Well my good friends, today is my 1 year anniversary! As of today I am officially CANCER FREE for an entire year! Can you believe it’s been 12 months since that utterly insane surgery where they put my leg in my face? I can’t believe it either. When Weinstein gave us the all-clear last month I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy. He is not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve (although I do believe that I have broken him in a little bit with my wisecracks) but he was grinning from ear to ear and he said “everything looks great! The scans are beautiful!” and after a short conversation and discussion of a follow up in 4 months he sent me on my way. It was the conversation I've been waiting for for 2 years. I was just so overwhelmed with relief that I started to cry (what’s new) and he gave me a hug and literally ran out of the room because he was crying. I KNOW HE WAS. He loves me and I love him and he saved my life and he knows I could not be more grateful.
Today my Mom said “You did it!" and I did but I have no idea how. I guess when you're faced with a heartbreaking challenge you just do it. And you do it with as much gratitude and humor as you can muster in that moment. Sometimes it’s not much and sometimes it is abundant. I heaped heartfelt praise on those caring for me most of the time but I also yelled at a resident (or 3) and told them to get out of my room and get their dirty hands off me (I literally said that). Having a feeding tube was a nightmare but the residual humor that I find in remembering my mom and I trying to master that damn thing is priceless. It was the blind leading the blind and there are red and green stains on the ceiling and curtains from medicine shooting out of the input syringe like a fountain to prove it. You have to laugh. You must. If you don’t laugh in the midst of crisis you won’t make it through.
So I find the humor in as much as possible but I am also really challenged by the grief and sadness around this, too. It’s there. It’s SO there. I attended a conference for survivors back in the Spring and a girl said "when you get a cancer diagnosis you go into warrior mode so you put all of your feelings in a box and ship them off. One day that box lands on your doorstep and you have no choice but to open that box and boy can it blow up." I can tell you that the box has arrived on my doorstep. It has left me a gutted mess on some days and it has proved to be smooth sailing on other days. Hour to hour, really. I frequently revisit one of my favorite Rumi poems called The Guest House…
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
It’s so true. There’s room for all of it and I need to remember that. All of those years of books and silent retreats and meditation sittings...this is what I was preparing for. This is where the rubber meets the road. It was all for THIS moment. All of it.
As I reflect on the last 2 years I truly want you to know that my gratitude runs deep.
Thank you for (among many things...)
Knitting me hats and buying me scarves
Bringing my family dinner
Driving me to appointments
Messaging me just to say hello
Forgiving me for not responding to your messages
Planning and supporting AMAZING fundraisers for me
Throwing me in the car and taking me out despite my moving slower than a turtle and needing to be pushed around in a wheelchair (even if you did hit a curb and send me headfirst into the bushes, causing a man to race across the street to pull me out of the dirt and smash his cell phone. Thank you for giving us both a reason to laugh so hard we couldn't breathe.)
Driving 3 hours each way to visit me even when you could only stay for 1. God bless you.
Sending me books and cards and dvd’s and coloring books and candles and cozy blankets
Literally holding my hand
Holding my hand from a distance
Making me laugh
Being the best get-well squad a girl could wish for
Praying and hoping and wishing for good health
You're all amazing and I love you.
May your holidays and New Year be blessed. I'm looking forward to being able to really enjoy my family and friends for the first holiday season in 3 years. I can't wait!
Let’s raise a glass to 2017 being better than 2014, 2015 and 2016!
Love to all.