Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 29th. An historic day. CELEBRATE!

Tomorrow is Friday, April 29th. At just after midnight, Pacific Time, an event will occur that may or may not be on your radar, though people across the globe should probably be celebrating it.

Pomp! Circumstance! Tradition!

April 29th is Neil's birthday. He will be 38.

I need to point out a few things about my husband, reasons why he should be celebrated. He would certainly never do it himself.

1-Neil is made of steel.

I'm not just referring to physical toughness, though he IS one bad mo-fo. I mean strong and steady in the holistic sense. He passes every stress test he's given, quietly and consistently. Life has certainly thrown him 17 innings of curve balls in the last year, yet he never wavers, never complains--not ever. Just being around him makes you believe you can be that strong, too.

2- Neil lives for the people he loves.

I think there's a profound wisdom in the way he lives. He keeps it honest, simple, real, and light. He doesn't need a lot of "stuff", and there's never a shred of hubris. He's happiest when he's outside, in the mountains, on the beach, or just in our backyard, with his people.

3-Neil is a huge reason I'm alive.

People sometimes tell me I'm strong or brave. I've received a lot of nice accolades for how I've navigated this cancer suckfest. But let me stress something: There is another person who deserves to hear every praise. Neil has also fought this thing every step of the way, right at my side. In the times where I'm scared to the point of insensibilty, Neil is with me in the darkness, listing the reasons I have to be hopeful. Showering me with his belief in my strength, even when I can't see it.

Cheesy phrases like "unsung hero" come to mind, as do cheesy songs, like "Wind Beneath my Wings". But as I said, those are cheesy, and they would dork up my blog, so I won't mention them here.

Instead I'll call him the "Unrecognized Champion", or "The Air Pressure that Keeps My Plane Aloft". It's after 11:30, and my eyes are starting to cross... and I've got to wake up in 90 minutes to watch the pre-wedding coverage...

Happy Birthday, Neil. xo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Persistency. Not always a good thing.

After today's PET scan, I learned that the little spot in my lung is indeed cancer growing back. It's little, and it's at the former tumor site, which is good in that it's not anything NEW. My next step is to report back to the CyberKnife folks toute suite, do not pass go. Which I will do, right after I take a quick trip to coastal Georgia where it is sunny and 80 degrees.

And when I return, invigorated, I'll be ready to blast this latest bit of cancer to smithereens. I know what I have to do, and I will do it.

I don't have much else to say on the matter, so perhaps the best thing to do now is to quote Joan Crawford (Isn't that typically the best thing to do at any given time?):


Monday, April 11, 2011

See Spot. See Spot Burn.

The found a spot in my lung on my last CT scan. They can't tell from a CT scan if it's cancer, or just a weird spot. It's located right on the site of my former tumor. There's a CHANCE it could just be healing scar tissue. But I kinda think it's probably a little cancer growing back, cancer that never really died.

To find out what this spot is, I've got a PET scan scheduled this Wednesday.

If it is in fact more of the shit-for-brains cancer, I'll likely get radiation. Heck, maybe more CyberKnife! It'll be nice to don the ol' CK track suit again. (If only that meant "Calvin Klein tracksuit".)

As for my spirits, I feel rather calm about things. After a brief initial freakout, of course. I'm getting adept at handling less than optimal news. A skill I wish none of you have the occasion to acquire. I am fully aware that this is all happening, but it doesn't ruin my day by any means, and in fact, for a good part of the day I sort of forget about it. Then I remember, and a slight cloud reappears. But overall, I feel happy and healthy as hell, and I find myself laughing and "being Shelly" as much as I ever have. And these are the reasons I am not hysterical.

1- If it's cancer, it's tiny.
2- CyberKnife works on lungs. And CyberKnife works.
3- This wouldn't be NEW cancer. It's on an old site. New cancer is scary cancer. (wait: does that mean old cancer is friendly cancer?) HELLS NO.
4- This sucker is not going to kill me.

So there's the 3-minute update. I'll let you know when I know what the plan is from here. Perhaps I will know by Wed night. I hope so, because on Thursday morning I'm headed to Georgia for the wedding of one of my favorite people on this planet, Y'ALL.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No new(post)s is good news

Good lord, I realize it's been almost a month since I posted anything. "What gives, Shelldogg?" I don't have an answer to that, or perhaps more accurately, I haven't thought long enough about it to posit any theories. Give me time, I'll pop one out by the end of this post. UH-OH, IT'S A STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUS POST. Somebody get this girl an editor, please.

I feel like I should follow up on the various open storylines from my last two months, then we can march onward!

1- Surprise, surprise: Kauai was awesome. Yes, the tsunami came, no, it wasn't bad, though certainly interesting.

2-I will not know the actual effectiveness of my CyberKnife procedure for several months. Apparently, my liver will still gleam radioactively on a scan for some time, making it difficult to see what's actually happening (or better yet, not happening) in there. But soon, the dead tissue will darken, and all will be clear. I know it worked.

3-I do have a CT scan on APRIL 7 (next week), to see if the rest of me remains clear and normal. To me, this is really the crucial question. We knew the liver spot was probably still there. We know CyberKnife works. The scary thing would be if something new was suddenly growing. Because that would mean....IT'S ALIVE.

4- Based on the scan, we'll know what my treatment plan will be from this point on. Currently, and for the last few months, I have been on no medicines. Avastan injections may resume soon, continuing potentially all summer even if I'm symptom-free, reminding me with every poke that yes, this cancer I had was a very big, bad one, but I am somehow beating it.

5- I feel SO VERY WELL. Normal. Healthy. Strong. Unafraid. Balanced. Grateful, even. With a bourgeoning sense of perspective. I think about cancer less and less all the time. I guess that's why I haven't been writing. You know I'm truly feeling okay when I pour my energy into living my life, not writing my blog. Take Q4 of last year as an example. Remission hit, then the radio silence began. AND THE READERS WEPT! (Ok, there it is. The answer to my opening question. I knew I'd figger it out by the end of this entry).

BUT, 6: I still have lots to say, many thoughts, coming at me quicker than I can possibly write them down, on topics more interesting (to me, at least) than the inner-workings of my mind as I navigate yet another cancer procedure.

What is the so-called "gift" that cancer brings? What minuscule rubies have I found embedded in that burning box of shit on my doorstep?

They are starting to reveal themselves to me, subtly. Everywhere, all the time. It can't be summed up in a word, more as an evolution in my perspective. Sometimes it arms me, sometimes it steadies me, helping me cast away the inessential stuff and to feel light about things.

I don't mean to get heady on you here. I suppose I just want you to know, whomever you may be, that I don't view this entire experience as a loss. But I'm not ready to call it a gift, either. I need to get a few years behind me first.