I am back to work three days per week. It is really good to be back. I missed everyone a lot and our patient recruitment work is more interesting to me than ever before now that I know what it’s like from a patient’s perspective. Kai goes to a fabulous, loving, playful babysitter named Betsy those three days. Monday was our first day. Everyone told me that I would be devastated the first day leaving Kai, but I wasn’t. I don’t know if that makes me a bad mom, or if it just means I have total confidence in Betsy (which I do), but either way it was a relief. I think it’s a really good environment for him. She watches five little girls aged 2, 4, 8, 9, and 12 in addition to Kai. Remembering what I was like at ages 8-12, I am sure that Kai will quickly become a much-loved baby doll, carried around and dotted on all day long. I have no doubt he is going to get lots of attention and lots of love, which are really the only things that matter. Mr. Kai is 9 months old today. He has four teeth and eats three meals a day of regular food. He seems to be in no hurry to get moving but he can sit and play by himself for long periods of time, which is ideal because he stays where I leave him, happy and content. He continues to be the cutest, smartest, funniest, coolest, happiest baby ever born and I love every second of him.There is a series on Showtime called The Big C. It is about a 42-year old woman (Laura Linney) who just found out she has stage 4 melanoma. I’ve only seen part of the first season, but so far it is about her reaction to finding out her diagnosis. Her overall response is to become fearless and do everything she was unable to do previously – like speak her mind, cut loose and have fun, not care what other people think. I don’t know if the show is based on a book or maybe someone’s real experience with cancer, but I am sure that her reaction is a very common one. She is resigned to dying and doesn’t worry about the future. For example, she cashes in her 401K and buys a sports car. I like her character and I like the show. But it is, so far, very hopeless. Maybe her character will change over future seasons and this first season is just meant to show her initial reaction; I guess we’ll find out. Overall I don’t relate to her initial reaction, although watching her makes me feel less lonely. And watching her also makes me wonder if I am going about my own reaction incorrectly. I wonder if I should be seizing the moment more. In my confidence that I will be cured, am I wasting precious time? Is there a happy medium between giving up and ignoring the possibility of defeat? Is there something more I should be doing with life right now? I don’t talk to many other people with melanoma. I’m not part of any support groups or online communities. I am not ready to relate that way, because right now I am someone who is having a crazy, but quick, fight with melanoma and I will no doubt be cured by the first treatment we try. I am not yet a cancer patient, and right now looking at cancer communities and discussion boards and support groups actually serves to give me less hope. So, I’m not really sure how other people like me reacted when they found out their diagnosis. Laura Linney’s character, Cathy, doesn’t tell anyone she has cancer. The only person who knows so far in the episodes that I’ve seen is her neighbor, who is a somewhat surely 79-year old woman. When she tells her neighbor, she looks right at Cathy and says, “Well ain’t that a Mother F-er” (although not as edited). And that is it. That is the exactly perfect thing to say when someone tells you they have cancer. You just look them directly in the eye and say, “Well ain’t that a Mother F-er.” Because when you take all of the emotion, all of the anger, worry, fear, and sadness that you experience when you are first diagnosed, it all boils down to “Well ain’t that a Mother F-er.” And yes, yes it is. But then you realize what else it is, which is an eye-opening, heart-warming, soul-freeing new lease on life for which I am thankful every minute of every day. However else having cancer impacts my life, it has made me realize how truly happy and fortunate I am. Even though I hope every day for it to be gone as quickly as possible, it has become a friendly guide who constantly points out all of the amazing things around me. And without it, I may never have even seen how tremendously fantastic life really is. Thankful doesn’t even begin to express how I feel about that. I guess nobody’s reaction is right or wrong. You feel what you feel in all situations in life. It is not how something makes you feel, it is how you act on it; how you let it affect you, with gratitude or with anger. Both are correct. But for now, I will stick with gratitude. In the words of Barenaked Ladies, “You gotta kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight.” Yes sirs, you do. You have to keep on kicking and kicking and kicking until you win the World Cup and rip off your shirt in an overwhelming, whole-hearted display of sweet, sweet success. And that is exactly what we will do. So maybe we’ll be quicker to go to the Grand Canyon, and try new restaurants, and take Kai places we’d like to go with him, but I’m not cashing in my 401K yet. I’m going to need that in 30 years. And for that, I am thankful.
Today I am thankful for Betsy and the love she is giving to Kai on the days I am at work; I am thankful to return to my fabulous MMG family and for the new perspective I have on the work we do; I am thankful for the perfect balance between being back at work and getting to spend time with Kai; I am thankful for the continued support of our neighbors; I am thankful for our consistently amazing friends and family; and, as always, for my extraordinary husband Jeff whose complete love and devotion overflow my heart on a daily basis, and our perfect baby Kai. Kick, my sweet baby, kick as hard as you can and never ever stop.