children. I vaguely remember hearing of Elizabeth Edward's breast cancer diagnosis. I also vaguely remember her cancer fight seeming minimally affective on her husband's political aspirations. I do not know that I had an opinion one way or another. My memory does not work like that. People's ailments were not something I understood or thought much about until I got sick, selfish as that probably sounds.

Yet, recent news of Ms. Edward's decision to stop treatment followed immediately by her death has affected me greatly. I have read several blog posts. I have heard the news. I have searched for her diagnosis to see if it matches mine. I have searched for the timeline of her treatments. I know the obvious - just because Elizabeth Edwards suffered a cancer re-occurrence does not mean that I will. I hope not.

I just think to myself, "Self, you are so lucky."

Then I think some more. I think of the tears her family must have cried through out their journey - because it was their journey. I think of the fear that must have plagued them for all of the little and big symptoms and side effects that they endured together. I wonder how much her children knew and when they knew it. I think all of these terrible thoughts. I am raw with them, as if they were mine. And I cry for the moments that cancer stole from this family and for the pain it inflicted.

I hope these children find beauty in their mother's fight. I hope they feel her strength encircling them. Her outstretched arms never further away than a warm summer breeze or the quiet reflection of the rain. I bet they do. I bet they find that and so much more. They deserve so much more.

I am inspired by Elizabeth Edwards. Not just by her sensationalized fight against the ravage beast that took her body, but by her spirit. A mother with young children. A fighter, an activist, an intellect and an expert Lego construction helper to her children. I am sad for her family. I am afraid for mine to.

The cancer is something I cannot control. Should it be lying in wait for me, I will go on. Thank you Ms. Edwards. Thank your for leaving your legacy of strength behind. Thank you for reminding me just how fragile we are....and that sometimes, no matter how hard we fight, we do not win. I am awake now. I am a survivor. I plan to keep it that way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

3-Day in San Diego

I wrote the poem below after returning home from watching the finish of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk in San Diego. For those of you that are not local, it rained all weekend. My daughter and I went down to hand out treats for a couple of hours that Saturday morning. All four of us went to the finish on Sunday. What a moving experience! I am so grateful for those who walk year after year and so proud of those who braved the rain this year. What a sisterhood I have joined through being a survivor! I am inspired.....and so, I write.

Rain pouring down,
Feet never stop.
Except to nurse a blister.
A single step, a hop.

Pink all around,
Smiles unaware,
Of scars they are healing,
With passion and flair.

Hope is the wish,
3-days, 60-miles,
They keep going,
Steps constant, single file.

In memory signs,
Posted along the way,
Angels floating,
By will or skyway.

Sisters in hand,
Husbands, sons too,
Bras on the outside,
Tears there too.

Legs soar,
Eyes bright,
Friends wishing,
Encouraging the fight.

Thanksgiving to follow,
This glorious quest,
Blessings abound,
Maybe a seat empty, lest.

We bow heads,
As we say grace,
We remember the rain,
What sisters have faced.

Thankful, I am.
For all listed above.
For every step taken.
Every step full of love.