First off, I traveled to my most favorite and sacred place with my favorite people. Yup, I convinced Tim Blanket, Bill and Carla to go to Northern California with me. It wasn’t really a whim. Well, kinda, sorta. I brought it up and everyone had vacation time, miles, points, whatever, and I’m on medical leave. In keeping with my desire to make the most of every moment in the time I have left and make memories, off we went to Big Sur and my special place–Nepenthe. I figured I could sleep as much as I needed and Tim would have play mates if I was down. Nepenthe means “no sorrow” and was a mythical drug given to induce forgetfulness and surcease from sorrow—-this is a concept I can really get behind! It is a place I have been dreaming about for the last 16 years when I first visited Nepenthe and didn’t have so much sorrow, but it stuck to me all these years.
We disconnected and went back in time to rustic cabins in the woods that haven’t been touched much by modern invention–no wifi, tv, cell service. It was magical!!!! We roamed marked and unmarked paths in Big Sur–McWay Falls, Partington Cove, Julia Pfeiffer State Park, Limekiln State Park, Pfeiffer Beach, Bixby Bridge and lots of beautiful vistas. At sunset, from the deck of Nepenthe, we had a celebratory dinner and made many visits to the gift shop. After that we headed to the warm sun of Sonoma Valley where we rented a cottage in Healdsberg on the Russian River. We visited all kinds of wineries and spent a day on the coast in Bodega Bay. I think I am becoming a wine snob—I actually can now tell that the stuff I drink at home is not good, at all. Most importantly we got to have a special dinner at the home of old friends, Tom and Dave, for another spectacular sunset and food.
Every day we rated the 5 best moments of the day which was easy, and there were almost no bad moments except for that little detour down Sweet Water Road. Bill did not kill me and there was no blood spilled on this adventure. I could go on and on but I won’t–this isn’t a travel blog, lol. But, I should mention that I wasn’t so sure I could do it physically, but I did, much to everyone’s amazement and lidocaine patches!! Gotta have them.
I find the little traveling we have done since my near death experience in April seems to be strengthening me physically and mentally. When we are away I genuinely relax and my struggle with word finding is much better and my energy surprises me (I am on steroids after all). But most importantly it allows me to forget, to have a “surcease of my sorrow” and enjoy my loved ones and life. My favorite moment at Nepenthe occurred when I was walking out of the gift shop and the saleswoman said “you seem like someone who likes to have fun!” Yup, you could say that! And that is the spirit I like to share.
The house, plants and cats survived our vacation thanks to the little coconut who was thrilled with all the chores we assigned her. It takes a village.
Moving on, I am participating in a Livestrong Program at the Y which puts me into a twice weekly group with 6 other cancer patients to focus on physical and mental health. I am the only one with stage 4 of course, because I am special. Last night we got into a discussion about how our perspectives changed after diagnosis in terms of having more empathy for others and a need to be kinder. In simple terms, it means we all know abstractly that someday we will die, but for us, we see it more clearly, up front and personal. For me, when someone acted in a way I didn’t like I would be more judgmental or quick to push back. Now, I don’t feel the need to push back anyone about anything and when I see someone behaving poorly I am more likely to think about what burden they might be carrying to act that way. (Except Trump—he is a jerk, some people just are.) I feel more generous in my desire to share myself. Cancer also forces me to live with more intention daily—more present in the moment. I can’t go backward and I sure don’t want to jump ahead to the dark, ugly stuff that is waiting for me.
Speaking of which…….now that I am back from California I started the switch of steroids my endocrinologist wanted. Yup, this morning Bridget woke me up at noon when she stopped by on her daily lunch break. I was deeply asleep. No cortisol overnight is not good. I am hoping I just have to adjust to this medication– I really don’t want to sleep all day, feels like such a waste. Brain scan next week, yuck, but hopefully will better understand my adrenal and pituitary problems. Hope I have a brain.
Tomorrow is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, which, if you are reading this far along with me, you better be aware!!! My boss has asked the faculty to wear pink for me. I can’t be at school because I am speaking on a panel at a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge in honor of the day–hopefully I can make a little impact and motivate the researchers and biologists that are working on stuff that might help me stick around a little longer. Trust me, Blanket wouldn’t travel to Big Sur without me so I gotta fit in a lot of stuff for him and the coconuts!
The girl’s volleyball team is having a Dig Pink game on October 27th that I will be at and they are raising money to donate to the Side-Out Foundation. If you can donate or come to the game and support the girls that would be awesome!!!! (I will be blasting about it on my social media).
I have also been asked to write several pieces because it is October after all. I wrote one essay on lessons learned and another on what time means to me. I’ll write about any goddamn thing if it helps anyone in any way and lends greater understanding to what goes on in the mind of someone facing death. Be gentle to each other is mostly what I think about.
Barb, Tim, Carla and Bill