Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Simple, Tiniest Pleasures

This morning I awoke and I knew today was different than the mornings of the last few weeks. After all, it WAS still morning, and the sunlight streamed through my bedroom window invitingly. After having been hospitalized for much of last week for fevers and dehydration, etc, I spent virtually this entire week in my small apartment, sleeping much of the time, venturing outside exactly once to do a quick errand.

Blue skies and bright sunlight reflecting off the rock solid frozen snow still seemed inviting. In no time, I was dressed and out the door to take a drive to the vet's office to pick up prescription food for my cats - a task I'd kept putting off due to lack of energy or lack of interest even. I felt happy to be able to accomplish this small task, to be outside (sort of) with the sun streaming thru my car's windows. I felt a part of the world once again.

Realizing I haven't been eating enough at all, I decided to pick up some bagels and a few other things on the way home... so what? you might think... so... the store is only a quarter of a mile away from my apartment and I have not been able to get myself out the door and over there. So, it is a monumental accomplishment and I am most pleased. Though I have handicap plates, I decided to park a ways from the store, and actually walk in the sunshine for a moment or two. I felt so happy. Just a few tiny accomplishments, most everyone takes completely forgranted or even whines about having to do, but for me, they are tiny pleasures that intertwine together into the complexities of life.

Thank you sunshine.

New Directions

Today I decided not to limit my blog to just letters to my breast cancer. It's too limiting and i have so much more to say. I've added a little subtitle as a segue into other thoughts and ideas. The moment I decided this, I was assaulted by a barrage of thoughts and ideas on what to write in my blog. Once I dug myself out from under the pile, the decision was easy. I would start with something so simple, I would start with today. So I shall write a separate post now...

Kinoki Detox Foot Pads

Dear Cancer, I saw a commercial for Kinoki Detox Foot Pads, and I thought, well that's exactly where you need to go... pulled out thru the bottom of my foot as I ordered you to do in one other letter, and then thrown straight into the garbage. You see the exit IS at the bottom of my foot, just as i told you. Go there now, I am tired of you ravaging my body. I want to dust off my hiking boots and feel the crunch of leaves (ok snow) under my feet once again. I want to be the person I was last winter -- when i heard I might have to have a double mastectomy, I went out and bought snow shoes (where is that girl and what have you done to her?). I want to be her again. Yes the one who spits in your face, allows you not to conquer even one remote aspect of her life. I can feel her inside of me -- she's pushing you towards the exit right now.. So go!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Today you did not steal my day!

Dear Cancer,

For the last eleven months, I have been on chemo which has bullied me around, as you have. I have been weak, and felt horrid most of the time, and sometimes wondered if you would finally get your way and kill me. Just over a week ago, I resolved to climb out of the hole I'd fallen into because of you -- the one that renders me immobile with overwhelming depression and fear. I worked hard to climb out of that hole, brushing off bits of you along the way, like unwanted crumbs. I resolved that you would not own my life anymore, and yesterday was a day you barely existed in my life. While I hate you for what you have done to me, I must live hand in hand with you and not allow that hatred to overcome my life.

I am so excited that yesterday, I did not feel like a woman with stage 4 breast cancer, no I felt like a normal woman - LIKE THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME! HA! I shed you, like a filthy old overcoat, if only for a day. If i did it once, I will do it again, if not for me, then for my dear friend Vicky whom you stole from her family or my aunt who's life you claimed just two months later. I shed you for this whole day, and lived as i have not in so many months. I accomplished tasks others might take forgranted, with glee, thrilled to find that there was still energy left inside me to do more. I baked myself some brownies -- I cannot tell you the last time I baked anything, I have not wanted to, nor been interested in doing so in months on end.

I have dragged myself through day after day, month after month, while you and the chemo beat me up for nine months now. In fact this last round of chemo did not knock me down, at least not yet, and we are on day number three. I want only for the chemo to knock you dead, cancer, which is all that you deserve to be. Dead. No one wants you. You are a life-snatcher, even when you do not kill, you steal lives as you did mine -- now my hiking boots gather dust instead of fresh mud. My soul needs the woods to thrive, and you have snatched that away from me. Today I snatched it back, and i am exhuberant!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Eleven months later...

