After spending a lovely Christmas in Vancouver with some good friends, playing an old childhood game of pickup sticks on Christmas Eve after Wigilia dinner…then flying off to the South of France for an exotic New Year’s and writing retreat in Nice with a fellow writer and traveller from my Waterloo University days…and finally wrapping up the chilly and damp January in Mexico’s brilliantly warm Barra de Navidad near Manzanillo on a group writing retreat with fellow writers and new friends from the Canadian West Coast –
– back in Vancouver, awaiting me, was a most memorable Valentine’s date: one with my plastic surgeon and his visiting fellow from the Netherlands at the UBC hospital day-surgery ward. It was time for the little lump on the inner edge of my left breast – which we had been monitoring with ultrasounds and physical palpations for some months – to come out and get a more thorough examination under the microscope. While we were at it, I suggested that we also reveal the true nature of a more recent addition: a little neighbouring lump just above it. Two weeks later, at the start of my 41st birthday month (which this year turned into seven weeks of birthday!) the verdict was in: both lumps indeed contained an overabundance of my misguided cells, necessitating another round of medical-speak, calling it a “local cancer recurrence”.
Although the possibility of this outcome was not a complete surprise, the confirmation that a couple more thorns have sprouted on my roses does sink my spirits a notch. This time, the news causes a few tears to shed while skimming through the sneak preview of the results report as I mount my bicycle and head over to my surgeon so that we can discuss this finding in more detail. Feeling mainly disappointed, in that moment I feel once again betrayed by my body: I can’t trust it to move how I want it to or to remain still when I don’t intend to move, because of what they call dystonia; and I can’t trust it to keep my immune system in balance with my malignant cells when I make changes in my life to prevent this from recurring. Those are my initial thoughts of anger and fear; ones which quickly give way, though, to curiosity about what my body is trying to tell me this time. What have I not heard the first time? What more am I ready to hear now? I am more willing to listen this time! I know now that my past experiences are my clues to my future ones.
While my first thoughts had me flying off to France (le pays d’amour) for an extended stay – in order to do something now that I think I would like to do sometime but that realistically I don’t think I would do without having death nipping at my butt – I have since reconsidered for the time-being my plans for finding contentment there, and am staying put in Canada on the West Coast, where I plan to undertake a few treatments and to take the time to nurture myself, while working on finishing my book. A recent visit with good friends in nearby Victoria re-confirmed my current decision. Upon returning, I reflected on having good friends in all sorts of places and on the quote that I saw on my bike ride through a pretty cemetery in Victoria: “Smile, you live in paradise” – and I smiled, and looked about me, and thought to myself: yes, this is a beautiful part of the world.
This time last year, I was busily and excitedly starting out on my 3-month Book Writing Tour 2013, landing on June 11 in Paris to begin the European leg of my tour. This year, on that same date (June 11, 2014), I am heading into my next surgery at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital to remove another assembly of overzealous cancer cells. Shortly after, towards the end of June, I will celebrate my 3-year anniversary of working for the Federal Government at Natural Resources Canada, before my latest Term comes to an end. As I wrap up my work there – heartened by exemplary commendation letters and feedback of appreciation – I investigate my financial options, plan my conventional and complementary treatments, and prepare to make space in my brain and in my days to figure out how to transition my life to something that won’t keep trying to express through recurring cancer diagnoses – allowing wherever my book writing may lead to, to reveal itself.
Now that I have broken “the news” to my parents, I share the details of my current circumstance more widely: to invite some renewed concerted good thoughts, well-wishes, and goodwill towards me; to lighten the burden of this knowledge on those already in-the-know (including myself); and to offer my insights on life’s silver linings.
I would be delighted to receive some favourite affirmations to help me embrace my life, misguided cancer cells and all, so that they don’t feel the need to fight me. Some financial and culinary support is always helpful in these circumstances. Always appreciated is the knowledge that the writing I share makes a difference to the lives of others. And any source and sense of humour will be accepted with due consideration, because, as has been said before by someone unknown: “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.”
And so, to my list of longer-standing affirmations:
“Happiness is NOT having what you want;
it IS wanting what you have.” (Unknown)
- “Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.” (Shakespeare)
I now add a few more:
- “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not in the branch, but in her own wings.” (Unknown)
- “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Shakespeare)
- “No judgement; no problem.” (Maggie)
Wishing you well / Pozdrawiam / Je vous souhaite bien !
Maggie / Malgosia
– living life alive – Maggie’s Way
P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind, any time, about any thing 🙂