Going There.

Chemo Infusion #5 in the books. It was uneventful and I had my favorite nurse, Kathleen.  She reminds me of my moms cousin Barb. If I could have her every time I wouldn’t mind going back so much. Thank goodness for amazing nurses.

We took our regular trip to Zingerman’s Deli after. I got a #76 and Jenn got her loved #55. I have found that after a year of being vegetarian all my body really wants is meat. I have been having a tough time leaning into that fact but this week I bit the bullet and decided that meat is part of my regular diet again – the amazing fried turkey may have  helped push me over the edge. I have made a request of regular fried turkey on the meal rotation. My lady loves me so she got another package of the brine she used on Sunday. She’s the bestest. I feel much more satisfied eating lately. The carb and sugar cravings are subsiding, although I will always want a good chocolate chip cookie 😉

We then took a much-needed trip to Bed Bath and Beyond for humidifers for our home. I have had a cold for about five weeks, Jenn about 6 weeks, and Sam is still trying to shake the remnants of his cold that started before ours. This morning was the first morning I did not wake up in dry throat and nasal cavity pain in about a week. I am very thankful for this simple solution and that it worked! About 3 minutes after stepping into the store my energy started to fade. This was a Facebook comment that was a good synopsis of the trip:

I am really woozy, sleepy and stupid right now. It’s stupid funny. Just got home from Bed Bath and Beyond to get humidifiers because our house is old, cold and dry. While shopping I found a bed to lay on at one point and thirty steps later found a chair with a chair massager. I was so excited! As I was sitting down Jenn pointed out it was not plugged in. I sat down anyway in the nobby chair and eventually shut my eyes for about ten minutes. In the checkout lane, I ended up sitting at the closed checkout in the lane next to us. I got through the store but man, that was tough. 😂 Now to be horizontal and watch dumb movies for the next week. Lol.”

We did end up going home and settled into watching movies. I pulled the cancer card to enjoy my teen flicks. We watched “Love,Simon” and “The Fault in Our Stars”. Whew! Two movies that hit me hard and good.

“Love, Simon” is about – “Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.” It is a great movie. Ella watched it when it came out and I have wanted to see it for a while. The theme of coming out resonated with me even though Simon is 17 in the movie and I was in my late thirties when I came out. There were so many subtle nuances of coming out that I could have never understood as a heteronormative ally. Luckily I was not outed as Simon was but I do know of folks close to me that were and it left a lasting mark. The complications of how and when to come out were overwhelming at times. I was also in the middle of a divorce that was unrelated to my sexuality that made it a bit more of an emotional rollercoaster. One thing that could not be covered in the film was coming out to my kids. That was a tough road for a bit. Overall the movie was unexpectedly validating of experiences I had when coming out. I loved it. The overall message was speaking out and speaking your truth. I am getting better at speaking my truth as I am getting older but I still have much work to do.

Next up was “The Fault in Our Stars”. This movie is based on a book by John Green and is about – “The story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old girl with thyroid cancer that has affected her lungs. Hazel is forced by her parents to attend a support group where she subsequently meets and falls in love with 17-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.” I had read the book this movie was based on so I was prepared to watch a cancer movie the day of my infusion. I think it was very appropriate really. I loved the truth of mortality and life in this film.  “Pain is meant to be felt” was a repeated quote that led to much honesty and appreciation to the fragility of time that we all have. There was a feeling of familiarity that I experienced watching this story unfold while also walking along my own journey with cancer. I really liked in the film that it addressed the experience of those who are walking with those with cancer, especially terminal – parents, friends, spouses. It is real, the complications of being the support of those with cancer. Some complications are glaringly obvious and others are so subtle they are often missed. Another interesting part of the story was one of the characters was in remission for 14 months with an 85% chance it would not come back which are the odds I have been given. Although it felt close to home for me I still lean on the 85% with positivity. The overarching message of the movie is life is meant to be lived and felt for all it is and sometimes it is pain on the scale at ten when we least expect it but worth the ride and the gifts hidden in the little moments as well as the big ones.

