Hello All! The fog has lifted and I can once again see the sunshine. The side-effects of last week’s chemo are retreating and I feel like a full human, albiet a tired one. I expect that my life will cycle like this over the next 8 weeks: chemo round, followed by a stable but nauseated 24 hours, followed by what can only be described as the worst hangover/flu of your life for 3 days, a lightening of those symptoms over the next 1-2 days, then a week of rest before repeating. I am certain it will get old fast. I also expect that I will recover more slowly and less completely in between rounds as we go on. Simply put: it will get harder. But now I have a map, I know generally which direction I am headed, and for me, that is huge.
Cancer is so much a mental battle that being prepared and having a plan is critical to staying afloat. The features and boundaries of Cancer Land are coming into focus, and I have even found some locals who speak the language. These new (and old) friends have been such a source of comfort, I cannot begin to describe my gratitude for their patience and grace in responding to my unending questions. It has all been so scary and so new that when a familiar face extends her hand to say “I’m here, I’ve got you, you’re okay” the safety and relief conveyed by that act cannot be adequately expressed here. Some of us are sharing our journeys simulataneously, some are recalling decades old experiences. The fact that they would re-live or review some of the hardest moments of their lives to be present with me during mine is beyond touching. Thank you so much for being here with me, it means everything.
It a result of the support and love from these guides that I was grounded by the realization that my friends and family have become critical to my success against this disease. I was really fortunate to have been surrounded by loving people this weekend. My brother-in-law and his wife came down from Helena to see us for an afternoon, and I also got to see my sister (from another mister) Jess and other close friends. Having people over got me out of bed and focused on something other than my suffering. Consequently, sitting with friends and family and hearing about their lives and sharing their world is an excellent way to get me out of Cancer Land.
I have to chose to not be miserable, and the temptation (because it’s sooooooo much easier) is to just sit and be miserable.
Sometimes, the simple act of having to put pants on is a big deal post-chemo.
So this weekend I was glad to have people over to the house. If forced me to put on my big girl pants (seriously), get over myself a little bit, and get on with my life.
I have to admit, in the past I have probably wallowed too much. I’m not sure why feeling sorry for yourself is so seductive. Probably because sometimes things just are hard and you have to let yourself process that- which is fine! Overall though, I’ve probably spent too much time in that negative space. Cancer has provided this interesting opportunity to scientifically challenge the norm. I am testing the limits of my comfort zone and trying new ways to respond to, and thrive in, the uncomfortable. I feel like I’m rewiring my brain to select a new response. It’s not very smooth at first, but like with anything new it takes practice. It also helps to look for level ground to take a few test strides.
And so, I’ve come up with Family Night.
Family Night is going to be a night where the Mazureks extend a standing invitation to eat dinner and celebrate life at our house every week. Likely Tuesdays, we will tick off another week of chemo down and enjoy all the things that are good in life. I am one of those people who thrives when I have something to look forward to. When I think about how long the next 20 weeks are, it feels daunting and terrible. I know that having friends around to reframe my worldview and share a simple spaghetti dinner will give my spirits a boost every week. It is the best medicine I can think of and just daydreaming about it makes me feel a heck of a lot better about my lot in life right now.
So please, join us.
Bring a game, your smiling face, or some bread or cheese and share your life with us. I have so many lovely, wonderful people in my life I cannot wait to spend time with them in the weeks to come. Come as you are, and we will be as we are, just happy to fall into what is good and simple and meaningful in life.
So that is my plan for now. I need to celebrate the accomplishment of another week behind me. I need to not hyper-focus on cancer and suffering and instead chose to let the light in. I need to let other people care for me and support me during this journey. This past week showed me how ugly this battle is going to be. It also showed me how good it feels to be loved when you’re suffering that much. So yeah, I want to be around people. I want to be loved and cared for. A drink of water when you’re dying of thist tastes amazing. So too, is comfort when you’re hurting this much. It soothes an aching soul and I really want to let that in right now. It’s the best way I’ve figured to get through this.
I hope to see you soon.
Give em’ hell.
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I will drive down from Missoula some Tuesday pretty quick!
Some are granted the painful privilege of walking up to the edge of eternity, a dry run only the worst of human existence can provide. If you are willing to call out what you see there, those who gather close and listen will learn along with you. We will learn that the hard things teach us that we can do hard things, but also that community matters more to survival than we ever knew. Keep writing…for you and for us. And when you come back away from the edge, we will remind each other of the lessons we learned.
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You win. Can you just write my blog for me? Thanks so much 😉
Are you kidding? The world NEEDS your voice. Thinking of you and Tom every day.
We don’t know each other (I went to school with Tom), but I’ve been reading your blog. Thank you for writing this. You are a great writer and are sharing such important information about dealing with cancer. I have too many friends who are battle with cancer over the past year and it is inspiring and helpful to read about your experience. It is good you are taking the time to enjoy and savor the important things in life like your family and friends while your world has been turned upside down. I know you are going to beat cancer, you already have.
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Thank you. Such kind words. I’ll keep them close to me.