Cartwheels

Watercolour of snowy sunrise

The examination room isn't big enough for cartwheels. But if it had been I would have turned one. Yes it was better than good news. It was great news. Let me back up a bit.

I hinted in my last missive that I was concerned about this CT scan and that I was getting my results on Monday. So when my brother Drew texted me on Wednesday complaining about the icy rain in Anchorage and why did we have beautiful sunny weather in Vancouver, I figured out he must be coming through. As it turned out he had to change flights here but he was just boarding for Kelowna so no coffee that day. But he offered to drive down and see me.

I gave him Friday or Sunday as alternatives as I had commitments on Thursday, Saturday, and Monday. My Monday commitment was my results appointment with the oncologist. The text back was "What about me coming with you on Monday?" That was an answer to a prayer I didn't even know I was praying.  On Monday he drove down, following a couple of snowplows from Kelowna to Merrit and was knocking on my door in Surrey at 11:30.

My appointment wasn't till 2:00pm so we decided to find someplace to have a leisurely lunch and then go to the appointment. As I was gathering up my stuff for the appointment, I realized that in my busy Sunday I had completely spaced on getting my labs done. We rushed down to the hospital, found free parking, and scooted inside to the lab. Despite being a crazy busy Monday we were only sixth on the waiting list when we walked in. Nobody had gone for lunch yet so the blood draw went quickly. We headed for the cafeteria where we grabbed a sandwich. After gabbing for a few minutes I said we might as well head over to the cancer clinic and sit in their waiting room telling him it would be a bit quieter.

I walked up to the desk and handed my appointment card in, mentioning that I knew I was really early but we would just be in the waiting area. The nurse came around the corner. "Oh no Mr. Pratt he'll see you right away. Let's just get your weight (same as always) and your blood pressure (168/90)."

I joked, "Blood pressure is a bit high isn't it. Should we call an ambulance as I do at anything over 160?"

She looked at me, "Could you be a bit anxious?"

"Ya think? It's three month CT results and I have a premonition it isn't going to be good. If it sets your mind at ease I had 131/80 at home this morning. You should recheck it at the end of the visit."

"Oh that's okay then." I started to gather up my stuff to settle in the waiting room.

"No," she said, "He's ready for you. He has the lab results."

So on to the exam room we went. Drew looked around and commented at how big the room was. Room for a white board, four chairs, a rolling stool, an exam table, a small desk with computer monitor, and a counter with sink. But not enough for cartwheels.

I got my recorder ready and told Drew to watch, the doctor would be greeting me before the door even opened. He doesn't mess around.

He came in. "Hello Mr Pratt."

And Drew said "Hello. Which Mr Pratt?" The doctor looked confused for a second and then said "You must be his brother."

That led to a quick discussion of male breast cancer and genetics while I'm getting edgier and edgier.

"I'm really pleased with your CT scan. There is further improvement."

I whooped and did a double fist pump, startling them both. "That is fantastic news." Until that moment I really hadn't realized how much it had been weighing on me.

I don't have to go back and see him till the end of January. And we are going to stretch the next CT scan out till March unless something seems to change dramatically.

"Some patients can be on Afatinib for a few years. I think you might be one of them."

The news just kept getting better and better. After rolling around in the dumps for the last week, I'm pretty elated. If you didn't know me well you might almost think bipolar with the mood swing from depressed to elated.

As some of you asked in response to my email last week, "Wasn't the 21st the anniversary of Yvette's death. How are you doing?" And indeed it was. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her but I only cry occasionally now at the loss. I had a busy day with an Alanon meeting in the morning, an art therapy session in the afternoon, and then choir practice in the evening. It was good to be around people that day. I had a few people text me and ask how I was doing. Nice. I felt loved and supported.

I took the time in the morning to write Yvette a letter and tell her how I was doing, what I was struggling with, and how much I missed her friendship and love. In the evening I lit a few candles and sat looking at pictures of our adventures. And I reflected on the blessings of our time together.

Our journey together has been a blessing to others. It has lead to me reaching out to others. The evening before I had two phone calls from men. One I had spoken with a few times. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had been feeling a prompting to call but had been ignoring it for a few weeks. We talked about the similarities of our experiences and encouraged each other. The other was a complete stranger who had been referred to me by someone that I had a parking lot conversation with three years ago for about three hours. I didn't even realize I had given him my number. But we too talked about pain and grief and ended up agreeing to meet this week. I'm amazed at the people that God brings into my life.

In other quick news. I am thoroughly enjoying my role as a community mentor on CancerConnections.ca. In that role I have been invited to travel to Toronto in mid January to spend a weekend with other mentors encouraging each other, learning best practices and practicing skills, and just getting to know one another. It wasn't exactly on my bucket list to go to Toronto in January but I am really looking forward to meeting and spending time with others that have the same heart as I do for encouraging cancer patients and their care givers. I'm pretty unique on the site in that I can speak from both sides of the gurney as my hero Dr. Brian Goldman says.

Evan, my youngest son, surprised me with a call on Sunday inviting me to come out and spend Christmas with him in Edmonton and Saskatoon. While the plans are still coming together for that. I'm already looking forward to it as well. I'm hoping to connect with lots of you in my travels so let me know what might work.

My morning reading in Proverbs talked about the Tree of Life. I had always assumed that the Tree was a pagan metaphor and while I have always found it beautiful (to the point of thinking about it as a chest tattoo over the mastectomy scars) I always felt a little guilty about it. So imagine my excitement at finding a Bible reference to it.  Proverbs 3:13-18 (The Message)

The Very Tree of Life

You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,
    when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She’s worth far more than money in the bank;
    her friendship is better than a big salary.
Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth;
    nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
With one hand she gives long life,
    with the other she confers recognition.
Her manner is beautiful,
    her life wonderfully complete.
She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.
    Hold her tight—and be blessed!

   
I would like to be known as someone who embraces that wisdom, that lives life as I have been given it by God, and who celebrates in those tiny moments of blessing.

Celebrate with me as God answers our prayers and blesses us.