“Yes,” I nodded swiping my arm across the old circles of life that collected empty nutshells, dead bugs, assorted half eaten berries and other woodland items left by the smaller souls of the forest. I looked at the circles and smiled – our favorite stump. “So it would be good,” I concluded our conversation up the hill. “I think, if I were to be…here – if here is where I will be when my present is done.”
He leaped silently onto the stump, circled and lay down, watching me with eyes that flowed from yellow to green to gold and back again. Really the best listener ever, he is. He waited, following my eyes. I gazed out over the gently sloping hill ending with wildflowers running into the valley.
I tucked my knees up under my chin and wrapped my arms around my legs and took our valley in. The sun felt so good. In real-time I still can’t tolerate the sun, though we are working on building back our tolerance for it and many other things. I love to be out door.
I hesitated, shifting, as I explained my emotions to him. We exchanged small smiles of understanding between two old, dear friends. The smile that says you don’t need to say another word. I leaned forward and buried my hands and face in his ruff, taking him into my heart where he lives, always. Boo loved him so.
“We miss you, over there, on the other side,” I whispered lightly through his fur. I couldn’t stop my voice from denying a longing for another time – the time before cancer, the time when Liam was healthy and strong. I began to tremble. Liam snugged himself against me and I curled against him. The sun was warm and the breeze sweet. I gave it all away as we lay there, just breathing, my head on his ribs as I watched the clouds skitter along. “Shhh…,” he whispered as he nuzzled my face and took my tears. “Let’s sit a bit. Relax.”
The end game of life is never a great subject though it is inevitable and worthy of conversation. I have never felt fear or anger about the prospect of an early demise or my medical condition. Though the sadness I build can be overwhelming. I never knew all my life I had been packing it away until I began to work with Tammy and am learning to release it.
Treatment of metastatic cancer is a whole lot like chasing a fart with a frying pan – it is difficult to do gracefully. You smell it and rapidly swipe the pan in the general direction of the scent center in what would look to an observer like some type of ritualistic medicine dance, hoping you get enough of it to dissipate the stink quickly. Your treatment plan can seem this simple; the effects it has on you and your sanity is anything but simple. Balance is everything.
During your treatment be ready for joy-filled successes and big disappointments. Be sure to pay attention to your body and mental health and consider your quality of life at all times during your treatment. Be open to alternative modalities that can bring you great relief and comfort such as chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, Reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine and others. Keeping a journal so you can talk to your doctor with confident knowledge about your reactions to medications and how you are feeling each day, both physically and mentally will make you more precise in your explanations. This journey will be the biggest crapshoot you will ever experience and the odds differ for everyone. You and your team will filter it down to what works for and with you. Know not only in your head though your heart as well whatever you decide to do, there is no wrong choice.
We made the decision to stop the preventative treatment, despite the success of test numbers. It was taking too much out of me and, I promised myself I would “live.” I have not been “living” the past two months despite a whoppingly low CA-125 of eight, the first time I entered single digits on this journey.
An appointment with Dr. B. wrapped everything up. He is just the best – as an oncologist and surgeon and as a human being. Through over 30 plus years of practice he has not lost his humanity. He talks with you about your life and he is part of some very, very big decisions – he takes your quality of life and treatment very seriously. He is the kind of dude you want to ask if you can meet him later and buy him a beer and shoot the shit. He was over the top thrilled with the decision and began the orders he needed to submit for our plan going forward. A plan he calls the “go out and live life and we’ll test” treatment plan.
I sat up, stretched and yawned – feeling purified and powerful, red and white fur stuck to my face and in my mouth. I brushed it off with a fake grimace and over-exaggerated hand motions and he laughed.
I turned to the valley and felt my tears gather, emotion tipping back and forth and once again got lost in the scented breeze and the scene below. I had been so sick and in so much pain the past two months – the release was amazing.
In the valley Mara was moving sheep around – she hadn’t been here long though settled right in to work the cloud sheep. I put my hand to my mouth and smiled – the girl just glowed. She felt me looking at her and I waved. She quickly flicked an ear and an eye, never taking the peace of the flock for granted. The Queen of the Farm was now the Queen here.
I realized she was bringing the sheep to gates that were just that – gates – no fences? I gathered my eyebrows a bit, and gave Liam a quizzical glance.
“Please,” he held his belly, his rich laughter echoing through the valley and disrupting the sheep. Mara shot him a look and he laughed harder as she took off to gather the spooked sheep, her aggravation with him apparent in her look-back. “They do not get smarter when they come here. We call sheep souls ‘starters’ or ‘restarts.’ They can’t seem to have a single, independent thought, despite not a fence to be seen. Anyway,” he shook his head, recovering from his hysterics, getting more serious. “We all evolve. Even sheep. There, there don’t tear up again…look what I brought…” He pushed his paw toward me. “Here. Have a Sweet Tart. They always make you feel better. Go ahead.”
I looked down to where he pointed then brought my hands up and peered at him through the fingers spread on my face, eyes tearing, cheeks puffed and then the wild, hysterical laughter blew out of our mouths, echoing down the valley. We just couldn’t stop though once we finally began to settle down, Mara was looking up with complete distain as we again spooked the sheep – which somehow made everything funnier and set us off all over again. Her eyes went from one of us to the other with a flick of the tail that said, “You two are idiots,” as she took off.
We looked at each other with stupid grins and stood up to watch Mara herd her sheep in the beautiful valley. The one with no fences and sheep who thought they had fences though only had gates.