Snap Out of It
All the recent wish activity has been a welcome distraction, but now that the dust is settled, I realize it’s time for a health update. Time, again, to focus on what’s coming next. I’ve come down from our recent L.A. vacation and the flurry of activity surrounding Ana’s room redo with a hard thunk. I wish I could hold onto optimism the way you hold onto souvenirs – jars of seashells and key chains shaped like starfish – preserved in shoe boxes or on dusty shelves so that you can recall the sunny day you collected them in a far away place, in a frozen, displaced moment where time seemed to stop.
Only time doesn’t stop. Labs have to happen. Meds have to happen. Scans come, and come, and come again. Ana’s next CT is scheduled for 4/24. I think this one is mainly to assess her lung tumors – the ones that weren’t radiated – and check for any new surprises. They may be able to tell if the radiation worked to shrink (destroy?) the biggest tumor in her left lung, but it may be too early for that.
Ana is doing well. She loved the trip to L.A. She loves her new room. She went to the upper school dance on Friday and loved it.
Emily went to the dance too (it was for 5th through 8th grade) and to have both my girls considered “upper schoolers” was sweet…and bittersweet.
Ana is currently on a three day trip with her eighth grade class (they left at the crack of dawn this morning). She’s thrilled to be able to participate in that, and I’m very thankful that she is experiencing her final year at her beloved school in very good health. She is still taking her oral chemotherapy medication. We’d stopped it while we were in L.A. because she was getting severe stomach pain and nausea, but started it at a lower dose (under the guidance of Dr. Yamashiro) when we got back. So far she’s tolerating the lower dose well, but started getting back pain yesterday which she associates with her kidneys (the last time she had this pain, her kidney function was compromised on her labs).
I registered her for high school last week. She’s graduating from a class of 19 kids (many of whom she’s been in school with since first grade), to a school with more than 1600 kids. I am scared. I am sad. I am hopeful. This is always the merry go round that I ride though, isn’t it?
I think Ana is ready for this change, but I’m not sure I am. Not with the looming threat of her cancer simmering just below the surface. I wish she could have another year at her current school, or that the change wouldn’t be so drastic, or that I knew what this next scan would reveal (or the next one, or the one after that).
I’m walking around feeling sad, sometimes angry, mostly anxious – and of course guilty because right now Ana is feeling good, and she’s had so many wishes granted and I should be happy, right? I should be happy.
But there are these reminders that flutter around the periphery of my mind, like gnats – impossible to completely ignore. The half inch of white hair that grew in while Ana was on the higher dose of Votrient, exposed at her hairline, reminding me just how toxic this drug is. She may be on the higher dose again soon. The stomach and back pain that has begun again, the fucking scan that’s coming up – another damn scan. I never thought about these kinds of in-between moments before my family took up residence in Cancerland. I thought it was like the movies – the moment of diagnosis, the dull, surreal weeks when treatment starts, the near-death experience in the ICU, and then, finally, the cure…or not. But cancer isn’t a straight line. I mean, not usually. It tests your patience, your resolve, your faith. I’m not a very patient person.
And so I’m gazing out my window into a yard that’s soon to be filled with spring blossoms, and feeling none of my usual happy optimism for a new season, and warmth and growth. There is a cloud covering me, like a smudge of grey paint, making it all dull and pointless. I hate this cloud. I know this cloud. I need to snap out of it – as if it were that simple. This is all about enjoying the NOW and not waiting for the worst to be over, or the worst to begin. I mean, I think I’ll get there, maybe after this next scan.