Up until two years ago, I was always very active. I was very connected to the earth and would be outside, hiking, biking, backpacking, planting or building something. Then I messed up my left knee, which required surgery. The surgery was successful in that the knee was no longer painful, but it took a long time to get the flexibility and strength back in it. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer (for the second time) and had a double mastectomy. That surgery went well but it took a long time to get my upper body strength and range of motion back. Since my cancer was estrogen triggered, I began a hormone therapy to kill all the estrogen in my body. That gave me wicked hot flashes and night sweats. It also slowly began affecting my joints. Within months everything hurt and I often needed help just to stand up out of a chair.
Just when I thought I was recovered from the mastectomy, another spot of cancer was found on my chest wall, requiring yet another surgery and then radiation. That surgery was a tough one and the six weeks of radiation just wiped me out. When I finally finished with that, I tore my other knee and had one more successful surgery but a slow rehab.
Meanwhile without being able to do all the physical things I need to do to ward off anxiety, my PTSD started crawling right back. Emotionally I was going down hill quickly and falling back into old patterns of fear and withdrawal.
Then the genetic testing of the second cancer came back with a strong possibility of recurrence and my oncologists recommended an oral chemo – just to make sure we got every last cancer cell. The first few weeks I was doing fine – noticing a growing fatigue but otherwise okay. And then I hit a wall. My body hit the proverbial last straw and began rejecting the meds in a big way. Vomiting and diarrhea became violent. Sick didn’t come close to describing how I felt. Until one night I was so weak, I literally shat the bed. Martha helped me to the bathroom and then left me there to go clean up. Feeling so miserable I couldn’t even sit on the john, I lay down on the bathroom floor, totally spent, and said “no more.”
And at this point I have to say how much I admire those folks who have no choice but to go through it. Multiple times a day I think of them and send gentle, healing vibes into the universe.
I decided that I would take my chances and stop putting all the poisons and other drugs into my system. And I really started to think about my life priorities. Martha asked if I had a bucket list and all I could come up with was that I would like to see New Orleans, the grounds at Biltmore, and to climb the last three mountains of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks that I had not topped. (two items complete, the third will hopefully happen in May)
I realized when I looked at that list, that I was already a very happy person. I have a life many people would envy – a fun, long term, supportive relationship with my best friend, healthy, loving kids, a career I love that is deeply very satisfying, amazing friends, many opportunities and abilities to help others, and a strong spiritual connection to the beauty and energy in the universe. I really want for nothing.
It didn’t take long before my body began bouncing back after stopping the meds. Everyday I felt a little stronger. The vomiting and diarrhea subsided and I felt more confident going out. My joints started loosening up. I began walking again and started, slowly, back to the gym. And the more I could do physically, the better I felt emotionally. Today my body is feeling pretty good (for my age : )
But I also realized that I didn’t want to waste whatever precious time I may have left and kept thinking about what the last chapter of my life should look like. And that is when I thought it would be fun to consult a psychic. And what better place than in New Orleans . . .