Friday, October 30, 2009

Falls call

What a whirlwind of a summer. I find myself this fall, having random flashbacks of events from last year. Like yesterday, I was speaking with a friend who has taken a role in my life as a Great-Aunt, and we were talking about the West Seattle Junction Halloween party for young kids. And suddenly I was taken back, to hanging out in my office in West Seattle, at Keller Williams with my friend Kristen and her young daughter. I was too sick, too weak to walk around with them., so I just hung out in the office and watched all the youngsters in their adorable costumes. I was so sick. Ugh! I had lost my hair and I was just trying so hard to "do" something that day. Its hard to not cry thinking of that time. I would not want anyone to go through that. Ugh! I got through it. I am and we are stronger than we can ever imagine. Which brings me to the other day at my Acupuncturists office.

As I laid on her table with all the needles in me, the lights were turned off, and I went into the Savahsana mindfulness, and my Spirit said to me, "Hi, Soldier. There you are. You can relax now. You are safe. Be still." And all I did was weep. But then the needles started hurting so I stopped, LOL. I realized in that moment, that yes, I have had to be a Soldier to get through this. A fierce soldier. A fierce athlete. A fierce everything. Its time to be softer on an energetic level now. But the Soldier keeps fear at bay.

I have been wading through the feelings of fear the past few weeks. Slowly since my ritual, it has begun creeping up and flittering about in my psychic fields. I am safe, in the present moment. That is all we ever know, right? My three month appointment is coming up in a few weeks, but I have been a little panicky so I am going to see my Onc on the 4th instead. There has been a little lump above my scar and he felt it three months ago. But I have felt it again, and it freaks me out. I need him to just do a biopsy of it, so I can let go of any fear around it. Its one thing for him to say its scar tissue, and yes I did just have a free and clear Mammo and MRI, but still...there's no problem with double checking, or for that matter triple checking.

Where the fear also comes from is my initial doc missed my lump. She dismissed it as just a cyst, or whatever it was she thought because she never told me. She simply hesitated over it, and kept going and then said I was good to go. She was the first lesson I learned in that Doctors are just people, practicing medicine. And it is up to us to be our own advocates and I want the lump/scar tissue biopsied, end of story.

I honestly 100% believe the acupuncturist is going to get my moon to come back. My ovaries felt really warm for the past few days, and I just have a good feeling about it. She told me to eat lots of meat, and to stay stress free. Of coarse the Cancer ND's tell me stay away from meat. And my Onc tells me, no red meat, but to eat anything else...except sugar.

Which brings me to my newest thought about this NO sugar diet. Okay...so..if cancer feeds on sugar because it runs faster than anything else in the body. So when you have a sugar spike it jumps on that and has a feeding frenzy like a shark to a nice bloody tuna head. But....that shark had to be in the water in the FIRST PLACE. Just having the bloody tuna head does not cause the shark to suddenly be made and plopped into the ocean.
You are following me right? Eating Sugar does NOT cause Cancer to begin. If I have cancer still after all that chemo and radiation then I still have cancer, in its microscopic form. And the sugar will just cause the cancer to speed up, but not create it in the first place.

So....that is my newest thought.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The anger of Blood

