Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finding Hope & Faith & the Smallest Angel on a High School Track

Well, as if yesterday was not bad enough, the evening got worse.  I was in terrible pain with my port at about 3 am, to the point of nausea, and came very close to going to the emergency room.  I did not fall asleep till after 5 am this morning.

I wasn't sure if I'd make it to the Relay for Life, but I really wanted to go.  Really wanted to go.  I told Husband about my painful night and had him look at my chest.

"That looks awful, you have to call, I don't think you should wait.  If that was me, you would be all over me to call.  Look, it looks like part of your port is coming up through the incision.  Something is not right."

Oh geez.  He's right.  Ok.  Calm down.  I called my oncologist's office.  I was not sure which of the doctor's would be on call this weekend.  I was hoping it was The Good Witch.

Sure enough, the answering service put me on hold, and there she was, on the phone with me.  I told her my incision was getting worse, and it appeared as if part of it was rising up to the surface like it was going to push its way out.

She always talks reason to me and calms me down.  She asked me about any redness around the incision or on my chest?  Yes like a halo around the incision, but no on my chest.  Fever?  No.  How much pain?  Comes and goes, feels like my body is rejecting the port and trying to get rid of it out of the incision that won't heal.  She did not want me to have to go to the emergency room, wait and wait, and then have whoever is on call remove the port.  She told me to keep an eye on it, and she would be on call all weekend, and call back anytime if I think I need to go to ER.  She wanted me to call the surgeon on Monday and ask if he could see me on Monday possibly (my appt. with him is Tuesday morning).

I asked her could I cancel having my PICC line put in on Monday?  Can I have the port taken out first and then worry about getting the PICC in?  She said that was fine.

I felt better after talking to her.  She said to put a large gauze bandage on the incision and keep an eye on it, and let her know if anything changes.

I put the bandage on it.  On the port, which is shaped like a triangular Lego, there are three little raised dots on the points of the triangle.  This way the chemo nurses can feel for the little dots, and stick you in direct center of the triangle.  It does look like one of the dots of my port is just under the surface of my incision.  You can see a little black dot and you can feel it.  Oh Lordy.

I got ready for the Relay.  Feeling very fragile and sleep deprived.

Husband, Robin and I went to St. Vincent's High School, and had no idea the Relay was such a huge event.  Over 100 teams this year were in place to walk the track for twenty four hours.  Their goal was to raise $250,000.  I went in and registered at the "survivors" table.  They gave me a purple T-shirt and purple wrist band that signifies I am a survivor, and painted my hand so I could leave my hand print and signature on a banner.

Then I started seeing some of my peeps.  Hello Emily's Mama, and all her posse of people that organize and put together this event.  Emily's Mama introduced them all to me, we had not met yet, but they have been reading my blog.

Wow.  What blessings I received standing there, hearing how much they loved my blog and me without even knowing me.  How much the blog had affected how they view their life and has been the kick in the ass needed to stop whining and live each day with intention.  I hadn't been there ten minutes, and I was bawling.

Damn this cancer thing sucks, but what an outpouring of love and support for me.  I am proud of me.  I see how my little blog is like that pebble thrown into glassy water, and the little ripples keep traveling and having their effect on the universe.  My little blog, like the butterfly effect, changing the weather in someone's life.

The flutter of my wings kissing you on your eyelashes, moving you to make a shift in your life.

I was bawling.

It was only the beginning.

We all got ready to do the survivor's lap.  So many of us, with purple shirts on, so many of us.  Every race and age and gender.  So many of us.        

I was pulled over to help carry the banner at the front of the walkers.  That was cool.  So there I stood, with my cancer peeps, waiting to walk the track.

I did not realize what a gift I would receive along the way.

Bagpipes played in front of us, and we carried the banner with over three hundred survivors behind us, walking the soft dirt track of that high school.  People on both sides of the track cheered us on as we walked.  Husband videoed and Robin waved.  They were proud of me. I was proud of me.

Then in the crowd I saw my Vonda.  There she was, clapping and waving for me.  There she was.

