O the wonderful cards, I have gotten. A woman walks with her spirit bear, the beauty of the islands, funny, inspirational, pure beauty. Thank you so much to all who filled my day with messages of love, by card and by email and FaceBook.
One card sits right next to my bed. It is of an exhausted Hawaiian in a canoe surrounded by endless rough seas. As he slumps in the middle seat, two spirit angels take over bow and aft with strong arms and clear direction. I am in the middle seat now. Angels steer the boat. The image strengthens me.
Yesterday, after hours of dripline at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance….hydration and platelets, I had enough energy to go for a walk with Steve in lovely Ravenna Park. Flowing water and little waterfalls, flowering trees, skunk cabbage, some lovely big cedars. It was really quite wonderful. Cool fresh air, birds singing. Much healing. My walk is slow but lasted 40 minutes.
The same night, we had a real family dinner for the first time. I even tasted alcohol free wine (ugh). I had something like an appetite. I could savor most the food. The famous chemo mouth sores make it tender but so far okay. now It was absolutely wonderful to sit at the table with my family and talk about something over than leukemia. We even retired to bowls of popcorn and watched 50/50, a movie that Mariya told us we would enjoy because it was about cancer but had a good outcome. And it was a good movie. Some pretty gritty stuff about chemo but a good dark comedy. We all enjoyed it.
Yesterday, I had one of those days that don’t show up on the plans. Ah, we all have these, all the time, don’t we? I have a favorite saying Humans plan, God laughs. Or something like that. So in the morning, I went into the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) for the scheduled bone marrow biopsy and instead, due to low potassium and fluids, I went into AFib, a rapid irregular heartbeat with a pulse of 140+. This caused great consternation, including a Code Blue—where from my perspective the room was filled with people all intently staring at me. The decision was made to transport me by ambulance to the hospital, Steve following by car and somewhere between talking to the nice medics (such good people) and them explaining to me why we were using the siren in Code Pink (just so we don’t have to wait through multiple lights), my heart spontaneously converted to the its normal rhythm. So no big guns (so to say) were needed.
They did make me hang out in the ER for quite a while they monitored the heart and pulse (now normal) and filled me with liquid and potassium. Then back to the SCCA for a long chemo drip, complete with Benadryl that knocked me out, and then followed that with a blood transfusion. By 9PM, I was done. Sweet girls came and went, then Steve and I went home and had dinner (and more pills) and watched West Wing, and that was the day I did not plan.
Today, my plan… and I hope I am allowed to make this happen, I will go with my daughters to get my head shaved. It is time, rather than let it fall out bit by clump. I don’t know how this will feel. Our hair, you know, such a big thing. Maybe it will all be a big relief. No bad hair days. No expensive shampoo. I do know it will be the badge of cancer. All those things you can kind of hide inside suddenly become the big banner to the world. The “private –I’m –Okay” part of me flinches at this. For this reason, I also got a wig, which I may use for the times I just don’t want to be Cancer Lady in public.
Well, more than enough for now. I just wanted to get this down before the next thing happens. I send you all love, light and gratitude. Delight in the emergence of sweet Persephone, entering our world the gift for new growing life. Don’t forget to celebrate Ireland on St Patrick’s Day! And yeah, and the Spring Equinox is coming up soon. Balance, my friends, it’s all about balance. Examine your lives to see what needs more balance (quick and dirty guess… you need more rest, exercise and play). Try to give away the things that make you sick or sad and pull in more of the ones that make you happy and calm. The seasons truly show us how to live.
I was just about to get up – I’ve been smoking way too long – when I was alerted to your new blog entry. Disconcerting that you had to go through that Afib experience AGAIN. So sorry! I’m trying to decide if you’re hugging the tree or the tree’s hugging you, but I’m definitely getting the picture of symbiotica. (Yeah, I just made that word up.)
Ahhh Shann. The unexpected twists, the days that turn into something utterly different than you anticipated. Yes, that is life with leukemia! And now comes the Shaving of the Hair. Yes, that too. I remember the night I decided I was ready for The Shave. We did it at home. My mom was here and my husband. I had already had a good length chopped off when I first started treatment — my hair was about down to my waist and I had it cut to my shoulders. But I noticed long strands were starting to come off in the shower and I definitely wasn’t going to wait for clumps. So out came the electric razor AND the camera and so it went. My husband got to be the barber and as he is a big kid at heart he managed to make the event fun all the way through, shaving off bits here and there, giving me a mullet, then a mohawk. For me it was KINDA like a step back in time when I shaved my head as a teen because I thought it was cool. And at 33, I still didn’t look half bad without hair. In fact, I thought I looked pretty good! An old childhood friend of mine had a very expensive wig of real hair made for me but I never wore it. Even the best wigs itched in my estimation. So it was all hats for me. You’ll figure out what you like best. But don’t forget — whatever you do, whether you reveal it to the world or don’t, that beautiful bald head of yours is also a badge of courage. A banner of strength. A declaration of, “Yes, I’m in this fight and I am kicking ASS!”
Sending healing love and power your way every day, your Sister-in-Arms,
Erin Callaway (Alexandra’s friend in Maine)
Strong words, just what I needed. Thank you.
Hi Shann, I just realized what those little numbers are next to a post title. I am new to the whole blog following thing. I will be more eloquent as I mature. Anyway, … this is the type of canoe that I paddle . It is quite special. It would be an honor to take you out for a spin some time. I think you were at WHUFF when we had that wonderful speaker from the canoe nations. Water is so healing and powerful. I love you and your family Shann, and will be sending healing energy your way. I am picking songs for a cd to make with you in mind. I am part way there… Ta Ta for now.. Barbara
Hey Shann. I have no idea what I would do if I had to go bald. I’ve thought about it but will never know unless it comes to that. I suspect my penchant for comfort would preclude a wig if it was itchy. How about a comfortable hat with hair hanging off of it, like those redneck ball caps, but nicer. I am sort of joking. Your beauty and spirit will shine through whatever you do to cover your head. Friends who have lost their hair due to chemo, almost to a person, began with straight hair and it grew back curly. It will be a bit weird for yours to grow back straight. I look forward to seeing what yours does. I totally get wanting to be un-labeled by your hair or lack of same. For me you will never be cancer-lady, but my friend Shann the writer, dreamer, universal soul, family person and good vibe sender. Hugs and kisses.
Ah Shann & Steve; my heart is out to you all and the tear in my eye is for the vulnerability of you and family, plus all who I hold dear, including myself I suppose. Our thoughts (Maggie & I) have been with you since Jeff Dyer told me of your condition, and today I received from him your blog address. I am thinking of the many great times with you all and looking forward to more. Lots of love, Brent.
PS- could I have your address for sending a card? Also, we have a home in Seattle still, and would be available to lend a hand if needed.
Oh Shann, we just got the information on your “new normal.” How can such a thing happen to such a healthy (in all ways) person???? But, we already know the answer to that one. So, since there is not to much that one can say, please know that our hearts and prayers are with you, every day. I’ll keep reading your wonderful blogs, when you feel like writing, and will stay in touch, email-wise and spiritually!
I’ve loved being kept abreast of all the trials & tribulations of unexpected life. You all
look like the loving, supporting family I imagine, I appreciate the pictures. Scarlet & I have communicated about the posts and feel like we’re in IT with you. Thanks for
including us and know that we are continually sending strength, and love, light & joy, and warmth & humor. Hold each other close.
Julie Caldwell in Sun Valley, IDAHO