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So Many Pills
I’m sitting at the computer in our office this morning staring down at a cupful of drugs and one glass of potion I have to swallow to get my day started. I’m not sure what to make of all of this. Of course I know that each pill and the powder that mysteriously melts away into a glass of juice serves a very important and necessary purpose, but it’s why I’m taking these yellow, neon orange, pumpkin orange, peach, pale green and white nuggets that’s got my attention. Instead, for now, I’ll reach for the cup of coffee that’s also sitting in front of me.
I’ve been distracted by what’s happening to me for a few days now. Ambivalence seems to be the feeling that’s most prevalent. I can’t decide if I feel sad, angry, frightened, stunned, hopeful or pragmatic – especially when I know that so many other people have faced or are facing situations and diseases much more catastrophic than mine. But the truth is, no matter how “non-catastrophic” my situation is, it’s still caused an upheaval to my life, to my new life with my husband, to my parents’ and sister’s lives, to my friends, to my work and play, and to my body.
Sometimes I can make light of my situation – Like when we were watching television last night, I looked at Nat and said, “Honey, could you get up and get me some brownies with banana pudding?” Nat looked at me with his brow crinkled. It was at that point that I knew I needed to “go in for the kill” and say, “Oh, come on, Honey; remember, I’ve got breast cancer.” Two minutes later, I had brownies and banana pudding in front of me!
Other times, in the middle of the night, I wake up with a start and shake Nat awake looking for comfort from a dream that’s so real that I need to check with him to make sure “it” isn’t really happening. That’s when I return to the only position – laying on my back – in which I can sleep, to feel tears of frustration rolling down my cheeks, mad that my already difficult time with sleeping is further compromised by the effects of painkillers and thoughts about this disease.
And then after sifting through yesterday’s mail, I felt light and happy after trying on a beautiful fuchsia hat I had just received, relieved to see that I would look just fine with a hat and no hair. But honestly, I’m still scared about the possibility of losing my hair – partly because my hair style is tied to my identity and I don't want to lose that, partly because if treatment causes me to lose my hair, I will be faced with an obvious visual of the aggressiveness of the chemotherapy and another reminder that I’ve got breast cancer.
I also think I’ve come to terms with the parts of me that have been carved away – my newly defined armpit and ever-so-slightly changed breast. At first I was annoyed that I would be having a part of me tampered with that has caused me no issues. One of my first thoughts was, “Why couldn’t I have had cancer of the bunion?” I would have happily made my way to the operating room knowing that I’d get a two-for-one special.
I am quite aware that the external impact of my surgeries is minimal and hardly life-changing. Soon, when my arm is able to stretch like it used to, I’m looking forward to wrapping my arms around and giving hugs, snapping a sheet over a bed that needs remaking, pushing a vacuum cleaner through the house and even mowing our newly laid grass. Within several months no one will know any differently, and I probably will even forget from time to time that my life experienced such a blip.
For the moment, I will continue to try to strike a balance, keep things in perspective and allow myself to feel all the emotions – ambivalence included - wash over me.
I imagine myself hugging all of you! Lisa
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I spoke too soon I told you I was keeping my hives at bay, and that same night I got a bad case of those itchy things! TAKS days are very quiet in the office no phone calls and no emails (very few anyway - only ones asking us to turn the bells off!). P and I are going crazy trying to get interviews in and making sure I have put the recommendations in for those she wants - and don't forget the summatives - who is coming when - where does everybody sign - the bell schedules are different so people forget when they are coming. VERY CONFUSING! Too much stuff for spring. I need a break. At least we are still laughing - either that is a good thing or we have really gone off the deep end. Whichever, we are still missing you and think about you all the time! Continue your blogs they are helping us understand what you’re going through as much as I'm sure it helps for you to write it all down and get it out. Take care, you. Love, S.
Sending you love and encouragement Dear Lisa, You are doing such a great job living your way through this. Of course, you have all these strong emotions about this 'blip': it's scary and unexpected. Your willingness to embrace it *all* -- feelings, tears, brownies, etc. will lead you to a new self on the other side of this challenge. You are *already* healthy and well, and your body is catching up fast! Best wishes and lots of love & prayers from Chapel Hill and a cousin you haven't met, L.
