If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know I have cancer. If you aren’t a regular, but happened upon my blog today — welcome, and let me hip you to my diagnosis. I have Waldenstroms Macroglobulanemia. It’s a rare form of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.
This December I’ll actually have survived, and with some regularity, thrived, with WM for 11 years. Amazing to say — especially considering the first prognosis was that I would leave the planet in 5 years. Clearly, and thankfully, that information was incorrect.
Lately I’ve been struggling a bit more with how WM makes me feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. WM compromises my immune system making me more likely to get sick. I’m not sure if it’s because of the immune system connection but it also sometimes just knocks me out — with little or no warning. I will be up and about, doing the myriad of things I do, and out of the blue – WHAM! — I am completely exhausted. Sometimes that makes me feel a bit crazy, or like a completely weakling.
Funny, as my struggle has been increasing, so have the comments from people I meet. No one notices the struggle. (I think that’s a testament to my ability to breathe, and do, and be — and to all the amazing people that hold me up in so many different ways.) They all say “WOW! You look FANTASTIC!!!” It cracks me up. The latest person told me every time they see me, no matter what I’m going through, I seem to have an ethereal glow about me. (Wow.)
So regardless of how I feel, I’ve decided to accept these statements as truth. I look (and am) fantastic, and I glow, with an ethereal glow.
But today, glowing or not, I’ve felt incredibly frustrated, irritated, and emotionally spent. Funny, feeling all that is frustrating, irritating and emotionally draining. But, to be kind to myself I am just getting over one of those 3 day in bed episodes.
As I drove home after work I wondered — with as little crankiness and judgement as possible — “What is wrong with me?!? Why is this sometimes so painfully, crushingly difficult?” This, along with a myriad of other questions that come in these moments of angst.
To ease the pain in my chest, I took a few deep breaths, said a prayer, and turned on Audible. I started listening to I’ll Push You.
As I listened I thought … oh yeah, that’s it. One of the reasons this is so tough is because I’m capable and strong. I have been my whole life, and I take some pride, comfort, and enjoyment in that. I love pushing myself, and being in control, and crushing goals and obstacles, and, did I mention, being in control.
F*ck. It’s hard to not be in control. It’s hard to face my own inability to crush this. It’s hard to be weak at times. Makes me cry. The tears feel like a sign of weakness, but I think the willingness to shed them, to feel the pain that causes them, is a sign of strength. So funny right? A willingness to experience weakness and fear, is actually a strength.
Every day — sometimes every moment — I’m working on it. Working on being healthy, being strong, being weak, eating well, hydrating, taking care of my emotional and mental wellbeing, asking for help, giving help, accepting kindness, giving kindness, praying, trusting God, asking the Saints and angels to be with me, having admirably stubborn optimism, glowing, and sometimes, weeping and questioning it all.
In I’ll Push You, when asked about the prognosis, Justin says “No one knows.” I think that’s true with me as well. No one really knows. No one knows when I’ll need treatment again, when my symptoms will become more severe, when they will discover a cure, or when I’ll leave the planet. I’ve never been a big fan of that. But today, it seemed, “no one knows” is the perfect prognosis.
Picasso once said “Everything you can imagine is real.” Why not imagine a great prognosis and a beautiful life — no matter what? Cancer-free, cancer-light, or cancer-not-so-light, life still is, and it’s good.
Funny, as I write this, I feel like vomiting. It isn’t easy to be human, or have cancer, or be afraid, or not be sure what’s what. But, it’s all good.
So I embrace my glow — my ethereal glow — no matter what. And, since no one knows, I will imagine fantabulousness, and breathe through all else.
Perhaps by now you are wondering what this has to do with creativity. For a while so was I! Obviously it has to do with creativity because it’s about me — the creativity loving educator. But, as I sip my cup of tea and take a moment to think, I believe the connection to creativity is deeper.
Creatives look at things differently. We choose to imagine things that others do not. We engage in possibility thinking, wondering, risking, learning, and living with curiosity, joy, and openness.
Creativity is about life — surviving, thriving, and glowing — even when we feel like vomiting!
Oh, I must add that to my imagining — fantabulousness with no anxiety induced nausea. Ah yes, that is good.