The Quilt that Changed the Game

There is really nothing much left to the imagination now.  I’ve seen it – I’ve read it – I’ve processed it.   Yesterday – I received a copy of the doctor’s report:  Stage IV cancer.  So, what does that change?

How much information does an individual really need about their own health prognosis? Knowing I have Stage IV cancer doesn’t really change anything.

Yet, somehow it changes everything.  This has never been a game – nor is it now.  I am reminded of my own mortality.  I am reminded that I am human and that I am in trouble.  I need help from the medical community, my family, my community of supporters.  It reminded me that I am home from work for a reason… and I need to remember that reason.  It was a bit surreal to see someone else observe my body and report on its progress – in ink.  Seeing the words in black and white made my condition more real.

I have come to a point where I could pretend I don’t have cancer.  I can sometimes go about my day stressing about things that normal people stress about like what to wear to dress for the weather, what to get for Christmas, and whether I should bag the leaves or dump them in my garden.  I have been so very lucky that my chemo has been quite kind to me and my side-effects have been negligible – so far.

Katya and I have fallen into the habit of playing Scrabble and drinking tea together.  I love this tradition.  I am not asleep when she comes home from work – which allows her to come into my room and share her day with me.  It is this normal kind of routine that fills my life and makes me happy.  It is this type of routine that allows me to forget the beast that lurks inside my liver and my abdomen.

I guess seeing the words, “Stage IV”, remind me that the beast exists.  “And don’t you forget it!”  I am home because I have a disease that I need to fight.

But seeing the words really don’t change anything – I still know I need to fight.  Stage IV means I need to fight.

I still need to eat well.  That hasn’t changed.

I still need to be a Mom.  That hasn’t changed.

I still need to be a wife.  That hasn’t changed.

I still need to exercise.  That hasn’t changed.

I still need encouragement from family and friends.   That hasn’t changed.

I still travel the emotional roller coaster between chemo sessions and doctors visits.  That hasn’t changed either.

Why does it seem that the term itself is so much like a death sentence?  What follows Stage IV is Stage V.  I wish the term did not exist.  Maybe there should be a better term for it like, “Level 4”.  That reminds me of video-gaming when the level becomes more challenging and the player has to be much more “savvy” and more “en guard” to fight the level.  What if the doctor’s report read, “Level 4 Power Up! – Extra bonus” or something like that.  Honestly, words carry such power.  I wish there were different words for Stage IV.  Essentially, however, the words don’t change anything.

Yesterday, I read the words.  I cried.  I breathed.  I wrapped myself in my friendship quilt and read the beautiful wishes that were hand-written on squares of fabric spread throughout the quilt.  The words stage IV faded away as I read the messages:

“Love is everywhere because of you.” (Heather)

“Strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” – Maya Angelou  “… and you’ve got it.” (Joanne)

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart.  Sing anyway!” – Emory Austin (Barbara)

“Dear friend – stay strong, live long, let love support you.  Lean on us when you need to.  All my love,  Helene”.

Stage IV is not a game changer.  The game has not changed.  And with the love and support from my colleagues, friends, and family… I am ‘in’ the game.

This post is dedicated to my staff at the Barrie Learning Centre for their loving words of support – and to Helene Kerr for the beautiful craftsmanship that put everything together to form my beautiful “Game-Changing Quilt”.  Power up!

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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18 Responses to The Quilt that Changed the Game

  1. I’m sorry you had to hear those disturbing words, but you are right: Stage 4 just means you have to fight harder and smarter, utilizing all the help that medical personnel can offer. Here’s wishing you courage for the battle ahead.

    When my doctor phoned me up last year in May and said, referring to a recent blood test I’d had, “I’m afraid it’s leukemia. I’m sorry to be the bearer of such bad news,” I didn’t know there are four different types. Before I learned this part — for a week or so — I thought “This is it!”
    I’ve realized CLL isn’t the “swift ending” I thought it would be. But, though it’s a shocker, I feel each one of us would profit from facing that verdict somewhere along the line. Facing our own mortality has an amazing way of putting life and priorities in perspective. Some people live the best years of their lives after they’ve been told they have a (potentially) terminal illness.
    (But you could sure kick people who are arrogantly wasting the best years of their lives!)

    • inmycorner says:

      Christine – how horrible to hear that news over the phone even! Yikes – I can only imagine – on the other hand the “where” you are kind of fades out of the picture anyhow, doesn’t it? I guess you and I have both experienced the “seeming” end to then rejoice that it may in fact be a new beginning – – and I’m sure you remember that always. Sometimes, though, it is harder to put your ‘game-face” on than others. Enjoy the day, my friend.

  2. Leah says:

    Absolutely awesome.
    And what Helene’s square said, “… let love support you…” Simply Beautiful.

  3. pepesapam says:

    the quilt is so lovely, love the bright colors..May your life also be filled with those bright colors and love surround you always, and yes remember you have a bunch of support system for your fight 🙂

  4. Gallivanta says:

    Power up! You said it! The game is still on. Hugs to you and blessings upon those who made your wonderful quilt.

  5. Ah Stacey, thank God for love and comfort from friends and family. And even strangers. I love the parts that didn’t change because of a piece of paper. And being able to literally wrap yourself up in the love of friends….amazing.

  6. Kathy says:

    Stage 4 or stage 1, stage 2 or stage 3. Don’t focus on the stage because no matter what stage you have If the chemo works it works. So think of yourself in the same boat as a stage 1. Stay strong, enjoy a stress free life, de-clutter what doesn’t matter to you, eat healthy, enjoy healthy cooking ,enjoy your family, the first snowfall today, a cup of tea, find different teas you’ve never tasted to enjoy.My favourite tea I drank through chemo was a red roobis tea….not vanilla or flavours just a nice a taste.

    • Kathy says:

      Its hard to imagine that your life will ever get back to normal but it does. You start to think about cancer less and less as time goes by. I know you can’t imagine that now but your life will return to normal

    • inmycorner says:

      Your advice is sage – I do need to think Stage 1 – (level 1). I have red roobis – have yet to try it – maybe it is time. Thanks, Kathy.

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