Some nights are brighter than some days. I learned this firsthand recently by visiting a northern country. At about 11:00 pm, I looked out my hotel window and saw these beautiful flowers as if it were day. It was not pitch black as I usually see night. It was neither twilight, nor dawn, nor was it the golden light of a sunny day. It was a place between. So I find myself in these days.
Let me make clear: I have been diving into waves and beyond since I was a young child. I have experience gauging whether the tide is coming in or going out, and judging the moment the wave will begin to curl and break. I usually know when to go under a wave, through a wave or on top of a wave—wisdom gained from being tossed by churning water into the sand more than a few times. Still, I’m a bit rusty. And I move more slowly than I remember. And I’m not quite as steady on my feet. So I took a few tumbles as I played. In one fall, my ortho sandal unfastened, was torn from my foot, and almost went into the ocean on the receding wave. In another, I was sent to the sand under the water, and came up sputtering without my boogie board. As I prepared to try to stand and grab it, a young woman caught the board as it was deposited on the shore. She waded toward me holding the board out. As I took it, she looked me in the eye and said: “You are amazing. Just amazing.”
At the moment, the comment didn’t register very much. I was preoccupied with not getting knocked over by a big wave again. But later, as I was resting on the sand, I felt very curious and somewhat humbled. Did I look too old to be boogie boarding? Did my foot contraption seem an insurmountable obstacle to being in the ocean? Was my port visible that far away? Or did I just appear feeble and unsuited for a rough and cold ocean? I still don’t know, but I do know that I am not particularly awesome. I was just trying to live. Kind of like pushing on with this Stage IV breast cancer. I’m just doing the next thing on the path, trying to live. Awesomeness not required.
My next thing on the treatment path is a PET scan next month. My new oncologist reviewed all my records and scans and is confident the new lung nodules are not the result of cancer progression, but of a lung infection. Her opinion is that the lesion in my spine remains stable and that the tiny lung metastases I had with my initial diagnosis are also stable. She thinks the new breast cancer is Hr+, PR+, Her2-, (based on the weak biopsy profile) –just like the one already being treated. She will be watching the slow new cancer in my breast carefully. Meanwhile, she wants to milk everything we can from the current Faslodex injections, so I will remain on that. The next line of treatment she plans will be to add Ibrance, a pretty new drug, which has been shown to extend progression-free survival when added to hormonal treatments. It was a long day at the cancer center Monday, after a long day at the beach Sunday afternoon, trying to live.