Monday, June 13, 2016

simply living

Someone is always watching over me, so it seems.  While preparing for my MRI a week ago, I received a call about my PET scan.  Could I do it the 8th of June?  I had to laugh- of course I was scheduled to get the results of the test from Dr. Panwalkar on the 7th of June.  Lucky for me, when word made it back to Dr. P he simply said lets get her scanned on the 7th and I'll see her on the 8th.  

As I sat in the exam room waiting for Dr. Panwalkar, Annie peeked her head in to say hello and show me the cutest new picture of Grace, her puppy.  We chatted briefly and she wished me well. 

Dr. P strode into the room and over to the computer desk, flipping the screen on right away.   In a straightforward manner, he said "Well your PET scan report was good.  I just read the report- haven't looked at the scan, but lets see."

I'm still a complete rookie looking at scans.  But he spends his time orienting me to the various organs and directions we're going.  Its when he gets to the lungs that he slows.  "Here's the spot.  Lower left lobe of your lung, is lit up.  The radiologist says its consistent with inflammation of some kind."

But I don't feel relief.  My questions come into play right away.  Is it radiation scarring?  Is it treatment related? I have such a long standing history with Dr. Panwalkar, he seems to know he has to give me more to stand on.  
 As I ask the questions, and Dr. Panwalkar seeks to find answers to them, he decides to go back through old scans.

And there it is.  Glowing bright yellow.  In the exact same place. 

6 months ago my scan was clean, and 3 months prior to that was ok, but last summer before I started chemo?  My lung lit up in the same spot, as it is now.   That was not inflammation.  Therefore, this is most likely not inflammation.  But only time will tell.

So even though the report sounds really good?  Dr. Panwalkar most likely thinks as I do now, the new spot is cancer again.  And again I need his reassurance that we can formulate a plan A, and B or even C, for treatment. 

He says we can go back to Taxotere- weekly maybe this time.  And he stretches way back in my history and somehow remembers I stopped Halaven, after having a really good response to it.  So I can go back to that one if need be.  He names off several chemos.  I'm just not letting it all soak in- I just want to float on the surface right now.

Yet, Dr. P is throwing lifelines like he knows I need him to.  He knows.  So much space and silence sits between us, but he doesn't fill it with anything but what I can handle right now.  There's knowing in the silence.

We also go through my brain MRI, which looks precisely the same.  Stable Mable.  

He motions to the exam table and I climb up.  He repeats his instructions to me, even though I should have every part of the exam down pat.  But he listens to my lungs, and then takes a moment and simply rubs my back.  No words.  Just compassion.  Slow. Steady.  He then checks my eyes, my mouth, my stomach, my lymphedema- everything.  Then he thumps down my spine and I tell him its fine.  He stands then and pats that place on my back again, reassuring, and says "I think you are doing really good."  

He goes to sit down and I ask, "How are you, Dr. Panwalkar?"

"Me?"  He responds, sounding surprised.  "I'm doing well.  Thank you for asking."  

I tell him I see how the chaos of the construction, and all of the congestion going on in and around the hospital can be daunting on a daily basis.  So if he decides to move on- away from all of this- just let me know!  His hearty laugh reverberates through the exam room, but then he offers this gem- a life-preserver.  

"I'm not going anywhere.  Don't worry, I won't abandon you."  

With that I let go and feel all of the air start to expand my lungs again.

I may be treading water, but my head is still above the surface breathing oxygen.  I'll just keep swimming.  It's all I know how to do. 

A new treatment plan will take shape and the right time will come in the future.  

For now,  I'm just going to keep living in the "meantime." 

 It takes Rick most of the day Saturday to get the motor running on the boat.  With the hours of sunlight stretching into the evening, its time to go, despite our late start.

We're equally thrilled that Nolan decided he'd like to go.  He starts "remembering when..." on the quick ride to the lake and my mother's heart is brimming with the resonance of his sweet stories.  The summer we spent at The Miller's lake- weren't we so lucky they let us use the cabin for the summer?  Every detail he remembers and shares with us.  

The fishing starts off slow, little nibbles and bites.  We laugh at the little blue gills, and crappies they catch.  Then Nolan fights to land a northern that he lets his Dad hold up for him once its in the boat.  We're merely catching and releasing this day.

Once again, few words are needed.  It doesn't get much better than this. 

We end our night with pizza at Zorbaz.  I'm drunk with sunshine and being on the water and living with joy in the "in between."

We came home to conclude our weekend with game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  It was the most "on the edge of my seat" anxiety-inducing, intense hockey I've endured in a long time.

But in the end?  There he is, our #7 Matt Cullen, with the rest of the Penguins, winners of the Stanley Cup!!  

