Spiritual Bad-Ass

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Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by author Debbianne DeRose for her new Spiritual Bad-Ass Tv YouTube series. The series highlights a bunch of Spiritual Bad-Asses who have a lot to say in how we can all get in touch with our Spiritual Bad-Ass selves.

The interview was a chance to really put the message of this blog in a nut-shell. Being diagnosed with cancer is an opportunity. For me, it was a catalyst to discover who I really am and make a choice to live a more authentic life. In the process, I discovered self-love, self acceptance, and got in touch with my creative self – through the healing art of drag.

Please check out the video and podcast via the link below on Debbianne DeRose’s website:

http://spiritualbadass.tv/mimi-mackensie/

Check-In

It has been around three months since my last chemo infusion. Today was one of my first follow-up appointments. For the next two years, I will be checked vaginally every three months. I will alternate between a radiation oncologist and my gynecological oncologist.

No woman likes to have her legs pulled into stir-ups and lay with her bare crotch (with a thin, rough cotton blanket draped over her lap) exposed to the world. Of course, there is the drama of the speculum as well. For many years, they were metal. If your doctor was kind enough, they might lay it on a heating pad to warm up before insertion. Otherwise, it was a freaky cold surprise. I have had issues with physician assistants who selected the wrong sized implement. One even told me I had a rather large vagina instead of admit her incompetence.

Fortunately, my doctors at the cancer center are quick and adept. They tend to use plastic speculums that warm up in their hands and apply enough lube to make it as painless as possible. I noticed that they always have a nurse in with them, even though they are women. As for my vagina, I am sure it was never really large given how little I have had sex. Whatever it was, it is definitely smaller now.

Today, I was looked after by a physician’s assistant in the radiation department. Tricia is a bubbly, young Asian woman. She was wearing a bright yellow dress under her white examination coat. She went through a host of possible side effects from treatment. Did I experience any of them? No. She remarked that my vagina has healed well and doesn’t show any signs of scarring from the radiation. She asked about my energy levels and was surprised at how active I have been since treatment. I was even called a “model patient.”

Leaving the cancer center with a clean bill of health is great. I sort of feel like it is the end of this cancer story and the beginning of a new one. I celebrated by having lunch at one of my favorite spots. I followed it up with a slice of homemade strawberry cake. I also decided to indulge in an early birthday gift for myself.

As you can tell, I love to write. I have tons of journals. My last one has been full for several months. So, I went to the local Barnes and Noble and picked up a leather-covered journal with a tree on the cover amidst a sunset. Sometimes just the smell of the leather of a journal can get me.

All in all, a great day.

Raising Hope

Well, it happened. I have completed my last chemo! The day seemed to come and go so fast. The pricks were painless. I got hugs from doctors and nurses. I slept through most of my infusion, which was odd for me. Before I knew it, it was time to say good-bye. I almost forgot to go back for my Neulasta shot the next day. It was the only appointment that had slipped my mind during this whole fiasco. My next appointment isn’t until June. It is just hard to believe.

My doctor said that patients often ask her when they will start to feel like their normal selves again. She said that she has seen people feel normal within three months; some patients said it took more like 18. I have been doing fairly well during this whole thing, so hopefully I am in the 3-month category.

I don’t look forward to the boney pain that will be coming any moment now, but knowing that it will be the last time does make me feel a little bit better. This whole cancer journey has been life changing. You can’t go back to the way you viewed the world before.

Alex took me to the cancer center this last time and commented on how placating everyone was. They expected you to feel sad, bad, or scared. There are a lot of “I’m sorry” or poor you talk. It is as if the professionals don’t know how to really talk to you, but they feel like they have to semi-care. Their words are hollow, or they don’t really say the tough things they sometimes needs to.

At the beginning of this process, I brought a set of people with me every time I went to the cancer center to ward off this bad buzz. I knew that if I got hooked into the gloom or sadness that it would set me back. As the time continued, I realized that I had built up enough of my confidence to be able to let this energy role off my back without a buffer.

I feel pretty good. I know that I am not a victim. I had a little health setback, got my tune up, and am ready to roar again. So, I guess this becomes a cancer survivor’s blog. Trust me, I still have a lot to learn. I will struggle to get back on my feet and will fail on occasion as I take some of my new skills into practice. I need to rebuild my stamina, figure out what to do with my career, find a new place to live, and search to find love and other meaning in my life. I am also going to have to learn that the journey is not a means to an end, it is meant to be explored and enjoyed along the way.

