I’ve lived with vHL since my first surgery in 1984. After 25 years and 11 major surgeries I’m facing imminent kidney surgery to remove a remaining ‘remnant’ of a kidney, then dialysis, and then a transplant. We have spent a year preparing for this, lining up the surgeons, getting a donor tested out, funds lined up, etc.al. We have done everything we can do. Now it’s time to leave it up to a higher power. I feel lucky in general – lucky to have been on my own ‘kidney power’ as long as I have – lucky to have a friend willing to make this huge sacrifice for me -- lucky to have friends willing to chair my nonprofit kidney account – lucky to have people willing to contribute to it – lucky to have the doctors involved that we do -- the list goes on and on.
I understand the surgery to remove the remnant is a ‘tricky’ one, since they’ve been inside my abdomen four times and there’s a lot of scar tissue. The possibility of a hard recovery on top of dialysis looms before me. If I think about it too hard it freaks me out. I’ve always told my husband Excy that dialysis is one thing that I’ve dreaded from the beginning of this cancer journey. The specter of some dark times ahead has me clinging these days more than usual to the precious ‘normal’ of life now. I relish the mundane routine I have at the moment, knowing all too well how circumstances change in the blink of an eye.
Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. It had been an odd week. A long-time friend died suddenly of pancreatic cancer that came almost overnight and aggressively. The day before he died he had sent an email saying he was prepared to fight. Days later, we celebrated a new friend’s 90th birthday. That seems to sum up in a nutshell the tenuousness of this life. It’s precious. It’s fragile. It’s what we make of it. And it’s fleeting.
I learned long ago to try to give up worry and care and attempt to live as Zen-like as possible. I slip up constantly. Every hour of every day. But I still try. After all, regarding this vHL journey, what else can we do after all the research, the meetings with doctors, the decisions are finally made – but to settle on a course of action and know we’ve done all we can on our part, and now it’s time to resign ourselves to fate and a higher power?
Sitting around the Thanksgiving table, gazing at the faces of those dear to me, made it easy to remember all the blessings this life has bestowed upon me for so long. Remembering these blessings gives me strength to face any coming hardships.
I wish all of you reading this post countless blessings and many sunny days to come. Have a wonderful holiday season; one in which you know love and joy and freedom for pain and worry, and a world where everyday miracles occur.