In case any of you out there have friends or family dealing with a critical illness and don't know about Caring Bridge check it out. Here is an entry from a very special woman,
Jane Tormey,and any raccoon prayer offerings for this extraordinary woman are appreciated. Here is today's post:
TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE
Well, it feels as though its been forever since I last connected with you. I finished my very last round of chemotherapy one week ago. We decided to change the drugs this time to carboplatin and navlebine and although I have been tired and nauseous, it has been nothing like being on the cysplatin. I do have the pain in my bones as I did before, but I will take this any day over the horrible sick feeling of the cysplatin. I actually called the Dr. and told him I was concerned that I wasn't sick enough and wondered if he was hitting me with is best shot. He said that the regimen we chose is highly effective and not to worry about not being sick enough. Geez, I'm tough to please aren’t I? One minute, I'm too sick and want to change and the next minute Im asking for more. I just want to do everything in my power to kill the caca!!
I have continued to read your entries and as always, am so grateful for them as it really does give me the strength and courage to go on. It is hard to explain, but especially when I am sick from the chemo I feel as though I am in an altered reality, a bad dream, and don’t really have a sense of how do to this, how to show up for what life is asking of me. No one has written a manual on how to face stage 3 lung cancer, be a single mom of 5, deal with a busy household with 2 gigantic labradoodles (what was I thinking?) run a nonprofit in Africa and face your mortality, all whilst heaving over the toilet….HOW DO I DO THIS FOR GODSAKES? I realize there are lots of choices as to how to cope. For instance, the pity party gang is always at the front door wanting to be let in and take over. They’re standing there incessantly ringing the door bell, with all the makings for a great party. They’ve got the chilled drinks of death and dying, the hot hors d’oeuvres of financial loss and impending bankruptcy, then there’s whoa is me toothpick nibbles of loss in several different flavors; hair, body image, activity, lifestyle, etc.... but the best of all is the flaming sweet soufflé of victimhood that they have lit and blazing and is screaming “eat me!” “ eat me first and everything else will taste even better!!!” Ohhh, is it tempting, oh how Id love to stuff myself with that that sweet dessert with all the sticky gooo around my month and fingers……“why me what did I do wrong?” “I have always tried to be a good person, I have been a good mom, I have always tried to do the right thing, I have eaten right, exercised, gone to church on Sunday and given up sugar for lent!” Well why not me??? I think I am finally learning that even peeking out the window at the pity party gang is just asking for a hang over. All I have to do is look at them and the suffering starts…. Ive let them in a lot over the years, and let them barge right in even against my better judgement while going thru this caca. Ive done my straight shots with them, Ive devoured their hors d’oeuvres and eaten their fancy desserts, (one too many times Ill have to admit), but I'm realizing I'm getting too old (or too wise) for this kind of partying, or at least my tolerance has gone down…. I just can't pity party like I used to, it isn’t worth it in the morning. I recognize in every moment I have a choice to look at life in all it forms as inherently hostile or inherently benevolent as Einstein asked us to remember, which one we choose determines our destiny. Well, I choose benevolent, I'm sick of hangovers.
But, as I sit to write to you, my beloved angels, my soul confidents, I will admit that I have been in a bit of avoidance around journaling again. I think because there is so much going on for me on so many levels, that there is a part of me that would just like to forget it all and pretend like none of it is happening, (especially as I start to come out of the chemo fog), as though none of it actually exists, and that I really don’t have caca. As I write it all becomes real again and the reality of the situation is right here in the words I am typing. Maybe it isn’t real, maybe it is all a dream? Maybe the bad dream is a dream and the good dream is a dream?