I want to share another little something with you.

As a birthday present, I invited my sister over to Alex and Max’s to work on her “clown” face. Since my sister was teeny tiny, she has wanted to be a clown. It actually runs in the family. My grandfather was a magician clown and worked at the clown museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin. My sister always dreamed of going to Barnum and Bailey’s clown college. Of course, as so often is the case, as adulthood came calling…people pushed her away from her dream and it was put in a box and shoved into a closet.

As Alex, Max, and I began realizing that maybe those childhood dreams are worth pursuing now as an adult, we shared this knowledge with my sister and encouraged her to take another look at what really brought her joy. I have taken her to costume stores and have helped her find costumes and make-up. Alex finally took the day yesterday to show her how to use it and came up with her new clown face.

It is beautiful!

I encourage you to find your inner child’s passion and pursue it too. It is worth rekindling.

Radiation Recovery

I survived 27 treatments. Every day, I woke up around 10 am and got ready for an 11:20am appointment. Towards the beginning, I was super nervous. I would leave early, afraid that I would be late. The trip was 10 minutes from my house. I would slip in the parking lot around 11:05 and wait in my car until 11:15am. As time continued, I wasn’t so nervous and even began to come a little early.

When you walk into my cancer center, there are always some volunteers by the door. They are usually of retirement age. In general, most of the people at the cancer center are of retirement age. It does not go unnoticed that I am usually around the youngest one in the lobby.

I wait in the registration line until a receptionist calls me over. The same three lovely middle-aged women were there most of the time. One of them had my name. I would give my full name at first, but in time I just used my first. After a few clicks, I got a buzzer, similar to the ones at the Olive Garden, to tell me when it was time to go into the dressing room.

The dressing room was located behind a lock door that the receptionist would buzz me into. I walked through the door and turned to the left. The first door was the women’s room. Inside there was a flat screen TV on the wall, and some chairs. Two little booths contained 4-5 tall lockers with a key attached to a bracelet. In the cubby holes, there was a selection of hospital gowns to change into.

I could leave on my shirt, but I had to take off my shoes and pants. I would leave the underwear on. I tended to not wear a wig at these appointments because it would have just gotten in the way when I went back to the radiation room. I got really comfortable being bald in this area. Not the lobby, but behind the locked door of the radiation area, I rocked it.

Some days I had to wait a while. That could be in the lobby, or in the dressing room. Others days, I flew right in. The longest I had to wait was an hour. During the first wave of the “polar vortex,” I basically had the place to myself and just danced right through.

While waiting in the dressing room, I would see some women regularly who were getting their treatments. Usually I was alone, with maybe an occasional additional person. One day, there were 3-4 people in there, but that was weird. I sometimes chatted. There were older women, women with or without hair, a blind woman, and only one other woman that was within 5 years of my age.

I got used to watching The Price Is Right with Drew Carey. I used to watch it with Bob Barker for most of my young life, but had gotten away from it. It was light, fun, and it snapped me away from the solemn surroundings. When someone would change the channel to a local station’s women’s talk show, I would switch it back as soon as they left.

When my buzzer went off a second time, I would walk down the short hallway with my bald head and underwear clad butt to the radiation room. There were two right next to each other and I always went to the one on the right. At the doorway, on either side, was a desk with 1-3 technicians at it. Behind them were 3-4 huge monitors. One of them always had an x-ray of my pelvis. I would have to give them my beeper and my birthdate then we would enter the radiation room.

The door to the room was huge and made of steel. I immediately had to make a turn to the right and go down a long hallway. The walls were made of brick and covered with some industrial paint. At the end of the hall, I would make a left and on my right side there were huge cubby holes with casts of various patients’ bodies. I believe they were made to hold a patient’s body in the right position for treatment. They looked strange. Some unfortunate souls had to wear a helmet of metal mesh over their face and tied down to the table. Thank god it wasn’t me!

The room was fairly big. In the middle was a HUGE machine with arms. It had a huge monitor in the middle with numbers indicating the position. There was a circle on the ground before it. Up top, it had a part that jutted out that I assumed most of the radiation came out of.

By the hall, there was a bank of  2-3 computers. Usually a technician was fiddling with one. There would be another one by a long table. I had a contraption that they set over the table. It had a face hole like a massage table and a belly hole. Two angled pads helped position my thighs. On top of it were some linens. I laid face first on top of them. A technician would then put a cushion under my ankles.

