How are you doing; how are you feeling? These are the constant questions from those around me. And I'm supposed to be keeping you all apprised of that here in this space. That whole regular updating thing still not quite a thing. Ah well.
So... the answers are, pretty well for the most part. Toleration of the first chemo round was really pretty good I'd say. Only one difficult night with tummy issues in the first week, and never any real nausea problems. Absolutely a good start for this course. "Off" week this past week has been great. My energy has been back to normal and other than some cumulative effects from continuing the steroids, not a lot of physical issues. Stepped down on the steroids again a few days ago, and will be off completely by the end of this month. Looking forward to that!
Keeping busy with friends and family of course. Attended an SCA event yesterday on the east side of Michigan and got some seriously great quality time with some seriously great quality people. Many, huge, and loving thanks to all of those who kept me company during the day. My love and energy battery is fully charged and I have so many great conversations to mull over while I sit in treatment tomorrow.
Yes -- round number two of chemo is tomorrow. The live blogging shall commence. Pretty much they all look and sound the same unless I get some exciting thing in my mind. Though I tend to be pretty brainless for most of those hours. Perhaps the point I am trying to make is to check in at your own mental peril (or complete boredom) tomorrow.
Since we have broached the subject of mental peril... and I've named this post Head Games (in anticipation)... and in the continued spirit of being an open book... and having little pride or shame left to worry about... I'll be completely honest here and say that it has been a harder mental game this time around. The recurrence is different with more factors in play and less options on the table. After two solid years of being clear and making life as I wanted it to be - including one of the best summers of my life this year - it has been a difficult transition back to patient mode.
The last six months have brought a lot of good changes into my life. By July I had fully found my Self and Center and was hearing my own inner voice above all others. Some daily meditation and time and self-kindness had placed me in an excellent mental and emotional space. The last six weeks have brought chaos and a lot of difficult changes into my life. However, I feel like I could not have been in a better place from which to come to these current weeks. Unfortunately those daily habits, including self-kindness, have not been such daily habits in the last few weeks. The past few days have found me finding the time for myself again and recognizing the imperative nature of this.
Being a cancer patient removes a lot of control from your life. Although I can be an active participant in my treatment decisions, and my own most-informed and best advocate for myself in these choices, there is a lot of just showing up and "doing the things." And there is just *SOOOOOO* much waiting! There is this nebulous space of unknowing that you have to learn to exist within. We did the brain radiation -- but won't know if/how it worked until we get a new MRI scan. That's still weeks away, and then there will be the week of waiting for the results after the scan. We are doing chemo -- but have to get through three months of it before we can know if/how it worked and we get a new PET scan. Then the waiting for those results for a week.
I can control what I consume and how I treat and move my body when it is up for exercise, but the rest of it is just riding the waves of whatever is happening on a given day. My schedule is only so much my own with the every other week chemo sessions. Any plans made need to be recognized as changeable. And so I awake each day with ideas for my day, but not necessarily the ability to follow through. I must be accepting of simply flowing like water around and through the days. A sense of control must give way to self-kindness and allowance. These are the subjects of countless platitudes and memes that swirl around the internet. Ideas that we all love the sensibility of, but rarely have the fortitude to put into action. And even in a situation such as mine, with optimism and hope as my sidearms, it is hard to stay on the sunny side of the street all the time.
This is another time of growth for me; that is what I have to come to understand. There will be growing pains and questions and it will be challenging. "It is what it is." This is a common phrase of mine since cancer first came into my life. I cannot change or control the situation. I can choose how I live within it. So it has been hard going lately in my mind and my heart. But I am stepping up out of the murky muck and choosing to keep my head turned again toward the dwindling fall sun.
Right now, this very moment however... the sun is shining upon me through the window. The squirrels and birds have been frolicking about the deck seeking acorns and any other edibles. The last sips of tea are waiting at the bottom of my favorite and most beautiful tea cup. There are simple chores to be completed about the house which will give me a lovely sense of satisfaction. And my sister will be here to keep me company through the next few days. There is much good in my world as long as I keep my eyes up and open to see. I wish the same for all of you as well. Who is to say that a little rose-tint in your glasses ever did too much wrong in the world?