All quiet on the Western front

I apologize for not writing for a bit – I was in a chemo fog until tonight.

On Tuesday, Jodi joined me for the full day of my infusion. Linnea unfortunately couldn’t make it (schedule glitch) but I got to meet Tom! He was on California time and his appointment wasn’t until the afternoon, but he kindly came early to meet me while I was still conscious.

Tons of good things that came from Tom’s presence, not just for me but from others who got to talk with him in the waiting room. He’s really smart and knowledgeable about the pipeline of drugs. He is optimistic and easy to talk with. It was like he was making everyone feel better.

Tom and me Oct 2014

And – he agreed to stay while I got my CT results. As you might imagine, if the doctor gives you news that stuns you, you still have to function and ask the doctor relevant questions before he moves onto the next patient. Sometimes, there is a decision to be made in that moment. I wasn’t too worried about the scan, but I have been surprised before. Tom agreed to go to my appointment with Jodi and me so that, if necessary, Jodi could help me deal with my stunned state (I get the feeling that Jodi can handle just about any emotional situation) while Tom asked questions and gathered data.

But, all good – the scan showed stable results! Tom moved onto his next thing and Jodi stayed with me for the rest of the day (no small feat – involves seeing me in a state I don’t share with the general public) and drove me home.

I’m so grateful for that they were both there in person and that you were with me through the wait. Thank you thank you!!!!

Love,
Marie

Six degrees of separation. Or fewer.

Thank you for your prayers for my CT scan last Thursday. All went smoothly, and I get the results on Tuesday.

Rather than feeling anxious, I’m so excited about Tuesday. Yes, I get the scan results AND it is chemo day, but that is overshadowed by the richness of relationship promising to infuse that day.

Jodi is driving me to my appointment and staying with me – always wonderful to spend time with her. And then…Tom and Linnea will drop by.

I met Tom via my blog, back when he was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. I met Linnea via her blog. Linnea is living with lung cancer, thanks to a drug that Tom helped discover. Isn’t that just so cool? I absolutely love that we are all connected. Both of them inspire me and enrich my life, and it thrills me to learn that they are connected to each other, too.

None of us have met in person. But on Tuesday, Tom will be at Dana Farber for a meeting (with my doctor!), Linnea is able to stop by, and I have an appointment there. So we will all get to meet together at the same time, live and in person, the old-fashioned way. I’m kind of giddy.

I am often conscious that my life is different because of my diagnosis. But then I consider events like this, where I might never have experienced these kinds of connections, and I feel so blessed.

Love,
Marie

P.S. I also feel good that, out of all the doctors in the country, Tom selected my oncologist to get a second opinion. Tom is really smart and on top of all this, and I kind of bumble through it, so it is like finding out I am holding a golden nugget.

Rolling forward

Thank you. Thank you for your patience and your support and your prayers. Chemo week is fast approaching, so I welcome your prayers especially on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!

In the meantime, I feel SO much better than I did during my last chemo week. Physically and emotionally, that was a difficult week. Every spot that had a tumor screamed in pain. My back spasmed intensely from the neulasta shot. I felt gross and off-center from the chemo, and I was exhausted. The icing on the cake: I felt indescribably sad.

If anti-depressants can lift you from a poor mental and emotional state and put you in a better place, chemo took me from a better place and put me in a poor mental and emotional state. I couldn’t snap out of it, use logic, or any of my usual tools. I was stuck simply experiencing it. It wasn’t fun or cheery or light or soul-filled. I literally just wanted to die.

Compared to my post-chemo week, I thought that the chemo session itself went well. I recalled watching a movie and staying awake during the entire infusion.

But then Valerie called me three times this past week to check in. I adore Valerie but we rarely talk on the phone and typically don’t “check in.”

When I eventually returned her call, I learned that she had called me during Tuesday’s chemo session, and while I was getting the infusion, I fully unloaded my soul to her. I shared my worries. I cried. I talked about my dark vision of my future and my concerns for my family. The nurse even joined our conversation at one point. We talked for a full hour.

I remember none of this. None. Not even when she recounted it.

I’m glad that she repeatedly called to check on me. Yes, it was good to talk with her (especially since clearly, I didn’t remember our prior conversation). But also, our follow-up call helped me to appreciate that (long) moment of conversation during chemo, and she reminded me of some insights we shared at that time. All good things.

