A Return to Grace and Gratitude

Cuddles with Squishy

I’ve cried a lot over these last few weeks…mostly in the mornings or when hooked up to an infusion pump. I could blame the deluge of emotion on so of my current life circumstances:

  • I am physically exhausted
  • The chemotherapy that I’ve received  over the past two weeks has been anything but easy to tolerate
  • I am now neutropenic (no immune system whatsoever – which means extra hand-washing and wearing masks for the next week or so until my white blood cell count starts to recover. It means no visitors and being extra vigilant about odd physical symptoms)
  • I feel as though I have lost something of myself – I have difficulty writing; the words do not want to come to me and when they do, they are often incorrect or misspelled. The only reason, Dear Readers, that these posts make any sense is because I have both Seth and my mother proofread them before they go live. My hands tremble just enough from neuropathy (nerve damage from the chemotherapy), that taking photographs has become frustrating.

When I started this journey, I wanted to face it with both grace and gratitude. I realized, while hiding in the bathroom at the cancer center this past Wednesday prior to receiving two units of (AMAZING and REFRESHING) blood, that I haven’t done a very good job with that as of late. I haven’t approached this challenge with grace nor have I been all that grateful for each day. I suppose those two qualities are hard to cultivate when you’re doped up on medications and anemic, but let’s put the excuses aside for just a moment:

  • Every day that I have treatment, I have the opportunity to overhear and witness other survivors’ perspectives. I get to learn a little bit about what still lights their lives up, why they’re pushing forward through their own health challenges.
  • Maybe we’re all just muddling through, forcing smiles when we have to, but this past week has also made me acutely aware that like a New Year’s Resolution, a resolution to face cancer with grace and gratitude will occasionally require mental and emotional recommitment. It will require a renewal of sorts. Grace and gratitude do not just magically appear—they have to be worked toward, and, in many ways, earned.

I am crying (again) as I write this, Dear Readers. They’re not tears of self-pity or fear, but rather the tears of a breakthrough. Will it be easy to find joy on the days when all I want to do is cuddle with Squishy (yes, I am a 30-year-old woman with a stuffed unicorn toy) on the couch? Maybe…but what if cuddling is meant to be that day’s joy? Will I continue to grow frustrated with writing and photography? Probably. But you know what? Practice makes perfect and I do know, from my first rodeo with cancer, that much of this neuropathy will go away. The photographs won’t be blurry forever. The words will come back to me when the chemo regimen slows down.

Grace and gratitude—that’s how I wanted to fight this. And, with occasional reminders and restarts, it is how I will fight this.

Please continue to send light, love and healing thoughts, Dear Readers. Treatment marches on this coming week:

  • On Monday – I will receive an infusion of chemotherapy through my chest port, more chemotherapy through my Ommaya Reservoir, as well as two shots of Erwinnia (another chemotherapy) to my legs
  • On Wednesday – I will receive more Erwinnia
  • On Thursday – I will receive chemotherapy through my Ommaya Reservoir
  • On Friday – I will receive even more Erwinnia.

It’s going to be a busy week, Dear Readers, but it’s one week closer to our goal. It’s another opportunity to practice grace and gratitude.

 

 

 

With Love, Laura

 

Advertisements

City Squirrels Prefer Organic Peanut Butter

fallen-leaves-1022

I saw something…unexpected…this past week.

It happened on a day that the weather had been dreary. The sky was overcast, a gunmetal gray, and it was misting. The leaves coating the driveway had become slick, treacherous. My steps were slower, my mind torn between focusing on my footing and the worries of the week.

And that’s when the flash of movement in my periphery vision occurred.

That’s when I stopped walking.

That’s when I saw a squirrel dragging a jar of peanut butter up a tree.

Yes. That’s right. I saw an average-sized squirrel dragging a jar of peanut butter (it was an organic brand, by the way) up a maple tree. As I watched—a little in awe at the squirrel’s determination—the poor thing continued to struggle with the jar. It was trying to lift and climb at the same time and while it was a noticeably difficult task, the squirrel didn’t give up. It wanted to bring that jar home to its nest. It didn’t care that the jar was nearly double its size or that the tree was taller than our apartment building. It kept on going, and when the challenge became too much, the squirrel would rest for a moment, catch its breath, and then continue onward and upward.

You’ve got this, Squirrel! I caught myself thinking.

It’s probably a bit…strange…to cheer for a squirrel, I will give you that. But, in my defense, it’s not every day that a squirrel a) finds a jar of peanut butter, b) hauls it up a tree, and c) I’m in the right spot, at the right time, to witness it. The sight of that squirrel not only lifted my spirits, it made me question, do I approach the gifts of this life—do I attack my dreams and goals—with as much enthusiasm as that squirrel did a jar of peanut butter?

If I am being honest, the answer to that question is a very weak-sounding “sometimes”. Sure, sometimes, I do take steps to attain my goals. I mean, hey, it only took me two years to create this blog, but I finally carried this peanut butter jar home. Conversely, a lot of the time, I only think about what I want to accomplish and then never actually take the necessary steps to achieve those dreams.

So, dear readers, as this week unfolds I am challenging myself—and inviting you—to think about what it is you want. Do you want organic peanut butter? Almond butter? Hazelnut spread? Identify what sparks your creativity, what goals and dreams you hope to accomplish in this life, and then put yourself in the place of that squirrel. Ask yourself: are you determined to carry that jar up a tree, no matter how hard it’s going to be?

If the answer is “yes”, then I hope I’ll see you out there, climbing.