“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live” Stuart Scott
I was recently sitting at Angela’s desk looking for something and found one of her many lists. Ange had been making lists for years to hep with the effects of treatment. This one was titled – To Do Before –
I was hit with my initial sense of panic and questioned if I wanted to read this. After closing my eyes, deep breathing to relax, and talking out loud to Ange, my answer was yes. I don’t know when she made this list, but believe it may have been the past year. She had also asked me to make a list of things I wanted her to do.
The first item on the list was : Laugh.
“Move, as far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” Anthony Bourdain
I’ve been writing this blog for a few months. I decided after being so overwhelmed with the content I scrapped the whole piece. A lot has occurred over the last few months and instead of talking about the good and bad I will leave you with photos from the last few months of travels.
“Strength of character lies in performing the drama of life with courage and confidence, practicing self-reflection. And self-control under any circumstances.” Daisaku Ikeda
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
“Death is not fearful, suffering is.” BJ Miller
This blog comes at an awkward and sad, yet, joyous time of my life. Having just received some incredibly disappointing scan results, I’m finding it difficult to focus on what this blog was originally going to capture. I was supposed to be writing about an amazing trip to Spain but my thoughts are with The Dirty Dozen. I can literally feel them re organizing for their next war, as I squint through a tumor headache, swallow a pain pill and attempt to see Spain through the Cancer.
“Death commences too early-almost before you’re half-acquainted with life-you meet the other.” Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
“If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to others then you deserve a love deeper than the ocean itself.” Nikita Gill
This blog was originally going to be a very lengthy read and still may be, actually it will be, considering the amount of time that has passed and the events. This is my first blog since August 2017 and I apologize for that to you and to myself. As pages and pages and new titles were written over the months, I decided to trash it all. I may be a little all over the place but stick with me, there is so much to talk about. Since I have last posted, there has been a relentless attack on the labyrinth of my brain. I ended the already extremely difficult year with brain surgery #2 and the loss of someone dear to me. It was a loss that shook me to my core and still does some days. The stability of my disease last year is far-gone and I’m on another new clinical trial drug that began the first week of January. It’s called, Pembrolizumab (aka Keytruda) and it’s an immunotherapy drug.
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
I’ve been holding off on this entry for several months. Why do I feel like I’ve said that before? When living a life in two-month increments, things can change quickly. As I look back at my life since December, SH%T has been crazy to say the least and not in a good way. As I write this though, happy to be writing again I’m listening to the seagulls fly above the cottage up in Maine.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley
This blog is going to be filled with the story of my 2017 so far. This blog isn’t going to be filled with wonderful adventure stories and pictures from the Maldives or some other exotic location. It’s a long one and I hope you stay with me. I started writing this entry over 2 months ago on a day when I was sitting at my desk, looking at a blizzard outside my window. Today the seagulls are calling and the rain is out and I’m in flip-flops and I can’t see any snow in my view, just ocean.
New, years are supposed to be about new beginnings, fresh starts, new yous and better lives. That’s what I was hoping for. I entered 2017 thinking this is going to be my year. I had my travel plans all figured out. I was optimistic, happy and I was starting the year off in Hawaii. Not only was I looking forward to that for selfish reasons, but for my family and friends who could use the break from my cancer too.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But, that’s ok. The journey changes you-it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you…Hopefully you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain
“How are you?”
A question I am frequently asked, as most of us are. Normally, my responses are “pretty good”, “hanging in there”, “not bad”. This month it has been mostly, “Meh” or “Ugh” which to me means “not awesome, at all”. This is not exactly the word I thought I’d be using to describe the beginning of my new year. The first week of January was awesome but everything went downhill quickly after that.
“Fate rarely calls upon us at a time of our choosing.” Optimus Prime
No, it really doesn’t.
I have just finished the second part of my cancer through photos project, The Dark. I struggled a bit with the timing of this entry and when to release it. Posting it around the holidays feels a little wrong to be honest. Despite the darkness of this topic, I still love the holidays. Maybe the holidays are not always perfect, but I made it to another holiday. I lived another year. I choose the word ‘lived’ because I did so much more than just ‘survive’ another year.
Less than a month ago I found out that I have two more brain tumors. Less than a week ago I had another gamma knife surgery to treat these fast growing newborns. The ‘weight’ of brain tumors #4 and #5 has thrown me quite a bit in the last few weeks. There are a lot of days recently that I have felt incredibly sad. In ten months I have had five new brain tumors.
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” Steve Jobs
I love this quote. It’s totally true. But sometimes it’s a tumor or two tumors and not a brick. Either way, they both hurt. I’ll get right to the Promiscuity part because clearly I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea. Now, we already know that Hannibal and Clarice had a baby in my brain this summer. What we now know is that there were more babies. Babies that are now growing up into toddlers.
I have two more brain tumors. As my best friend said, “Clarice and Hannibal were having a lot of sex up there and now you have to take care of all their kids.” We use humor so much when processing my illness. It makes everything easier to deal with. It’s not denial, it’s not, not taking this seriously. Trust me, I’m taking this very seriously. As I sit here, tears are falling down my face and my sweatshirt and I’m wiping my eyes so I can keep writing. This is very real.