January 2nd, 2009: I’m preparing myself to go back into the hospital. I’ll check in on January 7th and be there for five days. The first event will be scans: PT images taken of my chest and abdomen to see if there are still tumors on my lungs and liver. Then, an MRI scan of my pelvis to snapshot the shape and size of my main tumor. I haven’t been scanned since mid-October so these images will show the doctors how much the tumors have shrunk since treatment started. Please everyone, send me good energy that the lung and liver tumors are gone and the pelvic cancer has shrunk considerably and hopefully peeled away from surrounding bone and muscle tissues. I’m not sure when I’ll get the report about the scans since I don’t have a clinic appointment until Jan. 20th. But as soon as I hear about the scans, I’ll let you know the results. Those results will drive the next events. If the only tumor remaining is the large one in the pelvis, it may be possible to surgically remove it soon. Or, there’s a possibility that I would have another round of chemo and then have surgery. We’ll see. Either way, I am heading into the very exciting possibility of becoming cancer free. Considering where I started in September and October with my metastasized diagnosis, this is a very dramatic turn around.
Each time I go into the hospital for chemo, I have a totally different set of reactions. This always surprises me, since I start out assuming that I’ll have the same set of feelings I had the last time. Before the first visit, I was wild with anticipation because I desperately wanted treatments to start. Prior to the second chemo session I wanted to go back into the hospital and be taken care of, but with a maintenance attitude of someone who's done this before and knows most of the steps . This time, I’m grumpy and impatient. I’ve done this already, and I am looking forward to having a life after chemo. This is a huge step forward. A life after chemo. I could only conceptualize that a few weeks ago, now I openly, shamelessly want it. I can taste it. I know it will happen.
Other changes are revealing themselves as well. A couple of blogs ago, I mentioned that I was having trouble visualizing in my healing center. I couldn’t see or hear my visiting healers. Perhaps the shrinking tumor meant that I didn’t need as much pain medication? In the last couple of days, I cut my medication from 150 mcg of Fentanyl to 100 mcgs. All to the good. I haven’t had noticeable pain, and I have felt more clarity in my meditation. Last night, when I went to the healing center my visitor was an owl who swept me up into tree tops and whispered about being able to see in the dark. In this case, darkness isn’t about flying in the night rather, it’s having the patience to navigate the unknown places that still await me on this journey of illness into healing.
Finally, I am happy to report that my ability to hear music more complicated than a quintet has returned. I had ordered a recital of Mozart arias by Diana Damarau and an old recording of The Seige of Corinth by Rossini. When they arrived yesterday, I decided to try listening to the Mozart arias. Much to my surprise, my old ability to enjoy tonal color, to be stopped in my tracks by beautiful vocalizing and to compare this new voice with other singers I’ve heard over the years all came back with a fullness that I haven’t experienced for at least four months. After that success, it was with hope and apprehension that I put on the Rossini opera, a live recording from La Scala in 1969. When the overture had finished and the singing began, I sailed into the experience with easy pleasure and no resistance. That sinking sense of being overwhelmed by the complexity of instruments and voices never kicked in. I don’t know Beverly Sills’ voice very well, but I have spent a lot of time listening to Marilyn Horne. As I heard to both of them singing, together and separately, I felt like my old pleasure centers were back in place. I have no idea why all of a sudden my ability to hear opera should return. Is it because I am taking less medication? Have I been in some sort of undiagnosed depression that's lifting as I start to anticipate full health? Other reasons? I just don’t know. But I am very grateful for the shift from vocal aversion to anticipation.