So, I’m still (very very slowly) reading this book, and one of the three things the author writes about as a way to reduce the incidence of cancer, or of recurrence, or to help during treatment is to reduce the stress in your life. This is funny to me because during treatment, we had a new baby, and anyone who has ever slept in a house with a new baby, much less been responsible for one, knows that with all their sweetness and good smells and tasty toes, babies come with some stress (even if that stress is caused, as in our case, by sleepless nights, and thankfully not by any other issue). Likewise, we have our house on the market. In Michigan. Yes. I know. We like a full plate. So, those things are stressful (I’m hoping that they don’t mean that the chemo didn’t work. We shall see.).
There was another, more biting, less balanced with joy and thoughts of future stress in my life long before and particularly during treatment at my work. I finally took steps that I’d wanted to take for years, and then planned to take after recovering from treatment (so, I thought, in the fall or spring of 2011-12), but the time seemed ripe, so I took those steps this spring. I found out this week that my tenure appointment was approved up the line to move to a program and department that is a better fit for me as a scholar, as a teacher, and as a colleague. The relief and joy of this is only muted because I do have a colleague about whom I care very much that I’ve left in the old department. But, looking forward to scholarly discussion, teaching courses that rely on my expertise, and engaging with students around issues that I find important, that my research centers on, and that drive me in this work is really really exciting to me. It feels like one of a few fresh starts as I transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor.
After teaching on Tuesday, I took the letter down to my friend and colleague, Al’s, office, and she immediately put me in her car and took me to celebrate. She is the colleague who, when I was a mere doctoral candidate at a long job interview and away from my baby for the first time, drove me to lunch in that same car to eat with my future colleagues (on that car ride, we talked about living in our town as a queer person, and she, then as now, provided interesting and helpful insight). She took care of Arden on the night of Trudy’s birth, and has been a boisterous Aunt Al to our children on many many occasions. She has also toasted and cried, listened and laughed, shook her head and said, “I told you so!” over the past 6 years that we’ve lived here more times than I can count. After she dropped me back off at home on Tuesday, I was thinking about how I’m thrilled for this fresh start that the university and the universe are offering me, and how, even with that fresh start, the players often remain the same. That is a comfort.
Arden and I just finished reading all of Gary Paulsen’s books, beginning with Hatchet, this afternoon. I’d say that the audience is likely intended to be a little older than Buddy, but as a read aloud, it worked. Anyway, the final two books, Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt, are an interesting look at how situation, experience changes a person. In the last book, Brian discovers, in his oneness with nature, that he has a medicine, and for him, that medicine is the deer. Arden listened to the chapter, and then said, “My medicine is the rabbit.” I don’t know where this came from for him, and he didn’t elaborate (and hasn’t, the 2 times that I asked him about it further).
During chemo, my friend Lisa (a master mixologist of both beverages and song lists) made me a series of CDs. One of them has Joan Osborne’s Dracula Moon on it. She says:
Where are the bones on that one
What if the cure is worse than the disease
Serve me up some pretty, pretty people
Serve me up somebody I can believe
I have had a ton of medicine, a ton of, hopefully, cure running through my body in the past year. And, then, of course, to see if that cure is actually a cure, they run more chemicals through my body. Yes, science and medicine and chemicals are all a part of this journey. But, the reading that I’m doing, and the experiences that I’m having speak to the cure being so much more than that. The cure–new starts, celebrations with Al (and more celebrations around a pool–that is not our pool!–with other amazing friends tomorrow) is people and new experiences. Arden’s medicine might be the rabbit. I’m not sure what mine is, but this cure is much much much better than the disease.