Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth’


My thirteen year old daughter has Kingda Ka on her bucket list. Actually, it’s her “Six Flags Bucket List” and it reads: “1. Bizarro, 2. Superman, 3. Batman, 4. and any other roller coaster with flips and stuff,” then there are a few more rides noted, and the grandest and scariest roller coaster of all time, Kingda Ka, is written in tiny letters in the lower right corner with an affirmation from a friend: “I know that you will do it one day.”  The list is taped to the ceiling above her bed so it is the first and last thing she sees each day, and it’s the thing that puts a smile on my face despite her unmade bed and the piles of rumpled clothes. That 11 x 13 sheet of manilla paper is a testimony to Acadia’s desire to face her fears which delights me as long as she confines her thrill seeking to the amusement park. As for me, I’ve no use for Bizarro or Kingda Ka. I’ve no need to be catapulted forty-five stories and cork-screwed for a 59 second x-treme thrill in order to test my mettle. There are plenty of adrenaline rushes and fears to face during a basic day in Theme Park Planet Earth.

On May Day 2009, I was informed through a flurry of phone calls from the oncologist’s office and the gene lab that the oncotype dx test results were in. It was Friday. My appointment with oncologist, Dr. Hershman, was on Monday. For 72 hours I coped in limbo by trying on a variety of futures. I considered chemotherapy in a thoughtful way: I imagined the IVs for hours, the down days, my bald scalp, turbans & wigs. The scenarios remained as ideas, constructs – only in my head. When I imagined hearing that I did not need chemo, my entire body felt relieved and celebratory – my blood giggled and skin rippled with glee. I hoped my body knew the future and not my head.

That Sunday was Beltaine. It was raining. We made our floral crowns in the close quarters of an enclosed porch, and while I weaved ribbons to secure rosebuds and heather to my head wreath, my dear friend Laura Lula told me the tale of her cousin-in-law’s breast cancer treatment. Lula’s relative had similar circumstances – early stages, one positive sentinel node, the oncotype dx test even though she was node positive – and her oncotype showed low risk, so she went on to have a lymph node dissection and only radiation and hormone therapy. Except for the lymph node dissection, I hoped that Lula was telling my fortune. That my body and Lula were my seers.

Monday morning arrived. As my daughter headed off to school in the early AM she paused at the door to say, “Mom, if you have to have chemo, could you wait until after my birthday?”

I have a pact with Acadia that I will always tell her the truth if she asks, so I told her that I will make choices that will make me entirely healthy. In other words, I don’t know, but I’ll try.

We arrived at the hospital on time despite an inordinate amount of traffic and delays and then waited to see the doctor for over an hour. When I was called in, I was directed to an exam room which made me hope that the news was good since I wasn’t being seated in a serious office. Dr. Hershman arrived on the scene and then excused herself to go get the test results then came back without them and had to excuse herself again. I quipped to my husband that the dizziness of the doc made me want a second opinion. We laughed. Then the door swung open and Dr. Hershman announced, “Good news. The tests show low risk for spreading, low risk for return. From 0 to 100 with 100 being the highest risk, your tumors scored 10 which means that chemotherapy is of no benefit to you.”

“Thank you, Dr. Hershman. Thank you for ordering those tests,” I said nearly jumping up and down.

“Alright, now you need to talk with Dr. Feldman about lymph node dissection,” she said.

I felt one balloon burst, but a bunch of oncotype dx balloons still carried me so I made phone calls, text messaged lots of folks including my daughter at school to which she responded, “YAY,” and emailed my Light Brigade:

In case you’ve not heard me ululating in your direction today, I’m sending out a joyful noise message:  NO CHEMO!!!!!!! The oncotype numbers came back Low Risk, so no need for the poison – thank Goddess/God and All!
Thank you for all your support during this roil in the river for me.
BIG HUG and lots of Love,

And received glad shouts and ululations in return.

That night, Acadia and I celebrated with Chinese  food and a funny chick flick which we watched cuddled together on the couch. The way she clung to me informed of the amount of worry she’d been concealing. We slept easy.

On Tuesday, May 5th, we went to see Dr. Feldman. He thought that the results were good news, BUT expressed doubts about the thoroughness of oncotype dx tests for node positive situations. He felt that a lymph node dissection and a PET/CAT scan were necessary to rule out chemotherapy completely. 

As I’ve said before, I loved my surgeon and trusted him completely, so I scheduled the lymph node dissection for June 15th. While scheduling the additional surgery, I focused on the Serenity Prayer posted over the administrative assistant’s desk and stayed calm; but started to cry before we left Feldman’s office and continued to cry most of the way home.

I complained to my husband, “I feel like I’m stuck in a western medicine labyrinth,” which brought to mind the message I received when I walked the labyrinth on Beltaine. As I trance walked through the maze to the altar in the center I distinctly heard, “All is well,” which satisfied my needs and so I turned around to leave. At one point I became tired of trying to find my way out and bent down to duck under the ropes to escape when a little girl stopped me. She said, “You can’t take a short cut.”

I thought, damn. She’s right – the only way out is through.

Tenaciously Yours,



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