Once in place, the technicians raised the table to right in front of the big machine. I put my arms above my head and my fingers would dangle off the edge of the table. There would only be a couple of inches between me and the big machine. I had three tattoos around my bottom. The technicians would pull back my underwear and try to match my tattoos up with set laser beams from machines bolted on either side of the room and the ceiling. If I was off, there was a technician on either side of me that would pull on the linen underneath me til I was in the right spot. Once set, a third technician offered coordinates from the back computer. They would adjust the table by millimeters. Once complete, everyone exited the room, except for me.

The huge machine would revolve around me. It could go 360 degrees. It would zap me from above, below, and either side. The zaps were extremely loud. It felt almost like someone was putting their foot on a pedal to get the machine to work. The zaps would last 5-10 seconds. On x-ray days (every five appointments), other elements of the machine would come out. A box like thing would fold out of the arm area and take pictures. Other instruments could fold out of other areas. I never got a super good look at it because I needed to remain mostly face down and not move. That didn’t stop me from taking a peak on occasion.

As soon as the treatment was done, they pulled the table back and down. I got up, readjusted my underwear and gown, and went about my business. Often times we would discuss things briefly: weather, weekend plans, and stuff. The technicians worked 10-hour days, four days a week. I got used to the carousel of staff.

On Monday, I would meet with my radiation oncologist for a moment. We never really talked about too much because my side effects with fairly mundane. I threw up once the first week. I began experiencing a different sensation when I urinated or defecated. It didn’t hurt, as much as felt different. If I needed to go to the bathroom, my wait time was super diminished. Towards the end, I did have a lot more diarrhea. I would take Imodium and it would help. My bottom would burn and I would use preparation h wipes, Vaseline, or hemroidal cream for relief. The nurses gave me an aloe cream for the back. I never blistered, but I did feel like I had a minor sunburn towards the end. They gave me a Rad-x cream with pain reliever in it for that.

Overall, the first week or so was the scariest. I cried a few times on the table while everyone was outside. I was scared, afraid that I had finally messed up my body to the point of permanent demise. You could get embarrassed about being in your underwear and being bald with no eyebrows….but why? I carried myself with my head held high and had fun with my technicians.

At the end, it felt weird. I didn’t really get to say goodbye to everyone. I did get a bag and an appointment card for a month latter. I was relieved to not have to go every day, but I sort of missed having a reason to get up and having a set of people to talk to. You can get a little depressed, so I tried to celebrate. I took my friends to my favorite pizza place. You have to celebrate these milestones. I can never have radiation in the same place again, so screw it!

It has been nearly a week since the end. I am still tired and sleep more than I should. It feels weird to know I have another three weeks till my last rounds of chemo start. I am nearing the end of this process. That in itself can be scary. I don’t know what my employment looks like. I don’t know what the rest of my life looks like. It is the kind of uncertainty that can mess with your head. Still, I am very optimistic. Sometimes you just have to keep your focus on moving the ball ahead that is right in front of you.

Christmas Eve at the Cancer Center

Today I had my fifth radiation treatment. To my knowledge, I still don’t glow in the dark. Besides fatigue, I have thrown up only once. Now I take nausea medication before treatment, just to be careful. I received the treatment through my back. The skin seems normal. It is a little tender. Like I have been out in the sun. The whole process has given me the perfect reason to buy new underwear, since I have to lie bare bum up to the world. I now try to open my eyes and take a peek at the big machine hovering over me. I still can’t get a great look at it. When I hear this loud sound with a bang, I am still a little nervous.

Everything appeared normal when I got to the cancer center this morning. The parking lot was almost full. The waiting room had a ton of people in there. Normally, I would be sent right back, but I waited nearly an hour before I was summoned. They had scheduled afternoon appointments in the morning because they were trying to close early. Only one of the machines was attended. After I got dressed, I sat down in the dressing room with one other woman. She seemed about my age.

We began to chat it up. She was probably the first patient my same age I have come across during my treatment. She was getting radiation for breast cancer. She is working as a school aide during treatment. She is trying to get a teaching degree, but had to hold off student teaching in order to get treatment. We talked about our treatment ups and downs, how we are handling “life” in general.

I felt a sense of comraderie with her. When I got called out for treatment, I was a little bummed to leave her. She was one tough cookie, and she made me feel like us tough cookies need to stick together.

