One week ago today, we celebrated my 42nd birthday. Also last week, Mike and I spent 10 hours on Tuesday in back to back routine doctors appointments, tests, scans, and labs at Mass General Hospital. The combined celebrations set the stage for some deep reflection that I would like to write down, remember, and share. I don't know what I would have said 20 years ago, if someone told the 22 year old me that in 2022 at 42 years old, I would be living the life I always dreamed of: That I would be married to a wonderful, loving, man, That we would have two healthy happy children making their own way through a pretty carefree life filled with security and adventure and family and friends, and that... I would also have brain cancer.
I don't know what the 22 year old Me would have said if the person then offered me the chance to trade it all to have a body free of disease. I do know however that today I would answer with a definitive "NO!" I would not trade this life, just as it is, for anything. And it was with this birthday realization that I believe I have arrived at a place of acceptance. I used to read about this foreign destination and listen to other cancer thrivers speak about it. But honestly, the idea of accepting cancer scared the hell out of me because It felt like arriving at a place of acceptance meant leaving hope far behind in the distance. But this past Tuesday when the hospital questionnaire asked me if I "had accepted my illness", I answered honestly when I circled the word "Yes". There wasn't space to elaborate, But if they had jus included a line or two, I would have written, "Yes, I have accepted my disease AND at the same time, sometimes I am so filled with hope that I have to exhale to make room for it. I guess it is possible and wonderful to live in a space of acceptance without letting go of hope.
It is Brain Cancer awareness month. I have sat in many waiting rooms with people older than me. In the same waiting rooms, I have also sat in chairs next to patients in strollers. I have been in waiting rooms with other Mothers and fathers calling home to check in with their babysitters, I've chatted with 7 year olds and teenage boys waiting for the doctor’s approval to get back to life as a kid. Brain Cancer is NOT an old person's disease. But coming from this space of hope and acceptance, I will be an old person gratefully living with this disease!!
In the meantime, We are making a difference. I am so grateful to share with you that we have raised $94,799.00 and it matters. It matters especially to the patients enrolled in the clinical trial it is supporting. donations to the Meg Dostal Fund for OligodendroGlioma research can be made through the MGH Secure Donation Portal At: https://www.ourcommonthread.org/donate