I am not really sure where to start! The beginning is too far back...and a bit too scary to visit right now. The end, gives you no sense of the journey. So, perhaps I'll just start in the Middle. In Buddhism, The Middle Way or Middle Path describes path of moderation between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. This, according to the Buddha, was the path of wisdom. The middle here is not so very different from this description in that I am not telling you a story of doom and gloom -- of horror and fear; nor am I retelling the joyous and gleeful tale of surrendering to the fate of the Universe. Rather, the real story lies somewhere in the middle.
Last November, R and I were so fortunate to be able to travel to Costa Rica. The trip was actually a work trip for me, but it was exploratory in nature so it was to be a trip across the country visiting sustainable farming operations, EARTH University (2 campuses, in fact) and some low cost resort areas. As the trip progressed, we found ourselves immersed in the wonders of a country and culture that were so beautiful and filled with life that we barely noticed R was having increased problems with her health. Even a very close call with a semi truck on a rain, hair-pin curve in the mountains did not dampen our spirits for the final two days of our trip. We walked on the black sand beaches of the Guanacaste region, stood beneath a tree filled with a family of Howler monkeys, listened to rain pounding so hard on the roof of our cabin in Limon we thought it would cave in, we drove over washed out bridges and climbed up the outer edge of a volcano to see another in the distance with steam coming out of the top. We were enchanted by the people, the food, the beauty, the beautiful language of the Ticos, and living in the moment as we had never done before.
When the trip came to a close and we returned home, R had to admit that she was not feeling the best. We decided she should see the doctor as soon as she could, but on Monday when she got up to get ready for work, she found that her abdomen was so distended she could not even come close to buttoning her pants. Now, I've heard of vacation weight gain, but remember, she was not feeling the best on the trip -- and our food consisted mainly of beans and rice, fruit and (for Randy) fish and some meat. NOT a recipe for excessive weight gain! Plus, R is a very small person -- weighing in at about 125. We called the doctor, got in within 30 minutes, and the very next day found ourselves in the office of a world class OB/Gyn Oncologist in Omaha, NE. On Friday, he performed surgery and found large mass on Rs ovary which turned out to be Stage 3a Ovarian Cancer.
The next few months were a blur of surgery, complications, trips back and forth to Omaha (we live in Lincoln, an hour away) and finally 6 months of Chemotherapy. R got pretty weak and very sick, but weathered all of this with an extremely positive attitude and a strong, healthy body. I'll spare you the details* and take you directly to our last doctor's appointment where the oncologist told us that R has responded better and more quickly to the chemo than anyone he had ever seen! He said that, along with her very positive attitude and an otherwise young and healthy body gave him great hope! Ovarian Cancer has a terrible recurrence rate, but he said that the speed at which her body fought off the cells was a very good sign. He, of course, made no promises, but we left his office with a more positive message than we had anticipated from this very practical, no-nonsense oncologist!
You might wonder why I was not HERE during all of this. Why not call upon my SparkFriends' wisdom and uplifting spirits to help me through such a challenging time. I wonder this myself. I do not know the answer except to say that I was overwhelmed to the point where I was not sure I could engage with one more person -- even for support. For those of you who do not know, this is not the first time I have encountered a life threatening Cancer in a significant other. In my 30s, I lost my dear love of only 2 1/2 years to a rare and aggressive Cancer that took her from us in 7 short months. I did not think much of this (after the initial diagnosis at least) during R's chemo. Rather, I focused on THIS moment, R's situation as unique and unrelated to what had happened before. In some ways, I still feel that way. I don't see this as "unfair" that I had to have Cancer visit me so personally again. In fact, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I am here to help guide loved ones through this journey. But seeking out others for support and further discussion was just too much for some reason. Perhaps some would say this was not the healthiest way to approach it on my part, but the truth is that R and I depended mainly on each other. Friends were, indeed, wonderful and offered food, help, distractions, and much support. We both kept on working at our jobs, and we carried on as much as we could with our "normal" lives. We made it through and now it has just become part of our journey together - part of who we are...
The journey continues, of course. Taking a deep breath and looking out before us, R and I see ourselves as quite blessed and filled with gifts of abundance and the richness of friends and family who love us. We have come through this part of our journey with the realization that each day is a gift and one to be savored. We enjoy the small fruits of our labors as well as our moments of leisure. Friends and family are even more precious than before -- and our daily lives have become a great adventure to be lived.
I'm not sure what the future will hold but I do know that living now in the best way we can is sure to bring us the most positive life we can live. We say that we do not want to spoil "now" worrying about what might be. Either way, "now" is too precious to be wasted on such things. We go on living...and looking forward to a return to Costa Rica and other adventures that await us, whatever they may be.
Blessings and love to all of you! Here's wishing you the most wondrous moments each day filled with adventure and love!
And...so that is what I have been up to the last few months! You?
Blessings to you all!
* For those interested in more details on our journey, feel free to visit the Care Page I created at http://www.carepages.com/carep
ages/RandySupportNews. You will have to create a login I think, and you will want to start by reading "About Randy" on the right side of the page, and then the updates starting at the end and working forward.