I also bring this up because if I forget a conversation, neglect to respond to an email, or otherwise drop the ball, please please know that it isn’t intentional. Obviously, I am blanking out on large parts of my life, even parts I value. Be annoyed, but do feel free to remind me, even repeatedly, of anything that needs a reminder.

Thankfully, I moved out of last week’s deep, dark post-chemo place. The bike arrived, and life started to turn around. I truly believe that God was working through whomever delivered that bike. Their grace kicked off a theme that continued for over 24 hours. Get this:

Sunday night: The bike arrived. Happy happy joy joy.

Monday morning: The sitter took my older son biking (not on the new bike – that was mine to ride first!) During the ride, she lost the key to my bike lock, setting off a string of drama about that lock which consumed all of us, all day. Small problem, I know, but chalk it up to post-chemo mood swings. And note: Bike theme.

Monday night: I posted a thank you on my blog to my generous anonymous friends. My friend, Tom, was watching Dora the Explorer and, after reading that post, he looked back at the show. At that moment, Dora was receiving a yellow tandem bike to help her solve her quest. No kidding. Love that. And love that he shared that. I decided that my yellow tandem bike was helping me solve my quest.

But wait, there is MORE on the bike theme! My friend, Ig, reminded me of one of my favorite StoryPeople quotes:

Life Cycle

This is a special bike that’s not very good at listening to excuses, so it takes you exactly where you really want to go & if you kick & scream it makes you pedal harder & go up steeper hills until you’re too out of breath to complain & after awhile, if you’re lucky, you start to see that it doesn’t really matter if you laugh or cry, because it just wants to ride like the wind.

I had been kicking and screaming and pedaling as hard as I could, going up steeper and steeper hills until I was finally too out of breath and out of strength to complain. I literally plopped myself in the backyard and just looked at the sky. Exhausted, I could now only go along for the ride. Then I began to feel the wind in my very short purple hair and smiled.

Thank you, yellow tandem bike givers, for getting this all rolling. Thank you, everyone who was part of all the unfolding (even the sitter who lost the key to the lock – I’m sure there is some cosmically-connected message in there somewhere!). Thank YOU, most of all, for reading and bearing witness to all this. I send you much love.

Marie

Let my love open the door

Thank you for your healing prayers. As more than one person pointed out, I should ask for your prayers for FULL healing, so thank you for focusing your prayers on that!

Thank you also for staying so connected. I am more and more convinced that we are connected in invisible but vary tangible ways.

Mostly, those kinds of connections are just so fun and open my world even wider. My family and I recently returned from a magical vacation where we got to connect in real time with dear friends.

Of the gazillion stories, I will share something from my time in Ashland, Oregon (USA), visiting two friends I met last summer in Brazil.

At one point, my friends and I were talking about this blog and I mentioned Tom. Tom and I met through this blog and I shared with my friends some of the cool “coincidences” related to Tom and our email connections.

Shortly after this conversation, I checked my email. Around the time we were talking about Tom, he was writing an email to me! Love it when that happens. AND this is what it said (slightly edited with his approval):

I was just … beginning to read the first post: “How This Blog Began” https://adventuresinspiritualliving.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/how-this-blog-began/

During my reading…, I had my iPod going on shuffle with ensuing random background music.

At the moment I started to read why you started to write this blog based upon a clear message from God, my iPod Shuffle started to play the song “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townsend.  It isn’t a song I know super well but it instantly caught my ear & I immediately felt the need to look up the lyrics since I didn’t know them. I feel like I got my own message at that moment  – I don’t know Pete’s background of why he wrote the lyrics but it spoke to me of God’s love, especially after the first verse, wonderful timing to reading about why & how you started the blog.

Of course, I totally loved the synchronicities of all that. I completely believe that events are connected in ways designed to speak to our hearts. I love that that song came on during the reading of that particular blog post. I love that Tom’s experience helped me to hear that song in a new way.

But wait, there is more! In the liner notes of Pete Townsend’s Gold (Remaster) CD, he refers to this song as “Jesus sings.” Who’d have thought?!

So, maybe you will hear this song in a new way as well. Or, if it isn’t the song for you, I hope that you will see and hear your connections with new eyes and ears, always.

Joy and love to you (and the lyrics that follow),
Marie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ4MOkK2MOM

When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

When everything feels all over
When everybody seems unkind
I’ll give you a four-leaf clover
Take all the worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today, you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door

It’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
Only one thing’s gonna set you free
That’s my love

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

When tragedy befalls you
Don’t let them bring you down
Love can cure your problem
You’re so lucky I’m around

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart