Past, Present, Future
It's been about five months since my Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis, which has changed my life and presented many challenges. As hard as it's been to cede control and hand your body and soul over to the doctor and nurses at City of Hope, it has also been affirming to have your husband and kids literally stop their lives to help you heal and give you support. And everyday I get a text, a card, or a phone call from family and friends and even people whom I didn't think knew enough or cared as much.
Today I will be getting tests to see if the cancer is completely gone, as I'm done with my six rounds of chemo which required five days in the hospital each time. I feel better than I have since late December, so I'm hoping that there's no sign of cancer in my bone marrow. My doctor won't quite let me go, even if I'm 100% clear from the biopsy and scans. At the least, we'll do two more rounds of chemo with shorter hospital stays. At the most, a bone marrow transplant which requires about a month in the hospital.
So in the meantime, I continue to stay busy as best I can, although what I do on a daily basis is a clear departure from my once active and independent life.
I've been cleaning out some cabinets downstairs and started tackling the photo bins in the garage. Since 1989 when I moved in this house with my husband, the years have rushed by in a blur of marriage, raising kids, house remodeling, many births, and unfortunately some deaths.
What to keep, what to throw away, and what is worth holding onto? I've given those questions a lot of thought, both in tangible and intangible ways.
Easy for me to tell other people to let go and throw away their junior high school yearbooks, or to pick just one picture of their newborn baby,. You'd think as a professional photographer, I'd be super organized with carefully curated albums, but I'm just like everyone else.
My childhood and my kids' childhood seems almost indistinguishable when I see a mix of pictures and keepsakes, along with my beloved books and some of their favorite books they just don't want to give up.
But I can't dwell too much on the past; I must focus on today, which also means I have lots of medication to take and limits on physical activity. I put on the scarves and hats and carefully brush on my fading eyebrows.
Soon, I'll be able to pick up my camera outside of my garden and focus on what I do best: make memories of what's important in your life, with a newer, more urgent perspective which says life can be beautiful, but there's always a struggle. Those small moments of joy need to be held onto a little tighter, and the sometimes daily difficulties must get pushed away a little farther.
Let's find that burst of color, and the tiniest flower. Focus on the blooms, and blur away the slow rot. Celebrate your loved ones while acknowledging those beloved who lived in the past. And reach out wider to embrace people you may not think care about you. They will if you let them.
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