I wonder how things might have turned out if she hadn’t.
In my 20 years of software design and 18 years of school, I often dreamed of stepping off the treadmill and spending a day at home.
Well, I’ve been home four months now and today I’m playing hooky from that.
I skipped the 7:00-9:00 ritual of chasing children, barking orders and threats. I skipped my supplements, my juicing and my morning walk. And I’ve decided to give my whining muscles a desperately needed break from what the pre-c me would have considered an extremely light exercise routine.
I do feel frustrated by my post-chemo crash. That my right eye’s still blistered. That I can no longer jog and have two limbs seized by pain. And I do feel some guilt about calling in sick today.
But I’m going ahead with radiation and, starting Monday, daily zaps will dominate my world for at least six weeks.
So, today I’m just breathing and doing exactly as I please.
It’s funny how different — and good — it feels.
Born just one month before me, my cousin Kelly was my very first friend.
From toddlerhood through tweendom, we spent countless weekends and vacations playing, chatting, imagining and growing up.
I was painfully shy, socially inept and my family life was rocky. Kelly’s constant, generous friendship likely kept me sane.
Somewhere in our teens, though, our paths diverged. We did school, got jobs, found partners, and raised our own children to tweendom — without ever crossing paths.
Then, almost by accident and just days before I found that lump, we reconnected.
Luckily for me.
Kelly’s warmth, wit, wisdom, exuberance, understanding and support throughout this journey have been absolutely astounding. She has become the loving aunt we always craved for our girls — her beautiful children the spunky, loving cousins we thought Luba’d never have. And her super-hero husband rocks too.
We’re going to enjoy getting our grandkids to tweendom together. And lots of happy family memories until — and after — that.
The spring/summer edition of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation‘s magazine, Courage, is now available. It features an article Andrea was invited to contribute about the head shaving party we had for her in December (page 24).
If you’re new to this site, having discovered it in Courage, welcome! We hope you make your voice heard by sharing your thoughts and experiences as comments on our blog.
By the way… this isn’t the first time Andrea and our WeCanRebuildHer.com website have been in the news. Andrea contributed to the Ottawa Citizen‘s Miracles on Ice edition of the Saturday Observer (Feb. 6, 2010, section B) with a piece about skating on the Rideau Canal during chemo (page B3).
But I’m having second thoughts.
Living the aftermath of chemo — the swollen eyes, the mounting fatigue, the weakness, the aching, the blurriness, frustration and fog — I’m questioning the wisdom of this four-fold onslaught.
Mark’s concerned that turning down radiation and hormone therapy would make me low priority for any relapse treatment.
It’s a tough call.
Let me ask you something.
If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?
If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous?
If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
— “God”. Evan Almighty
- memory leaks (I keep losing things because I simply can’t recall where I put them)
- crazy word snafus (even though my brain says the appropriate word, my fingers type “duo” instead of “duel”, “link” instead of “leak”, and “your” instead of “you’re”; questioning spelling of simple homophones like “here” and “hear”; and even completely reversing words when typing)
- word loss (when speaking, I know which word I’m searching for but just can’t find it)
- balance burps (I have little balance challenges where I otherwise wouldn’t have had)
- short attention span (I’m actually hoping this is just due to fatigue)
- constant spouting of Arrested Development quotes (no, wait, I’ve always done that).
If this is the extent of my impact, I’ll consider myself lucky.
Mark without the inside scoop on pantry inventory, ingredient subtleties and brand preferences. Me without SMS or cell phone access.
That changed yesterday. I shopped, myself.
Vegetable selection was thrilling.
Chance encounters with neighbours, refreshing.
And dinner was delicious.
I put my head down and powered through the chemo.
Maybe it’s catching up to me now. Or maybe it’s all my recent celebrating, real-life and staying up way past eight.
Whatever the reason, I’m spent.
Procrastination now drags my daily exercise to almost the full day and, due in part to my hole-falling-into experience on Sunday, I’ve had to replace my daily jog with a second leisurely stroll.
But I’m alive.
A few months before I met Andrea, I had plans to get a tattoo. I worked with an artist to come up with a design I liked though circumstances prevented me from actually getting the tattoo. Over the years I’ve often talked about Andrea and myself getting matching tattoos to represent our family. Andrea was never interested and joked that I could get one during my mid-life crisis.
I turn 40 next month. I haven’t gotten a tattoo nor do I have any plans to get one. Today, Andrea entered the world of body art when she got five tattoos. Wow! Talk about going the other direction.
Andrea’s five blue pinpoint-sized tattoos are part of a complicated laser-alignment procedure in preparation for her radiation treatments. The alignment ensures that the radiation can be properly targeted during each of the thirty treatments while limiting exposure of Andrea’s lungs and ribs to high intensity x-rays. Apparently a large screaming eagle wouldn’t have been appropriate.
We went out for dinner as a family for the first time since November, tonight. We met our author/illustrator friend Lee Edward Fodi at The Wild Oat — yet another in an expected long series of life celebrations now that Andrea’s recovered from her chemo.
Friends and Friendly Neighbours.
As Lucy, Bayla and I headed out this morning, we were greeted by a beautifully supportive card and little gift bag full of home baked chocolate chip cookies — a third care package from neighbouring family, Carolyn, David, Gillian and Jake, who we hadn’t run into at all since this journey of ours began.
As I did my walk this afternoon, I came across my longtime buddy Steve, whose dependably witty, upbeat comments have given me plenty of good chuckles during this journey. I’ve been friends with Steve for twenty years and hadn’t seen him since our Head Shaving Party, in December. We had a long chat in the sunshine at the edge of Dow’s Lake.
Just before I hit home, I happened to cross paths with David, Gillian and Jake. I thanked them for all their beautiful care packages and we caught up on the happenings of our winter hibernations.
These unexpected encounters with good friends and neighbours just filled me right up with contentment. As good a medicine as any — and no brutal side effects.