Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Bell Lap

Dear friends and family,

Let me give you a quick update since we last spoke, and then I’d like to share with you something I have been thinking about.  As you know, I had to delay my last chemo by one week, due to the fact that my neutrophils (cells that help fight infection) and my platelets (cells that make your blood clot) were too low.  To remedy the situation, the 1.5 doctors I live with gave me daily shots of a drug that helps my bone marrow grow good cells more rapidly.  The shots had to go in my stomach, and despite Steve’s and Daniel’s tremendous medical skill, they hurt like the dickens and made some colorful bruises that look like blobs of modern abdominal art!  Thankfully, the shots worked and I was able to get my last chemo on October 4.  Thanks to all who prayed for those precious neutrophils and platelets!

Because the chemo schedule got thrown off by a week, I had to go straight from chemo to a previously booked annual charity event that I love, called the Feast at the Market.   The event benefits a wonderful nonprofit called Neighborcare Health, which provides free and sliding fee scale medical care to low-income families at many clinics throughout our community.  For this great fundraising event, you arrive at the Pike Place Market and they give you a coupon book good for one appetizer at about 20 of the Market’s best restaurants!  You go from restaurant to restaurant, enjoying amazing food for three hours, in what has to be the world’s best progressive dinner—and then conclude with a dessert buffet!  Have I ever told you I like desserts?  ;-)  Anyway, I knew I should have given my ticket away.  I knew it would be a mistake.  Renee told me it would be a mistake.  But it is such a fun event and Daniel and Steve were so looking forward to it, that I went.  I ate less and less as the evening wore on and I became sicker and sicker.  I didn’t tell Steve and Daniel how badly I felt, as I didn’t want to ruin the event for them.  But oh my...to put it delicately, things became “dire,” and I suffered not only that evening, but for a day or two after.  Mark my words:  Do NOT attend any type of food-related event immediately following chemotherapy.  Don’t do it.  Don’t even think about it.  Ever.

On a happier note, one week after my nausea-filled chemo week, Steve and I went on our Sunset Magazine prize trip to Tofino, BC!  Vancouver Island is beautiful, and Tofino, in the middle of nowhere on the west coast of Vancouver Island, takes your breath away.  Picture driving past farms and lakes to get there, and then hiking through the freshest, greenest rain forests, with trails leading to long, undeveloped kilometers of majestic Pacific Ocean beaches.  The waves are immense and it is a surfer’s paradise.  On the other side of the quaint town of Tofino is the Clayoquot Sound, dotted with tiny islands to kayak around.  Our hotel room at the Wickaninnish Inn was a stunning two-story suite, with gigantic picture windows—and a Jacuzzi tub (!) looking out over Chesterman Beach.  And the restaurant meals that came with the trip included some of the best food we had eaten in a year or more!  Mark my words:  Plan a trip with someone you love to Tofino, BC.  Walk the beaches.  Hike the trails.  Kayak the sound.  Eat marvelous food.  Get away from it all and refresh your soul.  Seriously.  Do it.  Do it right now!

And now that the life update is complete, let me tell you something I’ve been thinking about…and that something is “the bell lap.”  The bell lap in a harness horse race is the final lap of the race, signaled by the ringing of a bell. The bell rings, and the horses (and drivers) know that the end is near.  Those horses have been running at full speed for many laps, out of breath, dripping sweat, feeling the pull of the bit in their mouths, muscles and joints throbbing.  Then the bell rings, and they know they have just one lap to go before the race is over, and blessed rest awaits them. 

Barring a miracle, my cancer is incurable.  Sure, we can beat it back with surgeries and drugs, and perhaps a little radiation thrown in for good measure.  We can do this for what is currently an unknown period of time, if we ignore statistics that say I should be dead by the five-year mark in January 2018—and we do our best to ignore them, for I am not a statistic to God!

But at some point, I too will be facing my life’s bell lap.  As will you!  I’m not there yet, as far as I know.  I feel as though I have lots of fight left in me, and I want to keep running lap after lap, chemo after chemo, doing my best to endure the suffering that comes with obliterating cancer cells.  But I also talk with God and Steve fairly often, about my hope that I will know and accept when the bell lap is approaching.  That I will hear the bell.  I don’t want to be in denial.  I want to be sure that I’ve said everything that needs saying to all those I love.  That I have lived as fully as one can despite cancer.  And I want to know when it’s finally ok to just give one last push and have the race be over.  All the treatments.  All the nausea.  All the fatigue.  The daily thinking about cancer and what death will be like.  I want so much to be able to recognize the bell lap, and accept it with the assurance from God that I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7  And the assurance, which I and my family have, that blessed rest, the end of suffering and tears, and eternal life and joy with God and loved ones who have gone before me awaits me in Heaven.  Thanks be to God!

Thank you for reading, for caring about our family, and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.  I have said before that it takes a village to get through cancer, and you are our precious village!

Love,

Gabrielle

P.S.  Here are some photos from our Sunset Magazine Tofino trip! 

Relaxing against a log on a beach after a hike!

Welcomed to our room with gifts of fruit, chocolate, and port from the hotel and Tourism Tofino!

The view of Chesterman Beach from our living room, bedroom...and jacuzzi tub at the Wickaninnish Inn!

Bundled up for a stormy walk on the beach!

The food at The Pointe restaurant at our hotel was beautiful and as delicious as food can ever be!

Steve. Soul mate. One true love. Forever friend.

More delicious food at Sea Monster Noodle Bar.   And be sure to go to the Wolf in the Fog restaurant too!  I mean it.  Go there!




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