I was not alone as I walked with all the others who have also heard three of the hardest words you will ever hear.

You have cancer.

I could have walked that track all day.  I could have.  Did I mention my article was also part of the program handed out at the Relay?  Very cool.  Wow.  The butterfly effect.

I came home feeling so good and peaceful and humbled and grateful and hopeful and energized.

After yesterday, what a blessing this morning was.  But wait.  Wait till you hear this.

Tonight, I went back to the Relay to see the lighting of the luminaries.  I made one for my Mom, and I made one for me.  I put angel and butterfly stickers on our luminaries and our names.  On Mom's, the day she was born, and the day she became an angel.  On mine, my diagnosis date and the words Dream, Hope, Believe.

I placed the luminaries next to each other on the edge of the track, along with hundreds and hundreds of other luminaries.  Enough to line the whole track.  Hundreds of them.

Husband and I sat for a minute in the bleachers as people walked by on the track.  The luminary ceremony started, and a guest speaker was announced.

None other than my surgeon.

Holy shit.  He is here.  Right now.  The man I need to talk to Monday morning.  The man that needs to take this port out.  The man that needs to look at me.  He is here.

Vonda had said she would also come back, I messaged her.  "OMG he is here, can you believe it???  Where are you?"

My surgeon addressed the large crowd and as I listened to him, I wasn't so mad at him anymore.  I was really nervous to talk to him, I don't know why.  Husband insisted this was an opportunity not to be missed.

He finished his speech and stepped down off the stage.  Husband walked away from me and headed over to talk to him.  I waited a minute then followed.

There were both looking for me as I walked up.

"How do you like me as a redhead?" I asked, giving him a hug.  I took the red girl out tonight.

"Very nice" he said "You look great" and he gave me a warm hug back and looked very concerned.

He has had no idea that I have had such trouble with this second port.

I told him I was scheduled to see him Tuesday morning, and even calling on Monday to try and get in sooner.  I could tell he wanted to look at my port.  It was dark out there, only lit by luminaries.  Husband used his phone as a little flashlight and surgeon took a look.

"Here's what we can do.  I am not available on Monday, but instead of seeing you at the Cancer Center on Tuesday morning, if you will come to my other office Tuesday afternoon which is equipped differently, I can take out your port that afternoon."

He was so concerned and so accommodating and so human, I just didn't feel upset with him anymore.  It was like a miracle talking to him in this setting, and seeing him at the Relay.

It felt like divine intervention.  He was placed there for me.  That may sound crazy but I swear, that's how it felt.  This coincidence was no coincidence at all.  It was a gift, delivered to me, right on time.

I felt so relieved.  Ok nervous too, I know that port ain't going down without a fight.  Tuesday that bitch is toast.

I am going to cancel the PICC on Monday, have the port out on Tuesday, and reschedule the PICC for another day this week.  Friday, chemo day, will be my new start.

What a day.  My first Relay for Life.  I plan on going and walking that track for years to come.  I forgot to mention, they gave each of us survivors a purple balloon and wrote on it how long we had been a survivor.  They wrote one year on mine since I am in my first year.  I am looking forward to when my balloon says 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and more.

A lady in front of me was a 36 year survivor of cancer.

That's gonna be me someday.  Still finding hope and faith on a high school track.

What a day.

and what a night.  Blessings lighting my way like lanterns on a path, like luminaries on a track.

It made me cry to see my luminary and my mom's lit up, but there was one luminary out of the hundreds that stopped me in my tracks.

It was in memory of an adorable little boy.  On his decorated luminary was a photo of his shining sweet face, his name, and 2002-2005 written underneath.

He was only three.

He was only three.

1 comment:

kim said...

ok, I just sat here crying as I am reading your blog. I am pretty tired after Relay, came home and slept for 4 hours. It was so good to see you. I'm so glad you came, and I look forward to seeing you walk that track for many, many years to come. Thank you for being there for all of us. Emily's mama and all of her friends love you. You inspire us.

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