Living With or Without Cancer-Getting Ready to Roll

“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” – Terry Pratchett

Today I am changing my story. Instead of dying with cancer I am now living with cancer. It is possible that I am fooling myself and there is no cancer within me to live with. Well that is a cool thought.

Moores Cancer Center

Last Wednesday, with the support of Yvonne, we drove to the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD (University of California San Diego). I had a second opinion appointment with one of the primary head and neck surgeons. I define second opinions as a way to gather more information, so that I can be comfortable making a decision that will shape and define my life.

This whole complex of buildings that makes up the cancer center and other technologies are imposing as you drive in. The structures are big and impressive. There is one building that is dedicated to all things radiological speaking. The Novel Technology building is so new that the staff is not sure what it does. I was curious enough to do some on line research. It appears that it is a specialty that works with deep brain tumors and microscopic surgery. Interesting. It is good to be impressed by what I see.

My appointment went well. I met with Dr Brummond and his associates. They were kind and amazingly good listeners, especially the medical student that did the intake interview. Most of the information that I was given was not new, but that is what I wanted, a confirmation that my surgeon and endocrinologist were on the right track. I will have the other half of my thyroid removed upon my return from Africa (yes I am going). I did receive one new piece of information. This doctor feels that if the biopsy on the left thyroid comes back negative for cancer he believes I don’t need the radioactive iodine treatment. So I will gather that information into the ongoing puzzle of thyroid cancer.

Dr Brummond feels it will be OK to wait until my return in the fall to have the surgery to remove the other half of the thyroid. That is good news, really good news. I am relieved that this appointment is over and that I can begin to really plan for a trip of a lifetime. I imagine my friend and travel companion, Phyllis is glad to hear this too.

With the help of a therapist I am now getting ready to go into the final planning mode for this trip. Today I got my typhoid shot. All the other meds are gathered and ready to go. I am planning to leave San Diego this coming Monday and begin an amble east. Elsie says her bags are packed as well. I am daring to allow myself to get excited without getting overwhelmed. Living with cancer allows me to dare, to get excited, to dream. I was already getting weary of the feeling of dread that has been hanging over me. As I take each step towards Africa, the dread will disappear more and more.

My life is too short to be fearful and experience dread. That is a hard way to live. I would rather live hopefully and with a little or a lot of joy, depending on the day. These are always personal choices we all have to make every single day of our lives. Yes even you, dear reader are included here. Sometime the choice to live with hope is easy. Other days well we all have to dig a bit deeper to find that place. And so dig I shall.

Getting to Roll…New Jersey here I come….AFRICA here I come.

 

“The Power to Rise Again”

There are times in my life when I can use encouragement, support and more from known and unknown sources. When life gives me a hard push or I am struggling with indecision or fear, encouragement in positive outcome helps me so much.  The known sources are my friends or people I know through social media, like those of you who follow this blog. The unknown sources may be inspirational books, poems, and news articles.

About four months ago a good friend of mine, Pat, introduced me to the “Sunday Paper“. The Sunday Paper is Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter publication that offers news and views for a meaningful life.  This newsletter is one I quickly began to look forward to receiving each week. I like to go to my inbox before I even get out of bed to read the inspirational message at the beginning of the Paper. Each week there is usually something in this message that resonates with me and gives me courage when I need it most. I feel like each week there is something in these messages that speaks directly to me.

Now before, you of different political beliefs begin to think, “Here is that liberal Janet speaking out” or “Maria Shriver-just another Kennedy” I encourage you to go to the web site and have a look around. It is amazing what she comes up with week after week. She posts you-tube videos that are pertinent to the weekly theme. There are interviews with authors. There is so much in this paper, that I rarely read or listen to everything before the next week’s paper appears in my in-box. Some weeks I just read the inspirational message and short prayer at the end of the message.

This morning’s delivery in my inbox is titled The Power to Rise Again. If you click on this title it will take you directly to her page.

I have considered and thought about this article of inspiration often through out my day. I needed to read or hear what she had to say. At times it is hard to deal with other human beings. I am dealing with some issues with another human being at the moment. It feels unfair how I am being treated and even though I know “this too shall pass”, well right now I am in the middle of it all and it is a struggle.

Here are some of the quotes that I have found encouraging in Maria Shriver’s message this morning.

These days when I go to church on Palm Sunday, though, I find myself really thinking about the significance of the day. I also find myself thinking about how fast the court of public opinion can change someone’s life, just as it did for Jesus Christ.

On Sunday, he was met with adoration. By Friday, he was dead on the cross. I mention this because if we spend our whole lives working for other people’s admiration and validation, it’s worth remembering that external validation can change on a moment’s notice.

“The game is going to test you, never fold. Stay ten toes down. It’s not on you, it’s in you. And what’s in you, they can’t take away.”

He was right. Life is a test. It was for Jesus Christ, it was for his mother Mary, and it is for each and every one of us.

Life will always test us. I know it has tested me, and I know it has tested you. On many occasions, I have found myself saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” Or, “Wow, I have no experience for how to deal with that.”

But over the years, I have also found great moments of awe and wonder and joy in life’s surprises. Time and again, these surprises have led to me discover strength within myself that I never knew existed.

I say all this to remind you that if your week starts out great, but hits a bump along the way, you can still rise again by the following Sunday.

Life will test you and it will surprise you, but you have everything you need to rise up and move forward with strength and courage. I love knowing this to be true. I love believing it.

I have found such support in these words today. I will spend the rest of the week digging deeper into the Sunday paper for joy and enlightenment and support.

And then next Sunday….a new edition will be there to greet me.