June 7, 2014

These are exciting times...

I am knee deep in summer session one, a condensed 8-weeks of course work! Between summer session one and two, I will be sporting 16 credit hours along with dedicating 2.5 days weekly, as a counselor, at my internship site. This is an exciting time right now! What an honor it is to be invited into the lives of individuals, walking alongside them through their journey of healing. What a gift.

There is much I could share, that has occurred over the past many weeks. Spending quality time with friends, sharing, laughing, ingesting tasty food and beverage, solving problems, and laughing more. Academically, I am reading, researching, writing, learning, and piecing projects together. Emotionally, I have been thrown a few curve balls but have recovered nicely. While there is a great deal of uncertainty that sits in front of me, I am filled with peace and immense joy.

I receive many questions regarding what is now known as “my health status”

Q: Have you started chemotherapy?
A: Been there done that and the oncologist does not recommend treatment, it will not extend my survival rate.

Q: How are you doing?
A: I am doing great, most of the time – I have my moments of sadness but for the most part, I am determined to live while I am alive.

Q: What about radiation?
A: Hell to the no!

Q: How is your family holding-up?
A: We are realistically optimistic and doing the best we can, given the circumstances, in each moment.

Q: So, what happens next?
A: I keep moving forward!

Q: Are you going to die?
A: Yes, I will die, we all will.

Q: Are you in remission now?
A: There is no remission to this diagnosis.

Q: What are you going to do?
A: LIVE while I am alive.

I hope that I covered the most common line of questioning. At this moment, I am choosing to not undergo any scans nor am I choosing to monitor my tumor makers. Prior to undergoing any type of testing, I ask myself, what will I do with the information – what is the purpose. Where I sit today, I am doing all that I can to move beyond this cancer diagnosis – I have already pulled out the big guns, from a treatment perspective. If I were to learn things were going south – I sense it would break my spirit. It is not denial, I know the odds are against me and living beyond the end of the year, will be beating the odds. Although I do suspect that I will choose to have my tumor makers checked in the coming weeks.  

Recently I came home and encountered a visibly frustrated and emotional husband. He began to share his frustration with individuals around us; the apparent lack of understanding and support of our situation. As I listened, he expressed that if I was doing chemo and “looked sick” there would be a completely different response from people. I said yes, this is truth. Let us be honest, when an individual looks ill or as though they have a struggle, there is an added extension of support and kindness. When an individual “looks good”, the perception is that, there is no problem. Curtis asked me if this response frustrated or pissed me off – my response was, not really. Look, it is what it is. As human beings, we are very much conditioned to be visual – if we cannot see it, it is not there. Awe, there is one exception, ones higher power. I find this quite fascinating.

My take-away from living this experience and seeing how it affects those around me is this; my families experience mirrors society’s typical response to mental illness. If you cannot see it, there is no reality to it – except when there is a reference to ones higher power, which is not seen. Why is this? Could it be there is a lapse in humanity? Is it an inability to believe there is something dark that is present – not fully explainable or understood? What I am trying to convey is simple – just because you cannot see “it” does not mean there is an absence of trials, struggles, barriers, or challenges. I do look healthy – I am feeling healthy right now, this is a good thing. Reality – statistically, my life upon this earth is short. This is heavy and humbling. My message to all that read these words: Challenge yourselves, know that many have trials that may not be visible, yet they are present and perhaps serious.

Where am I at right now? Oh gosh, I have to say that I am feeling on top of the world! I am thrilled to be growing and developing personally and professionally. I am fortunate that loving, fun, and authentic individuals increasingly surround me. What a gift it is that I am the recipient of encouragement, support, love, and positive energy. I have a supportive and loving family and friends. I am doing what I love to do professionally. I feel whole, fulfilled, and complete. I am at peace.

 Today I am hopeful~