I may actually miss my last set of drains that are on schedule to be removed today. What? Did she just say she may miss the attachments that she has been known to describe as snakes attached to her back hanging firmly by their teeth? Well of course, not really. The release of these plastic grenades and tubes from my body, from having to empty the disgusting body fluids three times per day and record it on a dated graph followed by calling it in the next day is surely a welcomed freedom. The bright side of these attachments, though and the reason I somewhat jokingly say I will miss them is how much they keep my pace slow and my awareness firmly planted in the present as much as I am capable of anyway.
The speed of which I walk and climb into bed, the way I shower and dress, the ability to perform simple tasks around my home are all literally tethered to these drains. I am a bit concerned that without their constant reminders, I may forget that I need to continue to take it slow so that the healing of my upper body can continue at the rate it has been going.
After this double writing, I am going to begin consciously weaving more life without cancer stories into my writing because even I am getting sick of the monotony of this cancer experience. I spoke with my doctor and have my final check up with her on Tuesday to review the pathology report and it is all good news. No more cancer, no cancer in the lymph nodes, no cancer in the right breast and the only cancer was the one spot we found that led me down this mastectomy path. This is what getting regular checkups and follow ups has done for me, caught early and addressed. BAM.
Despite my cynicism of the medical world I have found myself in, the goodness of it has kept me alive. I still firmly believe we must take better responsibility for our own health care and continue to advocate by making our decisions based on information that we have taken the time to explore. This takes a level of confidence in our abilities to challenge doctors who can be intimidating (not mine) as they often roll their eyes (not mine) when we start asking questions that are often founded because of something we saw on the internet or something a friend experienced. But I still think that a little information is a great jumping off point to at least have the necessary conversations that diagnosis requires before jumping on to the surgical table. I still think we are our own best advocates.
As I wait for my ride, I am so happy I have a group of friends I can count on during this trial. They show up. They make time. I only hope that I can provide this grace if the need ever arises in their world. I have a almost daily conversations with my Aunt Kiley and my old friend from sixth grade, Melissa. These morning moments ground me and I cherish them. Melissa said to me this morning, “Alayne, you are so optimistic,” as we have spent years of talking about our daily grind hashing out our vulnerabilities with each other under the umbrella of safety and pure unconditional love. Automatically I replied, “What is the alternative?” I mean going pessimistic is not helpful to healing and growth, two areas I thrive on. Not to say I don’t get down, I most certainly do and as I have said in previous writings the darkness is part of the process. But we all have shit coming at us, it is what we do with the shit that sets our course. I prefer my course to be as happy and joyful as I can direct. Surely I can’t always direct it, sometimes the route has other plans that I am unaware or unprepared for, but I have always found that when I stay trusting and open to the vast possibilities, I am never let down. My cup runneth over and there is no better place to notice it then in times of trial and hardships. This is when we get to see the glory of the work we have done when times are not rough and bumpy. The work never stops, just when I think I can coast for a while, is when complacency can move in and complacency is. very different than calmness. Calmness is what I do with the storm, complacency is ignoring it. The seeds I plant in my life are service, love and kindness and when they come back to me in my hours of need, I am so grateful.
The amazing energy of cancer is the openness of my heart to goodness. The raw thread between me and that core connection to spirit, religious or not, when I stand on the ledge that faces my own mortality, I am closer to the divine source. I can feel it. It is like no other feeling other than the feeling of losing my brother to cancer twenty two years ago and delivering my son two years afterwards. Perhaps it is the teetering on the edge of darkness and light, the feeling of letting go and trusting in universal outcome that brings an awareness to my soul like no other.
Today I threw away my last bunch of flowers I received over the past few weeks and I thought to myself, this is the last hurrah. Help is not needed as much, the cards and the dinners will wind down and I need to get back to the business of self care. And like a beautiful reminder that someone is always available, that though the frequency and urgency of people visiting or helping at the level I needed them this past two weeks is changing, a really lovely bouquet of flowers showed up out of nowhere reminding me of how lucky I am to have kindness within reach at all times. Angels are always awaiting in the wings. I cherish this feeling, this feeling of noticing and paying attention to these nuggets of kindness that are omnipresent during these times.
I have run into people who didn’t know about what has been going on with me. They had seen me right before surgery and felt bad that they went on to discuss talking about something not related to the struggles that were ahead, but now behind me. I am not sure how to ease their self imposed embarrassment other than to write how welcome normal non cancer conversation was at a time where it had been 24/7 cancer, my own doing by my writing, but also because I find once you have cancer, people struggle with conversation other than cancer. Clearly I even struggle with it as my writings have shown this. This is perfectly normal human behavior. Why wouldn’t it be, to avoid the conversation would be to turn a blind eye when clearly cancer and surviving it is the elephant in the room.
For sure I remember when my young precious brother at twenty four was diagnosed how he really struggled at normal conversation from all of his guy friends. They, of course at twenty four, would have no idea how to navigate how to talk to their dear friend, but I really understand how the usual easy dialogue changes into awkward and sometimes not knowing what to say dialogue.
Cancer and life facing illness no matter how early it is caught, pushes the envelope towards every person and their own mortality. I think it activates the mortality question in their personal paradigms they face in the odds of their own possibilities that could follow.
I sat on my front porch last evening after going to a very successful therapy appointment. I got a ride home from my dear friend, Morgan, who I asked to drop me off about six blocks from my home because I needed to walk and get some fresh air. I stopped in at one of my favorite stores, Jackie’s Loft, on the way to buy myself some new earrings and a splashy happy scarf and visited with the owner for a bit as we talked about life and illness and earrings. Kind of normal. I made my way back to my house, slowly, tenderly, as after all it has only been two weeks and as great as I feel, I must remember this is not a sprint, but a joyous exploration of my new friend, Patience. I am not overdoing it. I have stood, as many of us have, on the precipice of many mountains and ravines. I have faced the climbs, the tethering and scaling up and down the rocks trying to decide if I want to continue north, east, west or make my own path. I have learned despite two super “we caught it early” diagnosis’ and the psychological yo-yoing of a genetic mutation, the questions of am I taking it too seriously, not seriously enough, am I over or underreacting that rise are what everyone deals with. This is normal. What I know definitively is that scares and successes like this in my young life remind me that my quality of life is way more important to me than quantity of life. This is not a death wish, I love my life, I love my son, my family and my friends and my partner and my employees, my clients and my business. There is nothing like the joys I receive from positive energy and awareness of how lucky how I am that brings me closer to a divine source, no matter what name any one of us chooses to give it.
I like this part of myself, the ability to see goodness. It doesn’t always come easy because when people I expect goodness from let me down, it weighs heavy on my heart. But for the most part, the goodness and kindness always prevail and I am so lucky and happy when I can focus on this. Happiness always leads the way to strength and better composition in my core. This is beauty. This is healing. WOW. I stand in awe and bow to its divine power for sure.
Earrings + scarf from Jackies and flowers that came.
I forgot to mention this awesome heart rock I found on Thursday at 3rd beach to add to my collection. Heart rocks find me and I never find one when I am looking.