My oncologist called me an outlier today. I liked hearing that word, as a four on the Enneagram. I am special. I am surpassing the odds. I am the lone purple flower in a bed of flowers. What she meant, of course, was that I should not be so well….in fact I should perhaps not even still be here. I will take that label and keep blooming right amongst all the other pretty flowers.
My six-month scan results came in and I was relieved at the news. I was not sure how it would go. The fatigue is overwhelming some days. I sleep a lot. I was trying to be in bed tonight by a certain hour but I have surpassed it. I slept a good chunk of the afternoon, more than I wanted to. I realize that this could be my new reality and somehow I need to make peace with that. I had been having some other symptoms that made me nervous but the scans showed no new metastases and very little growth in the tumours that are in the lungs. These parts of the disease are stable. The two in the liver are growing slowly to moderately. The size may be creating more discomfort for me but the pain does not last long enough to use medication. By the time I breathe, the painkillers would also be effective and at this point, the pain is neither severe nor long in duration.
My family has been through a lot lately, with my father’s death and a recent scary trip to the ER for my brother last week. The trauma team immediately worked on him once he got triaged and we all held our breath as we waited the outcome. He had experienced a severe allergic reaction and fortunately the story had a happy ending. I was glad to be able to let family and friends know my own “good” news today.
I say “good” because I know that this news does not change the outcome for me. I want to be clear about that. People read what they want to hear, I am learning, and folks need to do whatever they must to receive the news that I continue to inch towards leaving this world. People who have no experience with cancer also misread words like remission (no, I am definitely not in remission) and “good” scan results mean good scan results. I have purposely put in the parentheses. I like to keep things real for myself. Readers can process as they need to.
I am so grateful for prayers that are lifted. I do believe that God hears them and is responding, even as I struggle to figure out why I am granted months beyond my expiration date while others, who are equally surrounded by prayer, are not. I have not asked for a new timeline–I am not really sure I want to know. It could be more or less six months of feeling fairly well before my situation could shift. I want to use my well time well. The memories I have been creating with people are fabulous for me. I still hope to accomplish something. A friend has reminded me of his generous offer to write at his guest house. Writing would be a gift indeed. I am also beginning to wonder if there is one more project of some other kind in me, something that has not yet fully percolated. I will listen to my soul and see what might be stirring there.
Regardless, I like being called an outlier–one who lives on the edge, who does not conform to normal, whose point on the graph stands alone, and who is an exception. I have said it before and I will say it again, I have come this far because many of you are sending prayer on my behalf which I receive with the utmost gratitude. I have also had excellent health care. Even as my energy fades, I am, as I have from the beginning, living until I die.
How have you felt receiving better news than you expected?
Have you ever been an outlier?
Planter of seeds, help me bloom where I am planted for as long as I can. I do not mind being an outlier with your great assistance and grace. May I be willing to do your will for as long as I can breathe. Amen.