For three months, the west wind scoured our Hood River Valley with an abrasive, hygienic brush. It burnished the trees, leaving behind a lustrous sheen of renewal. During that time, the Oregon spring doled out single days of warmth. Plummeting temperatures followed each balmy interlude. Yet, in spite of inclement weather, the earth simmered. Right on schedule, the roots of field grasses spurred their shoots upwards and wildflowers stalked the delinquent sun.
Last night, my cat, Spanky, awakened me at one in the morning. He pushed his paw against my cheek. I rolled over. Undeterred, he hopped onto the bedside table and nudged my glasses to the floor with a clatter. I pretended to sleep. Then, he began wrestling with the strap to my camera. His attempt to attract my attention worked. He wanted me to know that summer had arrived. Reluctantly, I arose.
I get out of bed slowly. Neuropathy in my feet and lower legs makes me unsteady. Within moments, though, it is as if I shed the skin of disability. The numbness subsides with movement. I shuffled toward the entry. Spanky wove between my legs, nearly upending me in his frenzy to go out. I opened the door. After a brief pause to sniff for danger, he disappeared into the seething magic of the June night.
The seasonal transition energizes me. My body continues to improve its tolerance of the maintenance chemo’s side effects. My cat notwithstanding, I sleep well. I feel strong and rested for both work and play. My peripheral neuropathy reached a plateau in April. Since that time, the instances of nerve pain moderated. My M-spike holds steady at 0.5 mg/dL. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The six-mile walks I take 2-3 times a week are the best barometers of my health. Most often, I finish these jaunts refreshed and eager for the next opportunity. The anemia that bothered me when I first began taking Revlimid ceased as my body adjusted. I have vitality to spare that feels natural.
At times like this, my cancer, multiple myeloma, does not feel so scary. I don’t underestimate its resilience. I know numerous individuals whose experience with this illness parallels mine. Moreover, I know that all of us will eventually relapse. One person, dear to me, is fighting right now for every single day. Nevertheless, this cancer’s ability to advance after successful treatment does not intimidate me. For the time being, I enjoy a good quality of life. That is enough.
This morning, I awoke, as usual, at 5:30. I plodded to the kitchen to brew coffee. From there I returned to the front door and called for Spanky. He galloped across the deck and slipped inside, crowing all the while about his nighttime adventures. Seedpods lay tangled in the downy fur of his belly, remnants of his prowl in the pasture. The long grass had dampened his coat. After a snack and thorough cleaning, he lay curled on my lap, tired but contented. My hands rested on the keyboard, and I wondered what I was going to say.