Tears of joy and celebration fall, as I watch Matt's family gather around him.  Much more Stanley Cup celebration is anticipated in the weeks ahead.  

This morning, as I ease into this week, I begin my day with Jesus Calling.  

Sarah Young

June 13th

I am creating something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into other's lives... My spirit flows through you to bless others.  Let yourself become the reservoir of the Spirit's fruit.

Your part is to live close to Me, open to all that I am doing in you... Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day together.  Enjoy My presence which permeates you with Love, Joy, and Peace.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

embrace the grace...

I'm not really sure when it started.  I get so dang tired of carrying cancer around with me that I don't pay a lot of attention to it.  But one day I stepped outside and whoa as I stopped on the top step, everything around me kept moving.  I felt like I needed to grab the pillar just to steady myself.

Within minutes, I was fine again, and off I went. It didn't happen again until I was in the car with Nolan.  Around a corner we sailed and my head?  Just kept on sailing as my stomach dropped and my heart started to pound- this must be what vertigo feels like?  What the heck?

Those initially fleeting moments start to add up after awhile.  And then... one day I toppled right over.  Oh I was probably cleaning up after the dog, bending, leaning, stretching, and then suddenly, flat on my bottom on the ground. It took a couple of tries to get myself upright again, I was so off kilter.  Uff da...  

Yet, I'm feeling so much better, in so many ways. My words flow more freely, with some chemo fog lifting.  I have more stamina for sustained periods, as brief as they may be.  I can dry a load of clothes and bring them upstairs in a basket.  However folding them after that... yeah... still a stretch.  Maybe the next day?

So as I collect the sum of all the parts,  I find myself confiding my dizzy and somewhat wobbly nature to Annie, the PA. She absorbed what I was saying and concluded with ordering a scan.  I'll be having a brain MRI later this week.  She also conveys to me that my tumor marker, has started to rise.  Sigh...

Crosby and I "get" each other on a whole new level these days too.  His seizures come in clusters now.  Sometimes within hours of each other.  Sometimes days in between. But as traumatic and hard as they are to witness, and for him to go through, we stick with each other, enjoying our better moments-together.  Rick and I are in the process of getting a consult for Crosby with a Neurologist veterinarian, in the cities. We need guidance in how to truly care for our dog, ensuring quality in his life. 

These times, when it seems we can't add anymore?  Grace rises up to meet us, and multiplies the abundant gifts in our ordinary days. We just need eyes to see, as we number our gifts that literally lie at our fingertips. 

  Annie concludes our appointment, then shares photos with me of her new golden retriever puppy- Grace.  And there it is again- just when I need it.  We talked about hockey, and dogs, and life- the good stuff... with cancer falling to the side again, like chaff from the threshing floor. 

So I'm letting go of all of these things... continually letting go.  And I'll embrace the grace, with eyes that see fresh every time I blink and focus anew.

Crosby loves his time outside in the shade.

Colton simply wanted to golf with his buddies, on his birthday.  That is one happy kid. 

I could do a whole post about the amazing meal sign-up we're just finishing.  Holy cannoli!  We've been filled with comfort foods, deliveries from our favorite restaurants, and surprise meals from people we've never met before.  We were nourished, both physically, and mentally, too.

This one just leap-frogged into adulthood!  No, he didn't actually get to road trip to Pittsburgh, but yes he can always dream a big dream, can't he?  Go Pens!! 

The Star Tribune ran a really great story today about Matt Cullen. It truly exemplifies who both Matt, and his wife Bridget have become and how they truly live the words they say... definitely worth the read! 

Rick and I felt lucky to surprise the boys with tickets to a Garth Brooks concert.  They only had one question... who is Garth Brooks? And who goes to Garth Brooks?  

So as we were walking up to the Fargo Dome doorway, guess who Nolan saw just off to our side?  A man trying to shield his face.  He was Carson Wentz, the newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles NFL quarterback from North Dakota State University.  Suddenly- Garth Brooks was very cool.

The boys outwardly appeared to enjoy themselves.  My fitbit was registering steps like crazy.  Then this... Garth sings this and with teary eyes, I video a small portion of it. 

Looking back on the memory of
the dance we shared 'neath the stars above;
For a moment all the world was right.
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
the way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance;
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance...

The concert ends and its a school night so we head home to get the boys to bed.  Rick and I wonder aloud, could we find 2 cheap tickets and go again over the weekend?  And that's when we hear what the boys really think of the concert- a chorus of "Hey me too, I want to go!" rings out and we know we've passed along our love of Garth Brooks to our kids.  

These moments are fleeting- but so worthy of collecting- they truly add up to what matters-like Buddha says in the end its these 3 things...

"... How much you loved, how gently you lived, how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you."  


When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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