Coping Skills

September 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM (Family, friends, Happy, kids, Real Life, Treatment) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I left a whole bunch of things at home this morning as I rushed out of the house ten minutes behind schedule, and only realized my mistake(s) as I was merging onto the Mass Pike. I called home to ask Mr. Wonderful to email me the shopping list so I could stop on my way home. Being the Mr. W that he is, and since he was coming downtown anyway for a meeting, he offered to bring the other stuff to me at The Cancer Factory. Timing was tricky, as I was running back and forth between two buildings for appointments that couldn’t seem to start on time, but someone smiled on me, and he pulled in just as I was dashing back across the street for my CT scan.

Short story long, he brought me the things I had forgotten, packed in a little reusable bag from lululemon (a store at which I hope to spend a lot on exercise clothing in the future). Printed all over one side of the bag are inspirational quotes, admonishments to carpe diem, etc. One specific line caught my eye: “Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.”

Particularly poignant this week. Yesterday I cornered a despondent and stomping #1 Son, grouchy because his brother hadn’t wanted to play outside with the dog with him. From somewhere deep within the storage pool of mothering instinct came the line, “You can’t let your happiness depend on the actions of other people. They all have their own thoughts, their own desires, and they can do as they please. If you can’t be happy unless they do exactly as you wish, you’ll always be disappointed. Be happy with your own actions, and let that be enough.” (I have no idea where I got that from, as I can be quite susceptible to the problem at hand myself, but it sure sounded good. I should probably needlepoint it on a pillow.)

It’s been a tough week to be me. Although both kids have been in school five days, for six hours at a stretch, by Tuesday night I had come down with the week-off-the-mystery-drug-fever again, and felt like a sodden lump of sand.  A “quick” four-hour trip down here on Wednesday for two types of blood draws and pee-in-a-cup showed no reason why I should have a fever. Nonetheless, by mid-afternoon I’ve been ready for bed, which did not accommodate yesterday’s pot of chicken-noodle soup (I had to do something with Monday’s leftovers) nor the 6-to-7:30 soccer-clinic-on-the-complete-opposite-side-of-town-in-a-downpour-wait-in-the-van nightmare. By 8PM I was fish food.

And as I slumped despondent on the couch with hot tea and layers of wool, watching The Blind Side with the hubs, I was put in mind of something my own mom used to mention (from her infinite pool of mothering instinct). When asked the eternal question, “What do you hope for your children in their lives?”, she never responded the expected, “I just hope that whatever they do, they’re happy;” she always said, “Life is full of times that won’t be happy. I want my kids to be able to cope.”

Which is, I think, what’s been going on here at Carcinista Central. Whatever the cancerverse throws at us, we find a way through it, and most of the time we are actually happy (although some days I just sob on the steering wheel). We lean on each other when we need support, take time away when we need to be alone, and take risks knowing that the family and friends who love us will be there to pick us up if we crash.

I’ve just met with Dr. A, and my CA-125 and CT scan have deteriorated a fair amount from ten days ago. While that’s never good news, at least the results are definitive: I’m going off the study and starting chemo when I get back from First Descents. I am glad that my week in Colorado will be drug-free, but I know I’ll still be a tired mess, push-ups and pull-ups notwithstanding. It’s a program for cancer survivors, after all, even if I am the oldest and illest one there – I’m sure they’ll understand. I’ll nap if I need to, bow out of activities if I must, but I’m going. If they have to shovel me onto the plane in a wheelbarrow, I’m going. Mom taught me that much.

Besides, six hours all by myself in first class? Each way? I wouldn’t pass that up for anything.

Photo courtesy First Descents.

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  1. Maggie said,

    I cancelled my own cancer survivor wilderness trip this year and so I am going to
    ‘live’ through yours! You have a wonderful time, make some memories and enjoy!
    You sound like a wise mama – in dealing with your children and your cancer. We have such parallel paths and I take strength from your courage. Thanks for helping keep things in perspective!

  2. Mr. Wonderful said,

    The kids pointed out that I forget things all the time. They find it amusing that I always go out to the car and put my stuff in it and then come back in to get my keys because I forgot to get them before coming outside.

    I’m glad that you are going to get to enjoy your adventure and stay focused on that while you are in CO. Having fun there, meeting new people and just forgetting everything else for a few days will be great! Enjoy.

  3. Stephanie said,

    Sarah – such sound words of wisdom from your mom (and you!). It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to gain that perspective and in turn share it with your kids.

    Have a wonderful time in CO. I got to visit the Rocky Mtn Nat’l Park last year and it is gorgeous and invigorating.

    On a much less important/interesting note – you and Mr. Wonderful should download the OurGroceries app if you have smart phones (but as I write this I think I now remember that Mr. W doesn’t have/want one). But it’s a very cool way to add things to the list & cross them off and have it synch with your mate’s phone. Whichever one is closest to the store always has the updated list! 🙂

  4. tea said,

    Sarah: As Mr. Wonderful said: Have fun and focus on the adventure this week! I hope you are able to turn-off the brain, crank-up the energy, and have a blast in CO!!!

    I’m so sorry you have to do chemo again. I hope it goes easily and effectively – and kicks the CA out for good!

    Kick butt in CO – Rock the Rocks!!!

  5. catherine jacobs said,

    Man, how did you come up with that response for Whit? I’m usually just lying through my teeth to my kids – Yes Sawyer, they did kill the pig/cow/chicken before we ate it, but it lived a long and happy life – NOT!! – I need to learn how to say something eloquent and meaningful like you. Hope you have an awesome time at First Descents -P

  6. Denise said,

    Wow, beautiful scenery!

    I am DeniseOfPA on the cancer support group we are in.
    Nice to read your blog.

  7. Laura B said,

    I think I just figured out why I got cancer… so that because of my own treatments, I would end up trolling cancer related blogs, and find yours. Man (woman, universe… ) did I ever need that wisdom you shared above, tonight of all nights! (Ideally, I would have learned that lesson you were trying to share with your kids, about three decades ago, but hey, we take what we can get, right?) And wow, a mom/grandmom who didn’t want happy kids, but kids who could cope… I”m going to have to copy you, and make that my new wish for my two kids.

    I hate to sound ordinary, or boring, but really, you are amazing. And thank you. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. Tweets that mention Coping Skills « The Carcinista -- said,

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Angella M. Hamilton, Sarah Feather. Sarah Feather said: just might be turning into her mom, and she's okay with that. […]

  9. Ann said,

    Girl, you have a fun time on that retreat. You’ll find the energy somewhere, I know it.

  10. Kale said,

    I can’t wait for you to post a Photo of YOU on that rock! Love your blog “Sarah”. We stormed th castle today!!!

    Xxooo Kale

  11. Slash said,

    Ha ha sucker!! We didn’t have to pitch you in a wheelbarrow but you got a pretty hot sherpa to the base of the mountain. Don’t forget to tell your friends you got all the way up, and down, on your own. STORM THE CASTLE!!!!!!

    Missing the laughter already,

    p.s. oh, was that hot sherpa thing supposed to be a secret from Mr. Wonderful?!!

  12. Adrienne St.Clair said,

    Hey Sarah!
    I hope Colorado was fabulous, along with the margaritas in 1st class! Looking forward to hearing all about it.

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