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Feeling worse and worse, but also better

When people ask me how I’m doing these days, I don’t know quite what to tell them.

The side effects are getting worse and worse. I brought my slashed feet into the dermatologist the other week; she told me to do daily soaks in vinegar. Started doing that—ouch!—only to have a hole literally and mysteriously open in the top of my foot. I bent down earlier today to apply cream and scrape off what I thought was something on the side of my toenail, only to realize it WAS my toenail, lifting up from my toe.

I limp a little these days.

Having said that, my instinct when people ask is to say I’m feeling better.

Emotionally, somehow, that’s true.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint why, after two years of my emotional state of mind tracking closely with my physical well-being, suddenly the two are diverging.

My two last scans have been good, which helps. A friend gifted me some sessions with a healer who did distance reiki; and although I didn’t feel any physical impact during our sessions, it supercharged my work with my therapist. And a colleague recommended a short book called Law of Attraction, which outlined a manifestation how-to and kept me firmly focused on the positive.

All of these things seem to be working together to help me feel lighter and optimistic.

When I first got diagnosed, the book Radical Remission helped me to develop an outlook on my cancer journey. I decided then not to “fight” cancer—but to try to love it away. I started to think of my tumors as a lost baby, one I had to guide and love right out of my body. I would sometimes refer to my “cancer baby” and visualize showering it with love and stars, coaxing it gently out.

After my first reiki session, the practitioner told me she had a vision during her work and hesitantly asked if I was open to hearing about it. She was clearly a bit concerned when she told me that she had seen a “gray baby” during our session, backed into a corner and looking rather menacing. Did that mean anything to me?

She said she showered it with love and felt it soften by the end of the session. On her second session, she noted the baby again, less gray. My therapist and I discussed the gray baby and what it might represent: the cancer itself, guilt, fear? Whatever it was, we agreed it was not positive.

During her third session, I turned suddenly to Per and said, “It’s not coming back.”

What’s not coming back, he wanted to know. The cancer? I wasn’t sure. Maybe? The words had just popped into my head.

So I wasn’t surprised when the following day the reiki practitioner reported that she didn’t see the baby.

I’m not sure I was ready the last time they told me I was NED. In fact, I know I wasn’t. Maybe I’m finally ready for it now, I told my therapist.

“I think... I think I’m ready to grieve the end of cancer.”

It was out of my mouth before I realized what I was saying - and midway through my statement I started to cry. Grieve cancer? What?! But all along I’ve said that cancer might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. You know, assuming I don’t die. So perhaps on some level that thought makes sense.

That said, I feel like it’s time, somehow.

Maybe it’s time to grieve cancer and embrace the life it has left in its wake. I hope so.

We will be heading back to New York next week to have a scan and appointments at MSK for the first time since the pandemic began. We will have to do the drive in a single day, but after being on lock down for so many months, a road trip sounds kinda awesome, even if we never leave the car.

And the idea that I might be heading toward a healthy rest of my life sounds even better.

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