Okay, yesterday as I was massaging I revisited the hard part of my weekend. The hard part being the part that I had the base emotion of anger when hearing about woman laugh and joke about their menopause symptoms. Hell..I laugh about mine. What more can you do right? But in the care, in the safety of others that have been through it, I was able to be in the anger. I say as tears stream down my face. Its not quite time to do a ritual about my chemopause. Because I still am in belief that it is Chemopause, and not menopause. This morning I woke up to my ovaries feeling really warm.
But back to the safety. I could miss the opportunity to get real with myself. But luckily I am looking at it. I want to be a mom more than anything in the world, well...besides getting to be healthy for their lives (of coarse there is a their~I want twins....). This has been the hardest part of this whole, "Heather, you have cancer." Thing. And now its a, "Heather, you HAD cancer." And I just simply want my life to be back. I want my ovaries to work. I want to sweat again. Funny thing at the retreat, I found out that I am not alone with that one. There are others that have never starting sweating in their arms again. I have not under the right one.
So...The Anger..deserves to be capitalized. It deserves to have an alter made for itself. And it deserves to be acknowledge so that I can get to the real feelings of sadness, despair, hope, and trust. I just need to trust. If it doesn't come back, I have those little frozen eggs. And if those don't work...there are lots of fertility options and then adoption...but I really want to have my own, in some form.
I am so thankful for Casting For Recovery. I feel like I have been walking through a jungle to get to a lake, for nine months, or however long its been that my moon went away. Now, I am standing at the lake, just looking at it. And all the feelings that I have about my moon going on vacation, swims in the lake. CFR allowed me the space, the grace, and the ungrace, to finally see myself at the waters edge. Each day, I now need to look for a rock that speaks to this pain, and start piling my rocks into a pile, and talking to the rock that I place there. Sharing my pain, sharing my wishes. I need to let go of this grief. I am scared to. Maybe more scared than anything so far on this journey to health. I have to use all the lessons Cancer taught me to get through this. Time to surrender and to open my palm even more, and just love myself and be with myself. Be with my ovaries. Be with my blood, that circulates through my body. And a famous sentence my Dad always says, that has been so helpful during this past year pops into my head again, "Heather, there is no reason to stress over it, stressing over it won't change a thing."
I am heading out to Vashon in a few hours. I am going to start my rock pile out there next to my favorite pond. Fisher Pond.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So sad to leave

I'm sitting next to the large fireplace in the center of Sun Mountain Lodge. I don't think that Casting For Recovery WA could have been set in a more scenic tranquil location. What a weekend! I am full of gratitude, a new craft, and lots of healing. To be heard, to listen, to be understood at times by a simple whimper, to understand a simple whimper, and to be brought to tears from another's saddness/grief/dispair/anger/shock....was moving.

The staff touched my heart in all of their unique ways. I feel incredibly blessed that I got picked for the retreat.

I am suddenly being filled as if I were a child going to sleep for Christmas eve, filled with fly fishing possibilites. Like Kyacking and fishing, like hiking into a remote lake and fishing, like fishing in the middle of a river with a bikini top on....I can't wait!!

I have to drive all the way home now. Not looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


As I sit here, trying to find the starting part, a flood of images and thoughts rush past my eyes. I guess I'll start with the homework assignment. Each participant is required to draw, or what have you, something on a square cloth that will be made into a quilt of our class. I wrote a poem of coarse and it read:

A common thread
tied into
A common knot

Well, today I learned how to cast my rod in a various of ways. I learned about knot tying. I made a few bugs/flies. Really cool ones that made me scream out, "Its a caterpillar!" I am the youngest one here, by far. That sucks shit. I hate it. It makes me angry, I say with tears streaming down my eyes. There are lots of moms here, there are grandmothers here, there are woman that have lived a life that are here. I have lived a life. But not as long as them. I want to be a mom super badly. And hearing them talk/complain about their hot flashes, they are able to laugh about it. I can laugh about mine. But its not the same when a guy I am dating says to me as I am repeatedly taking on and off a sweatshirt, "what, are you in menopause?" When, the joke is not a joke. And I say yes. I want to cry when that happens. And I do sometimes. Because menopause to me, could possibly mean the end of a life long dream. I never dreamed about my wedding dress. EVER. Even the owner of Cicada, Elizabeth who is a friend and who is the one who made my dress for me realized when I could not figure out what I wanted the darn dress to look like. Because frankly, I just wanted to look hot. I didn't really care, never thought about it. But having kids. Being pregnant. Doing the ritual to ask the spirit to come into me. GIving birth. Breast feeding. Comforting my child when sick. Teaching my child how to ride a bike. Making cupcakes. The whole thing. Every second of every possiblity of being a mom, I HAVE THOUGHT AND YEARNED ABOUT IT, MY WHOLE, LIFE. And I am going to add a Goddamnit at the end of that sentence. So, to hear woman talking about their menopause, here its a bit different for me.
But, it is still a common thread.
The day before I left to come here, I made an appointment with a well known acupuncturist that has good results for woman in bringing back their moon. It is my first very, very brave step in not ignoring the fact that I have not bled in months and months. I miss it. I miss doing ritual with my blood. I miss my blood.
I am loving this retreat. There is something to be said about being around a group of people that have had or are in the midst of a life changing profound nightmare. I am understood. There is grace. There are common words, common feelings, common lessons, common everything. A sense of belonging does not exist, but simply a depth of compassion that is hard pressed to find outside of the commonality. I will say though, that I have been incredibly blessed to have a handful of friends and a sister that does get it. That has understood me. And have held my hand, and my tears and my fears as they have over filled my cup and carried me away down stream to a place I never dreamt or imagined I'd be.
I love each of the woman here. I have had a super fun day learning with them. I have met knew friends and am really enjoying the fact that we all have a common thread.
Tonight there was a circle with the groups counselor. She would pose a question like, How does your family deal with pain? Or how did your family and friends react when you told them? Or, how has sex changed since your diagnosis? All questions that allowed each of us to share, and to bawl.
I am realizing that there are parts of me that are still in shock. I just can hardly believe it. And then again, I can totally believe it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Casting for Recovery

