Sunday, March 2, 2008

Standing Tall

It’s been five days since radiation ended. And I have more energy than I did before I started this interim in my life. I’m already back at Pilates and the gym, and Sunday I am going to brave a tennis workout for the first time since the balloon settled in my breast. (It’s out, of course.) I’ve had two days of acupuncture this week to boost my immune system (everyone around me and in my family seems to have the stomach virus and a flu bug). As for my boob, it is healing pleasantly. Sometimes in the night (finally sleeping without a bra, yea!) I’ll have a small twitch or two letting me know that it’s there and has been through some sort of hell that I’m not aware of. But I switch positions among my multitude of baby pillows, and it passes. Best part of the week has been having my oldest daughter visiting with her friends and family to enjoy the Morgan-Keegan tennis tourney at the Racquet Club. I see the variety of guests at bed and breakfast and rejoice that they are having fun.

What now? I ask. In ten days I see the surgeon for a "how I am doing". In ten days after that I check in with the radiologists. Sometime in that parry of days I’ll be assigned to an oncologist who will keep me posted on my life and the arrival and departures of future cancers, if they continue to access my body. I see already I have very little control of what goes on behind the skin. I’ve read lots of attachments to emails - a couple saying that bananas can cure just about anything and then others claiming that cancer is caused by sugar, substitute sugars, barbecue or anything grilled on a outside grill, chocolate, milk and milk products (use soy milk?), Vitamin C, meat big time (that’s ok - I’m vegetarian) and a variety of things including anger. I’m in deep waters if those are primary causes. But I buckle up with a Canadian herb mix called Essiac, two Super Greens tablets and two Nine Spiced Tea pills from my California acupuncturist and I am trying to boost up my low potassium score by eating at least half a banana a day. They rot before I can finish a bunch.

Like most whites with Scottish ancestory and a history of burning to black in the Florida sun every winter of my youth, I’ve been knicked around by precancerous skin cell appearances. But since I go to the skin doctor three times a year (and he always finds something to burn away that could be something, but never is, so far - knock on wood), that has not gotten out of hand. I wonder, in retrospect, what in the world did I do to permit a cancer to take hold inside of my rather healthy system - and the answer seems to harp on my continuing to take hormones (hence estrogen and progesterone) when I probably should have put a halt on them a couple years after menopause. Menopause for me was a non-event. I didn’t even know I had been through it until I went to a OBGYN and he told me "You don’t have any more eggs. Menopause has happened." So out came the IUD and in came hormones to boost various things so I wouldn’t get too old too quickly, I guess. Se la vie. All good things must come to an end.

The magic of my state today, in addition to God’s grace and love, is that Dr. Mize at the Women’s Center at Baptist East Hospital spotted a suspicious place in a November mammogram. (I’ve been regularly doing mammograms since I was 40 because it was what we women were supposed to do.) Her keen sight and knowledge saved me from disaster. She is on my prayer list forever, as are my other angels: my surgeon, my physicist, my radiologist Dr. Lee, Dee-Jay and the wonderful spirits at the GD. They’ve treated me like a Mercedes when I’m really a Volkswagen.
I must say this has been the fastest February I’ve ever spent. In many places, especially in the world of finance and business, it’s considered the suicide month. They blame it on indoor confinement and radical investments and maybe broken hearts on Valentine’s Day. But for me, it’s been a time of resurrection, restoration, and reconstruction of energy and health. I am confident in what is to come because there has been so much love and prayer in my shaky moments, although, to be serious, knowing the presence of prayer surrounding me in my life, I haven’t felt nervous, discouraged or even shaky (except when I try to pour chocolate sauce over homemade peppermint ice cream, today while having lunch with a dear friend. )

I returned yesterday to visit the halls of Juvenile Court and receive healing hugs from Judge Person and his staff, the baliffs, as well as the ladies and Mr Evans in Volunteer Services, and heard my personal trainer Kareem speak in the GOAL program to detained delinquents so much in need of mentoring. Then I stopped by Reconation Academy, the girl’s prison where I’m a board member and chaplain, to hug "my girls", 24 of them trying hard to re-route their very difficult but not yet lost lives. So I feel good. And I’m back in training for the Everest base camp adventure and wondering if we’ll see the rare snow leopard.
Photos from top: Ann Edwards painting; Bananas on Death Table; Eggs in Hands; Ann Fabry painting of my kind of angel.

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