After the machine did all of its clanging, I got dressed and walked out to the car. The waiting room had only a few people left and the parking lot was almost empty. Time for everyone to take a well deserved break. On to the next Christmas festivity…

Here We Go

Appointment 1 out of 25 done. So far, I don’t feel super different. If I feel tender, I don’t know if it is really from the treatment or my concern that it would be tender after it. I appreciate how fast I get in and out of the doctor’s. I come in, register with the front desk and take a pager. I sit for a hot minute until I get paged and am let through an electronic double door. I hang a left at the corner and enter the women’s locker room. I take off my coat and pants and put on a gown with my ass hanging out. I get a second page to go to the treatment room. The technicians greet me and take me back to a huge room with a machine bigger than an SUV to one side of it. I lay face first down on the table, and the technicians adjust me by pulling on sheets underneath me. Today, I got sensors placed by my tattoo dots. They leave and I hear the machine come at me. I know arms of it are swinging around, but I just see the blackness of the top of the table. My hands are holding my arms together above my head. I try to stay super still, but my breathing is making my whole body move up and down. I am scared. Trying to slow my breathing down makes it almost worst, so I try to think about something pleasant. I hear a loud noise, like someone taking an x-ray. There would be a few more. In less than five minutes, I am told it is over and I am released to go get my clothes back on and leave. As I exit the door, I can’t believe I am done. Do I feel different? I don’t know. Only time will tell.

 

About to Pop the Radiation Cherry

So, it is almost here. Last week, I went in for my “simulation.” Although it sounds like an initiation ceremony for the Borg, it was a planning session for my upcoming radiation treatments. In my case, I have the pleasure of laying bare ass up on a long rectangular table. There is some sort of contraption that I lay on that has an oval for your face, like where you place your head on a massage table, and a big square hole that I lay my belly in. My face is down the whole time, so I really don’t see much of the ginormous machine baring down on me. On the first trip, I had a pleasure of a vaginal exam and three tiny tattoos. (my first ever) Today, I had the pleasure of x-rays.

I will be undergoing these treatments for the next 25 days (excluding weekends, Christmas day and New Year’s day). I will finish sometime at the end of January. I have to tell you, for some reason I am really nervous. I got home and slipped an Adavan for anxiety. Everyone says radiation is easier than chemo, but you still get nervous because it is the unknown. I already feel like I have betrayed my body. Although I am doing this to prolong my good health, there is a part of me that questions if I am not instead doing more harm.

It is at times like these that I just have to surrender my concerns to the Universe. It is out of my control. My intentions are pure. I have to trust that someone more powerful than myself is looking out for me.

Radical Self Love

I have been interested in a woman by the name of Gala Darling. She gave a TED talk on the need for women to indulge in radical self-love. She keeps a great blog with ideas to get one going if you aren’t really good at tuning in to your own needs. As someone who has spent a lot of time ignoring my own needs, inspiration can be everything.

I have to say that this action is inspired from my Shared Circle of Enlightenment yesterday. My psychic friend mentioned that I am not too kind to myself and needed to take some extra measures in self-care. Again, I am not the call 1-900 psychic for everything type of girl…but I do feel like the Universe is knocking.

Today, I woke up in a great mood. I had a great night of sleep and had thought about some things that I wanted to get done. As I got up to go to the bathroom, I slipped and fell on the bedroom floor. Face first with a cat sniffing my head, I let out a little cackle. My bones were already aching and I didn’t really need this additional soreness, but imagining how funny I must have looked on during the downfall made me smile. Sometimes you just have to laugh it off.

I have two pen pal angels who send me goodies regularly. They just got my name from some service that knew I was getting chemo, and they just started sending me things. Notes, goodies, candies… The packages always come at the best times. I am so indebted to these kind individuals who do these things for others. It makes such a difference in my day. Anyway, both of them sent me bath and foot spa supplies.

I decided to soak in the bathtub. My bathtub is not the best. I had some drainage issues and cleanliness issues that I had already taken care of, but I hadn’t taken a bath since July due to various surgeries and scraps. Although I have been cleared to be immersed for a month or more, it is the first time I had done it. The heat of the water and the smell of the lavender were very calming and soothing. I soaked my baldhead, and it felt interesting. I exfoliated and cleansed… I really enjoyed it. Yes, showers are fun and fast…but a bath is a treat!

