Monday, April 11, 2011

Little Fire

I got the all-clear call today that pathology came back as negative (for sure for sure) on the sentinel node biopsy. I guess in 20% of the cases it doesn', glad that I didn't have that to stress about over the weekend.

Of course, it can't be all smooth sailing. Oh no, the body has to keep you in check and so I am going to UM tomorrow to have a little swelling issue checked out. It's likely not a big deal, it's just that one of my girls is, um, larger than the other and I need to have someone give me the all clear. I find that I am like a pendulum swinging between being a raging hypochondriac who checks her temperature every 5 minutes and, well, my mom who would say "I'll just take this antibiotic left over from when Hunter got sick in 1984 and everything will be fine." I mean, less than two months ago I was not "sick". I was sitting in my living room stuffing envelopes for a SK event chattering on about how I needed to get a mammogram because I had a little thing to get checked out. Now I am "sick". People look at me differently although nothing has changed. One family member said I had lost weight (I am, actually, shorter and fatter than I thought I was, verified by the incessant weighing and measuring at appointments), another was amazed at "how good I look". Others just kind of look at me with this really sad look. And so I make a lot of jokes because it not only helps me (and man, does it help me!), but it cuts the tension of what could be really. fucking. sad.

I was im'ing with a friend the other night and told him that I had this image in my mind that I was standing on a beach facing this wonderful group of friends and loved ones with my back to the water only to realize that the concern on their faces reflected the enormous tsunami rising over my shoulder soon to wipe me away. That I am ignoring the impending months of hellish chemo and healing thinking that I will be fine, just fine, totally fine when in reality everyone sees something that I don't.

Instead, he told me that the faces of friends were just reflecting the love and concern people have and they were waiting to see what I needed from them, how they could help best. It was such a zen thought. It's all about love or fear, the two greatest forces in the world. And instead of reflecting fear, I am choosing love.

Through the past few weeks, I have realized just how lucky I am right now, in this very moment, with this very diagnosis. I am not my friend's story of being diagnosed stage 3B with two tiny children at home and "possibly" a year to live (she just celebrated 6 years, btw). I am damn lucky to be negative for lymph nodes, to have caught this early and looking at the possibility of a very likely long life unless I get stabbed by a sting ray or hit by a car while texting and walking across the street.

And, in truth, I guess it's better that I don't know if the tsunami is going to drag me under for awhile. I now realize that you, the folks on the beach, are my higher ground, the ones who have the line to throw out to me and tow me back in, the ones who will hold the lantern and brave the elements with me while I cast about on the shore looking for some of the things that I have lost or that have been taken from me.

We are all we have...each other to comfort in the shitty times and to celebrate the good. Part of life is letting people love and care for you. Part is being that shoulder for another. Part is knowing the privilege of health and not having to go through what others face. We are all we have...each other.

On March 29th, I made this little note for myself that I think describes how hard it is sometimes to let people love you, to let people care, to need help:
"Unleashed the email and the news has gone viral. Squirming from so much love and attention being thrown my way. It’s a weird sort of hair shirt…but one I am going to have to learn to endure and appreciate as it will be the thing that keeps me from the cold."

So I didn't intend for this to be a morose post. I intended to say "Whooo hooo! All CLEAR for reals!" and I am celebrating it. But on a much deeper level, I am thinking through some deep and complicated feelings about love and care and acceptance and appreciation. Love to you all. Thanks for everything.


  1. I'm glad that you are getting this out. Just so you know, I told you that you looked good because you were managing to look totally together while hosting a party in place of your husband 24 hours after surgery with a child in the ER. Just writing that sentence is putting bags under my eyes! The love and support is 100% real.

  2. Fran, don't text while walking across the street. If you need a nice, long, flat stretch to walk down with minimal cross traffic, I recommend S. Industrial - the W side is a long, long, long stretch of sidewalk, no shade, no cross streets, only a few driveways, just walk all the way to the end and then back again.

    love back at ya


  3. @JBG: it wasn't even you! I had forgotten about that. What a night!
    @Ed: nooooo, me? Text while walking? Naw (sheepishly puts iPhone in pocket)

  4. ...walking right alongside you the WHOLE way. ;)

  5. Somehow you manage to spread sunshine on a cloudy day (badumpdump). Sorry, but it's true. You're not alone in this and YOU'RE the reason why. Great news and thanks for sharing!

  6. i love the way you share this fran. the love and fear that we all find ourselves walking between each day. so glad you are turning into them and sitting with them both, letting fear exist yet not take over so that the love can truly seep in.

    hugs my dear dear friend.