I know I haven’t posted much about the tumor lately and to be honest I haven’t wanted to. This is not because I haven’t been thinking about it but the opposite. I think this summer when everything happened, I didn’t really process or take the time to think about everything because it was so fast and then it was the school year and semester and you know how crazy that is. With a little bit of a break over the past couple of weeks, it’s been tough. I have a friend who says she only blogs on the bad days, but for some reason, I don’t. I’m not saying that I haven’t had challenging days and hard days and have not blogged, but when I’m really wrestling with something, I just don’t always want to articulate or “sermonize” it.
After Christmas I did my latest MRI and the next day went and saw the neurosurgeon. He said there was no change, so the little line of tumor on the motor cortex hasn’t grown and for that I’m thankful. He didn’t really say anything new, but for some reason I took it more to heart. I asked him whether I should get off of the seizure medicine or not and he said that was up to the neurologist but he also warned that it is more likely that I will have another symptom whether seizure or otherwise before an MRI would actually pick up a change. Then he said that it’s not a question of if the tumor will come back, but when.
Now, I know that he’s said this before and I know that this type usually recurs but for some reason it hit me worse this time. I think it’s because there’s a huge part of me and a sense from a lot of the people around me that everything’s fine now and back to normal and that I have to lead my life as I’ve always lived it. And I do really want to do that. It’s hard to tell if I should just go about business as usual or if my life really has changed completely.
I am a huge fan of wikipedia. That may be completely against my English teacher self and I know it’s not always right or accurate but if you want something quick and consise – especially when I’m trying to figure out history during the Tudors or looking up actors or actresses – it’s a great site. Did you know that I didn’t even look up “oligodendrogioma” which is the tumor that I had/still have a piece of? Didn’t even think about it in the rush of the summer and semester. The diagnosis and the treatment and much of the article follows exactly what we’ve been doing and I didn’t even think to look there.
Now part of me is glad that I didn’t. I didn’t know that the median survival times for a grade 2 is 11.7 years or for a grade 3 is 3.5 years. That’s a median I know and as the doctor said I could still live to be 80. But how does knowing that information affect my life?
Not that we ever know specifics or a particular time table but if you knew you had say 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years to live, how would that affect how you live your life? Would it? Would you change what you eat or how much you exercise or if you take your vitamins? Would you spend more time with friends and family and try to make more meaningful relationships? Would you change careers or look at fulfilling your hearts desire in a different vocation? Would you live your life differently?
I’m not talking about Tim McGraw’s, “Live Like You Were Dying” song and sky diving and rocky mountain climbing – love the song but that’s too cheesy of segue for even me to post. I’m asking a real question. How would you live your life differently? Or would you? Maybe it’s better just to keep on keeping on and keep fighting and do the best you can and not change anything. Or maybe we should be living our abundant lives to the fullest every day regardless of any prognosis, time table, or outcome?
I don’t know. I don’t quite know how I feel about this yet or if this changes anything. I know that I believe that prayer is powerful. I know that when I read that article or I read other materials about this tumor that it is miraculous that I have come away from this with very little deficits – not being able to remember names and numbness and tingling every now and then is significantly different than what could have happened. I thank each of you and my community folks for this. I know that God walks with those on the 3.7 year side as well as those that live to be 80 and that God’s mercy, love and grace is shown to each. I know that we all have “stuff” to deal with and for each of us it can be a long and winding road.
When I think about New Year’s resolutions or I think about the future, I think very much of how we live our life. How do we let our lives speak? Would you live your life differently knowing…?”
Here are some quotes from the beloved Parker Palmer:
“Verbalizing is not the only way our lives speak, of course. They speak through
our actions and reactions, our intuitions and instincts, our feelings and bodily
states of being, perhaps more profoundly than through our words.”
“Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”
“We need a coat with two pockets. In one pocket there is dust, and in the other pocket there is gold. We need a coat with two pockets to remind us who we are.”
“Humility is the only lens though which great things can be seen–and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.”
“As a young man, I yearned for the day when, rooted in the experience that comes only with age, I could do my work fearlessly. But today, in my mid-sixties, I realize that I will feel fear from time to time for the rest of my life. I may never get rid of my fear. But . . . I can learn to walk into it and through it whenever it rises up . . . naming the inner force that triggers . . . fear . . . Naming our fears aloud . . . is the first step toward transcending them.”