Preparing for battle

Today’s a big day for me.  Later this afternoon, I go to the oncologist and start chemotherapy again, this time in pill form.  I haven’t had a chemo treatment of any type since 30 December 2007, and I honestly haven’t missed it. 

I’ve done so much in that time — and yet so little, it seems.  My to-do list, like yours, is a mile long, and I don’t have my book finished or my children raised or even a thriving vegetable garden to show for the extra two and a half years that I’ve been given as a direct result of the horribleness that is chemo.  I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made on all of these, sure, but I’d just like to FINISH something now.  I go round and round like this, often, just like you probably do, but I always end up with the complaint:  It’s not FAIR.  I don’t have another 50 years to finish things up.  And then my husband reminds me:  You don’t know that.  None of us know that.  None of us know whether we have time to reach all our goals.  Any of us could live to 100, or be hit by a bus tomorrow. 

He’s right, of course.  I know that.  I have just what you do:  TODAY.

And so, today, the day I (probably) start chemo again, is a mix of the mundane and the magical.  The mundane: laundry.  The magical: reading to my children for an hour this morning about warriors, kings, conquerers, and prophets, as they sat, spell-bound, finding heroes beyond firefighters, Spiderman, and the Star Wars clan that pop culture and I have given them while they are very young.  But oh, how much more inspiring are the kings of old, who fought mighty foes and set up good governments, making “newly conquered subjects into supporters” by “promoting human rights and allowing freedom.” *

We must read more of these stories.  The stories that are lives.  Lives that are lived one day at a time, just like ours are, and where little decisions become big decisions become battles that can be conquered.

Today, we will go to the oncologist to learn whether I am strong enough to start chemo this afternoon.  And then, we will come home, put on pajamas, and I will take the four little pills that start Chemo 2010.  We will cuddle and watch Milo and Otis, Build It Bigger, or Tom and Jerry together.  We will make the little decision to start Chemo.  The big decision to fight the remnant cancer that lurks in my body (essentially, the tumors are gone, but we know the cancer cells escaped from each of the 13 cancer-filled lymph nodes, and so it’s time to kill them whereever they lurk).  And, after taking several weeks to recover from the last battle (radiation), to speak about surviving cancer and to spend time with friends at BlogHer ’10, and to fully prepare with my family around me, we will march forward to fight this new battle in our own personal War against cancer.

I will teach my children to be warriors, kind and gentle warriors who care about all they meet, but warriors nonetheless.  I will tell them stories of warriors of old, and I will show them how to fight battles with both strength and compassion.  Today, we will begin again our fight against cancer — and we will set out on this battle fully armed, four little pills at a time.

* words describing Cyrus the Great, 559 B.C., in Famous Figures of Ancient Times, the From Left to Write book club selection for August


33 Responses to Preparing for battle

  1. cagey says:

    Susan, I will be thinking of you and your family today as you head off to war!

  2. Lisa says:

    I’m preparing my warriors to join your battle crew!!!

  3. Momo Fali says:

    Wishing I was there with a shield and a sword to help you fight. And, I’m wishing you well.

  4. Really great post, Susan. Sending you big virtual hugs and positive thoughts as you begin your new fight.

  5. Melissa says:

    Know that you are not alone in this fight, Susan. You have an army of people behind you, your friends and those who (like me) only know you from your blog and meeting you at BlogHer.

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts today and always.

  6. Libby says:

    Keeping you in my thoughts today. I’m thinking big positive cancer destroying thoughts for you.

  7. Niksmom says:

    Sending you thoughts of strong and kind warriors, victory in your battle, and peace. Your eloquence in the face of your personal battle always takes my breath away.

  8. vicky says:

    Thinking of you today and offering up healthy, strong vibes so you can kick those cancer lurkers to the curb!

  9. Aunt Baaa says:

    I will be thinking of you today. You are a warrior, and your boys know that.

  10. Nicole says:

    I’m thinking of you. You can do it, you are so strong.

