Friday, 12 June 2015

Life beyond chemo .

Life beyond chemo!

I went to market this morning to buy organic strawberries and to  find a model.  I was too late for the strawberries but witnessed the following scene at the organic veggie stall.

I meet a friend with her dog and I draw her attention to the rye bread that’s being sold for the first time at this stall. The seller is young, pretty with darting dark eyes. There are tiny tasters: wee slices of thin dark brown bread on top of which sit trianglar slices of fresh goats cheese.  Yum.  We taste, and my friend accidently  tips the plate onto the ground.  The cheese and bread hit the road.  No pasenada.  The girl is not bothered. I ask if I can buy half a loaf.   No, sorry, she says firmly. Actually, I don’t think she said sorry!

I’m aware of a young, bearded man standing close by.  He’s French.  He shows the pretty young woman two 20c coins. They sit in the palm of his outstretched hand.   He talks about the coins in a mixture of quiet French with a few even quieter Spanish words thrown in. Her eyes smile.

Then I witness a bag of bananas, pears and other fruits being filled and handed over the table.  His face is expressionless.  Hers is radiant. He turns away avoiding eye contact with me. I’m intrigued.  It all happens so quickly.  Wait, calls the young woman.  She hands him half a loaf of rye bread in a clear plastic  bag. Her eyes widen.  He stuffs the bread into his backpack, which has the shell of the pilgrim attached to it,  and disappears  in to the  crowd.

Half an hour later I’m sitting at the top cafĂ© in the market enjoying breakfast.  Yes, it’s 12.30 but it’s never too late for a tostada and coffee.

A lovely new friend arrives with her 4 year old son and the little boy greets me like a long lost pal ! 
He eats his 6 little sushi’s and declares his tummy is fuller than he’d like it to be,  so he needs water now.
His mum  agrees to model for me this afternoon.

Driving home it’s hotting up.  I meet an acquaintance, a cook, who has 2kms to walk to work.  I give her a lift. How did she know I’ve had  cancer? I’m so glad you are well now she said.  I believe she really meant it.

At 5.30, my friend arrives to model as arranged.  We would do the drawings in the garden.  I had collected flowers and had had half an hour to practice using them.
Drawing with flowers is different from drawing with feathers and sticks, which is what we use at  the Monday art class.

I loved it.   It's a whole new experience.

Kays’s dog  was so taken with one of my drawings she decided to roll over on it ,repeatedly,  and looked like she might even take a nap on it.

For the past 7 months Thursdays have been a day  related to the chemo. Today, as if to mark this  change, this freedom, the drawings came out WILD.  One minutes sketches again, with ink and coffee using flowers as brushes and pencils.

Then, after Kirsten finished modelling , she gave me a  wonderful neck massage.  My neck feels new tonight.

Then Luscious Kate, as I call her, a local cake and pastie maker called, and delivered 2  sticky warm brownies and two delicious hot cheese and potato pasties, straight from her oven.

And there’s still a bit of today left to enjoy.

Life beyond chemo !

I hope your day has been equally blessed with magical moments.

A wonderful team.

You are a wonderful team !

Last day of chemo after 7 months. Such a touching goodbye with the four nurses, Reyes, Maika, Rocio and Maria J who run the day hospital. 3 of these four women are ex intensive care nurses, and are so professional and attentive they immediately inspired confidence. Rocio was instrumental is changing my oncologist to the lady doctor. She made that easy and did not criticise my decision.

My parting gift to this wonderful team was the vase of flowers with a thank you hand written on the front, filled with flowers from Kay’s garden.
Unfortunately the group goodbye I had envisioned didn’t happen!

The .lovely Maria Jose

Just before my session finished, an elderly man had a heart attack 5 feet away from me, behind a screened cubicle. The staff leapt into action. My companion in the next chair who told me what was happening -she could see everything- luckily was wrong. The heart attack turned out to be a losing of consciousness, and after a doc was summoned and many tests performed, the patient recovered, and was moved into a nearby bed.

Then a lady collapsed in another chair, and again the nurses sprang into action.

When Maika and Rocio had attended to their unconscious patient but Reyes was still busy, it felt like time to hand over the gift.
My lovely new young friend Kirsten took the pics.

Sorry you can’t read the thank you on the vase, but it ends saying , ‘you are a marvellous team.’


And just as I handed it over, their boss arrived. Then many smiles were exchanged. And although the group hug didn’t happen, individual ones did.

Looking at the pics, it’s the look of love in their eyes that touches me so deeply. These women love their work.



Then home , a siesta, and an unexpected delightful social afternoon. Wednesdays are open garden days at Kay’s house, where I’m staying. On offer are garden tours, tea, home-made strawberry ice cream, luxury chocolate cake with cream, plus frozen ice cream cake. YUM !!! Today 20 people came, and I knew half of them.

By 8 pm I was exhausted beyond talking. The realisation the chemo is finished is huge. I have not only survived it, I've had minimal side effects. I've been blessed in so very many ways.

There have been countless experiences of pure joy during these chemo sessions. That must sound strange.

In the beginning though there was pain with the stent in the chest, and two operations to get it in the right place, not nice.
There was fear about what would happen when the chemo started. Not nice. But these passed fairly quickly.
Some side effects were a bit scary but never lasted more than a day or two. Sometimes my mouth would feel like it was becoming paralysed.

The chemo day joy always included the drive through mountains to the hospital and back, each time with a different lovely friend.

Joy fllowered in real and meaningful chats and deep exchanges with the other patients.

Indiscribable joy took my breath away in moments of shared nonverbal communication ,eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul.

We all knew some of us would survive and some of us wouldn’t.

I felt sure I would , even though I was already branded stage 4.

I 'knew' I would survive on the deepest level of my being . 4 days before seeing the healer in January, I woke up 'knowing' I was well. The healer Estaben's confirmed this before he laid hands on me !!

Monday's hospitals news that there is no cancer in my body now did not impact in the same way that the healer’s news did in January.
I’ve found myself in a quiet, almost numb place over the past week. Kind of in a void, but still with joyful and many magical moments popping up unexpectedly !.

I didn’t share with all of you the news Esteban gave me on January 19th.

The cancer has gone he said. He told me this before he laid his hands on me. You will not die from this he said. You will die from something else.. we will all die one day, he added with a smile.

But I so wanted to hospital’s confirmation, as well.
I chided myself for needing this so much. I was in complete euphoria in January for a whole week, following Esteban’s pronouncement. I sort of expected the same reaction from the oncologist news, but it didn’t happen.

Yesterday, a wise friend explained the difference . It resonated. The healers news was understood by your unconscious brain. The conscious brain needed the scientific confirmation. The conscious brain is where the doubts and fears reside. The unconscious brain is where the faith and connection to the bigger picture resides.

Too tired to write more, but wanted to share the day with you. Thank you all once again for your wonderful support, care, and love.

Dear FB friends, you are a wonderful team !!