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Good Days and Bad Days

I had a meltdown in Publix yesterday. It wasn’t a big one, thank goodness. I didn’t fall to my knees, weeping into the produce, but it was enough to remind me that I am not as firmly in control of my emotions as I would like to believe.

Quite frankly, I am not in control of anything in my life. Each new day brings another ordered test, a procedure to schedule. My dance card is filling quickly with appointments with people who can’t imagine the fear in my heart as I force a smile and answer their questions, repeating myself over and over with each encounter. I am learning that preparing for this unknown journey is time consuming. I understand: they have to fully identify the nature of the beast they plan to attack. Let’s just say that I have been poked and prodded. A lot. I’ve been biopsied, drained with a needle to the belly. I am surprised that I have any blood left, with all that has been taken from me for testing. I had a vein blow on the day that my port was inserted. Scary moment. And I am learning to live with this hard plastic cylinder that has come to rest right below my collarbone, the visible tube running through a vein. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to sleep in a prone position instead of sitting up. And in five more days, I can wash my hair in the shower rather than the sink. Little things… normal things…

And that is why I had my Publix meltdown. I had no business being out on my own. My energy is low. But I longed for a moment where I didn’t think of myself as sick. Besides, wanted a caftan, something glamorous that I could lounge around in while I reclined on my sofa doing my best Camille routine. (I have watched too many episodes of Southern Charm.) I went to a store in search of one, which I ultimately didn’t find. I skipped the shoe department. I really must be out of sorts. And then, I thought a quick trip for a few things from the grocery store made sense. I am supposed to be eating healthy, organic, high protein. I wanted donuts. I struggled to get the first two bags in the cart. I was in the express lane. I had 13 items in the 10 item or less check out. I dared anybody to challenge me. I was fine pushing my cart to the car with my small load until I got to the entrance and saw the rain. Lots and lots of rain. I stood there and sobbed.

A teenage worker took pity on me and told me that he would help. “Thanks. I have cancer.” I blurted out. Yeah, it was not one of my finer moments. I suddenly had become one of “those people” who wears their diagnosis. Was I trying to garner pity or explain away my craziness? I cried all the way home out of both frustration and embarrassment.

But each day brings a new beginning.

This morning, I called the hospital, concerned about the PET scan I have to undergo tomorrow. They want to rule out lung cancer and determine just how extensive the metastases is. More scary stuff. I worry about the injection, the fact that I have to lie quietly for 90 minutes. (Those of you who know me are laughing right now, right?) The technician was off today, but he called me from his home to explain the procedure step by step. “It will be fine,” he said. “And I want for you to know that I am a cancer survivor myself. You can do this.” I exhaled.

This afternoon, the hubby carted me to another store. I found a caftan. As I held it up for inspection, a stranger shopping nearby told me that it was cute, that I should buy it. I smiled. “About to spend a lot of time at home, I’m afraid,” I said. Thankfully, I hadn’t mentioned the C word. “The Lord is going to heal you,” she said. “I believe that.” Whoa. How would she know? “Thanks,” I whispered. I hugged her, and we parted ways.

Angels are everywhere.

Have I mentioned that this world is a kind place, with people who have an infinite capacity to care, even for someone they don’t even know? If not, let me say it now. And that, my friends, is the miracle in all of this. For as I am often reminded, a great and mighty power is at work here. I am in awe of the beauty of it all.

Tuesday, the first battle begins in the war against the alien as I start with chemo. He has grown since he first made his presence known on July 3rd. (Yes, I am convinced it is a “he.”) But my oncologist has reassured me that she is prepared to use any means necessary to shrink him and the surrounded affected tissue until he is merely a blip. It won’t be easy, but I am prepared. Please keep me in your prayers.

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