My life is broken into a labyrinth of foggy moments. It's not that I'm sad - merely existing as a floating illusion simultaneously here and gone. I'm disappointed at how disruptive the side effects of the new treatment are. Extreme fatigue and intermitent nausea keep me home, quiet, and counting the weeks flying by. I don't believe that I'm near the End yet too tired to move much or get out, walk, let alone jog or run.
I have been taking Lynparza/Olaparib for a month. I've run out of medication and refilling the prescription has led to some fumbling and I pray there are no risks of serious withdrawal from abruptly quitting. We hope that the new batch of pills will arrive soon.
Entering my 5th year as a rare statistic makes the unknown danger feel like it's looming closer so I'm constantly looking over my shoulder. Reality endangers my hope and infests my optimism while I'm persistently rewarded with amputation, tumor by tumor, of this affliction. It's a miracle that I'm alive but I'm cursed with fear and uncertainty. I grab at faith and hope like straws. Some days I feel like the only thing sustaining my survival is a melting precipice of ice.
I spend time reflecting. For my 7th birthday, I had a fabulous party at the local skating rink. Once upon a time, I was obsessed with figure skating. I was often found "iceskating" like my favorites: Dorothy Hamill and Katarina Witt. Twirling down our long driveway on my 4-wheel rollerskates, I became an Olympic champion (at least in my active imagination). Another favorite champion Olympic skater, Scott Hamilton, is on a journey with brain cancer and experiencing a 3rd recurrence. I was inspired by his faith and metaphorical use of iceskating to glorify the meaningfulness of life especially when forced to face a deadly and unabating challenge such as cancer. The Gold medal-winning figure skater talks about “Get Up,” a new initiative to remind people that everyone will fail at times, but that it’s important to not let it keep you down. I will post the video below.
A graceful figure skater glides across the ice; spinning and leaping without looking down. Every champion skater falls countless times in a blur of spinning color crashing and sliding across slippery ice. A successful skater will lumber and rise countless times on their way to the next championship not knowing which medal will be their last or when they will be forced to retire their battered skates. The only given is how cold the ice is not how hard or how many times they will fall down. How will they choose to get up? Will they smile and wipe the ice crystals from their injured egos?
If I can still get up from the bed or the couch, is my life still miraculous and worthy? What about when I can no longer physically get up? If my own hope and faith determines the value of my presence, does declining hope and faith signify depreciating value? Quality? I am literally skating on thin ice.
This is where I stand bracing for the next storm to hit. I've fallen down and so looking up is my only way to grasp at any satisfaction, my life, my destiny... I still believe that I may physically get up and "skate" again. For now I have no choice but to adjust my expectations of life, myself, and achieving a new kind of championship. It's not the End but in the End my falls will not define me. When the final fall is near, I hope to land gracefully and I hope that what radiates from within will painlessly and swiftly melt the ice away leaving a legacy of love, faith, hope, and joy. Inevitably, it's not how or how long you stayed upright on the ice - it's how you fell and how you got up. At the End it's also how about the manner in which you stayed down - how you made life meaningful in any position and any circumstance.