Wednesday, December 4, 2013

never too many thank you's

"Uncharted Territory"
watercolor, ink and pencil

November 13, 2013.  A day I will never forget...and quite an unlucky one if you are superstitious or anything like that.  I don't know if I'll look at it as unlucky... and in some ways...I might even consider it a lucky day.  Time will tell for sure.  That was the day that I was told that I had Stage 4 tongue cancer.  I'm a non-smoker, rarely drink, and actually for the past few fairly healthy.  It was shocking to say the least.  The next week was spent getting PET and CT scan's to make sure that it hadn't spread to any other parts of my body.  I don't do well with doctors or hospitals.  I try to avoid them, if at possible.  Now...I was being completely thrown out of my comfort zone.

The PET scan was actually least for me.  I was able to keep on my clothes and especially my "Ass Kicking the Big C" boots.  

I laid on the table and closed my eyes.  I had to lay perfectly still for about 20-30 minutes while this machine swirled and twirled around me.  The room was flooded with sunlight which made it much easier.  I decided to start saying my thank you's.  I went through everything and everyone in the world that I was thankful for. 
 It made me happy. 

 It made me feel lucky.

  It was magical. 

 It made me brave.

A few days later, we met with the doctors to go over the test results. My anxiety levels were really high.  A young man, probably 40's came in by himself. He had lost his voice and was using some sort of device to talk. He was hard to understand. I could see the scars on his neck and face from a similar procedure to what I will have to go through. He was frail, probably from chemo. I watched him navigate the office staff and realized how lucky I was to have Danny doing that for me. I can't talk clearly, so I typed a message on my phone. It said, " I admire your strength and courage. I am just starting this journey...and am drawing strength from you. Thank you so much". I walked over to where he was sitting, and showed it to him. He read it for what seemed ages and then looked up at me with tear filled eyes. I told him thank you and hugged him. It was probably one of the most powerful moments I've ever experienced.

It made me brave.  

In the surgeon's office, the doctor explained that it doesn't appear that the cancer has spread any where else in my body.  There might be some lymph node involvement...but they can't tell for sure.  The best option that I have at this point is to have my entire tongue removed.  Yes, you read that right.  They don't replace your tongue but make a "flap" in it's place from your thigh or forearm.  I will have to eat soft and liquid foods the rest of my life, and learn how to swallow without my tongue.  There is also a possibility of losing my voice, if the voice box is found to be involved.  But, even if it's not...I will have a speech impediment because of the missing tongue.  But, because of the love I had experienced with the young man in the waiting room...I wasn't scared.

My surgery is set for Jan. 14th.  The waiting is very hard.  They are trying to get me in sooner, if they can.  I have good days and bad.  I get tired very easily.  I can't talk because of the pain and  I'm really hard to understand anyway.  I've been on a liquid diet for over 2 months.  It's hard to sleep more than 2 hours at a time a night.  But, although I haven't had any treatments yet.  I'm a survivor.  I'm here...and really happy about that.  I know I have a long road ahead of me...but I'm ready for the journey.

I give thanks for everything...even this disease in my body.  It makes you live in the moment and be so thankful for every little thing.  It makes you love like never before.

Thanks to everyone for all their well wishes.  I will updating the blog here mostly for my artwork and how it relates to my journey.  If you would like to get a more detailed account of my journey, please follow me on Facebook.  I try to put up daily updates there.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for all your support over the years.  You make my world go round.  

I love you very much,

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