Monday, February 24, 2014

nothing but blue skies and mountain lions

well, i'm logged in, i'm not in radiation (that ended last monday), i'm not back in school (that starts tomorrow), so i might as well post.  it's been awhile hasn't it?  are you still there?  i'm here.  tired most days still.

i think because it took so much physical effort to get myself to radiation and back each day, i imagined myself finishing up cancer treatment at a steady run.  easy enough for me to say.  i don't run in real life, but i like to imagine my little life's challenges as races.  law school was a marathon.  child birth was something of an ultra-marathon in a desert.  cancer treatment was maybe like a 20K.  cancer... maybe like being stalked by a mountain lion... on a mountain... in the dead of winter and you've never climbed a mountain before, and you didn't bring the proper clothes and the lion is hungry and he's got his sights on only you and you know he's a lot more clever than you are.

anyway, back to the race.  the 20K.  maybe it was longer, but i've just forgotten.  maybe the radiation was 20 and the surgery was an uphill 5 where you tripped and have a permanent injury with a permanent scar and the chemo a bunch of 10's.  if only i actually ran these kinds of races in real life, i'd be able to make an accurate comparison, but it felt like what i imagine those runners feel like who run to the end and then sort of collapse right at the finish line, or not so much collapse as stop abruptly and hands on knees proclaim as they huff and puff to catch their breath that they're not going to get up off the couch for the next week.  though maybe you don't say that after a mere 20K, but maybe i'm just a really bad runner... which is true.

so i spent most of last week on the couch or in bed napping while the boys were in school, and dealing with this most awful of sunburns, though in reality not a sunburn at all, and hoping that this breathing problem of mine is just pneumonitis, or inflammation of the lungs caused by radiation, and not something worse (i.e. cancer).  sounds doomy and gloomy and i guess cancer is like that in a way.  but if i could separate cancer into the mental and the physical, well, this is going to sound contradictory, because of course that ever present lung issue of mine revolves mostly in the mental sphere (at least, i hope), but if i could separate cancer into two parts... what it's done to me physically and what it's done for me mentally, then it's not all doom and gloom, because being stalked by a mountain lion really does sharpen your focus, puts your goals into nice, simple form.  physically of course, there's no question.  cancer sucks.  treatment sucks.  you're no better off for having had cancer or going through treatment physically speaking, except that treatment might keep you alive longer to see your children grow up, which is one of those goals that the mountain lion helped clarify for you.

two weeks ago a fellow cancer mama i met through a homebirth listserve died.  she was unfairly on cancer's fast track.  its crash course.  i never met her in person.  we were similar in that we didn't have a lot of cancer peers.  when you're 'fighting' cancer in your thirties, you're usually the youngest person in the room and usually the healthiest cancer patient in the room by default that everyone else is already on the inevitable downhill slope of time.  doesn't matter that they might be statistically better off than you, because your cancer is more aggressive, often by virtue of the fact that you're younger and younger people have more aggressive cancers and also that you have so much longer to try to live cancer-free if you want to live into old age and statistically it's a lot easier to live into old age if you're already basically there and your cancer's not putting as much effort into you, as say, Ginny's put into her.  anyway, maybe when cancer (or other dangerous activities... drugs, war) defines the membership of your club, it's better to have a smaller group, i don't know.  i just know that it felt horrible to learn that Ginny was in hospice all of a sudden.  that her cancer could be that ruthless.  that her own sense of things, that her own fighting spirit within, all of her perseverance was not enough to sustain her body infinitely.  that she, because she was young, could go to school, raise her children, be on treatment, even dance and make a music video at christmastime and still... cancer pounced and two children lost their mother in february.

seems better somehow not to give cancer so much thought.  let it take up so much space and so many words, but when it becomes a part of you, well, if you're like me, it just becomes impossible not to.  i don't know how long cancer lingers in one's mind after it's been poisoned, cut out, and burned.

oh, but it can't take up each and every line of this post.  i will put up some pictures so you believe me when i tell you that it really, truly isn't all doom and gloom in these parts.  it's a lot of happiness, and for you in the cold areas back home, it's warm weather too, so even a little something for you to be jealous of... not that i want you to be jealous of me... there's just so little about my situation that would provoke such feelings in a person that i feel the need to point them out... i might be standing on a mountain in the middle of winter figuratively, but in reality, there's green grass and blue skies right outside my window, and silly faces like this to greet me...



henry turning three...

radiation town... famous for things other than giving me radiation i realized...


there's that face again...

at the geologisk museum in copenhagen...


and this little face...


shielding his ears from the circular saw as it sawed into rocks...


waiting for his turn to see what his rock looks like on the inside...

all agate... 

the husband and me.  you might note the hair.  it's scruffy but there.


and now perhaps to enjoy the weather while the blue skies last.

6 comments:

nina said...

A good, reflective, honest post. With pictures of your family. This is what I so love about your blog.
Jealousy is a lousy set of emotions that I refuse to ever recognize and of course, your last year would not inspire jealousy in anyone, even the most green eyed monster people, but I do have to say that I am GLAD, for your sake, that northern Europe has had a ridiculously mild winter! I mean, right now it is forty degrees warmer in Warsaw than it is in Madison! So, to an early spring, to happy outcomes, to a series of strengthening days and to travel, soon!

greg|regan said...

thank you nina!

Sara said...

Regan
I just finished reading The Foremost Good Fortune which I picked up because you mentioned it I couldn't put it down and gave it to a friend I met in a breast cancer group. Thank you for including that book in your posts. She does such a great job of describing the way cancer takes over your mind. And certainly my experience of being in my 60's, supported by my adult children is way, way different than it would have been had I gotten this diagnosis in my 30's. Your analogies are spot on, thanks for sharing.

And I am jealous of warmth! Just now getting really tired of cold and it ain't over yet!

Sara

Phyllis Noble said...

Thank you for letting us hear Ginny roar, for the almost unbearable joy, the silliness. And the sadness in knowing she's gone. So wrong.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse of what's going on inside you, and then for showing us the beauty of your children, the beautiful glowing beauty of you and Greg.

Onward!

Diane said...

Regan -

What a beautiful post. Your writing is wonderful; that mountain lion has taught you well. Love the happy faces, especially you and Greg in the last one. So good you are finished with the physical part, and your writing tells me you are well on your way with the emotional part. Merci for sharing your story so openly and honestly. Sante from Paris! A month in Paris is awesome, do it sometime! Nina's friend, Diane

anniemaringo said...

Thank you for writing, for reminding me to not lose sight of what actually matters. What wonder that children can live in the moment so well and pull us out of ourselves along with them.

Your boys look full of joy. :)

Spring is coming soon, right?