Step by Step
From October 17, 2019
Hello Foxy Friends --
An update from midway through Round 8, here from my Foxy Cave. For those who enjoy the minutia of my climb and the switchbacks, here's the latest report from higher up my mountain trail.
First, the continued encouraging news. My CEA score has now dropped to 17, a terrific 25%(ish) drop from 23 two weeks ago (special thanks for the collection of emails and texts from faithful readers who were kind of enough to remind me of some of the most spectacular sports stars who valiantly wore 23 on their jerseys -- it's a mighty bunch). So here's an invitation to all who know of heroic and intrepid 17s who might be the source of inspiration for the trail ahead.
I'm told the trek from 20 or so to no active cancer zone (0-2) is one of the steepest parts of this mountain, so I can expect a slower pace from here on out. That's ok, as long as I'm making good and steady progress.
Back before Round 7 Dr. C lowered my Oxy and Foxy doses some to help curb the growing concerns around neuropathy and related lousiness. She's an excellent chemist, that Dr. C. My days recovering from 7 were mostly better, and my overall energy level improved compared to previous rounds. So we're sticking with the new cocktail for now, keeping an eye on that important CEA number throughout.
Looking ahead, on Oct 28th I'll have big scans to check to see if the tumors are shrinking, hopefully tracking with that lower CEA number. And if there's good news? My reward will be more Foxy. If we see that her mighty jets are hitting her targets, Dr. C reminded me I'll be deeply fortunate to have more chances for additional bombing raids before any specific conversations about surgery.
And of course all of these numbers, Dr C chats, and scans are simply my map that guides my steps up the mountain. It's such a very tall and formidable climb. A terrific friend, and someone who gets to spend her weekends actually climbing tall peaks, reminded me of this ridiculously simple insight: "You know the trick with climbing is to focus simply on your steps, each one. There's always a step ahead. Focus on that. Not the length of the trek. Not the height of the climb. Just the step. And when you need to pause, survey the progress by looking out, as far as you can see."
From my spot on the mountain, and when I look out I see the most magnificent views, here's what I see, or rather, feel -- friends who somehow know to put a gentle hand on my back as I search for the next foothold. Each hand offers something new that makes all of my steps possible: prayers, long conversations, good questions, humor (please, more humor), hugs that count, even a box delivered filled with bagels, babka, and matzah ball soup. Every moment counts. Just like each step.
There are many steps ahead. But for today, in my Foxy cave, I'll pause and savor these forever true words from the magical Mary Oliver, who captures the beauty of the climb, loving hands, living each day with purpose and courage, and the wonder of it all.
There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving away your money, all of it.
Your heart is beating, isn't it?
You're not in chains, are you?
There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.
Here's to headlong up the hill.