God must really think a lot of you Lisa, Somewhere in the bible it says that God won't put on you more than you can handle, I think, wow he really must think a lot of Lisa. You know as I read your update I see how he could think such a thing. You are such a trooper. And wow what an author! You should seriously think of writing a book. You had me laughing and crying all at one time. You have such a sweet spirit. I really look up to you. I miss you around here. Hugs and kisses, K.
Two down and two to go. TAKS went very well today. I think the vast majority of the students finished the Reading TAKS by 10:30 a.m. We still have a few still working. R. G. came out today to visit. All was wonderful. I had time to give him some of my "waxing eloquent." Mostly about needing more staff. I am sure every principal in the district asks for the same thing.
Ambivalent is ok. It is where you are right now. You are sad, angry, frightened, stunned, hopeful and pragmatic. Other people's illnesses have nothing to do with it. It is ok to say, "I know that others have it worse than me," but so what------ It is you dealing with you. Give yourself permission to feel all the feelings you are feeling. That is how you will get through the "wall." The cold waking up dream at night is something that someone as intelligent as you would do. Your creative insightful mind doesn't turn off with sleep. You are working through the issues in your sleep, and that is probably the best way to do it. The mind is a wonderful thing. It gets us through things faster than our hearts.
Lisa, your hair isn't you. Your breast isn't you. "You" is what is inside--the kindness, the love, the laughter, the understanding, the humor, the intelligence. None of us would be where we are at this minute without your influence. Your positive loving influence is what makes all of us better people. You are our role model. Of course, you have every right to feel the feelings you are now. It is a process, and you are on the road of change. It won't be bad change, but just change. Remember what we have said, "Flexibility is an important element of our lives." You are learning now how to get your "mind around this" in a way that you can control. You will do it. Don't doubt yourself, and keep thinking you can do anything for 6 months. (remember?) I love you, P.
Hugs And we hug you back!!!!! In my mind, no matter how "minor" our individual issues may seem in relationship to others', they are ours to bear and navigate. And taking them utterly seriously is definitely OK! From someone who has awakened in the night seeking comfort from pain and fear, to another, I wish many pink hat moments. J.
Holding You in the Light
Lisa, S.T. just gave me the link to your CarePages. I just wanted to let you know that you are in my family's prayers at home and at church and at Bethany College, via my oldest daughter. We will continue to hold you in the light, as my Quaker pastoral counselor used to tell me. And you know what? In the coldest darkest moments, I could feel that light's warmth. It feels like . . . well, imagine this: your huge community of advocates supporting you, all together with you at a huge sleepover with chocolate and chick flicks. (Gosh, I hope you like chocolate and chick flicks!) J.
Greetings, Dear Friend Man I miss seeing you at school. I have a terrible time not peeking in your office when I go by. TAKS - over but still weighing heavily on my mind. Freaks me out that ONE single test assesses what I've taught all year. I know there are more measures, but you know TAKS is the central focus. I thought the testing went smoothly. Hopefully the scores will be smooth, too. I'm going out to dinner tonight with an old friend. Can't wait! I rarely get to dine without three peaheads pestering me. Not much to say - just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you. Take care.
Prayers for Healing Dear Lisa, My husband and I have been good friends of Ami and Prue for many years. Prue shared with us about your illness. Last night at our home we held a prayer gathering for friends who are not well and need G-d's blessings for a quick and complete recovery. Your name was mentioned during our prayers.
May the power of the many voices give you strength and healing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. E. G.
thinking of you... Lisa Thank you for updating us. I love reading your posts; you are so expressive. I can feel everything you write. I agree with the previous post - you should write a book.
You wrote about not knowing which you felt: anger, sadness, etc. Grief is unusual and unlike anything you'll ever experience in life. Grief grips you and confuses you and makes you feel seemingly contradicting emotions all at once. To be able to express each one of those emotions and really LIVE each feeling is such a powerful place to be in life. You are right to feel a sense of grief for the changes in your life...the upheaval of what was normal in your marriage, career, family. But you can use that power and strength to get through!!! You are the embodiment of those words: POWER & STRENGTH XOXO, until tomorrow... M. :)
We are thinking of you
Hi again from Sanibel- Your Carepages messages are so full of spirit and courage- As so many friends and family- we too have experienced cancer and have tasted some of the emotions that are yours during these difficult days. That is not to say that makes it easier, but just to say that we are with you on this journey and want to send love. J.
