May 10, 2020
Dear Friends --
A constant theme of this year has been the magic of how extraordinary souls have shown up in the most remarkable ways through all the twists and turns of my months of trekking. Hospital days dial up that magic in the most dazzling ways.
Texts and prayers and emails and hellos arrive at the exact right moments, and who knows how any of that works. All I know is that it does, and I'm grateful. Thanks to all who kept me close to their hearts these past few days. I was loved well.
Ok as Mindy reported, my surgery went well on Friday. While it's too soon to know for sure what will be revealed through the pathology of the met, we have a few clues. After the surgery Dr K(2) came around to see me to tell me that the met appeared fully contained, and the rest of my left lobe area appeared quite healthy. "So you got the Itty Bitty?" I asked. He responded by saying the met appeared fully contained, and the rest of my left lobe area appeared quite healthy. We did that same back and forth about five times until he decided that me post surgery was more or less a loop, and noted he would drop by later on that afternoon to follow up. I swear I heard him ask a nurse on his way out, "What's an Itty Bitty?"
Later when I was a little less, shall we say, loopy, we had a longer talk. He explained that the met seemed to not have any porous qualities, which is a likely a good sign that the Itty Bitty was more or less minding its own business while camping out in my lung these many months. As Mindy noted, I was invited to send pieces of the Itty Bitty to a fancy pants lab in Phoenix for a more extensive study of its biomarkers, and UCSF will study the tissue as well. There may be clues in how the cancer mutated that could help us down the line.
So I was discharged Saturday afternoon after some 11th hour drama (there's a director's cut version of this blog that's available exclusively to those who call and want to get comfortable for a long chat!). And now I'm home and on the mend. I have a small incision on my left side and I suppose it feels like having a cracked rib. Very sore, painful at times, and lordy I'm tired. But I just had lung surgery, so that all feels about right.
What comes next? I really don't know. Some point at the end of May I'll have follow up chats with Drs K(2), and K(3), and C and we'll huddle on a plan. That might mean more chemo or a break, or maybe something new. I learned long ago my story won't be one of crossing a finish line; rather it's a long trek with times for long breaks to savor the view with others. Hopefully those breaks will feel so long we'll forget we're even on a break.
But what I do know is that today is Mother's Day. And it's the first day since July that I woke up knowing that I had no active tumor in my body. I can't think of a more ideal day for that kind of milestone -- my mom gave me life, raised me to forever know that all things can and do work for good, and my job as a mom is to do the same for Connor and Lucy.
A mom's work is never done, which is why I think moms are maybe the most magical force of all. If my mom taught me how to be on the hunt for good, I know she's had to shoulder that calling more than just about anyone this year. She's had to endure the trials and tears of my illness the same year she's had to say goodbye to her Stanley soulmate. I'm not sure how anything gets more agonizing than that.
And yet. The Calvary of Goodness has arrived for us both, even in all the agony. That doesn't mean the hard days have been less hard. Far from it. But it does mean all of these days have had deep and good meaning, and have been miraculously full of life, even as we've had to say goodbye to my dad while at the same time grappling with me getting sick.
We barely know how to sort out these paradoxes. But if moms are good at one thing, we know how to take long breaks, take in the view, and simply say, "Tell me more about that."
It's in those moments where we know we are especially well-loved. It's when, with full and fragile lungs, we can exhale.