"All that each of us can do is to live in the now that is given. We cannot rush the process;

we can only carry out each stage of our lives to the best of our ability."

- Richard Rohr, Falling Upward


The end of the first week of treatments were met with a gifted, 2-night, all expenses paid trip to the Hallmark Resort in Newport for the kids and I. We were treated like royalty and did nothing but relax and enjoy each other's company. (Thank you, you know who you are.) By the time Sunday evening rolled around again, my heart was so full of love and gratitude, I couldn't help but keep thinking, "Even in the midst, no especially in the midst, of this very unpleasant experience I'm having, God is still here. Everywhere. Showing up in the smiles, considerations, thoughtfulness of others. The way the schedules of my family magically matched up to give us 2 whole uninterrupted days/nights together (definitely a miracle these days with 4 teenagers in the house!). After returning home, I enjoyed a bit of independent driving, putzing at the grocery story and sharing dinner with a friend I hadn't seen for way too long. I was feeling good, as the doctor's predicted, because the chemo effects from week 1 were wearing off and the radiation effects had not started accumulated. I remember driving down the road, having a bit of time to think, slight breeze blowing through the window and feeling Great! Wow I feel great!!! And with that bit of realization, found it harder to want to return home, to the end of the evening, my bed, the long sleeplessness night and finally rising with the sun to get up and face it again.

Week 2 of the Healing Adventure
They have me scheduled now Monday mornings first with my radiation appointment and then I move into the chemo department, where I end up spending 4-5 hours. It's a long process with all the different stages that have to happen, fluid bags, pre-med bags, and all that. The worst part for me is having the initial needle/tube put in my arm and getting that all situated. I can tolerate an immense amount of internal pain, but come at me with a needle and I turn into a total wimp! So my grown daughters have been taking turns letting me squeeze their hands while the needles go in, a small, but very appreciated gesture! Once that part is over, it's mostly just spending the time, with a bazillion trips to the restroom to release the fluids they are so quickly pumping in. Once it's time for the actual chemo bag to begin dripping for about an hour, I remembered looking at it the first week and just thinking how much poison was going into my system.  Well, that wasn't all that comforting, especially followed by the poisonous beams I had just had sent into my head a couple hours earlier. So what do I remember? Ah, this is one of those choice points! I'm here, and now I get to choose how to think about it. Thinking of poison flowing through my system didn't feel all that empowering or healing, so I'm reframing. I like how someone said it on Facebook, that is not a bag of chemo that is a bag of joy juice! I love that! That joy juice is pumping love through my entire system, looking for the dark spots so that it can help dissipate and break them up. And this time I once dozed off and had a dream/vision that I kept bumping into what felt like a dark low tunnel or mine that I couldn't get through. I think that is the joy juice's purpose....to help deconstruct those dark mines that may still be hiding in me. So I wonder now as I take moments to reflect: where in my life am I still holding onto darkness? In what relationships haven't I forgiven fully yet? I vow to use this process as an opportunity to continue to let all that go, one juice bag and one radiation beam at a time! 

My friend, Lance Cooper, recently passed of brain tumors (I've asked permission from his family to share his picture below). When I recently saw this picture taken of him a few years ago, it touched me so deeply. He looks like an angel, and though I can never know for sure, he has become one of the leading hands in my treatment. When I enter the radiation room, the techs are getting to know me. We share a joke or a smile, they turn on the spa music for me, place a lavender scented tab on my chest for extra measure, and I've learned to relax into the mask and constricted throat tube in order to avoid the sense of panic I encountered that first week. When we're ready to begin, I call on Lance, knowing his bright angelic, healing glow is filling the room, and his radiating light is directing the beams to just the right place to help break up any remaining darkness. It's become a very peaceful experience, and before I know it, it's done for another day. Thank you Lance, for being one of the angels watching over me.

And, the doctors were right when they said side effects were likely to start accumulating, though I'm still able to eat normally. This week has been much more difficult than last week was. So let me just say here, I find writing about all this to be very therapeutic, but it if it gets a bit less as time goes on, I apologize. Sometimes my mind isn't all that clear and the inflammation pressure from the tumor breaking up (which is ultimately a good thing!) can be quite intense at times. Not to mention I'm having a hell of a time seeing straight with one eye, limited depth perception, and loopy meds! I think no matter what I should get a silly pass, so if something ends up slipping out that I probably wouldn't have wanted to say, you'll all hold me in grace around that. Deal? Deal!

We hit the first bump in treatment today. The chemo appears to be causing some blot clots in my left leg, so after having a series of unexpected appointments today to go along with the radiation, ultrasounds, etc., it looks like I'll be forced to get over my needle issue! Damn it! I need to inject myself with an anticoagulant shot in the belly once a day for 14 days. Gulp! I did the first one today with a nurse watching and coaching. Now you do just remember what I said about me and needles a few paragraphs back, right? Well, no time to be squeamish, though that first one certainly was. Just gotta take a deep breath, pop it in, squeeze the syringe, and cry like a baby! Well, I'm working on leaving that last little bit of drama out. No worries. I got this! I find it amazing what we can do that we didn't even know we were capable of before. If you EVER told me I'd be injecting myself I'd say adamantly HELL NO! And yet, here I am. Ahhh, surrendered to the process again.

I'm feeling so grateful that I chose to stay here and do treatment at OHSU. I feel very cared for by the entire team, definitely a person and not just a medical number. And I'm so grateful for all of your continued well-wishes, thoughts and prayers. I've received incredible surprise treat packages, oodles of cards, FB messages, emails, texts, phone calls, monetary contributions, and It all touches me so deeply. There have been many times in my life when I felt so insignificant and invisible, and I just had no idea so many of you were out there ever thinking of me, remembering me. I am touched beyond measure, and though I like words, I find myself sometimes ......simply........ speechless.

HUGs to all of you!

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