One week ago I posted Himalaya and Challenges. The next evening we went to see Leonard Cohen. I first heard his music in 1968 but had never seen him live in concert. When we bought tickets in September I had no idea that chemo would be in my life by the time he came to town. Yet the concert turned out to be on day 14 of my third cycle of chemo. One day later and I would never have been able to attend. But it must have been meant to be and no matter how many people say all his concerts have been amazing, for me I know this was his best! He is 78 years old and sang for almost 3 and a half hours along with what must be some of the most talented musicians and singers from around the world. His boundless energy propelled me full of life into my next cycle of chemo and even the days following.
Was that concert a silver lining? For me, yes it was. Normally I am leading treks and tours at this time of year; this year I got breast cancer but got to see Leonard Cohen and company!
There have been many silver linings that have given me strength and they do not stop. Of course I knew that I had good friends and a wonderful family but I honestly did not know that I would be blessed by overwhelming support and love in such amazing ways.
From the beginning I had friends who had already "been there, done that" with their breast cancer and they were there for me. Other friends listened to me rant and rave and did not judge me. My husband Dick who was in Turkey on "Van Kedisi" all through the difficult waiting for diagnosis time, talked to me on Skype daily and only when BC was confirmed did he say "FUCK!" Normally when anything remotely dire is going on, he says it immediately and often! Well, he got it right that day - "What the fuck" indeed!
Razzu in Kathmandu had Rinpoche do a "Puja" for me at Bodhinath within days of my diagnosis. I know the monastery well as I have been there with Razzu many times (and some of you my friends have also been there) so I was able to so much appreciate this ceremony, feeling as though I was there. Rinpoche told Razzu after the puja, that I am going to be OK, this in Tibetan. Good thing Razzu really does speak Tibetan - would not want to get that translation wrong!
Friends from elementary school days have brought immense support in different ways. Mary, my oldest friend, has brought me the gift of her decades of learning - special tinctures for healing and cancer and teas specific to my needs with all ingredients grown in her own island garden. Susan, whose husband Dennis died from leukaemia 35 years ago this month has chosen to jump on to the breast cancer bandwagon with me and I think she already knows more about it than anyone who has not had BC! She was Dennis's caregiver as they faced his cancer together and understands well what my family has been introduced to.
My "nurse" and fellow trekker Luba comes every other day to do my Neupogen injection which I am perfectly capable of doing myself but she does it better.
Friends pick me up for yoga, bring me soup, call me to go for walks and almost always say yes if I ask them if they will walk with me, play Settlers of Catan on MY schedule, send me funny jokes and beautiful photos, make me laugh and it just keeps happening! Blessings and prayers come from friends and family from all over the world and no matter about religion or spirituality, what comes across is the incredible caring.
And then there is Dick and our wonderful kids. Mary teaches me to write, Steven publicly "loves" me on Facebook and Andy has always championed my trekking efforts. Dick is from NZ, Mary and I were born in Grace Hospital in Vancouver, Steven in Singapore and Andy in Saudi Arabia. We have Dick to thank for providing us the opportunity to live and travel abroad. It was not always easy but I suspect it has given us a unique opportunity as a family.
It is exactly four months today that I found the lump. I know that there will be many more months of treatment before I can say I have done all I can but thanks to all of you, the battle is shared.