Saturday, 10 March 2012

WHERE THE HELL IS RIPLEY WHEN YOU NEED HER?



According to my most excellent radiation oncologist, the alien is back and has spawned a few small friends. The friends are gaily scattered in areas of my brain other than the cerebellum – and inconveniently inoperable. Sigh. I’ve seen the pictures. Those damned white spots – here, there.
They aren’t going to evaporate, no later how much I hate them.

I swore I wasn’t doing whole brain radiation but ironically, it turns out that’s all that’s left as an option and I’ll be starting in about a week. The process will stretch out over 3 weeks, instead of the usual 2, as my oncologist thinks that will be easier on my system. It will kill the headaches, which is good – because they’re getting to be prize-winners and I’m heartily sick of eating 1200 to 1600 mg. of Ibuprofen for breakfast. The treatment will slow things down and buy me a bit of time.

I won’t kid you, there were a few tears yesterday – well after the appointment because I automatically go into shock and emotional denial when confronted with bad news. But “few” is the operative word here. Nobody lied to me about how aggressive this form of cancer is, and in my depths, I’ve been preparing for this for the last six months. I’m thankful it was Dr. Bowes who delivered the news. Somehow, he makes me feel like we’re partners – and we are doing business together. There’s a problem. Here’s what he thinks we should do about it and why. Do I agree? Do I have questions? His demeanor – a combination of honesty, compassion and competence seems to steady me.

So maybe I’ll make it to the Lavender Farm on the west coast. The crop blooms in July and September and I’ve seen pictures. It’s heaven, pure and simple. I’ll see Spring, and hopefully walk the nature trail at the frog pond, listen to the brook gurgle and sing over stones, watch the ducks, get to Port Mouton in summer, see lots of my friends. My bucket list is very modest.

Meanwhile, Heather’s room is nearly cleared out and she’s coming in Monday to paint. She’s excited, which in turn makes me feel excited. It will be so good to have her company. My bedroom/studio is shaping up too. It’s a tight fit, but cozy – like a bachelor apartment. Overall, I’m happy and managing to live in the present moment.

One of the hardest parts, for me, is seeing my friends grieve. Short of outliving all scientific predictions, there’s not much I can do to comfort anyone. I dread the phone calls to friends who don’t know yet – the ones who don’t use computers, have email or read the blog.

So, this should end messages like “get well soon” or “you’ll beat it.” Well-meant messages and well-meant suggestions for alternative cures. Probably it will leave a lot of people not knowing what to say.

Here’s a suggestion…Try not to see me as Cancer Girl. When people see me as that, they don’t tell me they are happy because how dare they flaunt that when (they assume) I am unhappy. They don’t tell you they are sad, because (they think) their troubles sound paltry next to what I am going through.

I’m still here, alive and above ground. I love to hear about YOU. It makes me feel like I’m still a part of things. I’m glad for the things that make you happy. I’m sad for the things that trouble you.

And if you pray for me – don’t pray for recovery, pray for quality of life while I'm here and a good death at the end. Pray for the people who will miss me. And when I finally go I’ll see you all in the next life.

Deal?


12 comments:

peter said...

Yep. x

Roberta said...

I have been thinking about you every day. Wondering when these words would come as I knew they would when you said the headaches were back. That is one fast growing bastard.

I am glad you have someone to live with you and stay by you throughout this next ordeal.

I will miss you. I have enjoyed being your online friend. Imagine this all started with beading! The bead blog seems like a century ago. I am telling you this now in case I don't get another opportunity. I do wish we could have met in person.

I hope you get to see the Lavender Farm. It sounds like heaven. Oh wait...........

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Deal.

Howpublic said...

I'll still be here for a while. And sucking up your bandwidth with the never-ending blog!

Pat Barber said...

Linda, I don't know you well but I do know I will miss you. And I also know that just as you lived with purpose, you are now focused on ending this life with purpose so you can move on to your next adventure. So the selfish part of my message is that I will miss you deeply tho we've only recently met and have never met in person. But the joyous part of my message is that I celebrate all that you always have been, and all the lives you have touched and will still touch. You are amazing, Linda. You and your wonderful sense of humor and refrshing honesty and candor. Thank you for teaching us all how to truly live, to truly value and treasure life and each other. One way or another you will see Port Mouton and that lavendar field in bloom ... and you will do so headache free. I'm glad you have comment moderation enabled - it's perfectly OK if you prefer not to publish this comment.

Howpublic said...

Thank you, Pat. That's very kind of you - and there's no reason to block such a nice comment.

Beady Zoo said...

Deal.

All doctors should have the no-nonsense, understanding bedside manner of your Dr Bowes.

Linda, you will never be Cancer Girl. You are an artist: of words, beads, color, style.
--
Kathy

nangel9 said...

I have to tell you how much I love your beadwork. Was just looking at the bottles you made not so long ago. I envy your sense of color and how to place them to get such incredible impact.

On another note I want to tell you that I am so incredibly proud of the battle you have fought. I've come to "know" you and your story during this difficult period and it sure makes me wish we could have been "IRL" friends. You are an incredible spirit. I wish you peace.

Anne said...

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


I always think of this poem by William Ernest Henley when thinking of battling myself and things I just can't escape. My mother also has cancer which can only be "handled" but not removed. She taught me a great deal about living boldly even when it's living crawling up a mountain.

L, I've worked with you, and know you aren't going to whimper out, but go blazing a trail of beads for many many years to come. Full sails my dear! and never you worry about tears, it's just the wind at your eyes.

Thoughts and will to you bold lady, may the beads be bright, and the journey bold.

~Anne

Howpublic said...

Anne - my God. Thank you!!

Anne said...

No need for thanks, the truth is you are a wonder, born into the world and gracing us with what time you'll spare us mere ones, leaving trails of friendship, beads and laughter.

As my mother once told me, it's finding the smile on the bad days and suddenly everyone is smiling and you realize your aren't trying to smile anymore but smiling because you feel better where it matters.

Courage is not absence of fear, but moving ahead regardless; you have much ahead left in you.

:) *digital hugs*

~Anne

Howpublic said...

Your mother rocks, Anne.