Are you missing TAKS? In the midst of sorting and counting hundreds of TAKS boxes and answer documents and other 'specialty-type TAKS forms', I took a break to read your latest posting. Do you realize how inspirational you are to all of us? Your tenacity and bravery and eloquence shine through in every word you write. I don't envy you on this 'journey', but I am glad you have such a positive attitude for the ride.
We miss you more every day. Take care of yourself - eat lots of ice cream. Keep smiling. Turn out the lights, but keep on a lamp. Love, C.
Pink! Hi Lisa. I've decided that pink has taken on a whole new meaning to my world. I've always seen the pink ribbons, and I've done the walk. I've seen women with bald heads and caps and I've known what it's about. It's not until someone near and dear to me declared war against cancer cells that I TRULY got the message. The pink ribbon, the walk, the bald heads now mean more to me than I ever dreamed. They mean that there is a whole army of friends, family, and coworkers behind that person pushing and pulling and screaming for the loved one to keep going, don't give up, you can do it, I'm here for you, I'll even get you brownies and banana pudding. Oh, the things we take for granted! I will never take a pink ribbon for granted again. When you hurt, we hurt. When you laugh, we laugh. When you flip off a doctor, we cheer! You may be sitting with your pills, juice and coffee all by yourself, but you are not alone. We are there with you. I'll also give you a little warning that if you feel the need to have a pity party I will support you, but I won't support you staying there!!! I miss you dearly! By the way, Nancy Reagan said hello!!! A million hugs, M.
You writer you! Oh my, you are such a writer. You have certainly taken to heart G's words--"write about it." M. E. said it all--your voice rings through, and we feel your pain; we laugh with you; and we want to just read what you have to say over and over. You have to consider inspirational writing. Reaching out to hug you! S.
Hey :) Hi Lisa, I hope you are feeling on the up-and-up right now :) I've got to agree with your friends about your style of writing. You've definitely got the knack there. I can't think of anyone else who could keep me glued to the paragraph with just a description of pills. (I did have to look up 'pragmatic' though) If you ever write a book I'll read it... unless of course its some kind of wussy girl book.
Anyway I was thinking of you just now and wanted to say hi and to let you know that I was praying for you. I'll keep at the prayers until you are completely healed up :) E.
P.S. from my last post, it was in Exodus, not Leviticus
Thanks for sharing this time in your life with us. I have often thought about how blessed I am because of all the people I have come across on this journey of mine. I am truly grateful for knowing you. You know I'm not crazy about writing e-mails. I would just as soon holler at people as they go by the mailboxes. Just wanted you to know that your are in my thoughts and prayers. Well, TAKS is over, and I'm a little sad. I think I'm the only one who likes test days because it's so nice and quiet in here. I am so looking forward to summer around here. Well, I'm going back to work now because the natives will be coming soon. This is best part of day! Much Love, P. W.
Keep Your Faith Hi Lisa: If you get chance read the following verses: Romans 10:9-10; John 3:16; Mark 11: 20-25; Proverbs 18:21; Psalm 103:1-5; I Peter 1:24. Hopefully these scriptures will give you peace during your health challenge. Take Care, A.
Love to Lisa Hello my friend- I just wanted you to know that I have been praying for you and your family. I know that you will be fine as you are one of the strongest women I know and can take care of anything you face.(well almost anything except those dang dyslexia files that keep on making us all crazy).
Please know your friends from Dean are keeping tabs on you and send you lots of love. Love to you- J.
Hello from Austin
Lisa I just spoke with Nat yesterday. You are in my prayers and wishes every hour. I pray that God will give you the strength, courage and hope for handling everything that you have to deal with each and every day. J., M. and I are thinking of you and can't wait to visit. Please let me know if I can do anything at all for you or Nat in anyway at anytime...
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