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As 2017 came to a close, like many people I set some intentions for 2018. Little did I know that these intentions would totally, almost instantaneously blow up. They came to light, full force almost immediately. As the saying goes…careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I guess in the future I should state more clearly EXACTLY how I’d like things to unfold if I set an intention. Lesson learned.

What the hell am I talking about?  Let me start at the beginning and with a huge apology to anyone this catches off guard.

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View from OHSU 

It’s been a whirlwind year so far. On January 2nd I went to an appointment at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) in Portland. I’d been referred from an oral surgeon here in Bend. The doctor at OHSU took a big chunk from my tongue to biopsy, removing a sore spot that had been there for months. It was actually the 2nd spot I’d had there. The first one had been removed back in April here in Bend. The first one was biopsied and the results came back negative. On January 4th, I received a call from the doctor at OHSU, this biopsy came back positive. I have oral cancer. It was not a shock to hear the news, I was prepared. I couldn’t imagine what else it could possibly be. Especially since the 2nd one came up so quickly following the removal of the first one. 

The OHSU doctor wanted to remove a few lymph nodes in my neck to make certain that the cancer hadn’t spread, and that was our plan. So in preparation, on January 9th I returned to OHSU for CT scans of the neck and lungs. The results showed enough enlargement of a couple of lymph nodes to warrant the doctor changing his mind, deciding to remove many lymph nodes (approx. 40) instead of just a few. It’s possible what was on the CT scan was something stemming from the trauma of the biopsy but he didn’t want to take that chance and opted to be more aggressive with it.

Which takes me to Wednesday, January 25th, when I checked in to OHSU for a neck dissection. I was told I’d have a 3- to 4-day hospital stay. We rented a place 1/2 a mile from the hospital so Glenn could be nearby.  Surgery went well. The doctors and staff there were all wonderful. I actually got released the following day with 2 drains left in, a request to stay nearby for the next couple of days, and an order to see my doctor in Bend to remove the drains on Monday. It was a tough couple of days following surgery, mainly due to pain killers. My body doesn’t handle them well. At all. I get dizzy and nauseated. They switched me out to another drug, which we thought was working initially. It ended up having the same effect on me so I stopped taking them and have since made do with Tylenol and ibuprofen when I’d prefer to be in the comfortable, sleepy, non-dizzy haze brought on by something much stronger. The drains are awkward and super uncomfortable. Imagine a piece of rubber sewn to your neck with rubber tubes running underneath the skin, under your chin, and over your throat. I feel like I have food caught in my throat, there’s a lump there that refuses to go away.  I can’t turn my head well in either direction. I accidentally catch the tubes on stuff and pull the skin. Ouch. I look a bit Frankensteinish and feel like it too. But tomorrow they come out and I’m hoping to feel significantly better.

We should be getting biopsy results in the next few days. I return to OHSU on February 6th for a follow-up appointment. We expect there may be some radiation therapy needed but I’ll worry about that when I need to worry about that. Or I won’t worry about it. I heard a quote recently before this all came about and it stuck with me, “Either pray or worry, don’t do both.” So when I find myself worrying, I turn it into a prayer instead and let it go. Worry is no longer allowed to linger.

I feel very positive. I’ve been turned on to some great books and have learned a lot already. I’ve changed up my diet, eating more anti-inflammatory foods and trying to eliminate processed foods. I was born with a sweet tooth but I’ve cut out most things from my diet that have added sugar of any sort. Sugar feeds cancer. Did you know that? I did know that but I really didn’t think about it, I didn’t think it would effect me. I’m becoming a label reader. I’ve gone to reiki (energy healing) a couple of times, I have a wonderful friend who has a practice here in town. I found a guided meditation online to help fight cancer. It takes only 15 minutes a day and has helped to calm me when I struggle with turning my worries into prayers. I have had amazing support from the few friends that I have already told, and both of our families totally rock – of course.  Glenn has been the best nurse I could ever have, dealing with my wound and these nasty drains – all the stuff that makes me queasy when I look too close.

So what were some of those intentions I was talking about? To be healthier, to eat healthier, to be stronger. Although this is a roundabout way of getting there, that will be the outcome. I’ll be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally. In fact, I already am. Another intention? To see my family more. I’m only 3 hours away and yet sometimes a few months will go by before I get to see them. In these first few weeks of 2018, I’ve seen them quite a few times. Unfortunately I’ve not been at my best during most of our visits, but things are looking up. I’ll be up there every month for at least the next year, if not even more often. Another intention, I wanted to get those creative juices flowing strongly again, including getting back to a regular writing practice. It’s been awhile since I’ve written much. And here I am. I think I just might have found a few things to talk about.

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