Dear Breast Cancer,

You came at me with a vengence this time, bowling me over, and causing me to fall straight into the hole - the hole of depression, lethargy and despair. It was so quick, I didn't even notice, and I heard you snicker as the days turned into weeks and into months. Falling so fast, I looked for comfort and found a soft couch upon which to curl into a ball. Though I knew I shouldn't, I lay there imagining I could feel you invading my every cell. (after all, you've already taken over so many places in my body, I wonder how I am alive sometimes). Yes I imagined I could feel you sinking your vile tendrils of death into every part of my body. I should never have done that -- I gave you an open invitation to destroy my life which you happily tried to do. Alone and scared in that dark hole, I lay aching and empty. Every so often, I'd look up and could see little bits of sunshine tempting, luring me to find the will to crawl out of the hole.

But every day the hole seemed to grow deeper and deeper. What was this hole anyway? And why did I allow you to push me into it? I hadn't even noticed for so long, hadn't paid attention at all. Now I looked around the dark and dank hole. I saw there were several piles - one appeared to be some wood, and another some tools. I wasn't even interested in investigating them, I just lay on that couch staring at them blankly, and you, cancer were almost giddy with your feeling of conquest.

One day, a good friend appeared at the edge of the hole. "Why don't you climb out?" she shouted down to me.

"I don't remember how", I answered, tears pouring down my face.

"You have all the tools you need right there beside you. You can use them to help you out of the hole." my friend replied.

"I don't want to bother." I said, the thought of it yanking at my stomach.

"You can do it, and you must." my dear friend responded, "Use the wood and tools to build a ladder to pull yourself out. You have all the tools, now use them!" I looked over at the huge pile of oddly shaped pieces of wood I'd have to sort through, and glanced at the pile of unfamiliar tools... It was all too much, I just couldn't.

"If you have to build the ladder one piece at a time, then do so. I will stay here and help guide you. YOU must show the cancer who is boss!"

And so I began, slowly and cautiously, my body aching and weak. I selected the pieces of wood I'd need, and searched through the tools for those that would get the job done. "There!" I thought, "now I really do have all my tools in place to get out of here." I could feel excitement begin to build inside of me. But it wasn't long before exhaustion threatened my concentration. Looking up, I could see my friend waiting patiently for me, smiling down at me. "Just try to do a little more." she said, "Hammer one nail, just begin to make your ladder."

"One nail. I can do that." I thought.

And I began to hammer.

My first letter...

It was nearly a year ago when I wrote this powerful letter to my breast cancer. I decided it was too important not to share with others.

Dear Cancer,

You've had your way with me for quite some time, now it's time for you to leave. Pack your bags and get your lousy, destructive cells OUT of my body. I want it back, I reclaim that which is mine, and you will NOT have it. There is no option, just get out! It is not yours to take!

First of all, I want you out of my bone marrow. My bone marrow will regrow and reclaim the space it deserves to function properly. You will not crowd it out any longer, and therefore I will no longer be anemic and require shots. I am tired of your threats and of fighting you and I demand that you leave. NOW! You will not creep your seething tendrils of death any further into my bones. Instead, you will retreat. Get out!

Get out of my breasts. My breasts are mine, not yours. What right do you have to take them? None, that's what. What is it with you and causing pain anyway? Why do you get your rocks off snatching people's lives from them?

Don't you see I can't be stopped by your destruction? I heard there was an exit at the bottom of my foot and you are to go there immediately and get out. Catch the next bus to nowhere and never bother me again. For over two years you have tried to ruin my life and kill me, but don't you see you have done just the opposite? While you have occupied my body and tried to take over my life, I have learned how precious life is, but my lesson is well-learned and I no longer need you as my evil teacher. So you will just go.

Don't you see how I have triumphed over you already? Instead of cowering from you, I spit in your face. You think you can weigh me down, squash me like a bug and that be the end of it. It's not gonna happen. I already beat the odds by getting to this point with so little medical intervention, so take your lousy cells and go. Get out of my life!