Sunday, November 23, 2014

to live each day, or: "we're sorry, it's chemotherapy..."

I have learned to live each day as it comes,
and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow.
It is the dark menace of the future
that makes cowards of us.
- Dorothy Day


This week brought a red sunrise. and together with it, this quote from a name-sister of mine, Dorothy Day. I didn't know about her before.

It also brought difficult news: the hopsital called, with the the results of the Oncotype test. It's an extra  test that was made to figure out if in my case, after the operation, it would be enough to use radiation as treatment. But unfortunately, that is not not the case: the test results strongly suggest to do chemotherapy. Here's the result of the text: "The cancer or DCIS has a high risk of recurrence, and the benefits of chemotherapy are likely to be greater than the risks of side effects."

I somehow had hoped and thought that it wouldn’t turn out like that, that they bring a “no chemotherapy” suggestion. On Thursday, I went there to learn about the details. On the other hand, it’s therapy, helping to even the odds that the cancer has left cells that will grow again. still, it will mean a painful time of going through health troubles to avoid health troubles.

It’s not what anyone would want really, but on the other hand, it’s helping to create a safer ground to live on afterwards. And the medicine and the way the treatment works has developed a lot. But then, no one can tell how each individual person will react to chemotherapy. For some the side effects are stronger, for others less so. They will do as much as they can to make the side effect tolerable. Still, it's scary, and hard to grasp.

What is sure is that I will lose my hair. But it will grow back after some months. So this also will mean, that I turn into a different me, for a while. I will try to see it as an experience of letting go. Letting go of the normal state of things. Letting go of my hair. Letting go of the assumption that these things happen, you read about them in the news, but it’s still something that happens in another place. Not here. Not to yourself...

To accompany me during this time, I started to read Pema Chodron’s book, “When Things Fall Apart”. And in good coincidence, Satya from the Smallstones sent a mailing, they have an offer for their e-course “Writing Towards Healing”. Which felt like just the right theme for me. I registered this week, and received the first mails already, and an accompanying booklet as download. The first mail started with these lines:
 "Welcome. Today we begin, in kindness.
Enjoy your journey over the next 28 days. Go gently."
Which might become my guiding line for the next weeks: go gently, in kindness.

I am just so glad now that we still can go to Lanzarote. Chemotherapy is a longterm treatment, they will start when I am back. It's good I know about it now, before the island, so that I can mentally prepare myself for it. And the island, time, it will be double special now.

Also, I will try to follow the advice from my name-sister: To live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. I tried that on Friday already, when I had the date for changing my car to winterwheels. I drove to the service station in Kirchheim. I left the car there, and went for a walk through the town centre. The last time I’ve been there was with my sister, a month ago – and walking through town together, we had seen that they renovated the town gallery, Together, we visited the gallery floor, which was about landscapes, in a modern way, in an installation that works with layers and reflections. Even standing outside, you see a multi-layer image, with the city itself reflected and turning into a part of the installation. The title of it is “Land, Stadt, Fragment” – “land, town, fragment”. Here’s an image:

Walking out of it again, I noticed that there also is a town museum included in the building now, in the upper floors. So I went there yesterday, and picked the “oldest” floor, the one that reaches back to the stone age and beyond. I was the only visitor at that time, and the woman who is in charge of the floor walked up after some minutes, and welcomed me, and asked if I had questions or if there was a special topic that interested me. 

We started to talk about the fossiles, and from there, she guided me through the floor, giving so many insights and also larger views on the past – it was like a private guided visit. So special. A part of the floor is about the Celtic times, with a 3d-model of the “Heidegraben”, the celtic settlement area that I visited on the Alb. She loved the fact that I’ve been there, that I had seen the sight. And I appreciated that she was so engaged – others might have just kept their place when a visitor arrives. And the building is beautiful, too. The whole city centre is, with its old buildings and the historic roots they have. 

But as these days, nothing seems to be easy. When I went back to the service station to pick up my car, they told me that they were sorry, but they couldn’t change the tires, as something had gone wrong with the delivery from the depot where they put all winter wheels.. and they hadn’t checked before. So they had removed my summer wheels, and only then noticed the mistake. And I felt like: “Oh gosh, can anything go right at the moment?!“ Driving back home on summer wheels, my anger and frustration was the dominant feeling: it felt almost like a "lost" and "gone wrong" morning. 

But now looking back, what remains are the museum moments, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone there to change tires. Being at the museum also felt like a prelude to the island time to come. And it was an exploring time, a larger bubble of time in this week that is mostly about preparing and learning to deal with the weeks to come, and at the same time, about getting the normal stuff done: winterwheels, taxes, laundry, deadlines, stuff, ... all those things that don't disappear only because you happen to go through difficult times. All those things that summed up, are life.


I now started to mark all blog posts about this shadow journey with a tag, you can click here to read them: C is for cancer, and for courage, too 

The Dorothy Day quote is from the mindfulbalance blog

And here's the link to Writing Towards Healing


pattisjarrett said...

I'm sorry to hear this unsettling news, how it could be any one of us--not just someone else's story. What a beautiful sunrise, surely a sign of hope. Your book and writing exercise are timely, and no doubt will be of help to you as your sort out this leg of your journey. I'm happy for you to be able to have your "island time," where you can savor every moment and tuck those treasures into your pocket, to be pulled out whenever you need a bit of sunshine. May chemo treat you with kindness. Saying a prayer for you.

Dorothee said...

Dear Pattisjarrett - thanks so much for your kind words and kind wishes. i am glad, too, for the island time, the open sky that waits there. and then, we will see. i will try to take each day as a single day. yes, may chemo be kind, even if its not its nature.

Rouchswalwe said...

As long as I've read your posts, I have admired the courageous way in which you write, the kindness that comes through your words. Enjoy the multifaceted now on your beloved island. I send you a hearty, bolstering hug!

Christopher Allen said...

Sending you lots of positive thoughts, Doro.

Beth said...

Dorothee, I know that's the last news you wanted to hear, and I'm really sorry. My sister-in-law went through the same thing and is glad she did though the chemo had its difficult times; she's a number of years out now and is fine. We'll all be here with you, as much as we can, sending positive thoughts and helping you keep your head and spirit as "normal" as possible. So glad you'll be able to go to your island first. xxoos