About two years ago, I began to really dig deep into the world of cancer. Not by choice. Nobody chooses it without the incentive of a paycheck! October 7, 2008 was my first chemo experience. I remember it vividly. I would bet my life that John and Terri, who were my ever-present chemo buddies, remember it, too. To say that is a traumatic day in your life is an understatement. So, you live through it and that’s that. Then you go again and again and again. In my case, I had eleven rounds of chemo…that’s 22 seatings in the chemo chamber. 22. 22!!!! That’s a helluva lot! But, that’s not what today’s musings are about. John, Terri, and I did a lot of sitting. We talked a lot. We laughed over various pictures in People Magazine. And, sometimes, we read. John and I poured over the book “AntiCancer: A New Way of Life”. Eternal thanks to Laura, our dear Chicago buddy, for sending this book our way. Eternal thanks to David Servan-Schreiber for writing it.
A new way of life. Goddamnit, I didn’t want a new way of life. I liked my old, wicked ways! Apparently, those old days of pasta, pizza, and make-your-own tacos were killing me, though. I began to realize that my local giant grocery stores would no longer be my close friends. We wouldn’t visit so often. In northeast Ohio, one of the really good grocery stores is named “Mustard Seed”. John took me for a visit to the one in Solon, which is larger than our Akron one. Early on in my quest for a new way of life, there we were, headed to Mustard Seed.
It was an autumn day. Probably beautiful outside. But, I could only see inside. I saw the insides of my body. Dark spots cluttering my liver. Hard lump in my left breast. Swollen lymph nodes in my armpit and neck. How could this happen? How could I survive? I walked up and down the aisles of the store. John seemed so happy. So eager to change what I ate, as David the author, had suggested. All I saw was what I couldn’t have anymore. I stood in front of all that organic stuff and I cried. Hot tears. Hot, angry, sad, lonely, pitiful tears. Insurance doesn’t cover the cost of organic produce. Or pastured chicken eggs. Or grass fed beef. (maybe it should…helluva wellness plan that would be!) Another author I love, Kris Carr, of the “Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips” books, says it takes 21 days to form a habit. I wish I could remember how I felt walking through the grocery store 21 days after that. I still haven’t gone back to Mustard Seed in Solon. The whole thought of it makes me sad. If you ever see someone crying in the grocery aisles, just hand over a kleenex and keep walking. Change is difficult.
Now, I calmly walk the aisles of Heinen’s or Krieger’s, or Giant Eagle. I cruise the perimeter, just like Weight Watchers told me. The seed was planted. It may have taken 21 days, it may have taken 41, but I get it now. And there is nothing sad or lonely about good groceries. They are expensive!!! But, they are cheaper than health care, trust me! I order most of my meat online. Although I think I found a good Ohio source that I may be able to drive to for beef. That would be good. I spend a decent portion of my waking hours buying, chopping, eating, or cleaning up the mess…from food. Think of early human life. Ok, I’m not raising the chickens and gathering my own eggs, but I am making lots of things…nearly all things…from scratch. Even my kids are realizing that if they eat too many bad things, a salad seems to make them feel better. Colorful food is powerful food. Organic food is kinder to the earth and its animals.
I don’t think too much about how I look on the inside anymore. I don’t cry in the grocery store, either. I don’t pity myself for needing so many vegetables in my life. I am thrilled to have had a life at all after chemotherapy. I am thrilled to have not so much as caught a cold since Oct of 2008. I am thrilled to have, period. I am thrilled to be.