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It's A Lot
I'm surprised and, at times, somewhat disheartened by two things lately - my lack of concentration and my lack of physical stamina. I feel confident that both are a result of cancer, yet it’s not cancer cells that are taking over my brain and crowding out the brain cells that allow me to focus. It’s not that cancer cells are sucking the life out of my body in such a way that my energy is sapped. Rather, it’s learning to accept the presence of something unwanted and taking the necessary steps to eradicate it, and this I believe, must be responsible for operating at a deficit.
From a physical standpoint, I had no appreciation for the profound impact multiple surgeries would have on my body. Before cancer, my most extensive surgery was having my wisdom teeth extracted, and recovery from that was a cake walk in comparison.
First of all, I didn’t realize that going under the influence of anesthesia not once, not twice, but three times in one week could take such a toll on the body. I also I struggled with quite noticeable and draining pain in the first couple weeks after surgery, but once my two-week course of narcotics was up, I was able to manage occasional aches and pains with Tylenol. And it’s only when I look at my right side in the mirror or overstretch my arm, that I remember that I’ve undergone something pretty dramatic.
With all that said, by the time the major pain subsided, the tube was removed and I could, within reason, do most of the things I used to, I have to stop and think hard about why I tire by mid-afternoon, have to sit down more frequently or am out of breath when I climb a flight of stairs. It’s always more apparent to those around me, but sometimes I forget that I’m recuperating from something more than just a wisdom tooth extraction.
As far as the lack of concentration, I feel pretty confident that facing and figuring out how to absorb all this new and unexpected information, in addition to coping with the "assault" to my body has somehow traumatized me. I’m also not quite sure how to file all the information in my head. The experience continues to feel surreal, and I’m often taken aback when it dawns on me (again) that “I’ve got the cancer!” (The Debra Winger line from Terms of Endearment that keeps rerunning in my head...) In fact, I find that I’m on a sort of autopilot especially when I’m talking to others about my experience. I suspect that this may be due to the fact that I still am in shock and a certain amount of disbelief that I must live in a much different way than I ever expected.
Given that coping with the information related to cancer and dealing with the physical rigors that must be endured because of cancer has definitely been a pretty big “something,” I continue to come to terms with where my body and head are each day. Ultimately, I know I will do what’s necessary to put my body back together again, and I will reorganize my head so that cancer has its own spot in my brain’s filing cabinet.
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Good morning! I went to the doctor yesterday because I had a sore throat. I thought it was from a sinus infection, but it ends up that I have tonsillitis. As the doctor was informing me of this I was fast forwarding to the summer and visits with you. I wanted to say to the doctor, "I can't have tonsillitis...my friend has cancer...pick another illness that isn't contagious!" The good news is that it is only temporary. I'm off to rest and I hope you will do the same today!!!
Rainy Sunday Hi Lisa: Just want to say "Hello". Having a thunderstorm right now. We need the rain. Hope you are doing okay. Happy you can go to work, helps keep our minds occupied. You and Nat have a great day. Love, A. J.
Back at work I'm glad that you are back at work. I know that being around all the supportive Goodson Grizzlies will help your spirit. They are an unbelievable group of people. I hope to see you on Tuesday for Curriculum Council even if it's only for part of the day. Let's plan to go to lunch. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Love, J.
Hey, Lisa. We at Goodson are so thrilled to see you in your rightful place behind your desk or leading meetings. May I say you're handling your return with such grace that at times I find myself shocked when I momentarily forget you have cancer? Your indomitable spirit is an awesome thing to witness. I feel lucky to be considered your friend. Continue your battle with this incredible approach as you are currently, and I hope we can all soon forget you have cancer, as the cancer will be a thing of the past. Love, D.
Greetings from South Africa! I wanted to make sure you remembered everything that was happening around you as you keep everyone posted - so what better reminder of where I am than a note from South Africa. Gary and I arrived on Saturday after a LONG flight. Today is Tuesday and just today we (and the rest of the students) received our bags! We were all delighted to have them back in our possession.
The last several days have been excellent with a capital E. Our drive from Pretoria to the Southern African Wildlife College was truly spectacular. The views are so impressive. Today was a trip to Moholoholo Rehab Center and the Khamai Reptile Park. The rehab center allowed students to get up close and personal to some wildlife but also provided them with another side of wildlife management - or at least gave them the chance to see how others view management with differing lenses. The reptile park got us up close and personal to some of the most poisonous snakes in Africa (puff adders and black mambas - keep breathing Dad, we are all fine). Tomorrow we head to Kruger National Park for 2 nights and 3 days.
I think of you often and it has taken me a while to get used to not calling in every day or every other day. I am sending you a BIG hug and will so look forward to spending time with you in July. Sending you lots and lots of love- Kelly
greetings from Geneseo Hi Lisa, We have gotten caught up with your extraordinary journey. Thanks for all of your beautiful and heartfelt writing. We send love and energy your way. B. L.
Best Wishes from Israel As usual, I am the last one to find out about anything. Lisa- although I've never met you, what I can tell from your updates is that you are a woman of uncommon strength and self assurance...and if Nat married you, you really must be someone special. By the way, I wear hats or scarves every day (no bangs) and I'd be happy to send you some. I'll be going to the Western Wall in Jerusalem tomorrow for Jerusalem Day and will put in a special prayer for you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Much Love, E. D. G. (Nat's cousin) and Family
Hi! Just a quick note to let you know I'm thinking of you. It's been so good to see you back in your office, & you're looking great! I can't believe it's almost the end of the year! The older I get, the faster time goes. There really aren't enough hours in the day.
I've had a great bunch of kids this year. They are taking the TEKS test tomorrow & should do well. More later...the day begins! C.
filing system. Hello! It has been really nice seeing you at work...I could tell the other day when I saw you that you were out of steam. :) At least you are learning to listen to your body's cues and slowing down when necessary.
I love the image if your brain's filing system. It reminds me of the movie BRUCE ALMIGHTY when there was that huge filing cabinet representing his life. Traumas in our life don't seem to have a proper place in our minds - it's like our brain is rejecting the idea that something horrible can happen. Our thoughts wrap easily around joys, but fears and pain seem to float around aimlessly, trying to find a place to rest. My prayer will be that you will be able to accept that the cancer is present, but fleeting!! That you will be able to come to terms with your situation...knowing that this is something you are going THROUGH, not something that defines you. Blessings, XOXO M.