I realized in a moment of downtime this weekend, that there is now a part of me that is IMMORTAL. Of course that part of me is a 2cm gaggle of prehistoric party-animal cancer cells that want to binge on SweetTarts and spawn furiously, never limited by the mechanisms of ordinary cell death.
It occurs to me that whenever we (or our cancer cells), get too greedy we forget that our survival is intimately linked with other resources, organisms, and cells. The immortal cancer forgets that in its zeal to spread and survive, if it kills its host, even its small measure of immortality can come to an end.
It’s been about five or six years now that we’ve been living with each other. Granted, the cancer was a stowaway and most of that time I never appreciated it was there. Now I’m not being a very good roommate with the surgeries and chemotherapy to evict the cancer from my body. But the cancer has gotten too aggressive: selfish, single-celled organisms too unwilling to cooperate in the multi-cellular organism that is me.
And yet, I find myself strangely thankful for the cancer inside me and all it has given me. Even though this has been a difficult journey, the cancer has revealed all the resources available to me like prayers, family support and love, the love of friends and coworkers, my wonderful employer, incredible doctors, nurses, and surgeons… it humbles me and brings tears to my eyes how deeply people care for me.
You kind of go through your life always wondering if anyone even likes you, and then something like this happens… and people offer all kinds of love, encouragement and compliments. I haven’t been the most perfect person or the bestest friend… but I must have done something right, or else everyone else out there is so crappy that I look good by comparison. Either way I am thankful for the love.
The Kanienkehaka have a Thanksgiving Address, Kanonhweratonhtshera, and the word essentially means “words that are formed from the love in your heart and mind.” My thoughts and my feelings, together they form words of thankfulness: I am thankful for all of you, my friends and family, all my caregivers, the medicine that makes us whole in body and spirit, this beautiful Earth, and the creator who gave us all these blessings. Thank you.
I pray that even in these chaotic and troublesome times, we all put our minds together and become good stewards of the world for our children and grandchildren and all the generations to come. I pray that we look past our differences and be more tolerant of each other, that we listen more and offer real compromise. The world isn’t like a cancer battle. Though yes, people can be selfish and singular, it doesn’t mean the people we disagree with need to be destroyed.
I was lucky to feel good the week of Thanksgiving, I made [American] Indian Wedding Hash and our family celebrated dinner with my in-laws, Grandpa J. and Grandma K. Everyone in my household was present, which is rare and hard to orchestrate with parents and children working jobs and attending school with all different schedules. It was wonderful to relax together and share our minds and hearts.
On Thanksgiving we formed a sort of last-minute plan for me to take my oldest and youngest children to the beach, and we left Friday morning for Ocean Isle Beach. In the picture above, we stopped at a BP station and convenience store where my oldest son bought a 3-pack of raspberry Zingers and shared with me… these are a few of my favorite things!
My sister and her husband have a place at Ocean Isle Beach and it’s super relaxing to unplug and visit, even if it is only for an overnight stay. We had a nice seafood dinner at Ella’s in Calabash, did some shopping in Callahan’s souvenir shops there, and then relaxed at the beach house until after midnight. I slept very well that night, and it seems my long-suffering gastrointestinal tract responds very well to super-fresh seafood: I felt quite good in the days leading up to the next chemotherapy infusions.
We woke up Saturday, had a big breakfast and walked up and down the beach for a while. Then we cleaned up after ourselves in the beach house and made the 45-minute trek down to Myrtle Beach. As a huge Simpsons fan, I had to visit the Kwik-E-Mart at Broadway at the Beach, where we treated ourselves to some Squishees, then went into town.
I wanted the kids to experience the Gay Dolphin, which is an unbelievable maze of souvenirs. We walked around exploring its various levels for a while. It’s an eclectic mix of weird stuff. T-Shirts on one level, jewelry on another, tiki hut supplies, beach house decor, personalized keychains, a Zoltar booth, a signed Elvis Guitar for $3000 next to movie posters, fridge magnets, knives, seashells, and shark teeth… to mention only a few of the things for sale.
Then we took a ride on the Sky Wheel to see the beach and ocean from a higher vantage point. I’d often wished to try out the Sky Wheel on previous trips to Myrtle Beach, but never quite found the right time and company. It was a fun trip, and there were a lot more turns on the wheel than I expected. You get to go slowly around one time while passengers get loaded in a balanced way into the cars, then you get about 6 rotations before the unloading begins. I am ever so slightly wigged-out by heights, but it wasn’t too terrible.
It was a nice relaxing day, that we finished off with wings for dinner and drove home so that we still had Sunday free to relax before work and school.
I’m grateful for the long weekend, and for a couple days of travel to change my point of view. I still get tired somewhat easily these days, and having walked 16,000 steps I did crash into sleep very readily when I got home. But my heart and my mind are more settled and relaxed for the upcoming week. Feeling very thankful right now!