Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Letter to my body

Dear Body,

Thank you!  You have put up with so much and are still here, ready for whatever comes our way.  When I was a kid you put up with broken fingers, twisted knees, sprained ankles, even a sesamoidectomy (look that one up on google).  In college you tolerated a night or two of too much alcohol and a cafeteria based diet that no one should live by.  After I was married you helped me to carry and then deliver my beautiful daughter and then recover from the experience. 

Most recently you helped me through the fight of my life.  Cancer was scary and terrible and painful and exhausting but you, body, stuck with it and here I am.  You dealt with high powered chemicals being injected into you.  You have handled countless x-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and MRI scans - who knows how much radiation and radioactive material that equals.  You not only accepted a whole new immune system but you figured out how to keep its strength in check while allowing it to fight my cancer.

In addition to the medical side of it all you dealt wonderfully with the variety of diets that I put you through.  From the apple sauce and jello diet, the popsicle and gatorade diet, the ice chip diet, the clear liquid diet, and (my personal favorite) the "wet" foods diet, you dealt with them all and sustained me throughout.  The "wet" foods diet raised a lot of eyebrows but you never questioned me as others did.  You never asked "what do you mean by 'wet' foods?" or "Why exactly isn't milk a 'wet' food?'  You accepted, without, question that "wet" foods was any food that tasted or felt wet, milk felt dry.

You have dropped from a, perhaps, too healthy weight (ie. maybe a little on the high side) to a far too low weight, and now up to a weight that we can all happily live with.  The low weight made it difficult to walk any distance without feeling week.  It made us think about going downstairs because we weren't sure if we would have the energy to get back up.  It made us take multiple hot showers each day to keep warm despite the 90+ degrees and 100% humidity. 

You, body, brought us through all of that.  You amaze me.  Thank you.

With Love,
Elizabeth

PS. My next letter will likely be to my brain...didn't want to exclude it in the thank you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letters...

In November 2010 I wrote 3 posts in a series titled "Who Am I", since then I've felt my postings have been a touch scattered and without an overall direction.  In an effort to focus (a bit more) my posts I'm going to start a new series that I am calling "Letters".  I don't yet know how many posts this will include so we can see together.

Today's post is a letter to a friend.  Some of you may read this and think you know who I am writing to.  But, honestly this letter is addressed to "Friend" and not a particular name because it could be a letter to many people.  If it strikes a chord with you than go with it...that is fine by me.

Dear Friend,

I miss you.  There are gaps in my heart as a result of your passing.  Pieces that went with you to wherever it is that you have ended up.  Heaven, reincarnation, dirt, whatever it is that is good and right for you and your soul and being.  I imagine you as a star in the sky, feeling no pain, no worry, and no fear.  Feeling all love and goodness and contentment.  I imagine that you are enjoying yourself as you watch those of us still here and smile.  I imagine you being welcomed by others.  Maybe people that you did not know in this life but who you would have liked.  You all are good to one another, as you were good to me in the time we spent together.  You teach one another as you taught me.  About love, friendship, courage, humor, and grace.  Dear friend I miss you.

With Love,
Elizabeth

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Survivorship

The following chain of events makes up the harder thing I have ever endured in my life: Diagnosis of non-hodgkins lymphoma, 3 types of unsuccessful chemotherapy, an experimental transplant and now survivorship.  I was so certain throughout it all that if I could just get to the other side everything would be ok.  I would be able to sleep through the night, I wouldn't need so many pills, I wouldn't think about my cancer every single day.

I suppose I should say here that I am truly grateful to be here today and recognize that it feels funny to complain about anything when not that many months ago a number of very smart doctors didn't think I'd make it.  But guilt aside, being a cancer survivor is hard work.  It is hard to see the scars all over my body, it is hard to take the almost countless pills everyday, it is hard to continue to get bloodwork even though my veins are basically shot, it is hard to sleep through the night, it is hard to remember that a cold can just be a cold, and it is hard to know that I put so many loving and caring people through so much. 

I look forward to the day that I wake up in the morning (after sleeping through the whole night) and the first thing I think of isn't cancer.  I look forward to the day when a trip to the doctor doesn't require deep breathing exercises and sometimes medication.  I look forward to the day when I can explain the last 2 years to my daughter so that they stop being something scary to her.  Basically, I look forward to feeling normal again.

I do not need nor want to go back to the way I was prior to diagnosis but a sense of normalcy would be nice.  A small sense that the whole world won't come crashing down in an instant.  Not so sure that is too much to ask.