Thursday, 22 November 2012

One Year Ago!

It is exactly one year ago that I found a small lump at the base of my neck.  It was accompanied with a scratchy, sore throat, shortness of breath, night sweats and the loss of my singing voice along with an achy neck which was acutely aggravated by my flute playing.  What a year it has been!!  I am so fortunate to have survived the lymphoma and to be in remission!  I haven't had a cold or the flu so far this season.  How coincidental it is that this week my voice is struggling to stay strong while I teach.  Little things like that can cause anxiety but I just have to remind myself that there is a nasty cold virus going through the student population at the moment.  I'm still not singing and playing the flute still causes discomfort in my neck.  I'm patiently (impatiently?!) waiting for this all to heal.  I am looking forward to being able to sing again.

One year ago, I was scared and uncertain of my future.  It was one year ago today that my family doctor saw me and informed me that it was cancer.  We just didn't know what kind.  In talking to various people, nurses included, I realize just how extraordinary my diagnostic journey and experience with the health care system was!  As I reflect on the whole process, it was only 7 weeks from the time I found the lump to when I had my first appointment with my oncologist.  I started chemotherapy one week later!  When I talk to other cancer patients and their families along with nurses that I know personally, mine was a whirlwind experience.  I can only thank God for the speed of my process because my lymphoma was aggressive and was growing quickly.

One year later and I am back to normal.  I have energy.  I'm teaching again.  I'm enjoying life with my extended family as much as possible with them all being out of town but I'm also enjoying life with my immediate family and my circle of friends.  I get choked up when I think of my friends with cancer that have died within the last year because without my chemo, I would be part of those statistics.  Life is very fragile and I must admit that I find it difficult to be patient as other people continue to develop and grow.  Sometimes change cannot happen fast enough.  I'm also impatient with myself.  My new lease on life has me looking inward and working on ways to improve myself.  It is similar to looking at a mature flower garden and deciding which plants are worth keeping and which ones don't perform quite the way you want.  Or another way of looking at it is I am pulling out those stubborn weeds with the really long tap root or the established weeds with the thick, far-reaching tuberous roots.  We all have ways of acting and reacting in the world.  Some of our habits are very functional and a positive contribution to those around us.  These are the plants that I want to keep and maintain.  I want to leave positive memories with people whose lives have touched mine in some way during my journey on this earth.  But like all of us, I'm not perfect and I do have faults and long, ingrained habits that need to be pruned or pulled out completely.

Last night, I was at a wake at a local funeral home and the family had a desk set up with blank lined pages set out along with a number of pens.  Printed along the side of the pages was "Memories of (insert peron's name)".  What a wonderful idea!!  At the end of this process, once all the memories have been jotted down, the pages will be put into a binder for the family to have and cherish. I write about this now because I have an outline of my funeral all written down.  I will add this feature because I think it is a wonderful tribute and may provide the family with tidbits of information that they may never have known about.  I truly believe our life journeys are all about how our lives touch and intersect with others if even for a small moment.  Sometimes we don't even know what kind of impact our connection has made on the other person.

So here I am a year later.  I continue to try to improve myself so that I may leave more positive memories with other people rather than negative ones.  I am perhaps a little more selfish with my time and how I spend it.  Family and friends are very important and I intend to try to spend as much time with them as possible.  I'm currently in a phase of feeling "so little time".  There is not enough days and times in the week to get together with everyone that I want to see.  Schedules get in the way.  Personalities get in the way.  Work gets in the way.  I've already heard some of my favourite christmas carols and they are already resonating within my sensitive core.  Some of this music has already had my eyes fill with tears and my heart fill with love and emotion.

As Christmas is the next big holiday but more importantly for me a spiritual celebration, I am starting to write my Christmas Greetings that I include with the cards that I mail to family and friends.  I didn't get my cards sent out last year because I didn't know what to write.  It was one of those activities that I couldn't bring myself to perform last year as I went through the diagnostic testing, needle biopsy and surgical biopsy.  So the cards will be sent out this year with joy.  Joy for the season but also a joy of living.  I am behind on my baking this year so far but it will also be completed as I love the memories that it creates.  I also love the baking as it always brings my grandma's memory to my kitchen.  It is often her recipes that I use to make my christmas cookies.  When I bake them, it is like a visit with grandma.  I love how the kitchen becomes warm and smells so good as the various batches of cookies come out of the oven.  Baking at any time of the year provides me with an opportunity to feel thewisps of memories of my grandma's arms wrapped around me just as the warmth of the oven and the smell of the cookies wrap around me.

So one year later and life, in general, is very good indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?