Well, my friends, it's been 3 1/2 weeks since the treatments stopped and I'm just now starting to feel human again. The doctors cautioned that the cumulative effects may be at their most intense a couple weeks after, and they were indeed right. I have felt worse since September 2nd than I ever felt in the midst of chemo and radiation. Forgive me for being out of touch for so long, but I have barely had the energy to get through the day doing the things I needed to do, which was very little. Everyday I am getting a bit stronger and the sores in my nose and mouth are starting to subside. The awful taste in my mouth and throat still make it difficult to eat, but I have managed to avoid that feeding tube they were certain I would need! Small victories! I'm rarely taking the heavy pain meds these days and have started driving again, which is very good for my independent sanity. I still have general headaches and some sharp pain behind my right eye and forehead, but I'm tolerating it. The worst part right now is the inability of my mind to hold onto details and the "noise" and ringing in my head. I have a hard time navigating conversations and environments because the loudness in my head makes it difficult for me to hear anything else. Just ask my kids...I think my nonstop question of, "What did you say?" is driving them crazy!

This has been an especially interesting time emotionally. The tangible things we were doing to address the tumors are complete. Everything medically possible at this point, has been done. The doctors are waiting for all inflammation to subside before we gauge how much progress was made in shrinking the tumor. The MRI scans will likely be done sometime in November. So here I sit, healing and wondering. Did it work? How long will I get to live? Should I be preparing to die? Too many "what if" questions have the potential to drive one absolutely nutty, and are a recipe for a full-blown pity party. And yes, I speak from direct experience on this. Why do you think you haven't heard from me for so long? Pity is not conducive to creativity!

It finally occurs to me, am I going to let the doctors be the ones who get to tell me how long I will live? We are all familiar with those cases where someone hears they have a year to live and then dies almost a year to the date they were told. I've even wondered if I want to know the results of the scans. Can I hear the results and not attach myself to them? I'm still sitting with that question. As my pondering goes on, day after day, what I realize, or maybe remember again, is that life is not about the outcome or how many years we get. All we really have is this day, this moment. It's a truth we all have to be constantly reminded of. It's so easy to settle into a place of complacency, thinking we will always have another tomorrow. But will we? None of us knows for sure. My illusion of that wishful thinking has already been violently cracked, and I know I can take nothing for granted. I must embrace my life NOW, in this moment. I must be willing to say YES to the experiences that come my way.

So then what productive task do I assign my busy mind while I wait? Self-reflection of course. Where do I still have emotional blocks? Where and how can I still be more loving, more gentle, more accepting? 

I'm always looking for ways that little life realities mirror the big picture of our spiritual growth. The other day I was thinking about hair, or rather the lack of it in my case! My hair has always had a mind of its own, with lots of weird parts and cowlicks. No matter how much I try to manipulate it with gels or mousses, or more haircuts, it finds it's way back to the original funkiness. Now that my hair has been mostly shaved off and I can see the patterns of my head underneath, it all makes more sense. I can see the lines the cowlicks run, the way my growth springs from a circle instead of a straight line, and how it has a different thickness on each side. I have found the root (pun possibly intended) of the issue. Now that I see it, I can have more compassion and understanding when it is not doing what I want it to do. (Quick side note here, if you see me growing what looks to be a Mohawk...please know this is not my intention and just part of the "creative unruliness" of my growth pattern!) 

So here again, is a perfect demonstration of our spiritual growth. So many times we hit bumps where we are trying to change things on the surface and end up constantly frustrated because our patterns and habits seem to always return. What we need to do is shave (figuratively not literally) all the surface stuff away so that we can see the underlying reason for the patterns. Once we are able to do that, we can have more compassion and understanding for ourselves and why we originally created those patterns. And from there, change and growth is much easier to grasp and hold onto.

"Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything. You are you, and that is the beginning and the end. No apologies. No regrets." - Clark Moustakas

(I do believe he was even referring to cowlicks!)

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