The verdict was in and I was found guilty. Of what I'm not exactly certain but I had been issued the life sentence of cancer so guilt of some sort was surely mine. That was my initial thinking. I was plagued by irrational thoughts that kept me wondering what I had done to bring this on myself. The mental volley being played out in my mind was exhausting. The what-if's and woulda-shoulda-coulda's nagged at me incessantly. What if I had eaten a cleaner diet? Could I have avoided this if I had not given into my love of all things chocolate? Should I have reduced my caffeine consumption? Why the heck did I have to learn to love coffee? Maybe I could have exercised more? What about my pleasurable partaking of alcoholic beverages? Not to mention any other pleasurable partakings... should I have avoided them all together? Maybe I had one cranberry and vodka too many? What if I had been a better person? Maybe if I had gone to church more? Was I kind enough to strangers? Had I been rude? Maybe I had not been a good enough wife or mother or sister or daughter or friend? Should I have become a missionary? Maybe a nun? Was I being punished for what I was or for what I wasn't??? Cancer had to be a punishment. There was no other answer. Cancer doesn't just happen! There had to be a reason it was happening to me!!!
Yes, that was honestly where my mind went. Not only have I confessed to being a troubled soul whose first concern was over the loss of her hair...preceding with great significance the question of whether or not she would die...but I must also admit to unbelievably ridiculous feelings of guilt and stupidity. All those thoughts...all that mind-numbing-drive-me-completely-crazy chatter only lasted a few minutes in reality. However, it felt like an eternity passed before I was able to regain control of myself. Once I settled the wild, animalistic panic that had taken hold of me, I was able to come to this conclusion...cancer does just happen. Okay, so I know there is more to it than that.. that there are medical reasons why it happens. I'm referring more to the aspect of who it happens to, not how it actually happens. I'm just one of many. I will never know why it happened to me and quite honestly, I don't need to know. Worrying about the why is nothing more than a waste of time and energy. It was time to bury the questions brought on by fear and guilt. It was time to get down to business.
Maybe I'm an odd being or maybe this is the way it works for most in this situation. I don't know the answer as I've not addressed this subject with many who have been in my shoes. But I process things very quickly. I compartmentalize, strategize and realize what is beyond me. I assess the situation and take control of what can be controlled and let go of the rest. I create a business type atmosphere in my mind and I set about doing the job at hand. For this task, the process began by creating a team. My Power Posse.
The team came into being the night of my diagnosis. The first board meeting was held at my friend, "L's" house. She and my friend, "K", were there to cry with me. To be with me as I made necessary phone calls. We prayed together. And we even laughed together. "K" is a nurse and she became my first line of defense. I thrive on information...knowing what to expect...and she gave me what I needed. She is also a great spiritual and emotional supporter. She has all but carried me through some of life's tougher times. She was a definite posse member. "L", well, "L" is my pal with whom I push the boundaries. She shares my love of adventure and we have survived many what-should-have-been-unsurvivable adventures together. To say we leave trouble in our wake is an understatement. We are the modern day Thelma and Louise. Although I don't know who would be Thelma or who would be Louise. (All I know is I wanna be the one who slept with Brad Pitt!!!) Well, fighting cancer was going to certainly be an adventure. I knew I needed Thelma???...or Louise???...by my side. The Power Posse was 3 members strong... "K", "L", and me. I was a member by default. With charter members defined, it was time for rules to be made. Here are the only rules I felt were needed at the time:
1) It's all about me.
2) Any emotion is fair. Expression of said emotion is always allowed. BUT regardless of that emotion, the rules state we must end all emotional "moments" with laughter.
3) I WILL look like crap. We bust on me....then work like mad to make me look cute.
I know, number 3 is sooo irrelevant in the grand scheme of things but all I can say to that is refer to rule number 1. It's all about me and I was as obsessed as hell with how I was going to be physically affected by chemo. I suppose I should have added rule number 4 stating rule number 1 trumps any and all other rules.
My Power Posse has grown tremendously in number since that first night and the rules have been slightly amended. I'm not sure how large the Posse has become. What I do know is we are all fighting the fight together. We are doing what we can to keep laughter alive in a situation where it could easily be suffocated...maybe even suffer a torturous death. Not a day has passed since that first night that giggles and grins and gut-busting guffaws have not been part of my day. What a blessing. What a treat. What a way to live. And as of that first night, I am living like I've never lived before.
Today I wish you laughter and smiles...sunshine and happiness...a life full of living!
Until next time...