Sunday, October 31, 2010

Red Tree For Jenn By Tara Colborne

Your words.

They have become our sanctuary, our knowing
Like you, they grow


Your words have changed us
Your words have healed us
Your words are here and now and tomorrow and forever and red

These are your words:

You are a child of the universe
You are “growing”, you are “exceptional”, you are “loved”
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should
You perceive the surreal and the surrender
“I need a sign, give me the sign that today will be...”

… a beautiful world. It is still a beautiful world.

You believe in the poetry and the signs and the love
and spit out
terminal palliative chronic
Spit them out
and fill up on
sweet love, spreading love, love of family, love of Coady,
gratitude and love, bravery and love

“Green tree, green tree, green tree, red tree, green tree, green tree.”

This world is not our home.
There is something more.
And miles to go before you sleep,
And miles to go before you sleep.

“Green tree, green tree, green tree, red tree, green tree, green tree.”

You are our red tree.

Please God
Watch over me and protect me and keep me safe.

And then there was love. Knock.
There was always love. Breathe
There will always be love. Shine.


(A mostly found poem inspired by the blog: by Tara Colborne
I don’t know Jenn but her blog battered my heart and made me weep and shake, but, ultimately, made me, finally, love and be grateful.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It doesn't get any better than this!

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! Those of you who know me well, know that I am a HUGE fan of Stuart McLean, host of CBC radio show, the Vinyl Cafe (shame on you Canadians who just said “who?”). I have been listening to the Vinyl Cafe for about ten years now and never get tired of listening to Stuart's voice. As a storyteller, he is mesmerizing and as a writer, he is heartfelt and hilarious. Stuart's writing style is uniquely charming and always aspires to demonstrate the finer virtues of humanity, his style is one that I aspire to in my own writing.
This past May, as I flipped through the newspaper I noticed that Stuart was coming to Courtenay in October, I called the box office immediately but was told that tickets wouldn't be on sale for quite some time and to keep trying back. To my dismay, by the time we returned from our trip this summer the show was sold out. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I decided to write to Stuart. I wanted to share with him what my community has done for my family, he loves that kind of stuff! So I emailed the letter and then called my friend Chantel, who is also a huge Stuart fan. I suggest she write to Stuart too and she informed me that she wrote to Stuart four days earlier! Okay, this is a long winded story so I'll keep it short. Chantel called the next morning, her letter had been responded to and we were offered...BACKSTAGE PASSES to the show! I'm not sure if I can accurately describe the emotional bliss I am feeling. Imagine getting backstage passes to a Madonna concert, now instead of a blonde bendy woman in leather, imagine a grey haired gent in a nice pair of slacks, and instead of singing and dancing think more storytelling and chuckling...okay, basically Stuart McLean is my Madonna. It's not a smooth comparison but I'm sure you get the picture. The picture is that tonight, I get to meet one of the greatest influences of my writing, and he might even read words that I wrote! WOW!

I know this seems like luck but consider this...

When you learn what this world is,
how it works,
you automatically start getting miracles...
what others will call miracles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Staying Positive

A few weeks ago I was walking downtown and ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while. She asked me how I was doing and it was clear that she hadn't heard about the cancer returning. I began to tell her and as the word “terminal” parted my lips, I thought to myself, I have to stop saying that word. There is really nothing good to be said about this word, it's not very poetic, it doesn't feel good in my mouth when I say it, and furthermore, it doesn't describe me. As I left her and headed towards home, I passed a car parked along the sidewalk. I glanced through the passenger side window and on the dashboard was a giant neon pink sticker that read, POSITIVE. Okay, I get it, I thought out loud, I have since decided to disown the word “terminal”.

