On the trail again

Recently I went to a writing group for cancer survivors.  The coordinator gave us prompts, letting us write for several minutes after each prompt.  I was surprised to find that much of my writing that day had to do with hiking.

It’s been many months since I’ve been able to take a proper hike – and even more since I’ve taken a proper hike.  Between the cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery, the job from hell before that, and a long bout with bronchitis, I haven’t been in a place to hike since before Christmas.

God, how I miss the trail.  There are moments on the trail when my heart feels like bursting.  When I look around, amazed by the greatness, the beauty, the power.  When a cool breeze tickles my face, when I’m on top of the world, looking down on everything.  When I feel at one with the universe and all the life it holds.

I feel strong on the trail.  Even when I’m huffing and puffing and stopping every 2 minutes because the path is so steep, I feel strong.  When I get blisters on my feet I feel strong.  When I flop down on the ground, utterly exhausted at the end of a hike I feel strong.

It has been almost a month and a half since my surgery and I feel like my body is almost ready to hike again.  (Apparently, my brain is already ready to go.)  My stamina is up – I can walk 2 miles on flat ground now.  The lingering pain around my incision is gone.

Next week I’m traveling to New Mexico and I am packing my hiking shoes.  It may be a short one, but I plan to hike a trail while I’m there.  It’ll be the first of many more trails in my future.

Complementary Medicine and all up in my beeswax

While I am going through my targeted therapy with pazopanib, I am also keeping an eye out for complementary and/or alternative care options.  I have a sweet friend, Jule, who has offered me weekly chiropractic visits with her.  She gets to feel me up, I walk out feeling lovely and loved, and we both get to spend a half an hour a week being with each other.  I feel so honored to have her treating me and I love getting to know her even better through our time together.

I’ve met with a nutritionist and am on the road to making what I eat do the very best for me.  I am taking more vitamins and supplements (all with my oncologist’s ok) to fill in any holes that might be missed in the diet.

I have been practicing guided imagery and last night tried my first run with meditation (without the guidance).  That was hard work, leaving me fairly exhausted after 15 minutes.  I think that I might have had a minute, total, of focusing on my breath and not other things.  When I completed my practice, I had a sense of calm and relaxation.  Really, it kind of felt like I’d run a mile or two, without the physical pain that would give me.

On Tuesday, I went to a retreat where they offered sessions of healing touch.  I lay on a table for about 35 minutes, while a woman lightly (very lightly) touched me or ran her hands over or near my body.  I didn’t notice any changes while this was happening, but I did take the opportunity to enjoy the quiet, restful time on the table.  That evening, after running around much of the rest of the day, I went for dinner and shopping with a couple of friends.  Both commented on how much energy I had (something of an anomaly lately), but it wasn’t until Wednesday that I thought there might be a connection.  I don’t know if there is any causality there, but I have felt more energetic the past few days.  I’m willing to try it again (and maybe even pay for it) to see if anything similar happens.

I also had a remote reiki session before my surgery.  Now, I entered into that fully and completely skeptical.  I mean, I can understand how someone in the room might, possibly, have some influence on your body, but from miles and miles away?  Well, ok, it’ll be a chance to just lie quietly.  And then all of a sudden, the area around my left kidney (I still had it, or the tumor around it, at that time) got very very warm.  That warmth also moved down my right leg.  So, count reiki as another modality that I’d like to try again.

Now, I don’t believe that any of these other care options are going to cure my cancer, but I hope that they will help me with my overall mind and body health.  And I do see a difference in my life and my health.  My oncologist said today that I look very healthy, and that he was very happy with my lab work.  People have commented on how good I look – not just for a cancer survivor, but in comparison to how I used to look.

Now, all of that being said, I’ve started receiving those emails.  The ones with the miraculous cures that the native Americans/Pacific islanders/Chinese have known for ages, but that western medicine practitioners won’t believe.  Blah blah blah.  I’m going to have to gently let some people know that if they want to pass anything on to me, they should please look up the information first; make certain it comes from a reputable source, isn’t a scam, and preferably locate clinical trials or *real* medical journal articles on the subject for me.  (There’s the librarian in me coming out.)  I don’t want to go through those processes for every bit of information that comes my way.  I don’t even want to have to think for a moment about whether that claim might be true or this root is the one before I delete the email or toss the faux journal into the recycling.

Mother’s Day

I have so many wonderful women in my life and it seems like a fair number of them have lost their mother at a young age.  Many posted about their mothers on Mother’s Day, and it left me feeling despair that my daughter would be doing the same in early middle age – noting the year when she’d had more Mother’s Days without me than with.

But I look at these women I know and I can see how they’ve thrived and blossomed and I know Molly will be ok.

And I remember that Ihave so many wonderful owmen in my life, and just as they give their love to me, so will they offer it to my family when I’m gone.