‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it’, a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.
OK. The gloves are off. I am about to willingly kick the crap out of my body in order to save it. Healthy cells as well as the mutated ones will be sacrificed. I am home after my fifth brain surgery in which they inserted a shunt to drain the pressurized buildup of what the doctors called “sludge,” a not-to-be-enjoyed concoction of cerebral spinal fluid, dead cancer cells and active cells both cancerous and non. I can actually feel the tube which snakes its way from the back of my head into my abdomen. Wow.
Intravenous chemotherapy will be the next mountain to climb as they are recommending a combined therapy of carboplatin and bevacizumab, widely known as Avastin, a drug which slows the growth of new blood vessels the monster cancer cells need to feed themselves. Microcellular vampires!
A quick glance at the side effects of carboplatin, a part of the family of alkylating agents first discovered to have cytotoxic effects after the use of mustard gas in WWI, appears to be no picnic. I continue to try to push the evilness of this disease over the cliff and look to the good. A news junkie, I am finding it more difficult than in the past to absorb the daily tragedies of murder and mayhem and instead seek sources of inspiration and hope. Not that I am about to wallpaper my home with images of unicorns and rainbows, or puppies and kittens (yet), but such a shift in focus certainly lowers my stress level
I have taken to decreasing the din of the day. Buzzers, ringtones, text and calender alerts have been muted or turned way down. I am, for the first time I can recall, taking the time to just sit. Think. Meditate.
Funny thing is, my neurosurgeon shared in a visit today that due to the nature and location of my tumor, it will be important for friends and family to keep track of any overt or subtle changes in my demeanor as those with my disease in a similar location of the brain often become unaware of changes in their own personality or temperament. He shared that one patient had been found sitting on the couch in his home unaware that he had been doing so for ten hours. It should be thus painfully ironic because sitting for any length of time has never been a skill I mastered.
Hope and inspiration is not hard to find. Friendships, family, community, tales of courage, struggle. Art, music, nature.
When I am really, deeply down and out, there are moments I pull from the past which to this day leave me with profound emotion and lift me up again. Moses Jaenson’s cover of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly at his 8th grade grade graduation in 2008 at my children’s former elementary school, The Grammar School in Putney, Vermont, is one of those moments etched forever in this manner. Thank you Moses.