One Year

May 3, 2012 at 12:06 AM (Cancer, Energy, Faith, Family, kids, Real Life, Silver Lining, Zen) (, , , , , , )

May 1, 2011, The Feather Family

Today marked the last day of the year. One year of time that has been spent on an incredible journey of self-reflection. One year since Sarah, The Carcinista, died.

In many ways, this year has been amazing. Our boys and I have learned some wonderful life skills. Not just for coping with the hard things, but for really building a good life in a new way. Many things have remained the same by design. But we have also set out to create a life that works for the three of us. A life that (I believe) Sarah would be pleased with, and proud of.

We all have come to a place of peace about where she is, and how she is still in our lives. That took time, but maybe less time for us than it could have taken. Sarah gave us all permission to come to peace, and to be able to move forward in a good way. We are embracing that as a family.

May 3, 2012 is not a sad day. At least not any more sad than any other day this week or next week or last week. We’ve come to cherish our memories of Sarah and how we were a family. We talk about Sarah at the dinner table, while driving to school, at bed time. Really, whenever it feels right. I often say to the boys how proud Sarah would be to see them with all they have  accomplished. They like that. And, of course, I tell them how proud I am of them as well.

I asked the boys if they would like to have a special dinner to remember Mommy on the anniversary of her death. They both smiled, and at the exact same time blurted out, “We want ice cream for dinner!”  So, we’re having ice cream. Super Mom is joining us as well. We’ll be spending some special time thinking about Sarah and talking about our wonderful memories. We’ll light some candles in her honor. And, as usual, finish the evening reading some books before the kids go to sleep.

So, if you feel like having a little time to remember our hero. Maybe you, too can eat some ice cream. Light a candle. And settle in to a good book.

Cheers,

Mr. Wonderful

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Let’s Be Honest

October 27, 2010 at 7:30 PM (Family, Happy, Karma, Silver Lining) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been avoiding writing this post for three or four weeks now because I know no one wants to read it. (No, I’m not dying. My CA-125 seems to be responding to the new chemo, although I have yet to feel any practical benefits.)

But things at the ol’ Casa Carcinista are, well, different since I got back from Colorado.

Sure, there’s the coughing and wheezing, the resting after a flight of stairs. The utter lack of an exercise routine. But I’m talking about more meta-changes.

For the past four-and-a-half years, we’ve been sailing along through open seas, scanning the horizon with our telescopes, peering from the crow’s nest at the edge of the world, looking for signs of what’s to come. For that time, there’s been no sign of anything, just flat horizon. Some days we’ve had calm seas, and picnics on the deck; other days have been stormy and I’ve stayed below decks. We’ve just kept sailing, waiting and watching.

Now, there’s land on the horizon. Distant, hazy, indistinct, but it’s there. And that’s where we’re sailing. Don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get there, nor whether we’ll change course and sail somewhere else first, but there’s no doubt of my destination.

I think what triggered this all was the realization, in Estes Park, that I was not well. For the first time, really, since forever, I was sick and not getting better. There were things that I just couldn’t do because of cancer, and the likelihood that I ever would be able to do them was small and shrinking. Even during my IP chemo routine in 2006 (the energy nadir of my life), I was able to drag myself to my best friend’s wedding as MOH and even threw down a little swing with my sweetie. Sure, I paid for it for days, but it was a hoot, and I got better. I’m still waiting to feel as well as I did before FD. (Nothing personal, FD – I still love you.)

Strangely, I’ve found these recent changes in my life almost comforting. Where the null-sum of cancer is undoubtedly the waiting, the uncertainty that comes while a surgery date approaches, or while you’re twiddling your thumbs until the scan results come back, any kind of certainty in this free-for-all can be the equivalent of a neatly solved equation, exhaling a long-held breath. As our therapist reminded us this morning, we’ve entered the last healthy step of the stages of grief: acceptance. Not that my demise is imminent, but that it’s out there, on the horizon, whether we’re sailing there directly or around the Horn first. Can you imagine setting out on a journey that will last the rest of your life and not knowing where you’re going or when you’ll get there? (And forget about knowing what to pack.) You see my point.

