Sunday, August 11, 2013

Redefining Good Medicine

My drug holiday ended, and like all good vacations I had to accept the realities that come with returning to "regular" life, which in my case meant experiencing the side effects associated with my new cancer drug. I started taking a new aromatase inhibitor, letrozole, also known as Femara about six weeks ago. So far it's not quite as bad as the last two (Aromasin and Arimidex), but I'm back to cycling through intermittent phases of joint and muscle pain, as well as fatigue. I don't want to think of it as "bad" because it's part of the plan that is saving my life. 

The good news is that the new drug's side effects are not as challenging as those of the last drug, and the knowledge that the side effects are from the drug and not from some other degenerative aging or disease process makes it a little easier for me to cope. 

Aside from my own health, it's been a tough week for my friends and loved ones. One friend had a heart attack, 2 friends had life-threatening heart arrhythmias, one died of cancer, another had an old cancer spread. My own aging is challenging enough, but as time goes by I realize how much I experience the losses and grieving of my friends, their spouses, and their families.

It's a good thing that it's so fabulous to be alive. It makes it a little bit easier to navigate the hard parts. I wrote something to a friend this morning and I realized that I need to take my own words as medicine. If I need these words of wisdom, then perhaps sharing them with all of you would be helpful too.

When life becomes challenging and we are afraid, we need to be kind to our trembling souls. I don't think it's a reasonable goal to always be cool, calm, and collected, and feel Stillness. If we can remind ourselves that the Stillness is there, even when we can't feel it, we still benefit from its presence in our life. Isn't that what faith is? I think there's a big difference between feeling fear and taking it literally, versus feeling fear and saying, "there I go again," and not being so hard on ourselves. 

I'm off to have dinner with friends on this magnificent Vermont summer day. I hope you're all moving as gracefully through your lives as possible, given whatever challenges are yours this day, and that you take time and space to be kind to yourself and feel some love and gratitude for something, no matter how small or mundane that makes being alive in this moment worth it. It's good medicine.