Monday, October 19, 2009

Juggling Acorns and Rainbows

So I've had my first chemo treatment, and thus far, thankfully, everything has been going fine. All the symptoms are very manageable, if they exist at all. So I must say that the mental trials have eclipsed the physical ones by one hundred fold. When I say mental, I mean more than just emotional.

Many of the resources available to cancer patients to help with deal with the physical and emotional pain, but there are very few resources to deal with the elements outside of those two realms, which I like to call the organizational pain. On top of my regular life, I have to organize many doctor's appointments, dozen of medications including dosages and times, preparations for chemo, including stocking up on food, medical supplies, books, filling out endless medical forms, making sure they get submitted to the right people, making sure everything is set up for working from home...the to-do list was endless and seem to grow not unlike the tumors in my boob.

I realized that the stress from the organizational pain could easily slip into emotional or physical pain, so I decided to change my perspective. I recalled a White Stripes song, Little Acorns, which has a intro speech by Mort Crim. Here is text from that speech:

"When problems overwhelm us and sadness smothers us, where do we find the will and the courage to continue? Well, the answer may come in the caring voice of a friend, a chance encounter with a book, or from a personal faith. For Janet help came from her faith, but it also from a squirrel. Shortly after her divorce, Janet lost her father, then she lost her job. She had mounting money problems. But Janet not only survived, she worked her way out of despondency and now she says, life is good again. How could this happen? She told me that late one Autumn day when she was at her lowest she watched a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter, one at a time he would take them to the nest. And she thought, if that squirrel can take care of himself with the harsh winter coming along, then so can I. Once I broke my problems into small pieces I was able to carry them, just like those acorns, one at a time."
For me, that's all there is to it. I didn't look at my whole list; I just looked at the next item and dealt with it on its own.

In related news, I was hypnotized on Saturday. I have a severe aversion to needles, which is a cruel phobia to give a cancer patient, and my friend's mother used hypnosis on me to help ease my anxiety. I must say, when I came to, I felt amazingly relaxed. A rush of endorphins came over me, and I was at peace. During the session, the hypnotist had me conjure an image/word that would be my "tool" for overcoming anxiety. The first word that came to mind was "rainbows", and I just went with it. I didn't really think about my choice, except that I feel color is an amazing source of energy for me. When I told my friend what my word was, she said something very wise. She said "Rainbows are made by mixing a storm with radiant light. Your sickness is like the storm, but you are the light, and together you make something beautiful."

I couldn't agree with her more. While this disease is horrible, and I wouldn't wish it on Stalin and Hitler's love child, it has brought me very close to some amazing people. I now see the miracles that reside in the hearts of everyone.