I continued on to have lunch at one of my favorite places. It is a Middle Eastern food place. The food is super healthy, tasty, and cheap. My favorite drink there is a freshly squeezed mint lemonade. Yummy! Filled with good food, I went to a craft store to look at art supplies. I really don’t have money for the kind of Christmas presents that I would like to give, so I am trying to make them. I get nervous with these kind of presents because you do the best that you can, but they can still look like crap. I am a little old for a second grade art project gift. Still, don’t your real friends and family just want an expression of love from you?

As I sorted through the art supplies, I felt my energy evaporate from me. I had hoped to go grocery shopping today, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. This is probably one of the more difficult days after chemo…the 3rd and 4th one. On some level, I feel okay but the bones are really achy and sometimes you just get really tired for no reason.

I stayed kind to myself. Got out as soon as I could, made it to a little grocery store so I had enough food for the night and made it back home. It is now 6:50pm and I feel like I could go to sleep because I had a full day. I could get depressed about it, but I know I will feel better tomorrow.

When I do, we’ll work on another step of radical self-love.

Bones, Bones, Bones

There are two things that I think most people don’t look forward to when they are told that they have to have chemo. First, they believe that they are going to be hunched over the porcelain throne for hours at a time. Second, they believe that every hair follicle is going to go ballistic.

If this is you, chemo has come a long way. They pre-treat you with so much nausea medicine that you can forget about being bulimic. As my oncology nurse told me, “throwing up is unacceptable.”

As for the hair, yeah…it falls out, but not in one big pile. It is more like a waiting game. A bucket load might fall out one afternoon from your head, but those pesky little hairs on your arms and legs are still there, mocking you. I don’t know if or when they may fall out. I am kind of relieved to still have the eyebrows though.

The biggest issue I have is the pain in my bones. It can be excruciating. My hips, legs, joints all ache. I have never had a broken bone, but I believe it may be like the pain someone who has had a broken bone feels when the barometer changes. I must expend a lot of energy when this happens, because it makes me feel so tired. I just made my bed and had to rest a half hour afterward to do something else.

I feel ridiculous when I describe this because I feel like I have it good. In reality, I could be riveted in pain, puking, holding my gut…and I am not. That is how far treatment has come. Still, I have to allow myself to be a little more patient with myself. This isn’t suppose to be easy and I know that even if today isn’t my best feeling day, it does get better.

One other thing I will never take for granted is the power of pooping. Cancer drugs can make you either constipated or vice versa. I have been a fairly regular girl, so I really never understood how painful it is to be plugged up. Yesterday, I felt like I had a mini emergency. I felt vomitous just because I couldn’t go to the bathroom. Luckily, they make a drug for that too… but it is scary. I worry about all of these drugs and what they are doing to me.

Like anyone else, when you are not feeling a hundred percent, it is hard to be very motivated. My head is a little foggy. I finally found something to eat, thank goodness! Being broke and sick is never very fun! I have visions of doing laundry or some other task but I have no motivation. I don’t want to stay in bed all day, but I don’t really have any gas to go out.

Yes, I am complaining. As much as I have come a long way, I still have my weak moments. I don’t really get super down in the dumps any more, and that is because I have decided to just cut myself some slack.  You don’t have to be at your best all the time. On occasion you just need to surrender. I am allowing myself the space and the time to relax, regroup. There is no expectation. When I am ready to continue the journey, then I’ll just go. Right now I am just trying to enjoy what I got and where I am, and the journey that it took to make it here in the first place.

Overcoming the Disconnect

Life gives you a lot of opportunities to learn lessons.

The beginning of this week wasn’t bad, but I was definitely not on my highest flying disk. I know that I had slipped off after my hair was cut, but I couldn’t figure out what to really do about it. Monday came and I had to do a bunch of errands to pay some bills. It felt good to take care of some things that I had been neglectful of taking care of, but it left me with less than forty bucks to stay a float for two weeks.

Money has been a sore spot for a while. I have been so lucky that my school has had my back while I am out on leave. The union has been paying for my short-term disability. I am so grateful that they have my back, that I feel horrible when I feel like I am coming up short.

Like most cancer patients, I am sure a lot of us weren’t in a good spot financially before we got sick.  I was laid off and unemployed for a few years. How I was able to keep my house? I still don’t know. My bank account is in the perpetual red. I haven’t had money to buy clothes or shoes in years. All those times I bitched about money when I was younger, seem stupid to me now.

