Yesterday was the 6th month anniversary of my cancer surgery. It's time to write the closing post to this chapter – thank you all for being patient. Some of you have sent cards or reached out on Facebook, text or called. I've experienced an amazing amount of support from familiar and unexpected corners of my life. I couldn't be more thankful!
First, I want to share a health update. I'm doing great! The surgeon, Dr. O, was pretty much amazed at my healing after 10 weeks. I was able to start increasingly longer walks within a couple weeks and more or less resumed normal activities at 8 weeks, off pain meds, etc. He said the cancer was 100% removed and considered the surgery a complete success.
My 3-month appointment with my hepatologist – the first of what I was told would be quarterly visits in San Francisco for the 'rest of my life' – was equally upbeat, suggesting the follow-ups could be scaled back. In fact, having transferred to a different team member who now has office hours in Sacramento, it looks like I will only have to visit the San Francisco clinic once a year or less to continue participating in the two studies I am in. At my 6th month appointment last week (in Sacramento, yay!), Dr. Y set a schedule for just one more visit before starting annual visits in 2020 with bi-annual CAT scans and labs.
In related news, the pathology report on my cancer is STILL NOT COMPLETE because (raise your hand if you are at all surprised) it was unusual in several ways: I had remarkably had NO cancer markers or symptoms, there were 'odd granules' found in the tissue, and something about some odd TB indicators – even though I have NO history of, known exposure to, or any current signs of tuberculosis. More information on this should be revealed at my August appointment.
During the weeks of recovery, it was wonderful to have my nephew's help for almost a month, especially when Dad took a couple of dips in health and he made a trip to the E.R. my first week home. A couple weeks later, in mid-December, Pop got a bout of shingles, reacted to the anti-viral meds and fell. Nothing broken, but he was admitted to hospital a few days and then 3 weeks in nursing care for conditions that we weren't sure were going to get better. My brother and wife returned to Grass Valley for another 3 weeks in Dec/Jan to help me arrange family finances, to wheel-chair enable the house and set up in-home care help for Dad. Turns out that, as Dad has recovered about 90%, the care helps me out more than him – freeing up a couple of days a week I can escape the house for some 'me time' – writing, movies and choir practice.
And contemplation - - - - *What Matters Most*
Two things inspire this post's title: I'm singing the solo part of a song by that name (me and Babs, ya know, "like butter") at the next Male Voice Choir concert; and the key scripture verse in a sermon about 'discernment' I shared a couple weeks ago at church:
"Why…do you labor for that which does not satisfy?" ISAIAH 55:2
I believe I mentioned in a previous post that such a life-significant event can (and probably should) lead a person to think deeply about the meaning of it all, if this second chance (next chapter?) is supposed to go in a new direction. And I really have had serious and deep thoughts about my current situation, working through occasional depression to discern my next steps and establish (maybe it's 'streamline') my priorities.
I was about 15 years old when I came to the devastating realization that I was ALREADY TOO OLD to start becoming an Olympic ice skater. Some things you just have to let go, ya know? We apparently have to learn this over and over.
I'll try to avoid a play-by-play, so here are the bullets of my progress:
· Bought (an almost) new car because after the "Check Engine" light came on AGAIN during my trip to S.F. I decided life is too short to have an unreliable car. (see pic)
· Joined my church, which is undergoing major changes, because – well, better late than never.
· Decided to withdraw from and/or shut down a few activities that I find I now have NO PASSION FOR.
· Adding mindfulness to my emotional diet as change is hard and the 'next thing' can be depressingly slow in coming.
· Come to (love/hate) embrace Amazon prime – my time is precious, and I love getting packages!
· Lost 30+ pounds with 30 to go – I'm really enjoying the payoff: feeling so much better about myself, and "lose it and live" is so much better than a second round of liver cancer…
· Changed my personal style a bit – I want people to wonder (ask?) what's going on when I actually wear color.
I said this post would 'close' this chapter, but I will post one more time (for those getting notifications and wish to continue this journey with me) to let y'all know where I will now be writing - a blog or podcast or something else I feel is in the works. Maybe it will be a private group on Facebook, but public Facebook brings me grief more often than not so I don't post often there. I'm rediscovering my 'calling' and letting any number of creative ideas guide its expression.
For now, I am blessed to be right where I am, and I am learning grace through patience and diligence as I embrace this guiding truth:
Because Thou art my help, I sing
in the shadow of Thy wings.