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Archive for August, 2006

Withdrawal

This afternoon was my last art class of the session (I have to wait 2 whole months for the next one) and I am officially in withdrawal. This is the art therapy class I’ve been taking for a couple years now at the Wellness Community. We were all talking at the end of class about how special our time is while there. It’s the place where we can leave the rest of our lives outside the door for a few hours. It’s the place that often people who are having a rough day, maybe got some bad news, are tired from treatments, or whatever, still manage to find their way to. It’s my place to let go.

I’m a little bit of a control freak (okay, the people who know me well are laughing real hard right now at what they likely feel is an understatement). I’m probably better at letting go now than I was when I was younger, but the impulses are still there and it takes a real conscious effort on my part to let go. When I’m in this art class I find I feel the complete opposite. When I am working on a piece I am really in the moment, just letting it go wherever it takes me. In fact if I have to think too hard about what I’m doing I get anxious. There’s no right or wrong, just what feels right at the moment and looks right to my eye at that moment. It’s the antithesis of art school which pretty much immobilized me by the time I finished graduate school. Too many voices in my head telling me that this or that was bad before I even snapped the shutter or put the pencil to paper. This art class isn’t even about “art” really, it’s about expression, play and mindfulness.

Here’s another “thrown on the dining room” table photograph of the piece I did today, curled up edges and all. It’s a collage made from watercolor crayon, paper and tissue paper.

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Two years (almost)

Today was one of my followup checkups at the gynecological oncologist’s office. I’ve been getting them about once every 4 months since my treatment ended in April of 2005. Later this month is the 2 year anniversary of my hysterectomy surgery to get rid of the endometrial cancer (where they discovered it also lurked inside one pelvic lymph node). So my gyn onc informed me today that since the most likely time for the cancer to come back is during the first two years that I have now graduated to once every 6 month appts. It’s a little comforting, but not a whole lot since with all the cancer my body has produced in the last 8 years I know it knows all too well how to do it. Thankfully, and this is a big deal, I have had only new primary cancers (even though both were metastatic- meaning they had spread) and have not had a recurrence so far. Unfortunately my odds of survival would reduce drastically with a recurrence.

So, you’d think I’d be feeling relieved, and while I’m glad to have had a normal exam and glad to have made it to the 2 year mark, like I mentioned before it’s not all that comforting. I wonder if I will always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. With the first cancer I made it past the magical 5 year mark only to have a new cancer occur. It wasn’t like my exam and ct scan just months before had detected the 2nd cancer. There’s no cancer quota, I’ve had two so I won’t get any more. The fact that I’ve had two and have had treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) for two cancers just puts me at greater risk for getting new cancers.

I try not to dwell on this stuff, I really do. I mean I live my life day to day, pretty much day to day. I don’t make plans too far in advance (particularly things like plane reservations which are so expensive to change). I don’t think much about “when” I get older, I think about “if” I get older. When A. and I discuss our future finances (things like 401k’s and retirement) it’s hard for me to imagine that I will be around then so I think of it in terms of how it affects A. and Z.

This is stuff I normally don’t talk about. People want me to be positive (as if a negative thought might kill me, although I think it has more to do with the fact that my discussing my mortality makes them think about their own mortality). It’s not that I’m all depressed about this stuff all day, every day. It’s that the reality of it all just hits me at certain times, today being one of those times. Since I have a blog I figure I can actually write about it instead of keeping it all to myself. I’m sure that some people I know won’t be happy to read about it, but I’m trying not to self censor (and I haven’t given anyone in my family besides A. the link to this blog).

A friend of mine from my art class at The Wellness Community is facing her 2nd recurrence. She’s a single, divorced mom raising a 15 year old daughter. She had already planned a 3 week trip to Europe beginning this week for the two of them when she got the news of the recurrence a couple of weeks ago. She decided to postpone chemo till she gets back from the trip instead of starting it right before going. It’s not that she’s not fighting for her life, she most definitely is, but there are things that are just as important. Going on an adventure with her daughter while she still feels good is important. She told me she is going to write a travel journal not so much about the places they go and the things they do, as much as about her feelings on the trip. Moms with cancer are often focused on making memories.

So, I continue on with my life. We’re renovating the two upstairs bathrooms (currently we’re trying to make decisions on tile), A. and I are going on a vacation to San Francisco soon (while Z. goes to Grandma & Grandpa camp), and we’re enjoying those last few weeks of summer before school starts (and the demolition and construction work begins on the bathrooms). I’m adjusting to having A. home every day 🙂 I’m enjoying tomatoes from our garden and getting together with friends. I’m happy (really, I am), maybe even more so because I know how fleeting this state of happiness and good health can be. Oh, and feel free to remind me of this the next time that Z. makes me nuts 🙂

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