Anyway, whenever I pay what bills I can…I sometimes see the rest of the obligations I have and feel like a loser for not knowing how I will ever be solvent. Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin. It can be another cause of slipping off a high flying disk.

Of course, if you listen to the Law of Attraction advice, one of the best ways to stay in a place where you don’t have money is to focus on what you don’t have. So, for now I am trying to stay really grateful for what I do have…which is a lot when you think about it.

Yet, this little mental mind jockeying combined with a little self-conscience about my hair and nerves about getting a second infusion this week made life a little blah. I tried to make it a point to do some activities for fun, but I was thrown for a big curve ball on Wednesday.

I got home Tuesday night to find that my furnace wasn’t working. I knew there was no way I could afford a repairman, and my father is not always good in these types of situations. I covered up in every blanket I could get my hands on and found a way to sleep through the night. Michigan was getting cold. I could hold out for a few nights, but it isn’t like I could go through the whole winter without heat.

When I got up the next day, I had an appointment for a free massage. As I drove out, tears just streamed down my face. What was I going to do? I had to try and see if my father was interested in helping, but I hated the idea of asking him for money again.

I used my massage to calm me down. I was so sure that he would shoot me down that I knew that I had to reframe my thinking or I would get exactly what I feared. My energy and vibration lifted. I drove back home to find two packages and two cards in the mail. I had signed up with a group of Chemo Angels. Each cancer patient is assigned two angels who would send cards and letters to lift their spirits while going through treatment. It was an unexpected surprise from strangers. I opened them up and let the awe of knowing that these people really cared about me wash over me. I believe the massage earlier helped me to receive these gifts.

After I felt a little cheered up, I called my father. He asked me how I was doing and I said I wasn’t great. I told him about the furnance and he went into a mini tirade about bills and him being broke. I found myself begin to sob…I couldn’t even ask him for help. I felt so bad for needing help. I think he was thrown for a loop and kicked in saying that he would take care of things. It felt like he finally understood that I needed him to act like a Dad who knew his daughter needed help.

I love my father. I took care of him when he was diagnosed with cancer. I became his sudo wife when my mom died. I hung out with him a lot. Sometime after my sister decided to move back from Virginia, I began to distance myself from him. I spent so much time with him that I felt like I couldn’t have a life. I had taken a loan out for school before he got sick and used it to live on when I took a leave of absence to take care of him. When I became unemployed, I couldn’t pay the loan. This kind of became a sore spot. The funny thing is, he had just paid for my sister’s wedding and it was the same amount.

Now that I have faced the fact that I am a lesbian, I have trouble feeling like I am nothing but a big disappointment to him. In some ways, I am sure he already knows. Still, the dream that I was following for most of my life was one that I knew would be acceptable to him. Have a great job, a guy, maybe some kids. Be an upstanding citizen. Go to church. It was the path I am sure everyone feels like they are suppose to follow. The problem was, it was never my path. It is what I thought I needed to do, not what I wanted to do.

Still, I feel like staying true to myself is like becoming an embarrassment to him. Would he still be proud of me? Would he think less of me? The pain in having these questions answered is what keeps me away along with the fact that the reason I don’t drive out to his house is because I don’t have enough money to pay for the gas.

The boys are well aware of this dilemma I have with him. Max was getting pissed off because I didn’t want to ask my father for help in the first place. He was rather short with me during that day and than invited me over. Max apologized for getting frustrated with me, but he said that he saw me slipping into old patterns and it was pissing him off. Part of the reason why my father would get pissed when I called him in an emergency is because I never tell him what is really going on in my life. I have shut him out and it put Alex and Max in a strange position. It puts them in a place where my father would feel animosity toward them where it wasn’t necessary. My desire to protect my father from any obligation toward me is what makes him feel bad. The point is he wants and deserves to know me more and I am the one who is hiding, avoiding any display of the true me.

In order for me to continue to grow on this path, I need to be authentic and vulnerable in all areas of my life, not just with the people and places I feel most comfortable being it. Of course, the thought of being that way with my family was excruciating. So, the boys told me that they wanted to see my father at my infusion appointment. Immediately, I thought no way. First, how would you like to be tethered next to someone you have been hiding from for 6 hours with no way out? They said, maybe he needs to see his daughter hooked up to IVs and bald to understand that I am human and vulnerable. Maybe he needs to feel like he is contributing to my emotional needs and not always the financial ones. Maybe he still needs to know that I need my Daddy.

