“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
I sat filling in my 1,000 gifts journal. Its been the best therapy for me when I am at Roger Maris for cancer treatment. I still my mind and reflect over the gifts I can offer up. I never mind waiting, and am always amused when they apologize for having kept me too long. Little do they know, it only lengthens my gratitude.
The kids are getting out of school as I am called back to an exam room. The center is so busy due to the holiday, that they put me at the end of the long corridor in a room that isn't Dr. P's. They page him so he can find me. Everything about this day has been so out of the ordinary that I keep thinking "What next?"
I giggle as Dr. P walks right past me, and seconds later turns around and comes from the other direction. He literally bursts into a big smile when he sees me and then enthusiastically says "nice wig, very attractive on you." I tell him how everything feels different this day. Rick is working, my appointments have always been early mornings, and its my first time to see Dr. P by myself.
He asks how I am doing and goes through his list of questions. He tells me my bloodwork is good and I can do chemo. I tell him about my hot flashes and assume the chemo is shutting off my estrogen and putting me into a sort of fake menopause. And this triggers something in him.
He starts to read through my history. He tells me my tumor markers have been stable a long time now, and stable cancer is always good. Then he flashes a smile at me and says "How would you feel about taking a break from chemo for awhile?"
It takes awhile for me to completely grasp what he is saying. I will always have to do Herceptin, so I will have to go in every three weeks for infusion. But instead of Halaven I would take a daily pill called Tamoxifen. Its a step below chemo, and acts against the effects of estrogen in breast tissue. But it won't wreak havoc on my blood counts. My body can detoxify and rebuild. At some point the cancer will probably progress or show up in a new place. But since we know I have responded to chemo in the past, I will likely respond again.
He says my hair will start to grow back. And he says I won't need to seem him for 2 months!
I sit there beaming... hardly able to really take in what he is saying. But what I know is its a gift. And to affirm that he says, "Go enjoy your summer."
I'm so literally swept up in the moment I ask if I can hug him. Now he is always very formal and respectful, rather soft-spoken. But he lights up instantly and enthusiastically says "Sure you can!" So I do... and low and behold, he hugs me just as hard right back...
I tell him how much I truly appreciate everything he does for me... and he says... "well lets just keep working on keeping you here as long as we can."
I cry the entire drive home. I cry for the reprieve I feel. I had no idea how much I've been holding my breath... but once I exhale I cry for the sweet release it brings me.
When things get out of the ordinary- maybe we're just supposed to go all in. Instead of trying to fight our way back to ordinary- same- comfortable. Just keep going... unwrap the unexpected gifts- on the other side just maybe is "God's belly laugh."
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