Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Third Assiversary

Three years ago today... it was a weekday and I went alone to get the results from my colonoscopy. Clearly I wasn't thinking anything important of the appointment. Suddenly I found myself at the top of the first hill of the cancer roller coaster. Three years is a long time, but time is most definitely an amorphous construction and there are moments when that day feels too close or so far away I can barely see it.

The holidays and turning of the year already make this an intense and emotional time for most. Adding the "assiversary" to my year-end calendar indubitably intensifies these weeks. I try to use the increased awareness to be ever more grateful for all the good things in my life and the continued opportunity to spend this time with family and friends. To consider the year about to pass in the best possible light.

I'm passing this year's dark anniversary quietly and with deep regard. Tomorrow will be my third PET scan for the year. I'll have the results in the new year and will be sure to update again for the stalwarts who keep checking in here. Until then, I wish everyone the happiest of holidays and an absolutely glorious new year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The long awaited update...

Yup. It's been quite a while. Of course I have been all sorts of busy since April. However I've also had plenty of time to write up a quick post letting the world know that I'm still healthy, happy and kicking around. But I often struggle with the online journal idea. And most days I'm simply not doing anything that feels like it is worthy of the words I'd struggle to find.

Nonetheless, here are the quick recaps for those of you still checking in here.

Travel:  Ireland was beautiful, easy, and full of magic moments. Lots of SCA events and weekend camping throughout the summer, including an extraordinarily fun two weeks of camping for Pennsic War. A week in Colorado which I hope to repeat next year. And a trip to Texas with family to see family which did my heart a lot of good. No trips on the horizon yet. Somewhere warm is on my mind for the late winter though. No destination yet, just the idea of somewhere with sun, heat, and a lack of snow.

Health:  Still physically doing very well. All systems working well and no problems other than those that come with being forty-something and a bit out of shape. There have been two PET scans these past months, one in June and then October with another lined up at the end of the year. The June scan showed some activity in a lung lymph node which we then went and had biopsied. Results came back benign (woohoo!). October scan showed continued activity, but too soon to go through the biopsy ordeal again. Currently on a three-month scan schedule until we can rule out any actual cancerous activity. My local oncologist retired this summer so I have a new one whom I really like. He's far more engaged than my prior doctor, and I'm looking forward to working with him.

That's all I have for the moment. I hope everyone is happy, healthy and warm. Thanks for checking in.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Springing in...

Looking at the visit stats for this blog shows that several of you have not yet abandoned the hope that I would show back up again and regale you with wild traveling stories and pithy insights. Even if it has taken me a couple of months to get back around to it. For a half a minute I couldn't recall my password. Telling indeed. But I am back for at least these few minutes and I hope my entertainment value has not waned. (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

What ever have I been up to? Plenty. I'm rather accomplished at keeping my calendar full these days. Helped out with the local SCA group's yearly event in February. Ran the dance classes and evening ball and hopefully helped to re-strike the spark for dance that will carry over to next year. Not long after that I spent over a week house/livestock sitting for some good friends in the Grand Rapids area. I got to play with their tractor/plow almost every day, though it was really too cold and blowy to truly enjoy. By March I was absolutely finished with the overtly cold winter here in Michigan. So the husband and I traveled down to New Orleans for a few days and enjoyed the warmth of spring with some friends while exploring the city. Followed that with a few days camping in Mississippi. It was still a little chilly at night but the days were glorious and sun-filled. Got to spend some wonderful quality time with one of my closest friends and had a great time overall.

Returned home and the snow piles in the yard were lower, but still no ground to be seen. So less than two weeks later I joined one of my girlfriends for a week in Puerto Rico. That was just a stellar trip! Temperatures in the seventies and eighties always and sun, sun, sun, sun, sun. We explored all over San Juan, drank wine on the beach under the stars, shopped local market plazas and fruit stands, did some salsa dancing, hiked the rainforest, swam in the ocean, ate lots of seafood and fresh tropical fruits, drove and explored the interior of the island, dropped in to Ponce, and fully defrosted ourselves. Definitely a highlight of the year so far.

I've been straight up busy since returning from that trip. I am definitely feeling the effects of spring with a renewed sense of activity. I've been seeing friends for lunch/tea, dancing, movie and concert dates, at least two of each in the last couple of weeks. Plus the day spent in Lansing with a girlfriend last week and I'll be gone all of tomorrow seeing the Samurai exhibit at the DIA with one of my dearest friends.

As a nice change of pace I will be mostly grounded for the next full month. Beyond one weekend and the occasional day trip, I'll be pretty much settled here in K'zoo as Spring finally gets sprung. I can already see the first buds bursting on the trees and bird activity at the feeders has jumped. The windows have been flung open the last couple of days to give the house a proper airing-out. And I expect a big spring cleaning in the next weekend or so. It is only a couple of weeks until the outdoor farmers market opens again and I have already enjoyed the first batch of chevre from a local dairy.