I'm feeling the old writing bug gooshing through me right now. I'll probably start writing often this weekend. To go back about 9 or 10 months ago....And for those of you that are Golden Girls fans....Picture it, it was 2009 I was in my month 3 or month four of laying in bed straight. Sick as unimaginable, sick as sick gets, watching or trying to pass the time, or trying to feel normal, simply to find things to laugh at by watching The Today show. There was a segment on Casting For Recovery. A fly fishing weekend for woman with or having gone through Breast Cancer. That was my bag. I knew it, I knew I had to go. It quickly became a goal of mine. Once I got well enough, I printed out the application and sent it off. I called every once in a while to find out when they were going to announce the prized winners of the lottery style drawing. For months and months, I simply told anyone and everyone that in October I was going to go to this fly fishing workshop. I did not leave any room for the possiblity that I was not going to get picked. I was. That was it.
I DID!!! I got the letter in the mail and I have been looking forward to this day for months. The Washington state workshop is being held at the coveted Sun Mountain Lodge. I didn't want to carpool with anyone. For a few reasons. One, I wanted to cry if I needed to cry. I wanted to sing loudly to any music I wished. I flucuate between Country and AC/DC at any given whim. I also just wanted to be by myself. This vacation, this trip isn't about anyone else but me. Every other crazed adventure I've been on this summer was about seeing family or best friends. This one, just me. For me. About me. To me. Back to Cancer.
Well, Hello Cancer. There you are, I said to myself as I sat in a room full of courageous beautiful woman this afternoon. After we'd all filed in and put on our name tags. FYI, I never ever ever wear a freakin name tag. I first of all don't like being told to do so, and I hate conforming to mundane things like this. But today, I put that tag on, with a little hesitation. But quickly, let it go. I didn't have to worry about people thinking I was anything other than who I am. I could let my name tag guard down, as I and am surrounded by a bunch of woman that KNOW ME. Without knowing me. They love and I love, without a word.
So far, the experience has been wonderful. I have stayed away from any "cancer groups" as I've heard they are usually full of those that are the "poor me's". I can't stand that.
Casting for Recovery seems to have 14 woman, that are adventurous, fun, loving, deep, super fun woman. That I have to get off this computer and go downstairs and have virgin drinks with. haha...
I am looking forward to this with so much joy. As I drove up today, I saw the sign, CASTING FOR RECOVERY on the outside of the lodge, and I just wept. My Tribe was inside. The knew me. I had the image of a hand, and I was in the middle of the palm; supported with knowing and love. I had a doozy of a summer "pretending" to be "normal" and going back to life. THis is a great opportunity to go back to the Cancer Heather, and do the homework I need to do. LIke be with her. She's full of lots of sadness, and joy , yes! I have wallowed in the joy this summer. Anything and everything, I mean everything that was a possiblity, I did it. Seriously. The fun was had. Now its fall. Now its fly fishing ( a sport that is relaxing and one that I can do with just one person) and its time to be still. Its a great intro to begin writing again. Of coarse I couldn't start writing my book until after the adolescent puberty like explosion of a summer, and now fishing...fall winter..
I'm Home. Home is where the heart is. Aaawwww...Heath..there you are.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Battle Wounds

