More Challenges Ahead
I’ve been focusing more on treatments and recuperating, talking to friends and watching Netflix, rather than writing or photography.
But I’ve managed to get some pictures on my phone on occasional walks and short trips to the mountains and the beach. I think this picture below aptly describes the cold but beautiful winter we’ve had here in Southern California. This was taken at Mount Wilson last month, before we got more snow, even here in Pasadena!
All the while in my head, I’m fantasizing about writing the perfect blog post or magazine article chronicling this fierce fight I’ve had with lymphoma off and on for the past year. My goal is to not bore readers with too much medical detail, or give advice that sounds cliché, but I get stuck with my thoughts. I suppose the only way to “unstick” is to write them down and do some heavy editing!
My doctor at City of Hope is preparing me for a bone marrow transplant and right now it looks like I’ll be donating my own stem cells. There are great advantages to this as the risk of rejection can be high from another donor; but the cancer can still return. When you donate your own cells, it’s called an “autologous” transplant, so I’ve rechristened myself as “Mrs. Autologous”. I try to find humor in between bouts of anxiety, fear, tears and sadness, but sometimes it rushes in all at once and it’s hard to separate my emotions.
When friends and family reach out and send me messages, I reply without getting too wordy so not to overwhelm them with information, but often I don’t get a second reply. I guess they don’t know what else to say out of nervousness or sadness, but on my end these conversations feel unfinished. And people are just really busy with their own lives; it can’t always be about me and my problems.
Before I got sick I probably didn’t treat people who were sick or had bad things happen to them with the right amount of empathy and patience. Now that I’m on the other end, I’ve learned a lot about how to respond.
I suppose that is the advice I can impart right now: listen and be present. Stop doing the dishes or the laundry or drive down unfamiliar roads when you’re on the phone. I’m guilty of all three and I notice if I sit down for a few extra minutes or pull over to the side of the road, I’ll truly listen and remember what is being said. I’ll sometimes repeat it to myself and absorb the words.
So many challenges and hurdles in all our lives, no matter the age; listening to others makes their lives easier to manage and it enriches your life as well.