Wednesday, October 21, 2009

uncharted terrain

Settling into life after cancer, it is impossible not to think about cancer. A lot. At least that is the way it is for me these days. I have had a few episodes of feeling nauseous and just wrong in my abdominal area, and each one has prompted me to wonder if the cancer has returned. Only recently it dawned on me that these instances might be linked to the Tamoxifen. I had been informed of the most likely potential side effects. I looked up the full list recently, and was stunned by the length and breadth of it. This drug is messing with my hormones, and the results are predictably unpredictable. It's like throwing a tablespoon of oregano into your Szechuan-style stirfry; that relatively minor ingredient is going to make the whole thing different. Simply not quite right.

At least that's what I hope it is. I've been trying to make changes to head off any more cancer cells gone awry. The book I mentioned a while back, Anticancer, has been very important in the way I have come to view the disease and my response to it. Servan-Schreiber writes about making your body inhospitable to cancer cells in terms of caring for your "terrain," an image which jibes nicely with my visualization process, the one with the wooded hillside and bubbling brook. For Servan-Schreiber, maintaining a healthy terrain is achieved through a holistic approach, comprising diet, exercise, meditation and self-reflection, amongst other things. Some of the things he recommends I've been seeing for years. Eat less sugar, less refined flour, more vegetables. But I hadn't ever understood exactly why, and learning about how consuming sugar, refined flour, and grain-fed meat and dairy products makes cancer cells happy has made it much easier for me to avoid them. Not that doing so has been a piece of cake (quite the contrary), or that I've even been all that successful. But I like to believe I'm headed in the right direction.

Speaking of terrain, I spend a fair amount of time in some that is pretty mucky and wet. So here in the Material Girl section of my blog, I must tell you about my new wellies. I hesitated to spend the money on them, but I've had the same pair of wellies for 10 years or so now, and dread having to put them on, because they are so uncomfortable. I ordered these half thinking I'd be sending them right back, but they arrived and I was instantly taken. The purple is deep and subtle, the rubber is soft and squishy, and they are just so pretty. AND practical. What more could a girl ask for? I took them on a test run down to the creek in back of our house to look for cranberries. Here they are in action.

Also in the Material Girl section, here is a photo of a ring that I made for myself using 18 karat gold and a diamond that belonged to my friend Kristen.

It was a solo diamond earring from her jewelry box; in its new life it sits on my finger and reminds me of how much I loved her. And how much she loved me. That makes me happy, and that is one important way to take care of my terrain.

Monday, October 5, 2009

locks of youth

I went walking with some ghosts last week. It was a sweettart crisp apple of a day, clinging green and vibrant blue. I decided to take a walk in the national park here, on a trail that I have traversed regularly since my first summer here, 21 years ago. This time it was teeming with specters of my younger self. Running with my first dog, skiing with my second. Pushing Jacob in a stroller, carrying Claire in a backpack. Normally remembering these sorts of things makes me happy, but for some reason this day it made me sad.

I know that I am not that old. I know that I am still youthful and energetic. But I cannot help but feel aged, and I find that I am not moving forward as gracefully as I thought I would. In fact, sometimes it feels like I'm being dragged kicking and screaming. What exactly is it that I am clinging to? I am not actually a different person, though sometimes it feels like I am. Am I longing for the youthful limbs or the naivete? Do I want the younger physical being that I no longer have, or a time machine so that I can actually be one of those younger selves again? Why do I find it so hard to grow older? Why now, when I have all too clear a vision of the alternative?

Take my hair. Oops, too late, already gone. Actually, it's finally coming back, and as I expected, it is more gray than not. And I am somewhat ashamed of how hard it is for me to accept it. I have plenty of friends with gray hair, and I think they all look gorgeous. I know very well that my worth as a human being has absolutely nothing to do with the color of my hair. So why do I long to cover it up again? I'm not convinced that doing so will make me look any younger, and even if it did, what do I gain?

I've got a lot more questions than answers lately. When I haven't been mired in them, I have been making some things. Knitting a blanket, tying the baby quilt, and I made a collection of my Posers to send off to MiCA. Here are a couple of them.

I hope that you have been able to find at least one of those perfect apples that you can only get in the fall. I've had quite a few, and feel very lucky indeed.