Friday, April 30, 2010

Breast Surgery Anniversary

As you already know, I love to learn from the Jewish holidays as they relate to the flow of my life. Right now we're in the Omer Counting days between Pesach and Shavous where the custom/tradition is to act as if we're in a period of mourning. No haircuts, shaving, celebrations (like a marriage), no listening to music, etc. It's interesting to me that my surgery anniversary is during the counting this year. I also got together with my radiation buddies today and enjoyed our friendships so much - it's been about a year since we've met.

I like to take it upon myself to abstain from listening to music during this time. Music is always so much more amazing when I start listening to it again once the counting is over. This of course means that right now I am listening to audio lectures, learning and learning. It's a serious learning time right now and as always we are working on improving ourselves. During this time, we look at one of the sefirot each day and how each one interacts with the others within our own character traits.

This week was Pesach Sheni, which used to be a second chance to offer the Pesach sacrifice in the Temple, if you had not offered it during Passover - for any reason - even if you just refused or didn't want to do it at the proper time. So it's a second chance day - another day of reminding us that Tshuva is possible no matter what mistakes we make or how awful we've been. There's always a second chance to turn ourselves and our lives in a positive direction. Plus, you get to eat more matzo, so unless yours is now stale, it can be a yummy day!

On the day of 2nd chances I went to see my oncologist for my 3-4 month check-up. I was very frightened about this visit because in the past he told me I'd be getting scans every 3-4 months for the first year after treatment. After talking to the oncologist again though, he pretty much said it's my choice how often I get scans. Some people are extremely frightened of recurrence and they do them as much as they can. Others don't. What I got from all my questions about it, gives me this dilemma: do I want to possibly die in 20 years from a different form of cancer due to all of the radiation I've had in the past year or do I want to skip the scan and possibly miss something that may grow to the point of not catching it before it's too late? What would you do if it happened to you????????? (Isn't that a line from Dr. Seuss?)

Anyway, I ran it by Aimee, Solomon the Wise, twelve years old, and she said, "Mom, this is how you got yourself into trouble in the first place!"

So, I guess that warning was my 2nd chance.

Since I can't get the cat scan with the iodine (because of my non-lymph noded arms) and the pet scan shows more, I will get one of those by June, if the insurance agrees to it. That will make it 6 months since my last scan.

I am also getting blood tests for Vit D3, C Reactive Protein (to test my inflammation), and Glycohemoglobin A1C which shows my blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. I've learned from nutritionist, Jeanne Wallace, that those 3 tests help to determine how well you are doing on your diet. As inflammation rises, so do your chances for growing cancer... spikes in blood sugar increases your chance for growing cancer. She has very specific numbers where she feels you are in good shape - numbers that are more strict than the standard of care. And my acupuncturist has supplements that I can increase, as needed, along my diet tweaks.

I am also getting a urine test for the levels and types of estrogen my body produces.

Yes, this year's Counting of the Omer has been very serious in many ways and somewhat difficult in many other ways that I can't go into here. And it's all about the freedom we started to look at on Passover. So whatever you find yourself going through, it's about finding more freedom. (I'm learning from listening to Rabbi Riskin's cd he sent out to all of his supporters) And freedom has to do with getting rid of all the humetz/puffiness/arrogance in your personality & mind.

Whatever's been difficult these past weeks, it's for your own refinement and is giving you a chance to let go of the way you've always been...the way that's been hurting you, whatever you've been holding on to that's not working...whatever philosophies and attitudes that you don't want to let go of. And it isn't easy to admit that you've been wrong all along...but it is the way to freedom. Your idols can't be your own wrong thinking! Make yourself as humble as the bread of affliction, the bread of humility, the stale matzo you haven't thrown out yet!

And as you step back you can then spring forward even stronger! Yay!

Interesting that I am wearing my fake boobs again and working through that one. It's OK now for me to wear them or not to wear them. It's OK to do what makes me feel like I look better. And it's OK to not wear them when I don't want to. And OK to wear a bra again even though I promised myself I wouldn't have to wear a bra ever again once the breasts were removed... Boy, was that promise to myself a slavery of sorts and now I am free. I can change my mind and see where I've been wrong. I can get another scan even though I don't like the radiation of my own cell phone.

Jews believe in the ultimate redemption. We are all empowered to create a better world. It will not be destroyed, it will be perfected. And we're not alone in that endeavor so we will never be allowed to fail.

Can't wait for this counting time to be over Erev May 18th when we symbolically get to a place of deserving to be given the Ten Utterances. You don't get to the promised land if you are worshiping idols of gold at the bottom of the mountain. And I've been getting really sick of the worship of gold. "Goldina Mandina" is not all about that. Instead there is an invisible One that offers us 10 concrete laws to follow so we can, in partnership, make this world a better place. (And there are 7 concrete laws for non-Jews, called the Laws of Noah). So no one ever has to wonder about what is right and what is wrong, nor make your own self the idol that makes those decisions.

(Murder is just wrong, for example...there are no hidden good intentions or reasons that make it right. A murderer is not a freedom fighter. A murderer is not a poor, uneducated, underprivileged Latino that just happens to need to be in a gang and have his own territory to feel safe and powerful. OK, maybe I'm a bigot but I'm on a rampage now because a 17 year old was shot to death right around the block from my house during this counting time. And aren't you sick of the Sentinel telling all the kids not to wear red or antagonize them????? I know it's stupid to antagonize gang members but pride in the Westside never meant, I'll kill you or you'll kill me. Why can't they separate gang gatherings if their intentions are to murder? I just don't get how the focus in the Sentinel is all on us taking more precautions instead of the gang membership being dismantled...Geoff says they are probably keeping mum what they are doing with the gangs in order not to tip them off....

Anyway, lots of seriousness in this writing today. And sorry for foaming at the mouth. I sure did write a lot and seem to not be able to cut things out... May we all have only learning experiences that appear clearly good during these days of counting. And may we have many, many days of celebrations and listening to music.