Thursday, August 9, 2012

Into Thy Hands....

It's been a week since my last post. Taking a lesson from my time at the hermitage, I decided I needed silence to make some final decisions and to celebrate my birthday.

Yesterday I met with the oncologist and told him I wasn't doing the chemotherapy.  In the end an 8-10 percent gain was not enough to sway me as I remain concerned about the possible long term effects. I did agree to do hormone therapy pending side effects (i.e. if they are horrendous I will stop). While he doesn't support the decision on chemo, he did support my right to make it.  He admitted that chemotherapy outcomes with breast cancer are not always predictable. My final decision was based on intuition. However my logical/scientific training warred with it. I suffered a week of nightmares related to the possibility of having chemo and I usually don't have nightmares. They were messengers about the direction I needed to take with my decision. Once I made the decision I felt a sense of calm certainty it was the right choice.

I'm finding it has also changed my relationship with the cancer. It no longer feels like life and death, rather a chronic condition to be managed. Dr. M and I agreed that we would manage my condition assertively, monitoring it closely by blood markers (I will have the blood test in a few weeks for it) and other tests. I will be seeing other professionals also to help me with supplements, nutrition and stress management. Dr. M asked if my guiding star was Susan Sommers. I told him no, Dr. Dean Ornish from UCSF, where some very enlightening studies have been done on the effect of nutrition  and such on genes and other factors. There are also other studies to this effect if one digs deep enough. Finally I told him in certain conditions I do support chemo, even for myself. If I had had involved lymph nodes or unclean margins, yes, I would have done it.

In the end this was not a contest about who is right or wrong. It is about living the best quality of life I can, whether it be one more day, a year or ten years or more. More importantly it is learning to live more in the moments I have and to be present for each one.

The monks at New Camaldoli have a beautiful chant which opens their website: "Into thy hands lord"....My being resonates with it. I don't believe in a traditional monotheistic god, but I do believe in a universal source and I can sing with them, into thy hands I commend my spirit, because it is my trust in that source which will strengthen me in the days to come and my gratitude tonight is to that source.

Hildegard Von Bingen, "Vision":

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