The day before my appointment with my oncologist, we spoke with one of the doctors in Mexico that I will be seeing. He went through his treatment protocol with us and at the top of his list was a hormone therapy, the same therapy being offered to me here. Never say never, I guess. I will be starting the hormone treatment here at home sometime this week. I feel much better about the decision knowing that the treatment plan in Mexico supports the drug plan up here. My oncologist seemed optimistic as he gave me the results of my bone scan and CT. The bone scan was clear, so no cancer in my bones and the CT scan looked great. So at this point, the disease does not seem aggressive and my goal is to keep it that way. We are considering going to Mexico sometime in January. That will give the hormone treatment time to settle in and will give us a baseline to work from.

The past month has been a complete whirlwind but things are settling down and a new normalcy is taking shape. I am well. I feel healthy, safe, excited and loved. Loved beyond measure. I am learning how to surrender to the waves of emotion, that come less often but still exist. The fear and sadness are raw, and the unfairness is biting. When they well up I am often overtaken, but it passes and when I kiss Coady goodnight, and tuck him in I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love. When I lay my head down at night I say a prayer of gratitude and remind myself, “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened”.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Spread Love

Surrendering is not something I do naturally. I am strong willed, so much so that I often surprise myself. When I became pregnant with Coady I was advised by my University faculty to take a year off. They suggested how tired I would be, and how stressful it would get balancing academic and domestic arts. Less than one week after giving birth to Coady, I was back in school. Determined to finish my degree, I sat through classes perched on my exercise ball while Dave walked the halls with our newborn son. Dave would quietly bring Coady into the class so I could nurse him and all the while I didn't bat an eye. I graduated in December with the rest of my class.

You see, what the faculty advisors didn't understand was that I was an exceptional student.
I'm about to show my doctors, that I am an exceptional patient.

The drive was quiet, on our way to Victoria last Wednesday. I spent a lot of time looking out the window trying to grasp the surreal nature of my current reality. As we climbed over the Malahat, I thought to myself, “I need a sign, give me a sign that today will be okay”. And then I thought, “show me a red tree, if everything is going to be okay today, show me a red tree.” As we drove I watched intently. Not a red tree in sight. As we rounded a corner I turned my head and looked out Dave's window and low and behold there was a driveway lined with maple trees. Green tree, green tree, green tree, green tree, red tree, green tree, green tree... I'm sure Dave heard my sigh of relief. I settled back into my seat contented for a moment until I admittedly acknowledged my cheat. It's freaking October, there are red trees everywhere. I was going to need a bigger sign. I began to focus, I watched intently as we moved into the city. Just as we approached the cancer clinic and my hope was beginning to fade I glimpsed out my window one more time, desperate for anything that looked remotely promising. A large white delivery truck was parked along the sidewalk, as my eye continued to the back end I noticed two words had been spray painted in black. To my disbelief, the sign read “SPREAD LOVE”.
“Did you see that!” I exclaimed to Dave. “Did you see what that truck said?” I then gave him the run down of my thought process. “Isn't that crazy?” I asked him.
“It's not crazy”, he replied calmly, “it just means you're growing”.
Yeah, that's Dave, he's kind of amazing that way.

Our visit with the oncologist was sobering to say the least. It was easy to recognize the disappointment in my doctors eyes when he walked into the room. He was just as unhappy to see us as we were to see him. After a brief examination that involved lots of tapping and pressing, he gave us his plan. Hormone therapy. Palliative therapy. Palliative, now there's a word that will bring you to your knees. Menopause at 31. Sometimes I find that doctors seem removed from the meaning of the words that they use. They throw around terms like menopause and sterility as easily as hiccups and indigestion. There is no cure, but we can treat it as a chronic disease. No cure.

I've had some time to think about his options and this Friday, I have an appointment with him at 11:00. I can't begin to explain the courage it's going to take to look into this doctor's eyes and tell him that I do not wish to take the hormone therapy, nor can I explain the strength I will need to tell him that quality of life is more important to me that quantity. It's difficult to portray with words the bravery required to go against the mainstream and look for alternatives but I'm sure the words will come. The truth is, it's difficult being exceptional.