First, I read a lot of blogs written by women like me. It helps ground my perspective and gauge if I am being overly sensitive or not. I also learn things and get reminded to spend time with people who want to be with me despite the hard stuff. I will only go where I am wanted.
What I circle back to the most in my thoughts is the kindness and love and support and laughter I receive daily from all corners of the universe. My BELOVED co-workers who continue to send me a fresh bouquet of flowers every week all summer long to remind me they are there. (This is a photo of two orchids I received that I call my “babies”). They are always checking in and asking me how I am feeling. It means something. To me.
The reconnecting with old friends and the making of new ones. People who care and are interested in my circus. College buddies reaching out to me with texts and calls, Brunnie coming for lunch, the lake dock at sunset with Jack and Sid, boating and sitting around the fire pit with Bill and Carla, cookouts with Sharon and John, lunch with Arleen and Elizabeth, every time I am with the coconuts—-it makes a life for me between the otherwise dark spaces. I choose to focus on that life. It does not mean that the window does not open occasionally, despite the tender mercies and memory making, to reveal the scary stuff. I glimpse a photo and I think you look too happy–it’s not real, you are faking it because you know no matter what you are dying. I slam that window shut and run away. How else could I cope? Sometimes I am in a room full of people and feel acutely aware I am not like them at all. I am going to leave them behind. The spiral starts and I have to pull it together, get back on the horse, ride the wave away from beach. And mostly I remind myself to be awesome. There’s always that too.
Tim and I have started to touch the edges of the painful conversations we must have with each other and our inner circle whose job is mostly to make me laugh and poke fun of my situation, the scariness of it. I remind myself we are not there yet, we have time. I am a metavivor–someone full of cancer tumors who lives in 12 week increments, from scan to scan. I am on a radical new CDK 4/6 inhibitor and hormonal blockade that should slow the cancer’s progression, on average, for 20.2 months, up from the previous 10.2 months. I am 6 months into treatment–let’s hope I get those next 14.2 months or longer. I will be in treatment until I am dead. Onward, upward we go.
Before I forget–Bridget went to Dana Farber with me to see my breast cancer surgeon and everything in her world is A-OK. I won’t have to resort to murder after all.
My cleaning ladies crack me up since I have seen more of them this summer. They coo and fuss over me and tell me that God and Love will heal me. I almost believe them because they are so cheerful and sincere. I have been cleaning out closets lately and giving clothes to them to send to family back in Cape Verde including two dresses I bought last summer with the tags still on them. Bridget said, at the time, “you look like you are joining the Abnegation faction in Divergent or going Amish” and that was the end of that. The cleaners liked them. Moving on.
The little coconut has decided to join me at work. Yup, she is the new high school ABA Tech and I get to see her daily–how awesome is that? The other coconut is settling in just fine in the ER at Mass General. She has a nice guy. They are good.
Speaking of work, how awful is it for summer to be over when the weather is decidedly not cooperating and screams summer all day long? I do not have air conditioning in my office so I can’t avoid the heat. I can’t imagine taking off my flip-flops and wearing actual shoes. Tim Blanket bought me a refrigerator for my office–to keep cold drinks and snacks close at hand. Yup, the nausea is constant and I have been vomiting on a nearly daily basis, a good day when I do not. The chemo is cumulative despite 3 weeks on, 1 week off. The poison is slowly building up in my system to try to keep those ugly suckers at bay so now there is no ebb and flow to side effects. It just co-exists in me uneasily. The first day the students returned to school I had to run to the nurse’s office by 9:00 to throw up—-Hi Nurse Lynn, nice to see you, did you have a great summer? She patted my back and murmured till it was over. I need cold drinks, carbonation, Cheezits, Zofran….The change in my schedule and the forced eating to be on a schedule is not working. I will figure it out. We are already learning the foods that have to be eliminated–tomatoes, fish, most fruits…..some of it is trial and error but once I get a rhythm going it will work out. Thank god the kids were too busy visiting with friends they hadn’t seen all summer to bother the nurse on the first day.
And my advisory kids are now juniors (I am with them all 4 years of high school)—-the boys have grown in leaps and bounds! I bribed them with Tootsie Roll pops to gather on the half wall in the cafeteria for our annual first day of school picture. Surprisingly cooperative crew. And so it begins…the kid rushing in at 7:15 AM shouting “I have so much to tell you!” …The boys who forgot to bring their schedules and need them printed out right away….The running full tilt to the first class…. The scared freshmen who can’t locate the gym.
There have been a lot of administrative changes this year (outside of my building) so my fellow psychologists around the district have decided to adopt the mantra “Not my monkey, not my circus”. Maybe we will get tee shirts made.
My song? “Summertime Sadness”–Lana Del Rey
Think I’ll miss you forever
Like the stars miss the sun in the morning sky
Later’s better than never
Even if you’re gone I’m gonna drive
I got that summertime, summertime sadness
Thank you to everyone for the laughter and love,
Barb and the circus