  11. Arkie Mama says:

    Thinking of you as you head into battle.

  12. You are amazing. And it ISN’T fair.

    Thinking about you.

  13. Sue says:

    I’m wishing you all the best for today and for all the days from here on in, Susan

  14. bon says:

    tears, Susan. because it isn’t fair, because i wish this battle would lie down and surrender victory to you already, because you’re totally right and all of us only ever have today.

    thinking of you, with love. sending strength, abiding beside you with hope.

  15. Heather says:

    Thinking of you today in your battle, may you have strength and I know there is an Army behind you supporting you.

  16. Miss Britt says:

    Thank you for being real. Thank you for telling us that this sucks and you get made and think it’s not fair.

    It makes your heroism and right on perspective seem like it might just be attainable for the rest of us.

  17. ecobabe says:

    We are all here with you — you give us all the courage you give your kids…

  18. C. Mom says:

    Thinking of you. I can’t think of anyone stronger. And you have a huge group of soldiere behind you! Xo

  19. Excellent post. I will be sending all my good mojo in to help your internal warriors find and fight those nasty remnants. You are absolutely right, it ISN’t fair. I hope your war is over soon.

  20. corina says:

    Warriors. That is waht you are. And you do it with grace and passion and love. – will be thinking of you today and the days ahead.

  21. Kate @ upsidebackwards says:

    Holding you, and your family, in my heart, and sending lots and lots of love.

  22. Sara says:

    Susan – sending you best wishes and positive thoughts. I was sitting here at my desk, bemoaning over such trivial crap and you remind me that people are fighting actual fight for survival…to stay in this crazy world…and many of us need the reminder. YOu’re amazing.

  23. Joanna Moore says:

    Hi Susan,

    I have read your blog for quite awhile. I have IBC so I feel your setbacks and the scariness of it all. Could you give a little time line of your treatment? Deep in the annals of your blog, I am sure that the details are hiding. Did you start with the IBC or was there another initial cancer?

    I hope that your side effects are bearable and that this mop up treatment is really effective.

    Joanna Moore

  24. Remember:

    you are STRONG.



  25. Karianna says:

    Fight pill warriors! Best of luck. XO.

  26. Susan says:

    Thanks, y’all. I took my first pills an hour ago — so far, so good. I’m going to try to sleep now, but I’ll check back in in the morning!

  27. Susan says:

    Checking in to say I’m thinking of you, too. Go pills, go! Work your magic. Or science, as the case may be.

  28. Kim says:

    My mom just finished her first six month round of chemo by pill. We would love it to be her last and have her healthy again, but know that dreaded demon cancer will show it’s ugly head again….sometime. But for now, she is tumor free and enjoying life. She has battled for eight years so far. I want to encourage you that she did terrific with the pills. ( I do understand everyone’s treatment is different) but she didn’t lose hair at all and wasn’t nauseated or any of the other icky parts of treatment. Near the end her hands and feet did get red and peel, but she was thankful as that seemed minor compared to her first gig eight years ago. Here’s praying you have a similar experience! 🙂 K

  29. Stacey says:

    I left a comment at your blog from today, but I also wanted to ask for the title of the book(s) you’re reading now – our family (including our 5 year-old boy) loves to read stories of great warriors who achieve greatness in the face of monumental challenges. (And that’s why I love to read your story, too!)

  30. Ada says:

    What Stacey said… I too am interested in the title of the books you are reading to your kiddos. (I am preparing for some invasive medical stuff (the first time in 10 years), the results are uncertain, and I am looking for any source of inspiration for my little ones.)
    Good luck with the treatment, you are in our hearts!

  31. tara says:

    i was so moved by your very presence at BlogHer. you are a gentle warrior, truly. thinking of you and wishing you strength and courage and compassion in this battle.

  32. Raising warriors who will fight for justice, against the “not fair”-ness of it all. Thanks for the image.

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