The past few weeks have been a bit of a transition. I moved out of the friends house I was staying at and took up residence in another good friends "couchsurfers room" while I digested my life and made some decisions around how to move forward. Throughout this process I went through some BIG emotional ups and downs, learned a lot of things, and took a lot of time to nurture myself and reflect (my journal is filling up fast!).
The result of my second CT scan (the one where I thought I would be able to see if the tumor had grown or shrunk) was quite confusing. The initial report said absolutely nothing about the tumor or its size at all. I thought perhaps this meant that the cancer was gone but medical staff assured me that no, I definitely still had cancer. Confused, I requested a more detailed report of the scan. It took three weeks and multiple phone calls for that information to get to me and the results were, unfortunately, no more helpful. A CT scan, as it turns out, cannot differentiate between the cells of a polyp, the cells of a benign tumor, and the cells of a cancerous tumor… it simply identifies cells that are abnormally dense and therefore, as stated in the report, is "a very poor measure of the actual size of the tumor." Well, fuck. So basically, I have no way of knowing for sure if what I have been doing thus far has been shrinking the tumor. In fact, I have no way of knowing what's really going inside of me at all (nerve wracking AF). The only way I was able to be diagnosed with cancer in the first place was via a biopsy during my original colonoscopy.
Instead of freaking out and making any rash decisions, I allowed myself to just be for a few weeks. I needed time to allow my brain to muddle over whether I should continue on with what I am doing, or if I should get surgery. Since returning home from Hawaii, I have continued practicing all of the techniques that I learned there in conjunction with working on slowing down (soooooo freaking agonizing for me), resting, listening to my body, and eating well. I've also been putting a lot of time into working on healing internal wounds and cleaning up resentments/amending external relationships that had gone awry. If there's one thing that being diagnosed with cancer teaches you, it is that being angry or resentful towards anyone is not worth it and that relationships are important.
There have been good days and bad days. The good days have been absolutely awe inspiring and amazingly divine (some true universal magic occurred). The bad days though, have started to become REALLY tough as tremendous pain buried deep within my being began erupting to the surface. Throughout this process, the fear of the great unknown started to take its hold on me. It was easy to not worry about cancer during my time in Hawaii because I was away from the stressors of my life and lived in a sort of 'bubble' surrounded with people who understood and believed in the body's ability to heal itself as well as people who had cured their own cancer. What I was doing was not considered weird there. Now that I am back home I have all of the "life stuff" to deal with and live in an environment where trying to heal yourself is far from the norm. Along with that, being on such a restricted and regimented diet has begun to become fairly stressful and I began to question what was worse… the stress of the restricted diet or treating myself to some cancer loving coffee and a sugary chocolate bar. *Spoiler alert* I chose the latter and it was THE BEST THING EVER! For my mind at least. My body likely disagrees.
A little over a week ago (as full Harvest Moon approached) tears began to erupt out of my being with unpredictable and explosive force. I cried and I cried and I cried and I cried and I cried. I began crying because I realized that I was afraid of cancer but then the crying morphed into so much more. I spent an entire Saturday staring out into the ocean, sobbing. I cried because I was scared but I also cried because I felt lost. I cried because I didn't know what to do. I cried because I feel so bad about myself. I cried because I felt lonely. I cried because I didn't know where to go that would feel like home. I cried because I didn't know how to feel good. I cried because I didn't know what I want to do with my life. I cried for reasons I didn't even understand but knew they were coming from my inner child. I cried because I felt so sad for the beautiful and pure little girl that was born on May 21, 1984 at 22:55 in room 211, wondering what happened to her along the way to make her feel like such a failure at life today. I cried for myself. And although the tears came from deep seeded pain, it felt good to let them out. I did not abandon myself and run from my feelings. I felt them, as uncomfortable they were, knowing that this was part of the healing process.
The following Monday I had an appointment at the hospital to discuss my options. I spent the first 20 minutes of the ride crying... I DID NOT want to be in this position in life. I then spent the remaining hour of the ride doing qigong to get myself calm, focused and in a position to be able to approach the appointment in an objective fashion. Once at the appointment, I spent 40 minutes asking LOTS of questions. I got detailed information about the types of tests available, every aspect of the potential surgery as well as risks involved, and, what recovery would look like. Although disappointed that there were not better tests available to tell me exactly how much cancer I had, I felt well informed when I left the appointment. For the remainder of the day, I let my brain muddle over the information I'd just recieved and my feelings about it all.
The next morning upon opening my eyes, the very first thought that came into my head was that I wanted to get surgery. I decided to listen. I spent an hour doing qigong and then made the call. I'll tell you, calling the hospital and asking to be hacked open when you are terrified of surgery and believe at your core that it is not pertinent for recovery required a level of bravery I did not know existed within me. I was in a bit of a daze for the remainder of the day and glad my friend was there to spend time with me. The next day, I got a call with the date of my surgery: September 25th, 2019. As soon as I hung up the phone I went into shock and started hyperventilating and crying. Holy fuck, this is actually my life. I am actually getting hacked open to cut cancer, CANCER out of my body and giving up my road trip to Vermont to see the fall colors to have it done. What??? Just, what??? How did I arrive here? This is my life right now. O.M.G. Holy fuck.
So, this is where I'm at folks. I'm glad to say that my mind has, to some degree, managed to wrap itself around the fact that I am getting "hacked open" (I realize I was being super dramatic at the time) and I am super grateful for the well trained and knowledgeable staff who will do the job. I'm FAR from stoked, but I will say that I am looking forward to some downtime, zero responsibilities, and good narcotics(lol). I also have to say that I am SOOOOOO grateful for my family at Kokolulu Farm and Cancer Retreat who have been with me this entire journey, both in person and via distant communication. I am also unbelievably grateful to everyone who supported me and helped me to get to Kokolulu in the first place. The things I learned during my time in Hawaii were absolutely life changing and I now have an amazing set of tools to help me throughout the remainder of my journey, as well as the rest of my life. *And yes, I realize that I still have not published a post on how Hawaii was, but I promise it is coming. It's just that so, sooo, sooooo much happened in the 34 days I was there that I'm literally just starting to make sense of it all. That blog post is currently a stack of notes on various pieces of paper/sticky notes. Hold tight, it is coming.
Now, let's just pray that this surgery is THE END of my cancer journey. As I said previously, until the surgeon gets inside, and pathology tests are done on the section removed, we really don't know a lot about what is going on. I'm tired of being someone with a cancer diagnosis and am ready to start moving forward in my life. Let. This. Be. It.
Peace, love and thank you for following me on my journey from cancer to full health,