Spring is my favorite season. There is a sensation of "opening up" that I feel in everything. As if the world has been underwater and the sunshine is fresh air that all living things gulp with abandon. Restlessness translates into forward momentum which becomes targeted energy. Stretch, grow, breathe, bask.

I am full of positivity this new season. I feel more settled than I have in a while. Health-wise things seem to continue to be very well. No problems or pains or concerns and my most recent bloodwork and oncologist visit were normal and uneventful. I even inquired about having my chemo port removed. A year ago I would have said that I might not ever consider that, but if I did it would be at least two PET scans and a good year out. I may still wait until that milestone in June/July. But I started thinking about it a month ago and have already crossed over to serious consideration. It makes me feel very good about my optimism and general attitude.

No promises or guesses to my next posting. Until then my friends, thank you for checking in.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn

The song says there is a time for every season. And I have to remind myself that there is time for everything. It certainly does not feel that way some days. Now that I have allowed myself to slow down from the crazy, hectic days B.A.C. (before ass cancer), I have come to recognize a few things about me. Foremost in these realizations is that I am generally slower than the average bear. It takes me just a bit (or more) longer to do a whole host of various undertakings. I've always been a "quality over quantity" kind of gal and most definitely had my bouts with procrastination. So, perfectionism set aside, I find that when I have the time to spend on something that I will take the time allowed. If that timeline happens to be fuzzy-ended, then I will most likely take quite a lot of time before completion.

With many things it is a case of allowing myself to become completely immersed in the experience. The best example I can probably give is with cooking. I enjoy perusing my notes and cookbooks until I've decided upon the most desirable mutation of a dish. Then I maul my ingredients; smelling and tasting and slicing and prepping as needed. Now that I've already been at it for quite a while, I cook the food, staying at attention and tweaking until I'm satisfied (and comically, no longer hungry typically). This is a fond past-time and I most enjoy spending a chunk of my day in the kitchen. Yet I can also find myself feeling inefficient and time wasteful. I have plenty of cooking experience, both professional and personal. So it seems to my mind that I should be quicker with the whole process. And I can be when the situation demands such. But in the casual world I tend to putter or idle while engaged in most activities. This compulsion towards productivity and efficiency is a remnant of my B.A.C. life and something that I hoped I had moved beyond. But adjusting into regular life again has found me crossing paths with old familiar mental tendencies.

So I again find more internal work to be done. My days tend to run at the extremes of very busy or all pajamas all day. Or I'm just not at home at all. Which is great until I get a hankering for home. I try for acceptance in all days, but I must admit that the PJ days are hardest. As much as I'd like to settle into this whole "retirement," "take it easy" kind of thing, I often find myself questioning the lack of substance in those lackadaisical days.

In short, I've been a bit out of sorts lately. And I'm uncertain how to get back to a nice balance point. I feel like I am super busy and conjointly not doing much at all. However, checking the calendar and doing the math shows that I have been traveling or visiting for 40% of the last three months. And this trend continues for at least the next couple of months. So I am apparently busier than I recognize.

Recognizing and then turning that recognition into a mindful understanding and acceptance is the next step. I humbly and honestly admit that expressing this struggle to the masses of the internet feels rather strange. It seems like an almost egotistical complaint. I am certainly very lucky to have the opportunity to take this time for myself. To do, or not, as I like. I remind myself often that if I do not end up in the long tail (less than two percent), that I will be happy and lacking in regrets for taking this time and these years for whatever the hell I want. But it does not necessarily ease the concern for my use of the days. I've spoken before about having to-do/read/watch/finish lists that we will never be able to fully complete. There are certainly some days in which I feel like my life clock is ticking faster than others, and the weight of those lists grows heavy.

And I despise that it could sound like I'm complaining. I am living life to the best of my abilities and feeling blessed in so very many ways. Maybe it is partly the winter months of cold and dark that have me in a contemplative mood. Maybe it will just take me a while to figure out life on the other side of healthy again. Either way, thanks for listening to my ramblings. As the song goes, "a time for every purpose under heaven."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saying Sayonara

2013 was a hell of a year. A very busy year and full of so many good things. There was that four months of pesky chemo interrupting my fun. But I finished scaling the cancer mountain and am looking forward to a new year of good health. That's my resolution, to stay healthy and cancer-free. I am excited to see how life will unfold on the other side of this journey.

I gained a lot of terrific things this past year. A few of my favorites are a nephew, a stronger relationship with my sister, my first passport stamp, the return of health, more love for my family and tribe, and memories galore. Lots of traveling and I certainly hope that continues in the months to come. Two week-long holidays are already planned for March and May, a good start.

It has been a while since I've shouted out a thank you to everyone out there reading this and helping me to keep smiling through all the difficult times. Your support is indescribably wonderful and I am deeply appreciative of all the small and large ways you've assisted and have been a part of my life. Cheers, Salut, Chin Chin, Kampai! I wish everyone the best and happy times to come in this new year.