“Hurry up – and wait” or How living through Christmas is like living with Cancer.

January 19, 2016

Well, we all made it through a busy year’s end – Christmas, my birthday J, parties, celebrations, concerts, New Year’s celebrations, reflections and resolutions.  Right?

There seems to be a heavy amount of busy-ness we impose on ourselves in November and December each year.  In a way, it’s good.  Well, it was good for me, because cancer wasn’t the focus.  It felt great to be surrounded with family and friends – parties and visits sprinkled all through those last two months. Our calendar and schedule seemed almost relentless, even for a “healthy” person.  It was certainly a season of hurry up.  When cancer is living with you, you want everything done right, done well, and done sooner – rather than later.  “Later” is risky to put on a time-line.  I’ve learned to live each day, for each day.  In the now.  Which can seem like a constant “hurry up”.

Plan the parties.  Buy the gifts.  Decorate.  (where did this glitter come from?) Wrap the gifts. Cook the meals.  (there’s glitter on my hands that won’t wash off!) Bake and decorate cookies with Haley.  Attend (and perform in some) performances.  (why are there piles of glitter in odd places?) Go to extra church services.  Mail some gifts.  (vacuum glitter piles) Send Christmas cards I bought 3 years ago.  (there’s even glitter on the cards).  Hurry up – and wait.

Clean up after the parties.  (Some people are wearing glitter.  Did they come in with it, or is it leaving my house on its own?) Put away the gifts.  Pack away the tree and décor.  Plan to lose some weight from all the big meals and parties. (damn, cookies!) Find a random drawer to throw Christmas cards in. (maybe that’s why there’s glitter in my underwear drawer?) Hurry up – and wait.

Last week’s visit to New York was par for the course – hurry up – and wait.  We started the day early with and MRI.  Hurry up and get there early – over an hour in the machine – then wait. Results have to get to the doctor.  Hurry up – get to the Doctor’s office in another building.  Blood labs.  And wait. Still waiting on MRI report. Wait longer. Finally see Dr. Kemeny.  MRI shows a little more shrinkage!  Blood labs show liver is finally back in ”good shape”.  We could start adding back chemo in the pump, but with the single remaining chemo (Gemzar) working, she suggested we keep on this track – and wait to see if we need to add more chemo back later.  Hurry to chemo infusion lab.  Wait.  Wait longer. Pharmacy is backed up.  Wait. Finally “juiced up” and ready to return home after 8 hours of hurry up and wait at Sloan Kettering last Monday.  Luckily, the 6 hours home was not the usual hurry up- and wait traffic.

My life – now, with cancer – is defined and regulated in this new “rhythm” of hurry up- and wait. It’s difficult to wait for lab results, scan results and doctor appointments.  It’s difficult to plan one month ahead, let alone think ahead to this coming Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Recently, some of you have added cancer or other terminal disease to your lives, or to those of your spouse or family member. From my experience, so far, the hardest part of living with cancer is the same thing we all usually face each January – taking off the extra “wait”.

I love you all!

P.S. Turn over in your Hymnals….actually David’s Hymnal (book of Psalm) to # 27 to the coda and big ending.  “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

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