Wow. Thank you to everyone who attended last night – we were surprised to see so many venture out in the weather. What a beautiful event. Grace Episcopal is a gorgeous church, Andrew filled the sanctuary with sweet notes, and Rex held the audience spellbound with the fascinating story of Mozart. We snuck in at the last minute and sat in a row against the back wall. Last fall when Rex was telling us about the Mozart project he was working on, my interest was really sparked. It was a privilege to witness the culmination of his research. During the event I looked around and thought, wow all these people braved the elements to learn about Mozart. Then I remembered that probably most were there primarily to support me, Mozart being the fantastic bonus.
Last night was a blustery snowy winter wonderland here on the coast. Lots of events around town were cancelled. Folks asked Joe all day yesterday at work if the benefit was still on. Rex said that he was prepared to do it unless the roads took a turn to really dangerous. Dangerous has different meanings depending on the part of the country where you grew up.
I was torn about going, not because of the weather (I am from Michigan, and Joe had put the chains on the car), but rather because “Officially” I am in the nadir days of my immune system for this treatment cycle. Which means I don’t have adequate white blood cells to deal with much of anything. Plus, the thought of attending a fundraiser for myself seemed both a duty, and maybe mildly improper. I am not sure of the right etiquette for being the focus of a community fundraiser. I kept changing my mind all day. Joe, who has been the public face of this family since December, was ready for me to show my face. “We will just go for a little while, greet everyone, thank Rex and Andrew and get out of there,” he said. In the end the bad weather made my decision. If people I loved were going to venture out on a cold winter night for me, the least I could do would be to go too. I wore gloves, and told myself I would try not to hug people. Getting sick can delay chemo treatments, which I am very motivated to keep on track.
The fascinating lecture and music were worth the trip, benefit or not. I feel humbled by the efforts made by Rex and Andrew on my behalf. After the performance we went up to the front, and Rex said “All these people came here to support you.” It was a bit Overwhelming, and Beautiful, and Hopeful, and deeply Touching to look around at everyone. I had to face that they were there because I am one of their own – I felt a bit like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I am so Grateful to be in a community this great.
As anyone who has put on an event knows, there is a lot of organizing to do beforehand. I am not even sure who all helped. I do know that I have a lot of gratitude in my heart for Beth, our friend ever since we moved here in 1996, and a fellow worker at the Scorcher. In addition to doing much of the background organizing for the event, Beth acted as a guide and usher to everyone last night. She sent us home with the big beautiful cards full of well wishes that Rex’s wife, Keiko, put together. Unexpectedly, they also sent us with the fundraising boxes, filled with donations and more cards. I have read all the cards people put in, and the boys counted the cash that came from the anonymous folks, last night. I am happy that some of it came as checks so I can thank people individually. I know, too, that I owe gratitude to the Episcopalians who hosted. In particular Karin, who acted as space keeper, opening and closing up the church for the event. The Daily Astorian’s Edward Stratton wrote a lovely human interest story that helped connect people to it, too. You can read it Here.
The funds offered so generously last night will help our medical budget out a lot. At our family meeting last night on how to best use it, we decided that we like the idea that the fundraiser funds go towards the individual practitioners, who are providing complementary health services, rather than towards the Big Pharma bills I am incurring. Whereas the hospital and oncology clinics, radiologists and testing labs offer payment plans for the portions that the insurance company won’t cover, most of the complementary care I am receiving is not covered by my insurance, and the complementary care providers prefer payment at time of services.
I know that the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) formulas I am taking 2x a day are making a difference. This was illustrated during this most recent 3rd round of chemo. After the second round I got some clarity from the Oncologist and Naturopath about the timing of taking the TCM herbal formulas. As a consequence, this round I started 4 days earlier in the 21 day cycle in comparison to rounds 1 and 2. I feel much better in general this time – many of the acute side effects were noticeably lessened. Which reinforces that the complimentary stuff is improving my quality of life during the poison treatments. (This in addition to the positive differences observed that I can attribute to the lower steroid dose.) Each morning before I drink my “swamp tea espresso”, I take a moment for a little ritual to give thanks. Now I will also be connecting in those moments to my gratitude towards the folks who are contributing to those little cups of healing herbs.
Yesterday one of my neighbors stopped by the house to tell me that the neighborhood needed my energy, and directed me in no uncertain terms to get better. Another reminder that I am privileged to be part of such a rare beautiful community in this big world. In the immortal words of Dr. Bronner: “ALL-ONE! OR NONE! ALL-ONE! ALL-ONE! ALL-ONE!” This cancer-ing journey is happening in my body, but it has sent out ripples that are impacting lots of folks. I am realizing that the love and prayers that I can feel coming my way are all an important part of my treatment plan. They are a form of energetic quantum healing that is keeping me going. When there is tangible material help offered on top of all that love, it is clear that I am amazingly fortunate. So Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.