Sum of our parts

My first week in my sixth year post diagnosis was ushered in with a quiet celebratory dinner in Portland, Maine.  And then it was back to the brass tacks of regular life.  Around here that includes (but is not limited to) cooking, walking, doing the laundry, painting, parent/teacher conferences, a little shopping with Jemesii, driving to Boston for scans, car pooling, doctor’s appointments, watching movies, and just being damned happy to wake up each and every morning.

In the course of my garden variety activities this week I made two small discoveries regarding my own particulars.  As part of my annual exam, my height was measured, and I have lost another quarter inch.  Thirty years ago I stood almost five feet eleven inches tall, but now I’m a mere five nine and three quarters.  Coincidently, I also had my feet measured this week;  something that had likely not been done since I was fitted for my last pair of buster browns in the sixties.  My right foot is an entire size larger than my left foot, which accounts for the blister on my left heel (which has been slipping up and down in a shoe a size too large).  Now I just have to find a shoe store that will sell shoes in singles rather than pairs…

My neuropathy in my feet has gotten worse again, and yesterday I stumbled and fell not once, but an astounding three times.  The first time I fell, I was standing on a chair in my studio. A painting caught my fall and snapped in half. Fortunately, it was not one I’ve spent a lot of time on.  I happened to be wearing a felt bowler hat, and when I stumbled, our dog Buddy came rushing over as if this was all some great game.  So there I was, on the ground, two halves of a painting beside me, hat over my eyes, me laughing and Buddy ready to rumble.

Yesterday I asked David, “so, who am I?  Writer, artist, mother, cancer patient?” I was half joking, but I do sometimes feel as if I wear a lot of hats (and not just felt bowlers).  And that is just my vocations, my avocations, or those things I do just for pleasure, surely define me as well.

Perhaps paramount among them is treasure hunting.  I really, really like to look for things, whether it is on the beach, in the dirt or at a thrift store.  I am particularly drawn to that which is worn down in some way;  objects which carry the marks of time and passage.  I have an old vitrine in my studio which is filled with an assortment of found treasure, and that is what I was photographing when I took my misstep.

I don’t know how may of you saw the interactive collage of cancer survivors that the New York Times has on their website, but it is lovely.  The premise was to show life after cancer treatments, and for many of us there is no after cancer.  I posted  a photo, and they’ve included a feature where if you click on an individual photo, you can read comments.  I used this space to stress (once again) that for many of us, we don’t cross a magic threshold and graduate to survivor status, but rather content ourselves with surviving.

And speaking of surviving, Pfizer will be presenting more data from the PF-02341066 trial at the annual AACR (American Association For Cancer Researchers) meeting this weekend. In addition, PF-02341066 now has a name: crizotinib.  I see Dr. Shaw on Monday to review my latest scan results and I’m sure we will talk about the presented results as well.

In the meantime, that garden variety life calls, and next on the list is feeding the neighbor’s cat.

4 responses to “Sum of our parts

  1. Thanks Linnea for sharing another snapshot of your experience.

    I did feel compelled to comment on the question, a universal one at that, who am I? What I am realizing is the question is simply the egos attempt to define someone, limit them really, so “it” can continue to compare & measure me up so “it” can continue to justify “its” existence. Consider this; IT DOESN’T MATTER. All that does matter is you and I are an infinite expression of whatever we value or chose to be. So before you say, if I’m not this or that what am I (the ego staying in control) be willing to expand to the possibility that you are magnificent and infinite in every way.

  2. Roy, you know better than many that I don’t fit very squarely into any box, but magnificent and infinite! It’s a lovely concept…love, Linnea

  3. Hi shorty,
    I am 5’11”, at least in my higher left leg after a hip replacement, nobody is perfect. You look pretty with a lovely bold head and expressive eyes in the New York Times cancer collage, so view from above or at same level there is beauty.

    With neuropathy I dropped a few things, you are more ambitious, shorter is better, the bigger they are the harder they fall, is not funny but the videos are funny, things to avoid:
    An old neighbour went for his regular smoking in the driveway last winter, fall on ice and broke his hip, did not survive long after surgery. Smoking kills in many ways, statistically he died of a fall.

  4. Guillermo, nobody has ever called me shorty, but I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. And yes, I should have more respect for heights; falling is not pretty. Linnea

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