My Obstacle, My Way
In a million years I never imagined I'd be writing about the day my cancer came back. And yet, here I am. Twelve days ago, I met with my oncologist to go over the results of the biopsy that I had completed the day before Christmas. A routine oncology visit led to scans and ultimately the need for further diagnostic measures. I somehow gracefully underwent a procedure that literally utilized a small drill to take out a piece of my L5 vertebrae. I remember waiting for that procedure to begin thinking that this whole thing was insane, unnecessary, just jumping through hoops. In retrospect, the gratitude I'm feeling now for having such thorough and capable people looking out for me is infinite. Maybe I was just distracted by the reconstructive surgery that I was having that next week that I just couldn't fathom anything else going wrong. It's no secret that surgeries consumed my time and thought processes for pretty much all of 2021. I never imagined I'd begin this new year, my new chance at healing with a "you have cancer....again". I was shocked. I've spent the last twelve days playing that sequence over and over in my mind and also constructing my battle plan. I also needed to take really good care of my babies.Nothing matters to me more than providing some sort of security and stability for these loves of mine. For some reason, this life we are living constantly seems like it's trying to take that from them....not on my watch. I realize I've left many of you hanging after my last post, (sorry) but I needed this time to figure out what this all means for me before I could share it with all of you. Not that I have everything figured out, but I'm certainly stronger with each day and feeling more confident and hopeful as treatment looms.
I'm no stranger to obstacles. Hell, I feel like my superpower is finding even the slightest glimmer of light in the darkest of places.With every ounce of my being, I believe that there truly is opportunity in every obstacle....even when that obstacle means cancer has come back for another round. The tears I shed in the doctor's office twelve days ago, weren't really for me. I hated having to tell my children and my parents that this monster isn't leaving me alone just yet. But here's the thing, the monster doesn't seem bigger than me anymore. The first time I was diagnosed four years ago, I felt so small, so incapable. This time, I feel empowered, feisty and oh so capable! I'm ready to meet this head on and hopefully learn a lot more about myself in the process. My time is fragile, but then again, so is yours. I guess the difference is, this jolt of reality for me is the perfect kick in the ass for me to live the way I want to live. Be what I want to be and embrace whatever I want to embrace. I told my surgeon at my checkup this week that I'm still going to live a long life, be a little crazy and live in a really big way. His response was, "sounds like you are just going to keep being you!". One hundred percent...me, but even better. This isn't to say that I haven't had moments where my thoughts try to pull me down to a dark place fueled by fear and uncertainty. I'm constantly reframing my thoughts and showing up for myself by doing what I know works. About five years ago, give or take, a friend of mine recommended the book The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday. That book literally changed my life. When I was first diagnosed, I gifted this book to my oncologist as a way of letting him into my mind and soul and truly understand how I was going to tackle all things cancer related. It's been a hot minute since I've read that book, so I'm reading it again now. I'm only a few chapters in and I already know why I loved it so much. Here are some of the words, that once again jumped off the page and into my survival guide:
"From what we know, he truly saw each and every one of these obstacles as an opportunity to practice some virtue: patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice and creativity."
"This thing in front of you. This issue. This obstacle - this frustrating, unfortunate, problematic, unexpected problem preventing you from doing what you want to do. That thing you dread or secretly hope will never happen. What if it wasn't so bad?"
"You will come across obstacles in life-fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and again, that what matters the most is not what these obstacles are, but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming-or possibly-thriving because of them."
I could go on and on and on and on! Go on, read it. Your life will change for the better and maybe it will help you through the tough time you are having or prepare you for the unexpected, as it did for me.
Fortunately for me, my cancer is contained to a small portion of my L5 vertebrae. Tomorrow I will begin radiation of my lower spine to hopefully wipe out these, (sorry), fucking cancer cells. I will receive high dose treatments that should have me done with radiation before February rolls around. I will be switching up my monthly injections to include a bone strengthener and a hormone blocker that will take the shot away from my stomach (current injection site) and into my backside. (My kids think this is quite funny! ) I will begin taking an oral chemo regimen to wipe out any rogue cells. I have the best team looking out for me and I will be under an even more intense microscope than before. I feel in my soul that I can beat this. I'm grateful that, again, it is me battling this and not one of my children. I'm grateful for all of you and your incredible support. I started this blog so that others on similar paths would not feel alone on their journey. The support I have received from you all has me, most definitely, feeling NOT alone. From the bottom of my heart....Thank you....My armor is ready and my wings are stretched out, ready to fly. It's go time, Angels! Love to you all...Keep on Killin' It-M