Even more strangely, a field of calm seems to have settled over Casa Carcinista. With this acceptance has come relinquishing of closely-held argument positions, reductions in conflicts, a willingness to compromise and see the other guy’s point of view. The little brown house is full to bursting with love. Mr. W and I are more likely than we used to be to drop what we’re doing and have a hug, or sit at the table after the boys are excused and just talk quietly about our day. We listen more closely when our kids stop us to talk. We are always available for snuggles. We are focusing on the stuff that really matters – building and maintaining healthy relationships, following family traditions, spending time together – and, for the most part, filtering out the dross.

So no, since you asked, I’m not scared. There are still plenty of things I’m pissed off about, and for damned sure I’m not anywhere near finished fighting this battle. But the cloud of acceptance and love that has descended over Casa Carcinista has made us better people, and I wouldn’t trade that for a house at the beach.

And while we are speaking of beaches... here's my favorite.

Photo courtesy Mr. Wonderful.

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Annoyed

January 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM (Energy, mommy guilt, Recovery) (, , , , , , , , )

Cancer giveth, and cancer taketh away. The giving part is another post for another day. Today, we gripe.

Actually, it’s sort of a meta-gripe. I had a lousy day earlier this week, I won’t bore you with the details, but the thing that really cheesed me the most was this overarching feeling I had that I ought to just stop grousing and be thankful that I had a life to live. And that made me madder.

Not only has cancer taken away the innocence of my assumption that I’ll live to be a hundred like my grandmother, that I’ll be around to annoy and embarrass my teenage sons, that I’ll get a chance to spend some of the (admittedly smaller than previously) IRA my tax refund funnels into every spring, among other countless losses. Now I can’t even have a lousy day, sink into a funk, eat too much chocolate and ignore my vacuuming without feeling guilty? I have to be so THANKful that I’ve surVIVEd long enough to be having this day at all? That just sucks.

Wow, someone needs a nap.

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Tick, tock.

November 4, 2009 at 10:40 PM (Age) (, , , , , , , )

Thirty-eight.

If’ you’d asked me in 2006 whether I’d turn 38, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “yes”. If you’d asked me in 2007 whether I’d turn 38, I would have hesitated.

When I was first diagnosed, I was so certain that my cancer was a one-time thing, a fluke, something to be excised, poisoned, and recovered from. Dust my hands off, grow my hair back, return to my regularly scheduled life. But once the first recurrence showed up and we scheduled my scary surgery for October, I was convinced I’d be gone by that Christmas. Started mentally divvying up my couture, regretting that I’d never get to embarrass my boys at their rehearsal dinners, wondering who would let the lonely cat sleep in their bed. So when that round was over, I was totally flummoxed. And we all know how much I loooove uncertainty. How long do I have?

No one on my medical team is willing to even take a stab in the dark at a prognosis. They all say we have lots of tools in my treatment arsenal, and plenty more coming down the pike. (Have I mentioned yet how much I adore being treated at D-F?) Since my lungs are now showing signs of (tiny, glacially-progressing) tumors, I’m starting to get an inkling of the way it’s going to go in a long-term sense. But how long?

These days, when someone’s diagnosed with Stage IIIc like I was, they have a 45% chance of living longer than five years. And with each recurrence, your percentage drops. So I have to admit that while I have never exactly been morbid, I am trying to be realistic. I certainly stopped worrying about the health of my IRA. (See? A little gallows humor never hurt anyone.)

Anyway, here I am at 38. In another 18 months, I’ll be one of the 45%. Since statistics-busting has been my m.o. from the start, I’m happy to keep the trend going. And maybe if I keep kicking ass I’ll come to really regret my adolescent sun-worshipping habits in my fifties and sixties.

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