A Life in (P)Review
I have an alert on my phone that pops up every Friday. It says very simply: "Farm Blog." I created this alert months ago to encourage myself to write a little something each week about our farm. So much goes on here that there's plenty to write about. The fact is, however, that so much goes on here I rarely actually have time to write. And these days my mind has been so focused on my health that talking about the farm seems trivial.
Cancer sure changes everything. This past month I spent a couple days feeling sorry for myself. I spent a couple more days feeling overly emotional. I spent even more days feeling drained of energy. Some of those depressed and emotional days I thought about everything I stood to lose: this life, my husband, my family, and the critters that I love, mainly. Then there were other days when I re-evaluated all of my plans, for this farm, for my career, etc., just to make sure it all still aligned with who I believe I am -- and what I aspire to be. I now feel inspired to be better and to do more, while also taking more time for me and for Randy. Suddenly the outside world seems way less important.
There have been other days, too, when I felt full of energy. More so than I have felt in months. I have the many supplements, an improved diet, Vitamin C IVs, and Randy's morning supply of fresh juices for me to thank for how good I've felt. The pain that I'd had in my bones for the previous six months or so disappeared in less than two weeks. I traveled for work these past two weeks and was unable to stick to the regime I have recently established. After three days away, while boarding the plane to return home from my first trip, I realized I was starting to hurt again. How quickly our bodies can heal. And how quickly they can regress.
Cancer is scary. But when you've been dealt a crappy hand, you have an opportunity to fix it. And that's where I am today. Staring down a fix-it barrel of opportunity.
Yesterday, Randy accompanied me to a doctor's appointment to hear the results of many recent tests. I've peed in cups, spat into vials, and been poked by needles. The cool thing is: I now know a ton of stuff about what's going on in my body. My blood was sent off to have my circulating tumor cells counted and tested. On a previous visit, my doctor had told me the treatments I would eventually receive would be aimed at getting me to below five circulating tumor cells per 7.5 ml. The goal: Get to zero, of course. But anything below five, he explained, is good.
Yesterday I learned that my cells drawn from initial blood tests (before starting any therapies) equaled 2.7. That's great. During our hours-long appointment, I also learned about how my body uses food, about the many genetic and cellular advantages and disadvantages I bear, about which chemotherapy drugs will kill my specific tumor cells, and about which natural substances will kill my tumor cells. The origin of the cancer was confirmed as breast cancer (that's a good thing). If it hadn't been, they would have had to go searching for liver or lung or some other such cancer. I tested negative for blood cancers, leukemia and the like. My blood work also showed no existence of any other tumors lingering in my body--only cells floating around looking for places to establish a new home. And a rather low number of cells, to boot. Yay. (Yay?)
My doctor has told me more than once that I am his perfect patient. I come to him healthier than most. I eat well, and I want to eat well. (Attitude is half the battle.) I found the cancer early; my tumor, now departed from my body, was the size of a blueberry. Most of his patients arrive, he says, with tumors the size of his fist. Other positives: I haven't had my immune system ravaged by previous cancer treatments, and my blood work looks great. I heard the words "genetically perfect" to describe my blood and "99%" to describe his certainty that I will be cancer-free and "healthier than I've ever been" in six months or less. I need to follow the protocol and then, when I'm better, become little miss "organic" girl for the rest of my life. That's what he told me. I can handle that.
He reminded me that patients oftentimes get cancer again around seven years post-remission. The reason? At the five-year mark, they feel cured of cancer and so they get lazy, reverting to previously unhealthy habits. If I want to remain free of illness, he insisted, I have to heal my body and permanently change my life. Consider it done.
This past month, I've received a ton of visits, notes, letters, cards, and gifts of encouragement, as well as donations to a GoFundMe account. I'm humbled by the love and kindnesses, even still, and I will never forget them. I've also been hit with a ton of questions and unsolicited advice, some of which seemed rather personal and some of which came from people I hardly know. That's to be expected when you go public with such an ugly thing like cancer.
Healing is a personal decision--in the same ways that we get to decide what we eat, whom we have sex with, and what (or whom) we worship. Those topics are off-limits for discussion, if you ask me. I'm happy to share what I'm doing in order to encourage others. But I'm not going to defend my decisions for what I do with my health. When it comes to my body, my opinion comes first. Randy's and my doctor's, an even second. And that's about it.
I apologize if I've seemed short or distant with any of you. This past month has been a hot mess called cancer. It's also been an incredible time of self-reflection and life-affirmation for me. Everything seems more lovely now, my husband more incredible than he already was, and life more precious. Rest and respite from the outside world is ever more important. My priorities are aligning, and as frightening as everything remains, priority alignment feels pretty damn good.