Monday, May 18, 2009

Cancer is a Hurricane

So here is your analogy of the week:

Cancer is a hurricane.

It comes on strong and weaves a path of destruction. You can fight it. You can batten down the hatches. You can even move away from areas more likely to be hit by hurricanes (like Florida) to somewhere like...oh...Kansas. But then, of course, you have to worry about tornadoes and dust storms. Heck, they've even had hurricanes in Canada. And England. It's always something...

With some hurricanes, you have a lot of warning. You can see it coming and have plenty of time to try to minimize the effects by boarding up the windows, trimming the trees, or evacuating altogether. With other hurricanes, it seems to develop so suddenly, you barely have time to grab your raincoat and duck for cover. And yet, you live where hurricanes happen so you know that they can strike. Anytime. Anywhere. [Ok, they're more likely during hurricane season but you get my drift...]

Some hurricanes are small. Category one. Tropical storms, even. They are still dangerous. They're a pain in the ass. Localized damage. A tree down here or there, the power goes out for a little while, school is closed. There is preparation and clean up and all of the standard procedures. But they are far less to fear than the Category Five. Those are definitely going to cause some serious destruction. Those are the ones you want to avoid. The power will be out for days (weeks) at a time. Your home may be destroyed or severely damaged. You could lose everything. Including your life. And sometimes when the hurricane strikes, you're still not sure (until it's passed) whether you were in a category three or a four. It doesn't really matter. When you're in the middle of the hurricane, it's scary whether the wind is blowing at 120 or 150 mph.

And in the middle of that hurricane is an eye. The eye is deceptive. In the eye, there is no wind. No rain. No tornadoes. Everything is calm and clear. You may even hear the birds come out. In the days before satellites and radar, people would step out of their homes during the eye of the hurricane only to be taken by surprise by the rest of the oncoming storm.

Because eventually, the eye passes. Not only are you left with the rest of the storm, but sometimes the most severe, most damaging, most dangerous part of thes storm is the part that follows the eye. Ironically, the most dangerous storms usually have the largest, best defined eye wall.

So here we are. In the eye of the hurricane. This storm has been brewing and raging in our little family for almost four months. We didn't have a lot of warning but we called out the National Guard and they're doing the best that they can. So are we. We have been braving this storm and doing everything we can to fight it. Some days we did better than others.

But for the last week, things have been calm. We have a direction. We have a task. We haven't spent the night in a hospital in almost three weeks (hooray). We haven't had to visit the doctor's office or therapy appointments in over a week (hooray). We've actually resumed a schedule that most closely resembles our old "normal" schedule, doing things that we haven't done in almost four months. Charlotte is happy and eating and growing and smiling and making us smile.

And yet that storm is looming on the horizon. The other side of that hurricane is getting ready to hit us and I'm not sure how long it's going to last. I am fearful of the damage that will be caused. I am fearful of the unknown. I can't stop thinking that the process will start all over again when she has surgery again next week. There will be danger. There will be risk. There will be trauma. It just comes with the territory. And then there will be the long clean up. We will need to assess the damage, look towards rehab, get a new direction for cancer treatment....and the long process begins again.

I guess this sounds very morbid and sad. I should be enjoying the "good parts". I should cherish these moments where we get to have a life again, however brief that may be.

And I do.

But it is difficult to look at that precious little girl and realize that while she laughs and tickles you and sings nursery rhymes and reads books to herself and talks about going to "Houston, Texas???" there is this ugly, dangerous, cancerous tumor growing inside of her brain. This insidious thing that refuses to be stopped by the traditional avenues is testing modern science...and my ability to remain optimistic.

I will continue to hope and believe. I will strive to look on the bright side. I will breathe while I'm still in the eye of this big hurricane. But I also stand ready because the storm clouds are building again.

So those are my thoughts for this evening. Take them or leave them. I must get some sleep for the busy day ahead. I continue to take deep breaths and live one day at a time. I think I see a Hurricane Party in my future (yeah, you Floridians out there know what I'm talkin' about!!!) Who's making the Sangria?


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