Below is what has happened in the last few days, and self-portraits I took the day of my meeting with the surgeon at the Cross Cancer Institute.
I wanted to be strong, yet open, to all the information I was about to receive at the Cross Cancer Institute, so with my wearable tokens of love (jewelry), I wore red today. Mom loved red on me. Despite her being gone, just over 8 months, she was with me comforting, and giving me strength, in my favorite red top. Being an artist I see, and use, symbols to inspire me. And it isn’t surprising that the colour red is one for vitality, love, blood and passion.
This came after a meeting, the day before, with my Pain Specialist Doctor. I was going in for another injection, to my spine, to help dull/freeze the nerve firings. Once I mentioned that I had just been diagnosed with cancer, he told me that the cancer treatment was the most pressing issue, and that he would not inject me again, into my L5 and the growth, until he was cleared by the cancer doctor, as well as my gastro-intestinal doctor. I agreed that dealing with the cancer was the most pressing issue, but asked him, “What about my pain (as it has been intense)? How can I get some relief for my pain now and through my cancer recovery journey?” He suggested increasing my oral painkillers, which I know my gastro-intestinal doctor will not be impressed (due to its complications and effects on my GI). To add to my frustration, the medication specialist doctor (yes, there seems to be a doctor for everything), isn’t available for months and months (despite being a patient of his); and so, I placed myself on the cancellation waitlist. And all I can think is, “Let’s hope the day I can get in to see him, doesn’t interfere with any of my radiation, chemotherapy or future GI procedures.”
Life doesn’t seem to be concerned with my timetable. In my mind, I was envisioning two more weeks with my students, then a week to physically, mentally and spiritually prepare for the surgery. As a teacher, one is normally drained, to the extreme, at this time of year. I have the ‘end of school’ tiredness in my body along with the mental and physical stressors of having extreme health challenges. My body and spirit feel very weak right now; my reserves are depleted as I have feelings of being blindsided by this new disease and being raw emotionally.
What has given me strength are the hundreds of texts, emails, flowers, candles lit, messages written on paper, books, chocolate, sharings of prayers from strangers and friends, hugs, teary looks, food and offers to sit, and be, in my presence. There is such power in love.
On Monday I have another procedure, at the University Hospital, a gastro-intestinal procedure that will hopefully find answers. Then on Tuesday, I will have time at school to teach and be with my students (and to prep my wonderful substitute). From that day on, my introverted soul will withdraw to strengthen my body, mind and spirit through rest. I intend to face the surgery strong.
I have been called numerous things over the years (***smile***). In fact some of my educational bosses have seen the spirit of animals in me. One assistant principal, when I first started out, called me a tiger; he saw my strength, ‘attack mode’ mentality when something needed to be done and my passion. A recent, former principal said to me, “You are a work horse.” My Great Grandfather would be proud of this comparison as he bred Clydesdales. They are gentle giants and are powerful workhorses that keep going. And as for the tiger, I am earning my stripes; I intend to be strong in my stance and not afraid of fighting this new battle.
All is well and will be well…despite my timeline being off! Ah, life.