September was a whirlwind and October is already half way over. Each day is filled with times of reclaiming Heather. Reclaiming her and integrating Heather. The new and old.

Like today, I took a five mile walk, as yesterday I went for a run and lifted weights so I was trying to be gentle on my knees. Strangely, my knees had a hard time for the first time ever, in my whole life. I realized that running everyday is not good and that I need to be slow with the running again. So, I'm trying to do every other day. On my walk, I noticed the fall leaves and the spiders living in their new spun homes. As I walked my brain had a flashback of last Autumn. How the very bald head seemed to find every unseen spider web and how happy I was this year to be blissfully in lala hair zone and not know about all the spider webs getting caught in my SUPER curly hair. The longer it gets the curls just get curlier. The phrase "chemo curls" seems to have been coined due to my hair! I am absolutely loving having hair. Each day, I bound into the shower to wet it, no need for shampoo yet, and rinse out the day befores product, and then put more on it. I love the smell and the ritual. My eyelashes are not fully in and that is starting to drive me nuts.

The other thing that I realized today as my friend felt my port stitches (the stitches we removed the other day), is that its a little rough. She mentioned that there is vitamin E, and whatever else stuff. I intterupted her and told her that I don't want to use anything. The hippie girl in me knows about all that stuff. I told her, that with all this cancer stuff I just don't want to use anything alternative. Not that Vitamin E is alternative. But I just DON'T want to use anything. The scar is what it is. Its rough. Its my battle wound. It helps as I run my fingers across it, to remind me that yes, indeed what I have gone through is and was real. It was rough. It will heal. It will move on. It will be whole again. Forever changed. Forever different. But it will be smooth again. And I don't want to pretend or take away anything from it. That is where my medicine went into my heart and healed me. I want it to be a reminder. For that delicious day that I am full of health and living the life that I get to live. That. One. Day. In. The. Future.

I had a dinner party at my house tonight. I made soup, Made a plum cobbler. I am eating sugar. Some would say, The Devil. I am not going to go without everything just out of fear. If eating plum cobbler, or drinking wine, or having a cookie makes cancer come back and kill me Some Day...then...it does. Who knows. We all are going to have to die. Some Day. Some. Day.
Life is full of those thoughts lately. That someday. There is a ton of sadness. I am full of sadness. Less tears. More just integrating right now. I am not as manic. I am sleeping. I am loving, EVERYONE deeply around me. Its interesting seeing who can take it in. Who cannot. How those that can't make me want to give more or to totally remove myself. Knowing full well, that in the end, it and none of really matters. Because of that some day. Those that are in my life now, will be..until they are not. Pretty simple.
I need to start writing my book. I am hoping for a respite soon. Loving deeply. Feeling deeply. Heart wide open. Loving myself a TON. Loving feeling alive. And loving those spider webs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Nana's Tribute

Well...My Nana passed away and here is what I wrote for her funeral. She was an incredible lady.


