Dear friends, family, and fellow path-walkers,

What a weird time I find myself in. About 2 months ago, my right eye stopped moving and functioning correctly. This was just the final straw in a series of neurological things that have been occurring on my right side for the last year and a half. Over all that time, I saw various doctors in various specialties and no one could seem to find a problem. The most common responses I heard were "Sometimes nerves malfunction." or "This is likely just a problem occurring because you are already prone to migraines."  Even though MRIs, CAT scans and blood tests kept coming back normal, I could feel something wrong. I took several months off from the "search" and enjoyed The Melody of Flight experience at the Elsinore. And still, something continued to feel "off" in my body. So when my eye recently stopped working, I initiated the search again and this time, the problem was found.

After a round of MRIs, a tumor was found behind my right eye and one filling my right frontal sinus cavity. I was immediately referred to Neurology and ENT Surgeons. The first plan was to undergo a craniotomy in order to remove the tumor entangled in the nerves behind my eye. That was a shock. Suddenly I'm looking at a serious surgery and a chance of being blind in one eye, and my days are filled with various visits to various doctors in order to prepare for the procedure. Then upon closer examination, the surgeons determined that it wasn't two tumors. It was all one tumor running from behind my eye, into my sinus cavity and descending down into the roof of my mouth. A biopsy was done through the soft palate and the results are in: Adenoid Cystic Carcenoma, a rare form of cancer that moves along the nerve line. Surgery has been canceled because it's potential effectiveness does not outweigh the risk of complications. Now my world has truly been turned upside down.

Today I returned from a full body scan in which the tech said "Oh, you are here for staging." When I used to hear the word staging, it brought to mind thoughts of theatre, show business and excitement. In this case, "staging" means they are looking for cancer spread in order to fully complete the diagnosis and give their opinion of prognosis. To top it off, as I am leaving, the tech notifies me that I will be radioactive for the next 24 hours and should not be around young children. So I go to the car, call my dad, and ask him to go pick up my youngest kids for the night so they will be safe from their mom's temporary "glow".

This has been a process of receiving a bit of scary news and then waiting for a test result for 4-5 days. Then another bit of scary news and another time of waiting.  Since the MRI which first showed the tumor on June 4th, I have been on a roller coaster of emotions. I feel like I've been gifted with an unexpected, executive membership to an exclusive club I never wanted to belong to. I sobbed for 2 weeks, when my kids weren't looking of course. There were days I could barely manage to get out of bed. I have been filled with anger, bitterness and resentment. I've asked the unanswerable "Why? Why me? Why now?" I have questioned my faith, my life, everything I believed to be true. Though I know it wasn't helpful, I spent my daughter's graduation night wondering if I would be around to see the other kids do the same. Would I get to see who they grow to be, who they choose to partner with, the work they choose to do, all those they will touch in the world?

I felt like I needed to hide from all of you until I knew for sure what I would be dealing with. And then I remembered the pledge to myself to be transparent, authentic and vulnerable. The uncertainty, the sadness, the anger, it's all part of the process. So I am going to share this journey with you as best I can in hopes that we can all learn something from it. I do believe every situation has a gift, and I admit, I'm having to look really hard to find one here. I finally realize that this experience is here, and no amount of denial will make it go away. I don't get to choose whether I am having it, but I do still get to choose how I will walk through it. I vow to do it with courage, transparency and love. First and foremost, I choose to be at peace with the process. At this point I have no idea what my future will look like, but I choose to remain hopeful.

I've had a few friends offer to "fight this with me". I believe fighting the cancer will only set up a battlefield in my body and that isn't something I'm interested in. I will pursue the best medical treatments I can find of course, and during that process, I will love my body. I will either transform this cancer or I will transcend it. Either way, I will do it with love and gratitude and not anger and resentment. I know this is where the challenge lies, to keep remembering that, and to keep practicing it. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I've already spent several days mastering that on my own! I need you all to hold the high watch, especially in those moments when I cannot hold it for myself.

It looks like I will be starting an intense course of radiation within a week or so, and possibly chemo depending on the "stage" we end up with. I may lose my hair. I will likely "lose my lunch" many times. But I do not want to lose my sense of humor, for if I can't find a way to laugh through these challenging times, they may very well swallow me. Am I scared? Absolutely! As I've already learned though, many times, when I look my fear directly in the eye and acknowledge its presence, it is much easier to keep walking right on through. Only when I deny its presence does its power remain.

I am contemplating creating a Caringbridge site where I can easily post updates for all to see. When it's ready, I will forward the link. I'm dragging my feet because it feels like the final step of acknowledging and accepting, but I know I will get there.

I love you all and am grateful for your presence in my life. If you are able, thank you for being willing to walk this journey with me. When you think of me please do not worry. Instead, just send me love and prayers for healing. And please hold my kids and family in your prayers too, for I am not the only one having this cancer experience now. It is touching their world as deeply as it is mine. 

HUGs to all of you!

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