As the Universe usually knows how to manifest these things, my sister decided to spend the night in my cold house. Maybe to get away from her husband, maybe to feel like she was giving me some support. She took me to my appointment and drove back to my house to meet the furnance guy. She had already scheduled my father to come a little latter, but the furnance guy was done and gone before the original appointment was scheduled to even start.

I did my labs and met with my doctor per usual, without my posse with me. I knew that someone would join me at the infusion room, so I wasn’t too worried. They started with the pre drugs and I got a little sleepy. When I woke up, my father was there. There is a one person maximum guest policy in the room. He had brought me some lunch. It was nice to see him there. The thing is that I do enjoy my father’s company. We are buddies. I don’t have to say all the shit that is on my mind. What he needs to know is that I still enjoy his company and I still care about what is going on with him and his life, just like he wants to be a bigger part of my life.

We hung out for three hours, and my brother showed up from out of town. It was a pleasant surprise. They swapped out and had a great time. It was one of his last vacation days and even though he was having car problems, he still made it over. I got a beautiful picture from my nephew, and my brother made me into a zombie with a Walking Dead app on his ipod.

My brother suffers from the same painful lack of vulnerability that I have. We totally got it from our parents. We are so busy trying to keep up appearances that we kill ourselves a little bit. I have had a Renassance, and I feel like he may be on the verge of one soon as well. I believe that part of the mix needs to be us sharing what we have been feeling and doing with one another. The thing about sibblings is that we are genetically connected and we carry the same family drama and tropes from childhood. We can use each other to heal from those wounds so we can live more fulfilling lives.

When the infusion was through, I had my brother drop me off at Alex and Max’s. That way, I had someone to watch me until I feel a little more comfortable being alone. While my brother was there, I could feel him completely open up. We shared our drag videos with him, my recent art work, talked about all kinds of things and just saw him relax and unwind. He didn’t feel like he had to be anywhere or answer to anyone for a while. The release of responsibility is sometimes a bigger vacation than a trip around the world.

When it was time for him to leave, I basked in the day that I had. Just 24 hours earlier, I had dreaded the idea of what would happened…but now I realized it was exactly what needed to happen. In order to really heal, I need to be me. I need to have my family in my life.

The boys and I had some great conversations. We are a unit, maybe a dysfunctional one. I don’t have to worry about losing Alex and Max, but we do need to open ourselves up to more people and more experiences in our lives. We had been doing it, but when I slipped up…they got tripped up too. One of the favorite places for me to be is in their presence, but they made a good point as to say that I need to feel like I can achieve the same amount of happy with them as without them. My enjoying my house, my family, new friends, and/or new experiences should not suffer because I am afraid of not having it with them. In reality, having a great time without them is giving them a gift. The same goes for the two of them. They should be open to having experiences by themselves individually, or even together with out me. It is what fuels us and makes us enjoy each other even more when we are together.

It is not as if I didn’t know this, but I had always assumed that they placed it on my head like I was the desperate one. In reality, they told me that it is as hard for them to do things without me as it is for me to do them without them. One of the biggest ways I could help out is to be more assertive. I need to not be always available to them. I should voice my opinions more and take my leave when I know that I am drained as opposed to when I think they want me gone. They had become as dependent on me as I was on them. This had served us well recently, but now we want bigger returns on our growth journey and this is the next step.

It is not meant to be sad, it is meant to be expansive. This is what can get us to our next level of success and enlightenment. We have filled out trivial pursuit pie hearts with our pieces to an overflow capacity. Yet, there are still empty spots waiting to be filled with the contributions of others. We can’t do that for one another.

Because of the love I was feeling from everyone, and the increasing amount of a-ha moments, I have to tell you that I felt very little pain from my infusion. Even yesterday I felt great. And, as a big surprise, I got another visit from my whole family. Unannounced, they showed up to check on me and we even went out for dinner. I can’t tell you the last time that happened. Instead of feeling put out, I really enjoyed it. I even let my father drive my car for the first time. Not because I wouldn’t let him drive it, but because in a round about way he asked to.

It gives me hope that new beginnings are starting. The hierarchy and false pretenses of the past may be finally falling away. Maybe this whole cancer journey was just a catalyst to make these important life changes, a huge moment to stop the crazy spinning of what we perceive life is (work, work, and little play) and focus on our truth, our love, and our path.