Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

I'm pretty sure that it wasn't a day like today, where the sun is shining through the windows and my beautiful girl is playing "Ode to Joy" on the piano just feet away. And I am pretty sure it didn't even occur to me when I made the biopsy appointment that my official "diagnosis day" was going to be St. Patrick's Day. And I know exactly where I was on March 21st, 2011, the day I will always think of as my own personal "D day".

It's been 365 days since I sat at my desk and heard the words "cancer", "Invasive Ductal Carcinoma", "grade 3 tumor", and "breast surgeon". The capable side of my brain had clicked into gear and I was dutifully writing down everything the radiologist said, asking the right questions, knowing that my husband would want to know the details so he could launch his own fact-finding mission.

And then there was the call to Nick, which brought it all to the surface and the second call to my dear friend Ashley who was wired for Ann Arbor breast care doctors and the third to my sisters. And then the numbness of that hour and fifteen minute drive home when I just didn't know what to do, think or feel.

I sit here a year later, feeling like it's been more than a year and in some ways wondering where the time has gone.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
365 days.
12 months.
1 year.

When people told me it would be a year of my life, I screamed. I was furious. "I don't have time for this! I have a new job! I'm turning 40! It will NOT BE A YEAR!"

But it turns out that it's taking more than a year of my life. There is the year of fighting cancer, of re-arranging your body to keep it safe and re-arranging your life to up your chances of survival. Then there is the next year of your doctor telling you that you have to lose weight, that you have to get back in fighting shape. Yes, fighting shape because you are still fighting. And one year stretches to five and your "illness" becomes something to manage long term.

And the only thing that gets you through, the only thing, the ONLY thing is the love of people around you.

So today I am thinking about those five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes that have moved through my life this year. As I am typing this, the beautiful song "Seasons of Love" from the musical RENT keeps running through my head.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It's time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

If I could to add my own minutes, they would be measured in:

special dinners delivered with love
minty rosemary spray
threats of pink jumpsuits
wigs from friends
Hermes scarves
sisters' love
rides to chemo
hugs from co-workers
cinnamon rolls
special bracelets
I love yous from my children
strength from my husband
curiosity from Kindergarteners
stolen hours at chemo
breakfasts at Zola
understanding bosses
cheers from my wise elders
missing my mom
love of the fuzzle from my niece
thoughts of fairy-dust shooting nipples
beautiful parties
hugs from friends
clipping shears
coffee between labs and infusion
the smile of lab techs
occluded veins-because they should be
learning to accept appreciation
carpool talks
deep conversations with total strangers
hearing everyone-knows-someone's chemo story
cake appearing out of nowhere
looking forward
looking back
looking forward
looking back
looking forward and forward and forward again.
more things than I could ever describe here

So I end today wondering what this means for this blog. What started out as a quick way to update people on what was up with my health quickly morphed into a space for me to get out what I was feeling about working through treatment and all that went with it. It's been amazingly cathartic for me. But is it over now? It feels incredibly ego-centric to keep writing. Surely this has been enough about me to last a lifetime. Or do I say "screw it" and just keep writing about this next phase of rebuilding my health and not worry about burdening people with more stories? It's hard to decide. Part of me wants to keep writing so that there is a time capsule for my kids to reflect on when they are old enough to wonder what happened in those days. Another part of me recognizes that this year has come to a close. I just don't know. Maybe you could let me know.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan

Here's to the planning. Thank you for every minute...
that I can measure in love.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Checking in

Day three in the hospital down in the Big Easy and things are going really well. This experience is so different than the last. I feel safe and secure, comfortable with what is happening. And, the weirdest thing is that I have boobs again. Seriously, it's weird. You get used to what you have, what has happened, what you know. I'm not sure how they did what they did, but they are less Frankenboobies than I thought they'd be. We'll see. I came here hoping I'd have a Mardi Gras-worthy rack :)

So, things are going well here. Thanks for all of the love, support, positive vibes. Lisa comes in on Sunday, Nick goes home for a few days.