Friday, December 26, 2014

Big feelings

This Christmas has been one of the most magical that I have ever experienced--the spirit of generosity of people around has blown my mind.  My workplace literally made Christmas at my house by bringing unbelievable gifts and gift cards for me and my kids.  Many family and friends have donated time, money, energy, love and everything they have to give.  My brother came here from Florida and has spend every waking moment trying to make our lives easier (he had to put a lot on the back burner to spend all this time here--thanks to his wife Cindy for holding down the fort).  My best friends have been by my side constantly.  Extended family I have never met have reached out and given; my sister's best friend dropped everything and made a trip from Califorina to be with us.  My sister's co-workers gave a huge gift.  Tonight we ate a delicious home cooked meal made with love by a dear friend.  My brother's workplace, my church, my parent's friends, everyone from everywhere is showing love and support.  My people are here with me and for me day and night and it brings me gratitude beyond words.

It would not be telling the whole story to stop there.  Things are hard.  My daughter is hurting and I can't fix it.  My dishes are all mixed up.  I am losing control of areas of my life that I like to be in charge of.  My pain has not let up.  I had a large dose of radiation and it kicked my butt--I've been tired and whooped.  Most of my near and dear relationships are being strengthened--but hard relationships are still hard.  I have had to deal with waves of hurt and anger that really suck.

Believe it or not, I am finding that even traumatic situations have honeymoons, and it feels like the honeymoon of getting to see and hear from beloveds near and far and the generosity of my community no longer packs the punch of making the hard stuff feel less impactful.  The honeymoon seems to be coming to a close.  I am realizing the long hard battle in front of me.  I know some days are going to suck.  Today I had the distinct feeling that I want better answers when people ask me how I am doing.  I also realized the magnitude of the many days in front of me that may not have the positive answer I hope for to the simple question, "how are you doing?"  I'm sure knowing myself that I will find a way to continue to see and feel hope and gratitude everyday--but this is hitting me in a new way--I am feeling a new depth of how much this really sucks.  I appreciate the continued thoughts and prayers.  I see the doctor again on Wednesday and at that time we will make a plan for my treatment.  I will update when I get more information.  Love to all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A New Truth

After a dozen or so false starts on writing a blog post, I woke up this morning and decided that I do not have to say something important.  I do not have to write a piece that I am proud of --I just need to write and post.

It has been two weeks since I entered into the slow process of cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.  We have not yet started the treatment phase and we have barely touched on the prognosis.

But I know.  This is bad.  I have stage four lung cancer.  My google investigation reveals that less than one percent of people with this diagnosis live five years.  The median life expectancy is eight months.  My pelvis has a large tumor that I have been struggling with excruciating pain in for many months.  It was more than two years ago that I had acupuncture and saw an orthopedic doctor for hip pain.  I know, this is a grim diagnosis.

I have faced the reality that I may die in the very near future and I have been surprised at my reaction.  I have been emotionally pretty fine.  Don't get me wrong, when I think about my two children and I think about the future for them my heart is broken in a way that keeps me from going there.  I have not been thinking much about the future or the past.  This diagnosis has proven to be the most zen experience I have ever had.  I have been forced (or chosen?) to live in the moment.  It sounds so cliche, but it is all I have.  It has been a trip of an experience so far-- and I am okay.

I have to pinch myself and ask, is this denial? I don't think so, I am really clear that this shit is real.  Is this just a phase that will change? Probably. Is this the reward for actively working on my own spirituality for the past several years and knowing where I stand and what I believe? I think so, but that is only part of it.

I've been through the deaths of many beloveds.  I have only once had the honor of walking through a death that was known as likely ahead of time.  Tragic deaths rob us of the chance to hold and touch each other and to sob and share love.  Although i can hardly bare to think of the impact that losing me will have on my children in the future, as I face the real possibility of my mortality, I feel blessed to have the chance to die in a known way.  Blessed to be able to invite you to go through this process with me.  To laugh, to cry, to touch each other and to share love.

I know this is very morbid--I am not giving in or giving up.  I know there are miracles.  But I am not called to ask to be a miracle.  I will take it with gratitude if it is meant to be, I will be very sad to not be in this body and this world as I know it, but I have known and accepted for a long time that this life was a limited time offer.

I hope I don't sound like a selfish asshole--these feelings of peace around most of this make me wonder if I am one.  I think I needed to write because this diagnosis and the thoughts and feelings that go along with it have been surprising.  I hope to continue to document this process in writing as I move through it.  I am blessed by the love and support of so many people around me right now--I hope that everyone gets to know this kind of love in their lifetime.  In love, Colleen