The hard thing about being human are the times when you are breaking through a glass ceiling to a new level of awareness.. No one breaks it for you. It is your hammer, it is your choice. To acknowledge and break, or to sit there looking upward and see all the spots in the glass that time forgot to see or to you just forgot to clean.
Somehow, when you are below this threshold, hammer in hand, what you find you are preoccupied with is, at least for me, are the ‘shoulds’. Should I break the glass?, Is this the right time? Should I tell the truth about what is happening to me right now? should I risk everything to tell the truth? And what will happen if I do? As in my case, - will I die?, Will I be abandoned? Will I let my family down? And because it will come out that I had failed to use ‘Windex’ to keep my my glass ceiling sparkling clean, would Netflix now deny me future streaming and viewing privileges of ‘my big fat greek wedding’?
So about seven weeks ago, for no reason I could decipher, I started unintentionally dragging my left foot as I walked. I started to become extremely forgetful, and the balance and strength I had worked months/years on cultivating, were being challenged on a minute by minute basis. Scary stuff.
I think I fell 5 or 6 times in a week after completing several years in a ‘fall free’ status. something my PTs saw as evidence of ‘normal’ cognitive and motor cortex functioning.I don’t think I’ll ever forget the panic I felt when I fell one day when I had the classic TV commercial playout in my head, ‘Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…my legs didn’t have have the strength to get me up, regardless of how many times I uttered my personal mantra,
” I have the power’
As I lay on the floor looking up – I saw myself in a mirror looking down on just the other side of the glass ceiling. I wasn’t going anywhere soon. I began berating myself for this ‘new change’. This was not supposed to happened especially after all those wretched weeks/months of high dose chemo and radiation! – I thought I earned the ‘right’ to be symptom free for at least a few years! Who was my GOD to now deal me another challenging hand? I just didn’t understand their intentions. This new twist, seemed cruel and usual punishment .I honestly took it very personally. I was not willing to think differently, I was in a space of total mental negativity.A bad place for a person with Cancer.
I ask, Can you blame me?I soo wanted to languish on the floor in my denial and resentment, and not deal with reality, no matter what.
(To be sure, I come prepared…I stash TP throughout my apartment for this very purpose in self deception).
But the problem with doing this long term, is that invariably, nature calls and you have to get up. or try too, or you have a HUGE mess to clean up ….alone, angry and frustrated.Better to call my doctor,and be honest.which is what I did.
And the sparks began to fly!
Next, the Uber powerful steroid dexamethasone was started twice a day, to begin to reduce my apparent brain swelling, a Perfusion MRIwas scheduled within days of my calling, numerous blood tests,me telling the doctors and nurses the whole truth and nothing but…. I felt like all of my life was on a photographer’s light table and the doctors were using a huge loupe to look at all angles of me.I feared I had done something wrong. I lost the progress I had made this summer after all that *^%%* suffering. I started to wonder should I feel like a failure?
Certainly that’s a choice one can make, There are aspects of cancer that you can choose to hide from yourself, sometimes you feel compelled to do this exercise in personal state of denial, as a way to get up in the morning when you are hurting so from treatment, you are SO tired of setbacks and want to have a safe ‘world’ filled magical thinking, and no trauma – emotional or physical. To live in ‘all will be well’ world.as Loiuse Hay says. BTW, I love her!
But, I digress…
Part of the ceiling breaking, included a visit to my two favorite doctors on Earth. A rare treat for me, as they made time in their incredibly busy schedules to not only offer surgical counseling , but we had agreed on getting a second opinion at the same time I was at Univ of Chicago medical center.
At the first meeting the info presented was very hard to hear and I was told I ran a 5-10% chance of more disability following a long asleep surgery.
The tumor had indeed grown very large(HUGE!), still not impacting eloquent areas – like the first one, but the thought now was this growth was more of the same original cancer, just really aggressive.When I heard I’d be asleep, when I processed knowing the first surgery was a 1-3% margin risk/injury and I had come out profoundly impacted and my life as I had known it was no longer the same, nor ever would be again.I told my beloved surgeon, to whom I trusted with my life,that I declined surgery and treatment; wishing instead to finish my life with a sense of dignity and responsibility for myself and release all from a sense of burden regarding my end. i was again strongly counseled all I had to look forward to was a few months of agony before dying.
Still again, I declined treatment, Personally stunned with what my soul was saying with such depth of faith and ease. Somehow that glass ceiling which had been holding me bound in fear,had been clean of all imperfections, and I saw the God of my understanding, waiting there for me with their arms open.I felt no fear, no anxiety. I was being to true to my highest self.I was so proud of myself, I was not a failure in any sense of the word.
In the meantime my surgeon left the room, and we all were sitting there in stunned silence. glass everywhere…
IAs I sat there with my parents, my brother and sister on speaker phone in stunned silence,;I contemplated how in the world to say goodbye to you all. To let you see that my choices were my own and my path, though I was and now am completely in the dark at the present moment, was a place I could live with with; my faith as my guide and my compass.I would walk forward trusting light would dawn.
Then Dr #2 came in the room…..
He asked if Dr #1 had gone over options,
I said, ‘yes’ and I had declined treatment and surgery’.
He asked, had Dr#1 given you other oncology treatment options?
I said,”No…. he had not…..I did not know any other options, other than I was going to die in 1-3 months – a horrible death”, as I was told by an expert whom I trusted.
Then a miracle happened.Someone struck a match.
I was given a precious gift.
This is seriously a true story.Two years ago, I happened, completely out of the blue, to see a Ted Talk featuring Dr. William Li, who was presenting a talk on cancer and foods that cause an angiogenisis effect in the body and brain.It was absolutely fascinating. speaking as a former chef.
I put this talk, and the intuition I felt for me personally as as a potential viable option, in my mind in a secure area – never to be forgotten, and to my neuro-oncologist’s credit, he patiently listened to me as I repeated brought up this style treatment as my cancer advanced and morphed; sharing with me that I did not qualify to use the drugs out there even though I was hearing great new from friends using the drugs to halt their diseases.Please watch and check out his foundation.frustration!
And then as Dr#2 sat there – me thinking I was a goner, he offered me Manna.He said out of the blue, “Anna, have you ever heard of drugs that have a angiogenesis impact on tumor blood flow?
Oh my God! Oh my God! This is what I had been waiting 2+ years for!
The Universe had come into that room of darkness and not only broke the glass ceiling for me , but filled the room with hope, light, faith and grace. I now understood fully the meaning of the hymn, Amazing grace’.The God of my understanding was my partner and he had not left on the floor ,alone and paralyzed, but he gave me his hand to hold onto as I got up. His belief in me, was now my hope and strength, to persevere come what may.
It was noted, my treatment, avastin is experimental in my treatment regime. The idea is that it will stop blood blow to my brain tumors, as I supplement with foods that Dr Li talk about.
I get to incorporate my culinary background and self healing together, infusing all with positive affirmations and a total elimination of fear based thinking.. Very Powerful imagery indeed.
To that end, I’ve had a surgical port put into my chest, so my every 2 week infusion will be a piece of cake! Tuesday 2/18, my 52nd birthday not only will I celebrate with Avastin, but I live the day feeling truly alive and grateful for all the broken glass around me.
What I love about this image is that glass can be recycled into new and better things……
I love you all and cannot wait to share this next year with you! Thank you for your prayers – reading my blog entries and walking with me.