Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Alien - Part Three: Waiting

Waiting – doing nothing expecting something to happen.

My daughter’s safe and happy arrival in Santa Fe gives me more time to think about gathering a support network. While the whole world doesn’t have to know, the healing of body, mind, and spirit will benefit from a few special people willing to send positive energy my way. I start calling and emailing a small group of women – my best friend for more than forty years; my sister and aunts; two women I connected with when I worked at the library; a teacher I worked with years ago; my spiritual director; and a new young friend. Although I don’t like being the center of attention and I feel safest when I’m invisible, right now I need to be visible.

More Internet searches fill another weekend this time to check out the MRI procedure and to do research on radiation therapy. At first the news for radiation is good – no hair loss or nausea. Then a study pops up on the screen linking breast radiation combined with chemotherapy to an increased risk of leukemia. With four close family members afflicted by various forms of the disease this seemed like a real concern. I email the hospital’s breast cancer nurse immediately to get more information.

Pondering the “melon ball” comment from the surgeon adds to my anxiety about the outcome of the MRI, but the procedure itself is not unfamiliar. I remember the loud noises from a previous test years ago and the online search provides a photo of the stomach down position. I joke with a friend about the round “teat cups” which function as antennae sending information to the computer. The tech says the machine creates about 2,000 images for the computer to assimilate. With an instruction not to cough or breath too deeply, I spend the thirty minutes inside the magnet paralyzed by fear of the slightest movement.

There must be something about the alignment of the stars in the Virgo/Libra section of the zodiac. Between the middle of August and the middle of October, just about everyone I know has a birthday. Many life-changing events including our wedding and my mother’s death have happened in September. This year my favorite uncle died suddenly. Now extraction of the alien can be added to the list. There is a powerful intersection of energy at this time of year.

In August during the weeks of uncertainty before the diagnosis, I stumbled onto an ad for an interesting part time job as an arts education facilitator for a project in the public schools and submitted a last minute application. Surprised when I was called for an interview, I was even more surprised by a job offer. A few days later with surgery looming ahead - I am caught in a dilemma – under the circumstances will it be possible to give the required energy to this job and how/when/what do I say to the people managing the project?

Every year at the beginning of September we travel to the Oregon Coast to celebrate our anniversary and our birthdays. This year the six days in paradise are squeezed between an MRI, pre-surgery lab work, an appointment with the radiology oncologist, and a planning meeting for my new job on one end - the surgery on the other. By the time we start to pack for our vacation, my brain is numb. The time to relax and reconnect proves to be priceless despite the silent alien in the room.

A crisis can reconnect us with the capacity for human compassion. I haven’t even had surgery yet and I am being gently carried along by a multitude of saints . . . the love and blessings from my network of supportive friends and family; a willingness by my new supervisor to accommodate my needs so I can continue to participate in the arts project; the helpfulness of the hospital's breast cancer nurse; the thoughtfulness of the radiologist who read the MRI immediately to relieve my fears; the patience of my doctor; a careful review of my family history by the radiology oncologist who squeezed me into her busy schedule; and most of all the loving kindness of my remarkable husband. The list of people who have touched my life because of the alien has already reached fifty and is still growing.

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