I am thrilled to have found out yesterday that I do not need to endure chemo!! I have watched so many people go through it and knew what I was potentially facing in the weeks awaiting results of a test on my tumor. Thanks to scientists who developed a lab gene test to separate out those with Stage 2A breast cancer whose survival can benefit from chemo on top of hormonal blocker and radiation and those for whom chemo actually increases chance of recurrence, I find I fall happily into the latter category. All I have left is 6-1/2 weeks of daily radiation (and 7 years of hormone blockers to starve cancer cells).
I admire herbalists and those who study and practice healing with and from nature. I appreciate integrative medicine centers that are increasing in visibility. But when it comes to skilled surgeons and examples of those who spend careers in labs creating tools to limit harm when the most blunt tool has formerly been the only option, I am thrilled with scientific advances. Reflecting on how things were in the 1970s in a time when all axillary lymph nodes would be removed and only option was mastectomy no matter the type of cancer, a time when one of the first public figures used her status to discuss the "woman's disease" openly, Betty Ford, and seeing now how treatments have become more harm-sparing is inspiring.
That said, our ability to keep these small cancers from spreading still feels brutally blunt. As I viewed images of countless women's surgical scars and was experiencing the worst pain of my life in one of my pre-surgery procedures, I thought to myself we don't live in Medieval times, but that time period sure echoes into our present humanity in more ways than we progress-minded folks might like to believe.
I have been working part-time and knitting part-time since surgery. My small couch has become a knitting nest with future completed items to share. Having this pause in my 6-day-a-week work schedule has been the closest thing to a vacation I've experienced in years, albeit in a bit more pain than I'd like to think an ideal vacation would entail.
This mortality-facing pause allowed me to crystallize things I'd like to live into and experience in my remaining time here. I've lived a rich life, and feel blessed in countless ways. Nonetheless, in all honesty, cancer appeared in my life at a moment where I was having difficulty seeing a future for myself. Cloudy confusion about where we're headed is collective as well, so I know I'm not alone. But I was personally feeling I'd reached an ending point, a wall beyond which I could not see. Now I have greater clarity.
My Field of Dreams
PDF of my practices with nature
Staying close to the wealth of nature and making with my hands bring me greatest joy and comfort. You can find me on Instagram as @waterwomanknits, and on Ravelry as Waterwoman-Knits.