My mom called to wish my son a happy birthday a day early, and we both acknowledged that while tomorrow is the day Jacob turns six, today is actually my fifteen month "birthday". Fifteen months from the day I started living, as Lance Armstrong describes his diagnosis date.
Anything beyond twelve months puts me in the minority. Anything beyond fourteen months really feels like borrowed time. (Although, I KNOW...we're all on borrowed time.) Here I am at fifteen months, and as long as I wear my seatbelt, and unless next month's MRI has different news for me, it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere yet. So far I remain a statistical anomaly, and I like that very much.
A friend told me that they not only prayed for the preservation of my life, but also for the preservation of the quality of my life. What was the quality of my life like as I approached the end of my fifteenth month?
Well, I started out last week by getting an "A+" on my neuro test. Clean living pays off once again. My labwork was also very good. I am tolerating the chemotherapy relatively well so far. (Just some allergies and nosebleeds, but they are well worth the life-saving treatment.) The next day I drove myself to my chemotherapy appointment, endured the long I.V. drip, and drove myself home again to wrap up some work projects, do laundry, and pack luggage.
The next day I traveled to Chicago with my family. We stayed with my Aunt Kay and Uncle Andy, who should definitely be in the bed & breakfast business with their heavenly hospitality and generous pampering. Jared's brother Jon, who is in his first year of medical school in Detroit, joined us on our trip. On Thursday we went to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is a place I have longed to take my son. It was my favorite field trip destination as a schoolgirl. We saw my favorite exhibits from long ago (fairy castle, u-boat, giant heart, etc.) and we went through "Body Worlds", which featured many cadavers that had been plastinated for preservation and viewing. It was kind of creepy and kind of cool. I was (of course) fascinated with the brains on display. We looked at one brain that had been sliced up, and it looked like a live version of an MRI. I became very grateful for MRI technology, so that my doctor could see slices of my brain without sticking me in the freezer and grabbing a bandsaw.
The next day we went to the Chicago Temple grounds for a photo, and stopped at a nearby bookseller to greet the store manager and tell her about my book (which is reportedly on its way from the printer to the publisher's warehouse for release to retailers). Then we drove down memory lane, and I was happy to know that I still had a memory! We went to the four houses I remembered from my childhood days in Buffalo Grove, Woodstock, and Hawthorn Woods. I showed my son the school where I went to kindergarten. The neighborhoods looked so familiar to me, despite some changes, and I was flooded with memories of events that happened at each place. I took a gazillion pictures. It was awesome. We also had breakfast one morning with another aunt and uncle (Karen and Bob) and Aunt Karen gave me a set of pictures from my childhood, sending me on another trip down memory lane. We arrived back in Texas late Saturday night with happy hearts and minds, full tummies, and a box of Salerno Butter Cookies--my favorite childhood treat that can't be found in Texas grocery stores.
On Sunday we gave thanks for our mid-day church schedule, which made it easy to adjust to our late night arrival on Saturday and the switch to Daylight Savings Time. As usual, I took extra delight teaching music to the Primary children and working with our ward choir on the Easter program. And on Sunday evening I savored the delicious experience of auditioning and rehearsing for the upcoming Messiah concert. As I stood there waiting for my entrance, I was transported back in time to my performance last year. Back then the odds were very much against my being around (much less singing) for this year's performance. Back then the fact that I could still sing at all was miraculous, considering the ravages that had taken place in my right brain. And so here I am, still alive and still singing. Whether I did well enough to land the parts I want is up to someone else to decide. But it was a joy to sing, even if it were just for the small audience comprised of the audition committee, other singers, and my cheerleader husband. Later, as we rehearsed the choral numbers, I once again found myself savoring the musical experience of Messiah. The music is beyond glorious, and the message has more depth than ever in its meaning to me. And I was happy to keep my nose out of the score and keep my eyes on the director, because I could still sing a lot of it from memory. It was a brain tumor-savant moment.
(By the way, the concert is on Easter Sunday evening in McKinney, for those of you who can be in the North Texas area...)
Today I did some work, did some preparations for my son's birthday, planned and executed our Family Home Evening lesson, and wrote a quick story that I submitted to our church children's magazine. And I'm finally catching up on my blog again.
Anyway, so fifteen months post-diagnosis...I'm not drooling in a cup. I'm not paralyzed. I'm not tone-deaf (or at least if I am, I'm surrounded by people who love me too much to tell me). Most of this post is spelled correctly (unless I'm really dyslexic and don't know it yet). I'm not planning my funeral; I'm planning my first book signing and preparing for Messiah. I'm still of value to clients. I'm still having fun with my family. I still know who I am.
To those who have prayed for my life and for the ability to live my life...THANK YOU!!!
(...and keep doing it!)