As the sun rose on my flight to Memphis, the thought came to me that everyone on the plane, we all in this church today, get to experience all of our experiences in these once in a lifetime moments. Once the sun rose, the beautiful sunrise was over, bestowed upon me, the start of a new day. Never to be taken back, never to be done over, never to be felt quite the same way, as we do right now.
Right now, I stand before you as my Nana had gone over with me ten years or more, ago. The meaning did not mean the same thing to me then. The meaning did not feel the same way to me. I had not lost her yet. I had no idea how I was going to feel, this one day, this day, that she spoke about, to me. How she wanted me to stand tall and shake each of your hands and to thank you for coming here today to honour, her honour.
Thank You.
My Nana was my best friend. She was, from the youngest of memories I have.
As a young child I always looked forward to holidays, and the one that is coming up, is the one that I remember today. Halloween. She would come over for the pumpkin carving party, Wendy and I always vying for her attention. Somehow she always made each of us feel like we were her favorite. I hope that someday I am granted the honour of being a Nana to my grandchildren. May I remember how she did this with such grace.
My Nana taught me many things. As a child I always looked forward to going to her house in Surf Pines, to work and do things for her. Now that I look back, I’m pretty sure it was her that was working, picking up after me, making me food (her crazy concoctions of jello and vegetables that I loved simply because she’d made it), and the way she was so incredibly present with me; enabling me to feel like I was the center of her world.
One of my favorite things I would do for her was chop wood. She taught me how to do this, and to this day this is one of my favorite things to do. She even taught me how to stack wood. But the biggest thing she gave me was a work ethic. I always looked up to her, and loved to help her out at her house or in her store.
Whenever I am in Seaside I stop by the shell of what was her store. Teena’s shoes and gifts was a steadfast symbol of Seaside for over 20 years. I always hated when she wasn’t around and had to go to Lincoln city, to her other store. I missed her terribly. And the times that she would allow me to go to Market with her and shop for her upcoming seasons clothes and shoes, was always so much fun.
We used to take walks, endless walks to me it felt as a young child, hand in hand on the beach. We would talk about everything, and anything. I will miss this. She is the only person on this planet, besides my sister Wendy, that I have been able to share every thought, every feeling, every single thing that makes me tick, and to be understood. I may have shocked her…but my Nana..she used to shock a lot of you..she understood me. I will miss this.
I will also miss, riding with her in her car, listening to Alabama over the 8 track, years later the cassette player, and years even later… the CD player, driving to watch the surfers surf..and listen to me tell her about things. She taught me as a young adult, that we are never too old to learn from each other. May I remember this attribute. May I, as I grow old remember to look to the youth in my life, and be open as she was open to me, and to learn. I believe this is one of the reasons my Nana remained young..She was not afraid of change. But taught me to embrace it.
She was my best friend. And I was the sunshine in her life. Since Wendy isn’t here today, I can say that…but really we all, were her favorites. In our unique ways.
As an adult, I spent time with her, but the times that really molded me were the times on the Oregon Coast. She taught me how to set a table for a party, she taught me how to sit and how to eat like a lady, she taught me everything that I feel is good about me. She taught me how to live the life I want, and to not be afraid to go and get it, she taught that anything I want I can get it and do it, she taught me how to love deeply.
My Nana and I shared a special bond. We share, and shared, and will share, until I see her again, a love for life. A hold no barres way of life. A bring it on, and lets roll with it way of life.
Thank You, Nana for giving me these lessons. As this past year may have been harder for me and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten through it with as much grace as I did, if it hadn’t been for you being my role model.
This past year, I did not see her as I was battling breast cancer. I was sick in bed for months on end, and too weak to drive the 4 hours to see her. She was there for me. I would call her and just cry. I would tell her how hard it was for me, and she would just listen to me.
One of the last lessons she taught me, I think unbekownst to her, is that we all have troubles. They are all the same. My battle with breast cancer, and her’s just lying in bed and not living the life she wanted. Hardship is hardhship. I will miss her being able to help me grow as a human being. I will miss the lessons and the love. I will miss being able to pick up the phone and call her. I will miss her calling me Sugar. I will miss all of these things.
But I must say, that though I will miss her..I am happy for her. How lucky it is that she got to choose her time. That she was done, and so she moted it be. As I take my walks on the beaches of the world, I will think of her. She will always be just a breath away. When I need guidance, she will be there, just a thought away. And the day I get to hold my newborn babe in my arms, she will be there in the child’s first cry. AS, she is everywhere, and in everything to ME, from now until the day I get to hold her hand, and walk on the most magickal beach in some distant land.