Monday, October 8, 2012

Today, Five Years Ago...

...I wrote my first post on this blog. At that point it was more for me than anything else. Then it was a way for me to share my journey with my son--I figured I'd be dead and wanted him to get my story (and his story) from me. As time went on and I shared the blog with more people, it became a way of updating people who cared about me. Of course it was always a way for me to write about what was going on and how I felt about everything. Over the last year or so I've had less and less to say here. Partly because, thank goodness, there was not much to say. Partly because now that so many people read the blog, I felt too vulnerable and no longer wanted to share personal thoughts and emotions. However, I haven't stopped writing, because cancer has not stopped. I expect that I will continue to post on this blog as long as I have cancer.

Cancer has stolen so much from me and from my family. My friends have suffered along with us, and even people I've never met in real life, who read this blog, have experienced my sorrows and trimuphs. We are all survivors.

Five years ago I thought I would die before my son learned to read. Today he is a beginning reader.  Over the weekend I helped him to practice writing the number 3 (two curves that meet in the middle), the number 5 (a little man went around the corner and his hat blew off), and admired his other numbers (he's especially proud of his 4s). Five years ago I was frightened that I would die before sharing a bike ride with my son. Today I can go for a bike ride with him whenever we want. We share many things, like cooking, reading, and sailing to name a few. As he grows, his life experiences sometimes diverge from mine--for instance, he plays ice hockey! I get up at 6:10 to take him practice once or twice a week. I have the pleasure of parenting an intelligent, observant, curious, active child. His sense of humor and his sweetness touch me to the depths of my heart. I am so very lucky to be the mother of this child.

And at the same time I am deeply sorry about the second child, the one who I always planned for, but cannot who be; the planned sibling of my Captain Adorable. Not being able to have this child may be my greatest sorrow. No one knows what would happen if I were to conceive a child--would the pregnancy hormones cause the cancer to grow? How long would it be safe for me to be without monitoring (you can't have a CT scan while you're pregnant--or I wouldn't anyhow)? Keep in mind the longest I've been without a CT scan in the last 5 years is 4 months and because of the recent reoccurrence, I am now back to a scan every 3 months for a couple of years. There is barely any medical evidence to fall back on for information because people with stage 4 cancer don't have pregnancies.

What about my lung capacity--could it even support a pregnancy? Would I be allowed to have a natural birth, as I did with my son, or would the added complications of cancer force me into an overly-medicalized birth? What if the cancer showed up during a pregnancy and I had to deliver the baby early and begin chemo? Can you imagine the upheaval and sorrow of a baby in the NICU and me in chemo? My beloved Captains would have to be so strong--my whole family would be saddened and weakened by the crises in their lives. My obligation is to my son, my husband, and the rest of my family. This is an obligation I am proud to have and uphold! I can rejoice and mourn at the same time. I think that's really what life is all about, cancer or no--maintaining balance while feeling everything. Being present in this moment, every moment.

Five years ago I found out I had pneumonia (which led to my cancer diagnosis) while I was studying for the bar. I took the exam despite the many obstacles and difficulties and failed. Last summer (2011) I studied for the bar again, highly conscious of the sacrifices being made by my husband, son, and parents to clear my responsibilities and give me the time to focus and study. I passed and was sworn in as an attorney in December 2011. That part of me--the new lawyer part--had to remain dormant for a while longer, though, because cancer appeared on a CT scan again and my family and I had to spend time and energy fighting it again. Today I am on the cusp of opening my own law practice. I am so pleased to be able to use my brain and my education, to help people through my talent and study, and to also be present for my son and my husband.

I lead a wonderful life full of love. In the broad scheme of things, I am lucky to live in this country (a first world country) at this time. In the very personal scheme of things, I find life so sweet, so beautiful, so magical and miraculous in part because always aware of my mortality. Mortality is a reality, constantly by my side in every situation. I will never say that cancer has brought anything positive into my life, but I will say that my reaction to living with the knowledge that cancer is coming to get me (has already gotten me, albeit slowly), all the time, has opened my eyes in some ways.

It is exhausting to be so aware of mortality all the time. To constantly have the idea that this summer could be the last one, or this trip could be the last one, or this interaction with a relative who lives far away may be the last one...makes me brittle and stressed to have these high expectations all of the time. I recognize that I am pretty much the only one outside of my immediate family who understands this urgency. I also know that I am and have always been a person who feels things intensely. However, the stress of cancer has made me feel more intensely, which has been difficult. In fact, I recently sought grief therapy to help me to deal with all of this stuff that comes with cancer, and it has helped me to be more peaceful, calm, and confident overall.

Captain Obvious and I recently (end of September) celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. The comfort and deep understanding between him and I, (despite the differences between every married couple), is a touchstone for me. He loves me; I love him. I wish for him a wife who does not have cancer, but I know that he wants only me, cancer or not. His unwavering encouragement and support are testament to who he is and what he gives to the world.

Five years ago I had hopes but no real plans because I thought I was going to die soon. Today I still have hopes and I also have plans. I plan for the very near future (an upcoming trip to Tennessee to celebrate a friend's wedding!),  the near future (another rendezvous with my siblings next summer in Europe--maybe Sardinia?), the mid-term future (my own law practice), and for the long term future (looking forward to my grandchildren)!

Next CT scan October 24. Will update this blog of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughtful 5 year post. I worried when you didn't post for several months.