In a timely coincidence, I received this link yesterday on Joseph Campbell called Finding Joe - an introduction to not only the man behind the Power of Myth series, but also to what he calls the Hero's Journey. It's a powerful primer about this journey of ours discovering ourselves and what we're capable of through the meeting of adversity and challenges head on, face to face. Watching it last night reminded me of the distance I've traveled in the past almost 9 years of challenges to my health, its accompanying losses and also the gains. Little did I know I was also brushing up on my skills of survival that would be needed again soon -- kind of a review of what I've learned confronting my own personal dragons and finding my way through the dark jungle.
I had a cat scan last Thursday - a check-in with my annoying roommate, lymphoma, to make sure he's respecting the boundaries of the body we share. It was stressful for a number
of reasons beyond my control, but I rolled with it pretty well. I had
just read an article a couple days before about how being the angry
patient and expressing that to the staff usually ends up hurting the
patient. I kept my cool, did lots of meditating, counting breaths,
listening to music on my iPod -- and waiting while they worked out some
snafus. Hours later, two bottles of mocha-flavored contrast downed, one IV with more contrast and a run through the scanning tube and I was good to go.
Today I saw my oncologist for the results. He said the cancer came back in the kidney again - this time in both.
doc is incredibly good at what he does; he brings the art back into medicine. I look into his kind and gentle eyes
and give him my wholehearted trust in his care and skills. So yeah, if one is going to receive
crappy news, receiving it from someone I trust in a smooth and non-threatening way leaves me feeling safe surrendering into his very knowledgeable hands. The delivery of the news was cushioned by kindness and didn't even entirely register. In
the moment I had heard all of the information, but it took me until I
reached the parking lot later to realize I'd lost my remission, saying to
myself, "I guess it's a relapse," as I tried to digest the facts.
Am I good at dissociating or what?!
cat scan showed that lymphoma has returned to my kidneys again so we're going
to have to deal with that. We're starting with the lightest and easiest
of treatments - a single agent medicine that I've had before with other combo treatments. He wants
to experiment and see if the single med might knock it out. I go for
infusion 4 Mondays in a row starting next week, then we'll check and
take it from there. If it clears then he might want to put me on a
maintenance regime of once every 3 months. If it doesn't respond then we move onto trying other
things. He wants to protect my kidneys and get this out out before it
grows any more.
I'm not entirely surprised. The extreme tiredness I've
had the past few months has been reminding me of the time before the first boxing match with lymphoma. I'm not
surprised, but there's still some shock -- not exactly what I was
planning on for my summer. Oh well. Spend a day in the cancer center and
you start to feel damn lucky! -- especially when you see the young people
who are dealing with cancer!
So that's my news. I'm about to go do some planting and digging in the dirt now. I call it therapy - and grounding -- and also a reminder about maintaining my mental garden and the beauty before me, the beauty behind me, the beauty above me, below me and all around me as I walk forward on the Beautiful Trail - even with its speed bumps that slow me down.
Let go of the way you thought life would unfold;
the holding of plans or dreams or expectations - - Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide.
The choice to fight what is here before you now
will only result in struggle, fear and desperate attempts to flee
from the very energy you long for. Let it go.
Let it all go and flow with the grace
that washes through your days
whether you receive it gently
or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith: The mind may never find
the explanations that it seeks,
but you will move forward nonetheless.
Let go, and the wave's crest
will carry you to unknown shores,
beyond your wildest dreams or destinations.
Let it all go and find the place of rest
and peace, and certain