There is a part of me that keeps wanting to slip in and out of denial of what appears to be here, preferring avoidance to facing it. I have really enjoyed this avoidance actually. I have been savoring life in a new found way now that I don’t feel as though I have to run to toilet every 20 minutes…. I cant tell you how much joy I have been getting out of the little things in life- watching my dogs wrestle in the living room, having coherent conversations with people now that my brain is working again, acting like a normal mom again, playing with the boys, walks with my girls and my friends, driving to basketball, helping with homework, dinners around the table, singing the kids lullabies, on and on.…..I have been so much more present, telling the mind to just be quiet and choosing not to believe its' stories…… These are the hors d’oeurves and drinks I have been enjoying and although there isn’t all the ruckus of a wild party, its sooo much more satisfying, the tastes are so much sweeter, the enjoyment so much more sublime. OH MY GOD did I take life for granted!!!!!! Why is the Joni Mitchell song always so true- “you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone”….we get so complacent and move out of gratitude so easily when everything is going our way. Then when its suddenly pulled out from under us, we go, “wait a minute”, “ this cant be happening, I really do love everything about my life, the good and the “bad”, please don’t take it away!!!! I love being with my kids, my dogs, my friends, my family, walks by the river, the snow flakes falling…… and I also really do love doing dishes, and the laundry, dealing with financial issues, getting stuck it traffic, cleaning up the dog barf, and if I admit it, I even love being able to get chemotherapy- what a gift!!! Everything in life, the good the bad and the ugly is a gift and I get to choose how I respond to it. I get to decide what kind of story I am going to tell. Whether I see life as malevolent or benevolent…
Although the recognition of the gift of life is right here on the surface, what is lurking the back round is the lion. Sometimes he’s by my side, sometimes he stalks me from behind where I can't see him and sometimes he chases me in my dreams. He has a name and I know it, its fear of death. I'll call him “FOD”, the lion. I just don’t want to have to tame him. I don’t want to look in his eyes. I don’t want to admit that he really is not going to leave me… Whats kind of sweet about him though is that Fod seems to be fairly tame already. He hasn’t devoured me yet and he sometimes he just shows up laying next to me purring. This actually happened just a couple of nights ago. Some of you may know the song “Danny Boy” an old Irish Ballad that my kids have always loved as one of their lullabies. Its actually quite a sad song and Im not quite sure how I ever choose it as as a lullaby but in the lyrics it’s a being sung by a mother to her young son who goes off to war. The other night when I was tucking Michael in, rubbing his back, I was singin away just fine til I got to the second verse. Those of you that are familiar with it will know there is a stanza that says; “if you come back (from war) when all the leaves have fallen and I am dead as dead I may will be,( I look down and see Fod laying next to me purring) I will hear you softly tread above me and kneel and say and say ave’ there for me. (my voice starts cracking…) And though I hear you softly tread above me, and all my dreams will warm and sweeter be, if you’ll not fail to tell me that you love me, (tears start rolling and I pretend like Ive got to cough) Oh Danny Boy, ( I usually substitute Ellie girl, Maddie girl, Towner boy, John-Brian boy, Michael boy) I love you soooooo…..” I pretended like I thought Michael was asleep and got up off the bed, tip toeing out of the room til I heard him say “Night mom” and I choked hard and swallowed and said, “Night honey, I love you” without turning around because I didn’t want him to see that I was actually balling. , “I love you too” he said from his bed. I shut his door and tip toed into my room and starting sobbing. Yes, it is a reality, I really might die and leave my kids kneeling above my grave. It seems as though life always seems to bring you back “what is” as Byron Katie says and “what is” is really always grace, sometimes its sweet gentle purring grace and, sometimes its fierce grace…. Fod, I know your there and I am going to pet you and look into your eyes, I promise. I have been giving you the occasional glance and am happy you haven’t attacked me yet.
I was telling my sister Mary the other day that the place I am in right now is very different having finished chemo. The dr. has done what he can do to eradicate the cancer. If it were to come back or grow the goal would no longer be to cure, it would be to prolong life or to be palliative. There is a part of me that wants to keep doing chemotherapy so I know that I am doing something to kill this damn caca. But there is another part of me that wants to start living my life again, even with the mangy dog hair, the swollen face and arms, and bruised belly. The chemo is over and TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE!! I want to bring Fod into the living room with the labradoodles and start playing with him, wrestle with him, throw the ball for him, stare into his eyes and snuggle him. I know the time will come, we’re just getting to know each other, and I think I just need learn as I go that Fod really safe, that he is a gentle as these giant labradoodles, I just need to spend a little more time with him.
As soon as I am feeling better I am going to start the drug Tarceva. It is a long term preventative drug that looks very promising. I am also planning to go visit my mommy in Spokane and thanks to our angel Aunt Cookie the kids and I are going to stay with her and the cousins in Sun Valley for part of spring break. I am also considering visiting Mary and Geri in California and seeing the doctors at Stanford and UCLA. I am trying to let spirit guide me and not be overwhelmed by the choices or let them be run by fear. LIFE IS BENEVOLENT!! So, as of this moment, I am choosing to savor every little bite of life. I am choosing to stay present and not worry about the non-existent past and future. As I touch in with the presence of the holy spirit in this body I know that all is well.
I want to extend a special thanks to Matt Sweeney for offering his novena for me at St Joe’s. Thank you so much pumpkin, words cant express how grateful I am for your offering. You inspire me and humble me with your faith.
So that’s whats up with what is for Jane Tormey. Actually, there’s a lot more, but Im going to take a nap and go to coag.
The energy, encouragement, support and love that I get from all of you is so incredible. I hope you know that I send energy to and pray for all of you as well. I hold you so deeply in this little heart of mine. You ARE my angels and I am held up to the love and light of God constantly in your precious, holy wings.
I love you more than words can say,