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.