The best part has been coming home to my family. Gabriella surpassed herself at the airport, hurtling towards me when I stepped through the doors and leaping into my arms like a perfect movie scene. She didn’t let go of me for 24 hours and slept with her nose in my neck and leg on my tummy all night. We were velcro.
John, gracious as ever in the shadow of this great love between the two women in his life, simply unloaded cases, cooked me a meal and stole a kiss when she disappeared for a wee. Being four, Gabriella hasn’t quite grasped that you can love two people at exactly the same time. This makes family cuddles quite challenging because they quickly dissolve into a competition for affection and woe betide if I dare to hug my husband on his own!
So, having taken beautiful care of her for twenty-five days, John was summarily discarded with, “Go away Daddy, I love Mummy now” on more than one occasion. If she said that to me I would feel quietly wounded, but try not to show it because she’s only four. He, however, delights in the love between his wife and daughter and considers it an honour to be relegated by its potency. “It’s as it should be,” he says. “You give each other something I can’t give.”
I used to think he was too self-effacing, but instead he has taught me that the most accurate measures of true self-esteem are generosity (the kind that has no agenda other than itself) and humility. The humble have nothing to prove.
The hard part about coming home has been adjusting to my even stricter diet and new protocols. Before going away I was in a rhythm of treatments, including taking numerous supplements a day, which took at least two weeks to work out. I knew where they were, what they were for and when to take them. Everything was labelled and timed. I also had lots of organic meals in my freezer, juices in my fridge and a team lined up to supply more.
But such things are hard to sustain in the longer term. I am doing so much better now and my friends got me over the hardest hump to a place where things have largely stabilised for the time being. There are niggles, sure. My ears are ringing, I am nauseous most days and I have nose bleeds regularly (from the inhibitor drug I am taking).
I’m also getting thinner – not from cancer or even the treatments, but from the diet I’m on. Mainly vegan (yawn), with occasional fish (yay, Mardi Gras). Very little protein and no carbs. It’s a steep learning curve. I was a c**p cook even when I had multiple options. Now I am struggling to produce a meal I can eat, let alone glean pleasure from! How weird to want to gain weight, but cancer is a game changer like that. It turns everything inside out and upside down. Suddenly strength, vitality and longevity are more important than a flat stomach and thighs that don’t touch at the top. Who knew?!
I have now come home with about thirty new supplements and drugs from the Oasis of Hope, plus prescriptions from Dr. Muñoz (see Sacred Unknowing post), all of which need adding to and combining with Dr. Flavin’s recommendations. Not to mention the primary drug I have prescribed in the UK. It is very daunting and a big responsibility to get it all right.
I have been quietly panicking because I’m not on top of it nor in the care of professional, on-call doctors who can put me on a drip when I get dehydrated or give me medication when I’m nauseous. But the reality is I am in brackets between sentences, making a transition from one chapter to another and am simply fumbling for the words at this point.
I have come this far and can take myself further. I just need to take stock, invite my friend Andrea to come stay with me (she helped me figure it all out before) and email Dr. Flavin my list of pills to see if she can sift through the ones that make most sense for me now. She will understand how they all interact with each other. I can’t do it all, take it all, ingest it all or manage it all. Three months ago I had very few options. Now I have too many! This is not a real problem to have. It is a consequence of committing myself to a path of healing and manifesting results that count.
So. Breathe. In through the nose, down into my belly and out through the mouth like I am blowing out a candle. Then repeat. Twice. I am not regressing, going backwards or jeopardising the work I have done. I am at the next layer of this epic enquiry into the art of wellness. I can do this. I am doing this. All is well.