The following text was a blog entry I wrote last week. I was not ready to post it for reasons I could not identify. I did have my mom and Jenn read it as to not catch them off guard when I decided to post it if I ever did. When I wrote it it was very cathartic and ended in some sobbing tears as I probably needed it. After watching the movies last night I felt like I could make this blog entry in its entirety – it felt more complete.

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There is something that I have been hesitant to write about but has been on my mind a lot. October of last year my cousin passed away expectantly. This past spring another cousin passed away after her cancer returned. And the brother to my cousin that passed away in October passed away from a brain cancer early this summer. I distinctly remember asking the universe to take a break on my extended family. There were 13 of us cousins on this side of the family and now there are ten. I also threw out a ask to the universe to spare me from whatever was happening to the Colwell clan. Well, the universe listened I guess. It is still very jarring and surreal to me how close I came to a less than favorable outcome. I offer thanks repeatedly to the fact my cancer caused a blockage and was not sneaky and just growing somewhere random.

I surprised my mom and everyone else by showing up to my cousins memorial in Lansing about a week after I got out of the hospital. My mother gave me a lovingly scolding look when I walked into the room. She assumed I was going to stay home as any other sane person would have. It was not an easy trip but it was really important to me to show up to see family, some of which I had not seen in over ten years. It also felt good for me to show up and be able to say “I am ok.” One of my aunts sat next to me and we chatted about her hair loss through a health treatment she had. I spoke with another cousin of her recent health adventures and how she was healing. I got a chance to sit with my cousins widow and genuinely ask him how he and his daughter were doing. He was brief and honest as is his usual. It was an afternoon of good family conversations. I just wanted to go around the room and give everyone the biggest hugs ever

My one cousin had a few go arounds with her cancer before it brought her to the rainbow bridge. A few years ago our neighbor who was my age passed after her cancer came back. These stories and many more sit with me. My cancer didn’t get me. I didn’t even know I had it before it was taken out of me. I am doing chemo to attain 15% more to my 70% chance that cancer will not return. But will it come back? I am well aware that medicine is an art not an exact science. We have no idea why I got cancer or how long I had it. I showed up negative on all tests for cancer before my surgery. I hope I don’t get it again but I am also well aware that life can be random and I may land in the 15% of cancer coming back.

It is not a fear that is overwhelming to me or causing me anxiety – it just is. The good thing is that cancer and chemo is not a foreign entity to me anymore. Before my hospitalization and diagnosis I had more fear about the big C. Maybe it was the copious narcotic I was on in the hospital during the adjustment period to this new reality that has softened the blow overall. I did have a serious love/hate relationship with those drugs.

I get updates from my mom on how my aunt and uncle are doing after losing two of their three children. My mom and I chat about how they are role models of moving on with grace through a unimaginably difficult year. My cousin who is their third child is also an amazing beacon of strength. They are all very inspiring people.

I have walked though my home when I am alone and wonder what this house would look like if I were gone. Would my kids still live here with Jenn part-time? What would Jenn do with all my things or would she leave them where they are? Would she move on and date again? Would the dogs miss me? Would she leave Tomte (solitary, mischievous domestic sprites responsible for the protection and welfare of the farmstead and its buildings) up on the kitchen shelf although she thinks he is super creepy? Because of the nature of Jenn’s job we always talked about and prepared for her not being around. We never gave much thought before to the idea that I may not be around. In the end I think she would leave the Tomte where he is.

One question I have had more fun exploring is what would my memorial be like? What would people say about me? What memories would be shared? I don’t know if it is narcissism or curiosity running these questions but they are interesting to think about. I have made it very clear that I want a party not something heavy and sad. Celebrate that I  was here – dance, tell stories, have a big bonfire, it would be a pot luck because that is my favorite and absolutely eat cake! Of course the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in me would want to be there and I probably will figure out some way to hang out like Yoda on the bridge in the Ewok village.

I hope we all live a long life together but today is what I have – so I will go to yoga, meet up with an old client, make dinner, enjoy my family go to sleep and awake tomorrow for the gift of another day.

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