Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Platelet Watch Summer 2007 (Living What I Say I Do Edition)

Tracy and Dear Friend via Blackberry, 10:00 a.m. yesterday.
Tracy: I'm going to have a fight on my hands. I dropped to 79.
Dear Friend: Aw, F-er. Only six, though. You didn't want those six. They were the bad six.
Tracy: It's not going to be good. He's going to have to work with me. He's gonna be pissed.
Dear Friend: Aw, man. Can you up the pred while you're gone? I know you wouldn't like it, but maybe it would make him feel better? T, I'm sorry. You shouldn't have to fight for this.
Tracy: I have to tell him I'm going. Then ask him what he's gonna do about it.
Dear Friend: Definitely!
10:54 a.m.

Tracy: I am so conflicted. Nurse says the number is fine. It's the instability that is a problem. I'm not showing I can hold them. And I won't have IV Ig for two weeks.
Dear Friend: Is there anything you can do or bring on the road? Or someplace you can stop along the way?
Tracy: Not fair to the other riders. This is ridiculous. Why not a clear yes or no? Why the ambiguity?

11:27 a.m.

Dear Friend: Did you talk to the onco yet?
Tracy: In the waiting room. (Pregnant pause.) You know I'm going to do this, right? I don't have the luxury of "there is is always next year." God. What am I doing?
Dear Friend: F yeah you are going lady
Tracy: I can't live like that. I can't live with the regret. I'm so conflicted.
Dear Friend: Well, just see how the convo goes. See what he thinks.
Tracy: How can I "defy breast cancer on a daily basis" and then... not?

11:54 a.m.

Tracy: He's letting me go.
Dear Friend: You just got a yaaaaay from Ops. I am so happy for you! Are you?
Tracy: Now, I'm terrified.
Dear Friend: Why?
Tracy: Because I am going to do this. I'm going to go.
Dear Friend: You can't think about what-ifs.
Tracy: Nope. I have to go for it.
Dear Friend: You're going to be a rock star.


In my mind, there is no choice. I set this goal and started looking forward to meeting it a long time ago. Yes, I knew complications from my health could jeopardize it. I said as much at the very suggestion of this adventure. But, family and friends recognized this opportunity in all its fabulousness, gave me encouragement, support, (and money), and I set about doing what I always do: trying to live my life the way I want to as best I can.

However, my Healthcare Team, God bless their dedicated, brilliant, supportive souls, has very legitimate concerns about this. They want this for me; they get it. But, their responsibility is to supporting my overall health and keeping me alive as long as I can and want to be as best they can. And my perception of ambiguity does not exactly jive with theirs. Letting me run off halfway around the world on a motorcycle without the support of IV Ig for two weeks hardly skims advisable. In fact, it could set me back and, possibly, put me in a critical situation far from their skill and knowledge. Not to mention their way-too-intimate understanding of me, my health history and how I operate. I am setting out on this adventure fully aware of the risks I am taking. Not only am I temporarily abandoning my IV Ig and stepping out of immediate reach of my Healthcare Team, I am also delaying a return to chemotherapy. Remember that stuff? It's terrifying, yes. But last night, I also realized it is also so F-ing invigorating! Sort of like this:

When I am out on my bike, I work on my leans. Lifting and tilting myself over left or right to get the most out of every single turn I make. Mind you, I suck. But, the thrill is there and my adrenaline pours. I know that with each turn I make, I learn and improve. It's risky and challenging. But it feels awesome!

So, when I was sitting in the infusion room yesterday morning, trying to figure out how and if I could do this, I had a lot of things running through my mind. There was the thought of how on earth could blasting up and down 287 three days a week be any less dangerous than what I intend to do? Then there was: I chose My Oncologist six years ago based on the fact that he was willing to doing things differently, and take well-reasoned but definitely bolder action that other physicians. How can they expect anything else from me? Then, oddly, I thought of someone I hadn't in a few weeks, Miles Levin, the teen aged cancer patient who has given thousands the splendid gift of his passion and joy for life as an example through his oh-so beautifully written blog. He died this weekend just shy of his 19th birthday. And, of course, there are the Beautifuls who have died, Angela, Mary, Shannon and Christine. There is also Lisa M., a driven, vivacious, F-cancer woman if there ever was one. One of my first YSC friends, she died four years ago this week. There are also those who continue to live with this disease, shoving it back fiercely and doing the things they want to maintain and defend their stake in own lives. Like Angie, who trained like hell and just completed a triathlon (!!!) and Dona, who has has the love of darling little boys to sustain her mets-threatened bones as she contemplates her next assault on her disease.

In looking back on the conversation I was having with Dear Friend, I can see that, despite the tug-of-war I felt going on between my practical, sensible self and my F-it, independent self, F-it had already taken the prize and was sitting quietly in the corner waiting for me to notice. People living with cancer have to make all kinds of difficult decisions based on piles of uncertainties during their cancer fight. So, in response to the one I face: I am going to the UK to ride a Harley-Davidson 1,000 miles. I am going to do it with my eyes open and with full understanding of my health situation. Should I become symptomatic, I will get myself home immediately. I will not drop the bike on myself.

I'll post when I can.



Jamie said...

Do you have any idea just how amazing and courageous you are? It has been such a long and bumpy road for you not only the past 7 years but truly these past several months. And even when things seem to be at their darkest and most uncertain you always rage against it. “Rage against the dyeing of the light” and you pull yourself up and build up your strength, grit and determination and you go for your dreams and reach for your goals. And every time you have done this you DID reach the goal you set for yourself. You truly are an inspiration! I know we (the sisters) laugh and giggle every time someone uses that word in reference to you because at the end of the day you are Tracy, our sister, who can be a pain, is crazy, and OCD. But when it’s quiet and we reflect we truly realize what an inspiration you are not only to us but to so many other people. You are my big sister, my protector, the fire under my ass and my inspiration. Enjoy your trip to the UK. Ride with your eyes wide open, let your muscles work and stretch with each lean. May you build new and lasting friendships and make many incredible memories. And then come home to us with a renewed strength and fight. I don’t think you will ever really know just how amazed I am by you, how proud I am of you, how much I love you and how honored I am to have you as my sister!

Love, Love, Love ALWAYS!

Sarah said...

Jamie said it all best already.

You got this, lady.

See you in 4 weeks, with all the hugs and love and prayers I'm saving up.

KB said...

Go Tracy GO!!!

jess said...

You go Tracy! We are so proud of you! And you're way braver and cooler than I will ever be...I think roller skates are scary. But I can see you breezing down the roads on that bike in the UK and it is so right!