There was a period of time when I had sisterhood envy. I remember watching movies about travelling pants and sororities and coming away feeling lonely and sad. When I lost my best friend Katie in a car accident, my girlfriend count plummeted. I was at a loss, I didn't know how to establish a group of girlfriends and I felt incredibly sad about missing out on such a rite of passage as a women. I spent a few years floating from recreation class to recreation class becoming increasingly depressed about my lack of sisterhood. And then, like magic, here they were. I know there were a few integral pieces that had to fall into place to make these women appear. First of all, I became a teacher. This opened up a huge social circle that had been previously out of reach and then, and this is the clincher, I became a mother. All of a sudden, it was as if I could talk to and connect with any woman that crossed my path. It was unbelievable to me how easy it was to converse with other moms and not only converse, bond. The third and final piece was connecting with a couple of pivotal women who had their feet firmly planted in both circles. These women, escorted me in and lovingly accepted my friendship. Thank goodness, because today these women have become a lifeline and I don't know what I would do without them.
After my incredible new years eve good news, I took a hit. My oncologist suggested going off one of the hormone therapy drugs I was taking because it was causing me back pain. And so, after the appointment, I tucked my self into bed that night happily without taking my nightly pill. When I woke up the next morning, New Years Day, I could barely move. My back pain had gone from painful and uncomfortable to excruciating. I made my way downstairs and lay down on my couch and didn't move for five days. On the fifth day, I got a call from my oncologist, checking in on my pain situation. My reaction was not what he had expected and my report to him seemed to send him into the land of uncertainty. He suggested that maybe my pain was a result of the cancer spreading into my bones, a notion I completely rejected. He wanted me to have a bone scan done immediately. My response was a firm “no way”. I had a bone scan in October that came back clear and I don't believe for a second that the cancer has leached its way into my bones. Also, bone scans tend to be insanely stressful and are completely toxic, no thanks. Then he said he would look closely at my previous scans with a radiologist and get back to me. When he got back to me, he seemed satisfied that my scan looked healthy and suggested that maybe I consider an alternative hormone therapy or a “mild” chemotherapy. I told him that I am working closely with a naturopathic doctor and I am waiting for the results of a blood test that would determine the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs on MY cancer.
This test will see my blood sample sent to Greece, where they will grow MY cancer cells and treat them with all of the conventional chemotherapy drugs available to see which ones work and which ones don't (seems like common sense doesn't it, I mean who would have dreamed of tailoring a treatment plan to the patient's specific body chemistry?) My oncologist agreed and said he would be in touch. Then he called me back a couple of days later, this time convinced that the cancer was indeed spreading and that he would like to run through the mild side effects of the chemotherapy. Let's see, hair thinning (not lost, this seem to be an important point for him to get across.) mouth sores, swollen hands and feet, diarrhoea etc. Etc. Sound's like a walk in the park doesn't it? Again, I declined his suggestion. I have to say, that I know my oncologist has my best interest at heart, I know he wants to take the cancer away. I know he cares deeply about my well being and the interest of my family however, I feel that he is acting from a place of panic and fear right now. I want to tell him that it's okay that he doesn't have an answer. I was aware from the beginning that there is no straight forward cure and I'm okay with that. But I'm not okay making decisions from a place of fear. I want to be informed and confident. I want to believe in my treatment. If this blood test comes back (a blood test that will cost upwards of $4000.00, I'm adding this because with out the support of my incredible community and friends this test would not be accessible, and for that I am beyond grateful) showing a positive result for a conventional chemotherapy drug, then and only then will I consider it.
Anyway needless to say, the time I spent in pain was a dark period that I have no desire to ever visit again. Pain is a crazy thing that messes with your mind. It wakes you up at three in the morning and forces you to confront fears that you have worked so hard to minimize. It makes you panic, it makes you sad, it makes you scared. But here, this is where my sisterhood stepped in. Before Christmas, I was given a gift of love that far exceeded any present I have ever been given in my lifetime. When I was diagnosed again in September, these women, my personal group of angels got together as women would have in days gone by. They collected bits and pieces, scraps and stories and together they wove a healing shawl. These women came together and stitched their loving intentions into a blanket that is nothing short of the greatest gift of love I have ever received. Every block, every stitch was created by love and as I lay on my back, I wrapped myself tight, knowing that I was healing, knowing that I was loved. And then of course, as any sisterhood would they began the rituals of taking care of thier own.
They rubbed my feet, they kissed my head, they tucked me in, they made my bed.
They soothed my fears, they feed my soul, they held my hand, they made me laugh. They continue to come to doctor appointments with me, they make me playlists, they make me soup, they make me chicken 1000 different ways. They have formed a human chainlink fence around me and they guard me with every ounce of compassion they own. They check in, they call, they stop by, they lie on the living room floor beside me. They tidy my kitchen, they bring me books, they look after my son and they feed us food that has been infused with pure love. They rally without being asked or expected. They are mothers, some of them grandmothers. They are healers, teachers, soothers. They are the sisters that have been hand chosen by circumstance and fate to walk beside me. They never falter, they are completely dependable. They laugh and cry with me, they pray with me and stay with me. They listen, they advise, they are brilliant, they are wise. These women are my safe house and I love each of them. I love each of them differently but all the same.
To each of you, and you all know who you are, I love you. You are healing me and it will be our greatest feat because I believe your medicine is the miracle that is going to take place. Thank you.