The D word

Bebe’s excellent school counselor told us last week that Bebe is terrified of me dying. Gut wrenching. That is a huge burden for a 7 yr old to carry. So we spent time at home talking to Bebe about the fact that I’m not dying soon, that I’m doing everything possible to be here for a long time, and that if anything changes we will always let her know and don’t want her wondering or worrying. My mom made a good point which is that, while painful, it is powerful for a child to get comfortable with uncertainty. Some of us never do! But life is easier when you make friends with uncertainty. We can plan, plan, plan, but the world always brings surprises, and we have to learn to roll with them. Will tends to ask technical questions about my doctors and medicine, but won’t say how he’s doing. I read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, mostly a reminder to live purposefully, mindfully, and with kindness. It was scary but helpful reading about the actual act of dying, and fascinating to read accounts of rebirth and near death experiences. I’m using Headspace for daily meditation which makes it easy and tangible. I set it for 15 minutes. I’m still wading through A Short History of nearly Everything and continue to be blown away by quantum physics and what feels like the magic of science.

My magnolia comes to life, and our local hummingbird chatters busily above it






So the D word is something we want to demystify for the kids and ourselves. Cancer brings it all too close, and I walk the fine line of accepting that death could come far earlier than I ever dreamed, but maybe I will find good drug after good drug and defy the odds.  Hope for 20+ years, live as if you get 2. With young kids this doesn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind and following every whim. For me it means savoring everyday, booking lots of neat trips near and far with a big focus on the outdoors, and outside of appointments, blood tests, meds, spending my time with the people, books, and hobbies I love. In some ways, what a privilege. For many death comes suddenly with no opportunity to change ways or to say goodbye. Cancer’s gift, I suppose, is to allow you to do both. Believe me, I’d trade good health any day, but it is a silver lining. For now though I’m very optimistic. After a crappy 2 months of the cancer running wild, terrifying me, and eating at my bones, I feel like I’m turning a corner and getting stronger.  I walked for 45 minutes today , a first, and minus fatigue and occasional barforama and feeling ok.

I planted an orange tree when we moved to 6th Avenue in 2008. It took years, but now is producing juicy oranges. The garden teaches me patience. I started gardening originally to save money, but it has proven very therapeutic over the years. If you tackle a little bit everyday then it is less overwhelming. I like the physical aspect and getting lost in the rhythm of trimming, digging, sweeping. I figured out what to plant by observing all the front yards and pots on my walks. I chose bee friendly, butterfly friendly, low water native plants. Often these are hardy and difficult to kill. Perfect for a novice gardener! This means lavender, salvia, camellias, ponytail ferns, blossom trees, and anything you see in the Presidio. Sloat Garden Store is like a candy store for me now.  I tried to ensure that something would bloom during every month of the year. That is just simple pleasure. The red blossoms emerge from the quince tree during Chinese New Year each February and from the camellia. If you’ve seen my dining room or hallway, or saw my Exeter lipstick, then you know I love red.

My platelets dipped from 163 to 75 this week. Still good enough to keep me on the trial drug. Tuesday I will test again and do another round of 4 blood tests. I haven’t found a magic formula for platelets but am trying for lots of sleep, no alcohol, broth, and colorful fruits/veggies. I still like dessert, and frankly when I’m nauseous sometimes that is what tastes best!

Bebe’s 2nd grade class did a fantastic show “Rosie Revere Engineer” with Yes I Can from Annie Get your Gun and an adorable story about taking risks and inventing. I love that the kids are learning this. Bebe was Great Aunt Rose who encourages Rosie to persevere. 44 girls in red bandanas was a sight to see against the backdrop of “we can do it!” So cheers to that line!  image.jpeg

Thank you for the visits, flowers, books, cards and emails that keep me smiling. I’m a lucky girl.





3 thoughts on “The D word

  1. Your “Exeter lipstick” comment made me laugh. Happy Chinese new year – wishing you good health and fortune this year of the monkey!


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