It’s thanksgiving tomorrow.
I have a loooooot to be thankful for.
Man. I really love my life. Even with this whole cancer thing I’ve got it so good. I don’t even want to think about it too much cause I start crying. I am just so seen and loved. Believe me when I say, I don’t take that for granted. Though I’m still struggling with autopilot and being disconnected and over compartmentalized I know my life is amazing!
Work is great. My coworkers are dependable, encouraging, hilarious, empathetic, hard working, and get along with each other and me. It’s so rare to have a whole rehab team be on the same page with treatment plans and approaches to patient care and which patients are appropriate and inappropriate. When I sit in the office to document I end up laughing hysterically nine times out of ten. They also appreciate me. They want me to work more hours and to give me more responsibility in areas I’m interested in and good at. How many people can say that about their place of employment? I need the routine, the known and familiar, the coworkers, and the patient care that my job provides. It’s comforting and providing me with the function and purpose that I need right now.
CrossFit is wonderful. Coaching is the best part of my day every time! I’m coaching a group class four times a week with a group of regulars that I’ve known and cheered on as a member for years. The class is large enough for fun dynamics but small enough that I can give individual attention and manage the class with ease most days. I love coaching group classes. I’ve also been doing more personal training with injured members that just want to feel better or get stronger. It’s fun watching people improve so quickly and get out of pain and back to classes. It’s challenging being so responsible for people’s recovery. I’m having fun with being creative on exercises that address their needs and help push them toward their goals. It provides the challenge and mental engagement that is easily skipped over at my hospital job. So I’m pushing outside my comfort zone and becoming a more well rounded practitioner. The toughest part is it has me doing thirteen hour days a couple days a week which would be demanding and exhausting without the chemo thing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love being a coach and a trainer! As I’ve mentioned before, it also allows me to be part of workouts where my body wont let me participate. I’m still only working out one to three times a week (very different from my pre-cancer six days a week). I focus on technique and skill. I’ve decided to ignore my massive hernia because I want to be strong if I can’t push myself as much as i used to. My lungs just don’t let me push! If the workout requires any amount of an engine I’m out. Yesterday I did a workout and felt so faint and nauseous after despite my modifications and “taking it easy”. I tell myself to only do what I can but my problem is with my cardio. I feel fine while I’m doing the movements but I don’t recover. So what “I can do” is a lot more than I should do. I keep forgetting! Cancer and crossfit belong together but man are they hard to reconcile! I survived the CrossFit Open though! All the workouts I did Rx too! I can still do the movements and weight I just can’t go fast. So I did them all slowly, luckily the workouts allowed for that. I finished in like the top twenty percent of the world, which is insane, (I suck at math I was around 45,000 out of around 183,000… I don’t know). Listen, the takeaway is I freaking love CrossFit.
Cancer is going ok. I had my interim scan three weeks ago. The radiologist who read it said my pneumonitis was still present which explains why I feel like I can’t breath and my heart is going to explode during workouts. The first time the radiologist read the scan she didn’t even report on my lung nodules. She says my abdomen and pelvis are still clear which is a MIRACLE! My oncologist requested a report on the lung nodules documented in previous scans and they said, (I’m paraphrasing) “oh yeah, I guess there’s one four millimeter nodules in her left lung.” Whether that means all the other ones are gone or not is a mystery. My oncologist was annoyed so she’s having her favorite radiologist go over my scans with a fine toothed comb. I hope to get a more official word on that next week. But either way, my body is getting a break from the heavy dose cytotoxic chemo! After six months of body wrecking chemo with folfiri plus cetuximab, we’re going from five drugs that kill everything and poison me to the point that I’m not functional for five days, down to one drug! It’s still an infusion, the cetuximab, with the skin, hair and nails side effects, which is a bummer but still a respite since nausea and diarrhea won’t be the major side effects! That’s revolutionary for my body! I’m going to feel better for the first time in almost a year (my last surgery was December so I was recovering from that straight into six months of chemo). It’s a new season to be sure!
It’s funny how sucky things can bring relief just because they suck less than alternatives. Then, all of a sudden, what was horrible at first just becomes normal. You lose perspective and you’re happy with bad circumstances. I was happily telling my friend that I get to have a two hour infusion instead of six and won’t be as wrecked when she stopped me. “I’m not happy with this at all! I don’t want any nodules and I don’t want any chemo!” It echoed around a hollow space in my heart. I’m still happy about the break in treatment but my new normal and the things that make me happy are very sub par. My expectations have been shaped by my experience. I guess that’s kind of a human condition. A friend who works as a teacher in inner city Oakland was saying how she has become desensitized to her students cussing at her or her students being mugged at gunpoint because it happens at least twice a week, and needing an escort to go to her car so she isn’t assaulted in the parking lot. These are just her normal. It’s horrible that her normal is being disrespected and living in fear of crime but it’s her experience. My cancer is kinda like that. Sure, it sucks but it’s my experience why expect more? Sure, we all wish things were different in our lives but another human condition is adaptation. We adjust and shift our expectations and adapt them to prevent disappointment and heartbreak. “It is what it is”…. but is it what it ought to be? How do you keep the negative circumstances in life from taking over and shaping your normal into a dark mass of disappointment and unmet expectations? I have found the secret solution to be checking with God about His perspective and allowing those bad experiences and circumstances to shape us only in ways He intends. Limit the negative effect of bad things by keeping them in perspective with the good things surrounding the bad. I think humans were designed to hone in on silver linings because we were designed to have our expectations shaped by more than our experience. We were designed to allow the Giver of every good and perfect gift into every shadowy and dark circumstance in life. It ain’t easy. Temper tantrums and focusing on how much of a bummer life can be feels really good (that victim mentality). Starving hope and denying love is easier because then there is no disappointment. I think everyone needs to keep bad in line with what God says about it and keep it from bulldozing our entire perspective. I don’t think I’m doing the best job of this at all lately. But I think the prayers of many are shielding me from this disease and it’s design to carve joy and peace and hope out of my experience. If this disease were allowed to truly shape me to it’s full extent I would be a wreck! A broken, cowering, handicapped shell of Amy Pike. Instead look at this fabulous life I get to live! Look at it! I’m not even going in to how wonderful my family and friends are. That would really put my life over the edge of awesome for one blog post.
Yes, I am loved and seen by my friends and family but most importantly, I am loved and seen by a God who overpowers my bad circumstances and floods my life with good. That is my normal, the experience that shapes my expectations. That is what I’m truly grateful for.