Today was a weekend of being brave. Maybe it was because of my newfound optimism. Maybe it's the steroids. Maybe it was a morbid curiosity. But I found myself doing some things that until now seemed way too hard to try.
I started reading some of my cancer books. When I was first diagnosed, I pillaged the online Barnes & Noble store for anything that looked informative about cancer (especially brain tumors). But when the books came in I just couldn't bear to open them. But now I'm brave. I read through a couple. In fact, I have two different books written by glioblastoma patients who survived at least three or four years (which is almost unheard of). I have other books that cover everything from diet to handling treatment side effects to positive mental attitude, etc., etc., etc. It got less creepy for me to start looking through them. I figured I might be able to do it once I was in the midst of treatment, and I was right.
The other thing I did was watch the movie, My Life, starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman. It's the story of a man with terminal cancer, who videotapes himself for the benefit of his unborn son.
I thought the movie was interesting, because I did spend part of yesterday making a video journal, where I told the story of meeting and falling in love with my husband, then the story of adopting our son, and finally the story of adopting our daughter. I also held each child individually and sang "their song" to them while the camera was going.
But anyway, having captured a good beginning of the video journal, my mom and I sat down to watch My Life while my Prince Charming had to run some errands. Part of the movie really hit home, like some of the discussions with the doctors, and all the alternative treatments that well-meaning people keep offering out of the woodwork. And the whole idea of how you tell people and how you plan for the future. But while I expected this to have a "four hankie" quality to it, I didn't cry at all. The movie was really focused on the man's anger and fear and baggage, and how he had to finally let go of that kind of stuff. I couldn't identify with that. I just figured maybe my blog could have helped him! :) But anyway, it had a low sap factor, and I just wasn't relating enough to this character. It was a little creepy when his cancer spread to his brain right before he died. But other than that, I remained fairly emotionless through the movie.
Having survived that moment, I decided to pull out the stops and subject myself, my mom, and my husband (aka Prince Charming) to a viewing of the movie, Charly. Now, my husband and I watched it a couple of years ago, and it's beyond a four-hankie movie. It's more like a bath towel movie. This lovely young couple meets and they teach each other about faith and they marry and have a lovely little boy. And then she is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread through her body. The treatments don't work, and she ultimately dies. But in that long process, I remember (during my first viewing) that it started out as a small sniffle upon hearing her diagnosis. By the time she is on the floor, begging her son to learn to say, "Mommy", and pleading, "I'm your Mommy - please remember me!" my heart was shredding into pieces. And then by the end of the movie, after the funeral, when her husband finds her note and then takes their son for a ride on the same Ferris Wheel that the couple used to go on a lot, I would be in the throes of shrieking sobs. But that was on my first viewing, long before there was relevance. Today I watched it with a new perspective. Tears welled up at appropriate times, but the Kleenex I kept in my hand throughout the movie remained dry. I was more interested in the details of her treatments & stuff. And I appreciated the messages of faith that permeated the movie. So I was brave.
Sometimes it seems like optimism requires bravery. I read a nice poem about hope in one of my cancer books, and it talks about how there is no such thing as "false hope"; otherwise there would be "false hopelessness", too. That was a good point. I mean, I always want to be submissive to the Lord's will - whatever that is. I believe in making sure I have realistic expectations with everything going on in my life. So sometimes I wonder how optimism fits in with those equations. I think it can fit in. It breeds hope. Hope is the beginning of faith. Faith is things hoped for but not seen. Faith is an amazing catalyst for miracles, and it is also a sustaining strength during times when adversity must remain. Being a little more brave has been a good thing.
The sun is setting on yet another week of treatment. Tomorrow begins week # 3 of chemotherapy, and in a few days I will begin week # 3 of radiation therapy. After that, I will be basically halfway through my treatments, and then it will really be time to get brave. At that point we will begin monthly MRI scans to check for progress, and I'm sure those will be nervous moments, waiting to learn whether the treatments were enough to beat this back, or whether a new threat will loom over me. Learning to be brave now just might come in handy at those times.