Monday, June 21, 2010

Over the rainbow

Five years ago this summer, I was in Lake Placid. I was walking down
the quiet streets near the Mirror Lake Inn after dinner. From a nearby
house I heard Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, (who I totally just had to
google, may he rest in peace but what is up with that name?) singing
"Somewhere over the rainbow".

The song arrangement is mellow and serene, but it made me
overwhelmingly sad. I wanted to cry, standing right there in the
street. There were negative things going on in my head, and it
amplified them.

Fastforward five years...

I came late to the "Glee" bandwagon. I was dimly aware of it while I
was sick. I watched part of the next to last episode while the males
around here rolled their eyes and did everything they could to get me
to change the channel.

I watched the season finale, which ended with the teacher singing the
same song to his students. This time, the song felt very comfortable
and I couldn't immediately explain why, but it felt like a bookend for

In the past I have definitely gone through stretches where I complain,
complain, complain. I don't want to be that person anymore.

When I first got sick my friend gave me her copy of The Secret. I read
a few pages and got what I needed from it: put positive out into the

Since being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer I have tried to put
my feet on the floor every morning and hope for the best. I have
focused on getting things done one step at a time. Surgery. Done. Part
one of three treatments. On to chemo. Done. Now radiation.

When I had to go back into the hospital (an incision opened and I
needed IV antibiotics) I focused on feeling the love people were
sending to my phone. A couple of my favorite people snuck in to see me
and I delighted in having them just sit on the side of my bed and hold
my hand.

My facebook friends have been there 24/7 for me. Every day I wake up,
put SOME sort of cheesy little cornball Pollyanna sunshine status out
there, and get at least ten replies, scattered across the day, and it
helps me to feel positive.

I have been feeling physically very good the last few days compared to
mid-chemo. So mentally, I'm doing cartwheels.

Today at my radiation appointment I parked and recognized the people
parking next to me. The husband is the one in treatment. His wife
struck up a conversation in the waiting area by asking me how I was
managing to drive myself to my appointments every day. Because I am
bald, they assumed I was getting my chemo NOW because that's what some
people do - concurrent treatments - based on their particular
illness / stage etc.

It felt good to be able to encourage someone, to say, "you will feel
better before the next round. I felt as bad as you do now, and I never
could have driven myself here just a couple of days after chemo, so
don't be too discouraged about how you feel today."

We talked about food and when I said "try eating salmon" and he perked
up and said "that DOES sound kinda good" I felt like I had just hit
one out of the park.

When I am farther down this road, I am considering whether I would
like to either retrain for a career that combines technology and
treatment, or at least just volunteer in some way to help people
through this process.

Somewhere... that's where you'll find me.


emmay said...

That song is the background music for the photo montage of the girls that I send out at walk time every year, and each time I hear the opening chords, I think of my sweet little Amelia so frail and tiny and helpless, and I tear up. (I think of Anya too, but she was so much more robust at 3 lbs. ;) )

And ever since Amelia was born, I have wanted to go back to school and become a nurse. More specifically a NICU nurse. But the 10 grand I spent on my master pre-children is causing my better judgement to steer me away from that path. But the volunteering helps. It reminds me of how far we have come in six years, and it gives me immeasurable gratitude.
Doesn't it feel great to know you made a difference for someone, in some way, bug or small? And make something positive out of the hardest thing you've ever been through?
Keep going're great!

onescrappychick said...

Let me see if I can type through my tears... you are remarkable, and you touch more people then you will ever know. Keep fighting the good fight.. it is almost over. ((hugs))