We learned to say this mantra during the Year of Cancer. Each day was followed by the possibility of me just not being in the next day. Or if I felt good, I couldn’t trust that “tomorrow” would bring me the same.
Now in the hustle and intense energy of the spring, I participate–and like all spring creatures, I am reckless and urgent. During the Year of Cancer I used to say “health is careless”. It sounds contradictory — but it is. Anyone who doesn’t have health knows what is is to conserve every movement and minute. When I was sick, I could hardly look at a full plate of food. Now I can wolf it down with the best of them. And I assume that tomorrow I will feel good enough to eat ice cream again. I waste time, over-do, go on long walks, attend parties and go to sleep at night without concern for making it through. I even drove to Portland and back by myself. I also hold life precious, find myself aswirl in beauty and gratitude, and let go of “The Things That Aren’t Important” with increasing enthusiasm.
But when I plan for the future, I still say “God Willing and Fingers Crossed”. Mariya made this one up to express what we both feel, that little twitter inside, when we say what we want to do next. No one knows how much time they have left. I used to be interested in calculating my life expectancy, and figuring out “real age”. The Year of Cancer taught me to let go of such illusions.
Still in a dance with cytomegalovirus (CMV). We can get the numbers down by using Valgancyclovir (Valcyte) yet that is so potent it considered a cancer-causing drug itself. It is also brings down the red blood cells. But every time I venture off of it, the CMV starts to come back. So they have taken me off of Valcyte and put me 6 hefty grams (2 horse pills, 3 times a day) of Valacyclovir (Valtrex).
No wait, don’t leave! I did that on purpose! It is ironic to have these crazy medications sound so much alike but be so different. I have had to teach the difference to the local pharmacy. And I will be on these horse pills until my re-birthday on August 21, (God willing and fingers crossed) so I am trying to get comfortable with them. People will sometimes ask me with a cranky edge to their voice what medications I am still on, like it tires them out just to think about it. But. That’s what. Life After Cancer. Is. Pills. Medications are Us. I am lucky to have mine so low, comparatively (to other cancer survivors). Just my horse pills and my twice a day chemo (Dasatinib) and my synthetic bear bile for the liver (Ursodiol). Then I just add any other things I take to that, like allergy meds and vitamins/herbs and I’m good! Heck, I used to be a pill warrior, with vial after vial three times a day. This is easy.
Anyway, God Willing and Fingers Crossed, I feel healthy enough to go to Alaska, so we have bought plane tickets to go on June 18. Just a short trip to say hello to old friends and thank them for the support and love they sent our way. I count all my “first times” now, in the Year After Cancer. This will be our first get-on-plane trip.
Speaking of Gratitude, as I hope I was and always will be, the chorus from Rent comes to mind again. It is a year’s anniversary since the big 2013 fundraiser. I still remember that night when Steve and I were cuddled up on a hospital bed while I got a unit of platelets and a unit of whole blood. And the community rallied behind us, holding us up.
“525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes – how do you measure, measure a year? ”
As my friend Myah said,” it’s all this here but THAT HAPPENED”. I touch the past carefully. Being here NOW is the essence of existence, always has been. But sometimes, as Victor Frankl said in Man’s Search for Meaning–following his work in the concentration camps,people in hard circumstances need tomorrow. I can’t say it any better than the title song for Annie, which just played in Friday Harbor, to the delight of everyone who knew someone in the play and anyone who just loves a good musical. I couldn’t stop smiling.
“When I’m stuck a day
I just stick out my chin
Oh! The sun’ll come out
So ya gotta hang on
Come what may
I love ya Tomorrow!
A day away!”