I woke up to the sound of the cardinal chirping just outside my bedroom window.  It’s call is quite distinctive.  It seems that bird has found its “sweet – singing- spot” as it sits there in the wild mulberry tree almost every morning  to sing.  I have my own private show-case in that tree outside my window.

The tree itself was a volunteer from the domestic weeping mulberry bush that died the year after my family moved into this house.   We cut down the dead branches in the fall and left the stump.  The next spring, there were shoots coming from the bottom and for kicks we left them grow to see what would happen.  Those shoots eventually turned into branches and grew to form a beautiful antique mulberry tree.  Each spring, the tree offers white mulberries to the birds that swarm to feast in it.  They squawk at each other, chase each other away, fly in, fly out, and entertain me all the while.  I love that tree – that tree that sprang back to life.  It refused to give up.  I refused to chop it down.

I often think that cardinal must be Dad coming back to check in on me.  He told me he wanted to come back as a bird.  On the other hand, it may be Mom as she loved cardinals.  They were, in fact, her favorite bird of all time followed closely by blue jays.  Blue jays were beautiful, but they had attitude problems and their song was more of a screechy command.  And so, she preferred the cardinals.

Dawn was just beginning to break when I got out of bed.  The sky was filling with shades of read.  I was so relieved that my Saturday morning walks with Barb were now going to begin – finally – in the light of day.  It is so much easier to get up when it is light.  The dark of winter is simply not inviting.  I wondered how I would break the news of my “lump” to Barb.  I seemed to be getting better at telling people as I go.  It’s almost as if I feel more comfortable with it myself.  I refuse to tell people to not worry as I have no right to tell people how to react. Yet, what is the point of worrying.  It is either cancer, in which case I will receive treatment, or it is not.

“I’m going to order you a CT and biopsy, Stacey”, announced my oncologist last week when I asked her to check out the lump that I had discovered on my groin.  “Whatever it turns out to be – we will make a treatment plan for it.  We will work through this together.”

How odd that I had just realized only two months ago that I had a “team” of people at RVH who had become my life-coaches, my cheer-leaders, my assistants.  It had never dawned on me that I may just be working with these people for the rest of my life.  With an 80% recurrence rate, it was likely that my cancer would return.  I thought I would be less capable of coping than I was.  I thought I’d be more devastated.  I thought I would not be able to be strong.  I have no idea what it was that afforded me this courage, but I feel strong.  Is it because I have faith in my team of doctors and nurses?  Is it because I know I came back from Stage 4 to enjoy one full year of great health?  Hard to say.

My CA is up from 14 to 27.  The “red flag” is raised at 35 – but I’m trending up.  Still, I must have caught things early – in good time?  Finding the balance to “live with cancer” is tougher than I had imagined.  But I can still live and that’s the most important thing.  I will live through the diagnosis.  I will live through the treatment and I will leave through the recovery.  The latter had proved to be the most challenging, oddly enough.

I feel calm.  My main concern is to be sure that my family is supported through this.  David’s volleyball coaches know and have assured me they will take good care of him – next I need to talk to his teachers.  Katya has good friends and has agreed to talk to my social worker.  She is a smart cookie and has found her own resources in the past.  Ben is well equipped in Thunder Bay and is an “expert” in advocating for himself when he needs help.  Thank God.  Kevin?  Well, he and I will work through this one together.  It is easier for me than it is for my family to go through this second round.  But I intend to gather support around my family – for my family.

Who knows what tomorrow has in store for us?  A week ago I was thinking about going back to work in September, travelling to BC and Mexico in May, and Iceland in August.  Today – I have no plans.  I have to wait.  And that’s okay – short term planning means not having to cancel plans.  That’s easier on everyone.  My mantra has, once again, become, “let’s play it by ear and see how things go”.

Now – off to get David’s hair cut and to spend some time with him.  I feel so lucky to be able to do that.  I had a fantastic summer last year, filled with activity and family time.  I have no regrets.  I will stay the course and try to continue to focus on family first once again.

The cardinal has flown the coop by this time.  The tree is empty of occupants.  Nonetheless, I know they will be back tomorrow morning.  And when that song begins, once again, I will listen and appreciate every note.



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.
This entry was posted in attitude, cancer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hope

  1. This is so moving and powerful in a quiet way. It really touched my heart. My best wishes to you in this time of uncertainty which you seem to be managing so well.

  2. Gwen says:

    Your positive outlook speaks well for your “team”. So glad that you live in a country where the option of a positive treatment plan.

  3. Stacey, I feel like I was just sitting with you, maybe in a living room. Listening to you calmly tell me what is going on. What how you feel. And I am feeling confident in how you feel, in the family that you are, and the team that you have. And I’m just absorbing it all. And supporting you. Completely. ❤

    • inmycorner says:

      Oh – it is good to re-connect with you, Colleen. It has been difficult to begin a conversation about cancer again. Didn’t want to speak the word thinking then it will be true. Wish you were sitting here in my living room with me. I am calm. Weird. Maybe because I know I have support from my peeps -, my team, and you. Thanks. Thanks for always being “here”.

      • Stacey, I am there. I will listen to every word. Even if I listen with my eyes from reading. Whatever your calm is coming from, I’m glad you have it. Along with my prayers.

  4. “Life is terminal.” Nevertheless we battle on and claim as much as the good Lord gives us. When I start to feel like “It’s way too short,” I remind myself of the many soldier boys who lived only 19, 20, 21 years and left this world in their prime.
    All the best, eh.

    • inmycorner says:

      Yes – it is good to get a handle on perspective. I feel the same way, Christine. I think about how fortunate we are to live in Canada and to have the luxuries we have. You are so right! And it is indeed a good idea to pace yourself when it comes to life!

  5. Wow. Beautiful. Moved, by photo and to the finish.

    • inmycorner says:

      THanks, David. I felt a bit rusty – it’s been a while that I’ve tapped on the keyboard and I HATE bringing news like this forward (again). Appreciate your kind words.

  6. Gallivanta says:

    Iceland sounds like a wonderful plan……..don’t stop thinking about it. 🙂

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