Pollyanna Gets Cancer
I think the reason I have not written as of late is the lack of time now that my five year old is out of school for summer (yeah!), coupled with the lack of desire to be in front of the computer screen for a prolonged amount of time, but it is also just complex to write about my current experience.
There is just so much to say and many directions to take. I want to mention all of the ideas I have for more fundraising, great books I am reading, discuss food as an important healer and as cancer prevention, chronicle my daily bicycle adventures, among other things, but we will see what direction this post takes during the time I have to devote.
I am in an interesting position of being positive out of necessity and natural tendency, but I certainly do not love what I am going through. I recently spent some time with a friend who has been reading my blog and thinking “I wonder how she is really feeling?” We laughed, and I love that she told me this because I had been plotting that the next time I write on my blog I wanted to clarify a bit. That last posting made it almost seem like I enjoyed the chemotherapy which is far from the truth. You probably knew that, but I just want to be sure.
For instance, I love the video Garrett put together of my infusion day, and I enjoyed the day because I saw the beauty that was available, enjoying good company, good health, good food, many privileges,etc. But at the same time I am sad at what I am needing to endure right now, what my children, and entire family are needing to endure. But again, the Pollyanna in me jumps right in and says, “but think of all the strength and lessons they are receiving!” It is indeed my natural tendency to find the good. I have always had a difficult time negatively criticizing a movie, book, or person because I always find the redeeming qualities. I am fortunate in this, I know. I can’t imagine being any other way and feel very lucky to be graced with this attitude, especially now that I am faced with a crisis. It is really paying off.
But I see the photograph of the Adriamycin (a.k.a. Red Devil) going into my arm and makes me a little sick to my stomach. It is something that I will put behind me as quickly as it approached that is for sure. Each session is a check off the calendar as far as I am concerned, and this year is going to fly by, my family’s life being pulled from our roots, defined (to a certain extent as much as I battle it) and organized by these 16 infusion sessions. And then there will be the month and a half of daily radiation. But one of my lessons I am sure I mentioned early on is taking each day as it comes and not thinking about the future, unless it is simply about the awesome long life I am going to live, or the San Juan Island Marathon I want to run next year. My dear friend Sharon just ran the half marathon this year in my honor, and sent me the medal which brought me great joy.
The gist is this: I find the positive and choose to write about the positive and inspiring. I do not want to dwell on the yucky or sad parts. Don’t get me wrong, I take my sadness as it comes (usually on day 6 after chemotherapy for some reason), honor it, and process it in a healthful way. I am not in denial about my situation or stuffing emotions down (that would be creating a terrain for cancer after all). It just is what it is, no sense in making it worse by hiding under my bed, freaking out, or complaining daily. Anyone with children knows how much worse my life would be if I did not remain calm, cool, and collected right now. My kids would be taking it on (likely for life in some ways), acting out in odd ways now–who knows maybe sleepless nights and bedwetting?? Things could really snowball it seems, and I personally do not even want to see what that would look like.
Speaking of raising kids and teaching them “how to be in the world” by being an example. I want to make sure you all know about Brene Brown who is a “shame and vulnerability” researcher. Read her blog or listen to her TED talks for more info. She is incredibly inspiring and worth “following” if you do that sort of thing. Anyway, this is from one of her books, Daring Greatly.
Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.
If we want to teach our chilldren to dare greatly in this “never enough” culture, the question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way?” as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”.
Well, I am not exactly the adult I want my children to be (we all have our issues), but I am close and this quote resonates with me. If my children can glean from our cancer experience a positive way to feel about themselves in the form of high self-esteem, not stare or make fun of a person with only one, or no breast or other body part, or hair, face an illness head on with strength, the ability to receive from others, the ability to find beauty and see things in a positive light, learn how to be in a supportive, loving relationship, the list goes on and on….I will have succeeded and taken the best this experience has to offer.
I will close with this thought…..
I love what another blogger chemobabe says which in a nutshell is that no, cancer is not a gift (people have a tendency to say “oh, I hear it is a gift in many ways”) and chemobabe writes an insightful post saying nope, it is not a gift. Maybe there are gifts to be found that come as a result of the experience, but the cancer itself is not a gift. To some it is just semantics, but I get what she is saying 100% and think it is important that we see words as powerful and frame things properly.
Cancer is not a gift to me either, and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy (not that I have any enemies).