Cancer Update #4

Feb 13, 2015

Dear Friends, Family & Colleagues,

I’ve been out of the hospital for 10 days and back in our home for 5. It was sad to leave the rich and generous camaraderie of friends, Amy and Maureen; on the other hand it has been wonderful to be back in our house. Our amazing contractor (happy to share his name, Torontonians) has done a superb job (under budget and in the time allotted). It is like moving into a new house. The kitchen is so well designed, it is a delight to work in – light, airy and easy to move around. We keep not bumping into one another! We’ve been having fun figuring out where things go and how the new systems will work. The old mud room off the kitchen was a rackety-packety mess, so it didn’t matter if the stinky fish grill was beside the dog leash and next to the beer bottles. The new mud room is so ordered and pristine, it is a fun game figuring out where things go.

So this is all a pleasant backdrop to our ongoing cancer challenges. I’m trying to adjust to the weekly chemo-side effects cycle, if, indeed, there is a consistent cycle. The steroids give a roller coaster ride which alternately lessen my pain (hurrah!), but deprive me of sleep and up my blood sugar (boo!) and then 24 hours later do the opposite. The chemo itself initially had no side effect and then in the 2nd week it hit me with a fatigue the likes of which I’d never had. “Weakness” somehow describes it better for me. A state of no-energy. Chemo day is Thursdays and this state of lassitude didn’t arrive until Sat, which, unfortunately, was the day we were moving home. Fortunately many friends came to help move and unpack. I went to bed. The extreme weak state didn’t lift until the next afternoon. So I don’t know if this is going to be how all 16 weeks of the induction chemo are going to unfold. One day at a time.

My priority right now, other than coping with chemo and going to a million doc appointments is my art. I have the good fortune of a deadline in early March – my Humber colleagues and I are having a faculty show then. I hope to have the first pieces of my cancer series done then. The body has always been my subject – now more than ever. It is a long shot with the chemo-side effects dance in the foreground, but it is a good goal to aim towards. If I can’t make it, so be it. With that in mind, I’m going to sadly put off the many Toronto friends who have offered to come and visit. Art first.

When I saw the oncologist last week, I asked her about the myeloma treatment plan buying me time. “Yes,” she said. “I hope to buy you 10 years.” Ten years. It is strange to have a number attached to the days of ones’ life. Of course we all have a number attached, we just don’t know what it is. Granted, I too, don’t really know what my number is; nonetheless statistics and all that. So what would you do with 10 years? Somehow the important aspects of life immediately become sharper and more in focus. Yes, Peter and I cherish each other more consciously every day. I cherish my circles of community – intimate friends, family, wider circles of friends, former students, new choir friends, colleagues, and old friends in far away places. You make this all much sweeter. More art making. The “one day at a time” mantra demands being more present and that makes me more alive. On the other hand I’m still in the whirlwind of all this and haven’t a clue what it all means.

I love getting all your emails, cards, letters, books, teabags and love; with art & chemo on the table, I may not be able to respond.






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