Friday, January 27, 2012

Random tears with random people

I just spent the past week at a scientific conference that was 100% biochemistry 99% of the time. I walked in late to one of the talks and looked for a seat where I could discretely open my Mac and get a little work done while the big people talked about their big initiatives. There happened to be a woman who had her Mac and mind opened to the same ideas, so I grabbed the seat next to her. We whispered hello's and turned back to our respective screens. Between talks, we chatted briefly and it turned out that we had very similar research interests. It took about 6 words for us to both realize that we needed to talk more after the conference. Cancer immunology. Tumor microenvironment. Cytokine signaling. And so we talked research, until we talked cancer. Not the cancer that was on her slides or in my grant, but the cancer that took her loved one and my friends....the cancer that touches every single person on this planet. We came to realize that the great promise that time will erase pain is a lie. The pain never subsides, it just gets packaged differently. There we were, complete strangers in the middle of the mountains with no intention what so ever of being moved in any other way than intellectually, shedding tears together. I'm so very grateful for that meeting. That last 1% let me walk away with a smaller package.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Talking to strangers

I was on the shuttle train last night making my way to the rental car agency when I became profoundly aware of all the isolated worlds packed so closely together. It always makes me laugh..and cry when I look at masses of people and see each person shut off from the rest. It's as though we need a protective winter coat in order to shield us from the chill of other people. It's so unnecessary. We are all (except for people who pretend to have cancer and then steal our money..but I don't consider those people human anyways..)good. We are all interesting. We all crave each other, need each other and want to be heard by each other. If you engage people with nothing but a pure interest in making the most out your time with them, chances are, they'll feel comfortable in a light spring jacket. If you engage them with your full attention, you can suck them right into the moment. Life's too short to live with fear, with hesitation, with insecurities, with anything that anchors us away from each other. Last night on the train, I met a young couple with a brand new baby. They are so proud of their lives and I couldn't be happier that I know that.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

people are good

People are good. So glad that I've had such a unique angle to view this through. There are so many of you out there opening your hearts, your brains, your dollars to help us. It's amazing, truly amazing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Unremarkable me

The best thing anyone has ever said to me is, "Corrie, you are unremarkable". I've been lucky enough to hear this from my oncologist after One PET scan, 2 Sonograms, 9 MRI's, and 11 CT scans. It's been 20 months since I was told how special I was and I can honestly say, I don't miss it at all.
This has been a tough couple of weeks filled with loss, and as happy as I am for my good news, my heart is pulled in a million different directions, none of which are on target for unfettered happiness. I went to visit a friend at Brigham's after my scan. My friend needs people who can walk into her room and say, "This is what's going on and this is how we're going to fix you". What she doesn't need is a gaggle of ego's tripping over their greatness as they walk out of the room. So far, multiple teams seem to think it's ok leaving her with nothing even close to an answer. This shouldn't be folks.
While I was walking off the cancer floor, I heard a woman give rise to the most guttural scream that I have ever heard in my life. That sound could only have been summoned by the instant touch of death in her life. That sound was pain manifest, it was the culmination of how evolution has allowed us to express grief. It was contagious and I instantly started crying for her. I never saw her face, I have no idea who she was, but her raw pain will forever be etched into whatever it is that makes me me.
Seriously people, we humans need to come together and figure this out! Let's stop all the nonsense, get really smart and cure cancer. Who's in?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Peter Pew

When Pete first contacted me, he was looking for some answers, he wanted any clue that would help him find relief from the pain he was in. Even though he was suffering, his heart would always move to a place far from his own problems. "How can this be happening to you, to Lauren, to any one with small children? It's so unfair" he would say. Although he would always contact me for a specific question regarding his own treatments, he would always end it concerned for everyone else, always with a sense of gratitude for all that he had, for all that he was. Pete would talk often about how grateful he was to have grown children, to have been able to spend time with them, real time towards the end. I often told him and his wife that I wish I had a magic wand. I've never wanted one more badly. I would erase the word angiosarcoma from all of our lives and none of us would know each other. I'd look deep in to the eyes of every stranger I met and smile to myself that there'd be no reason for us to be tied with an inexplicably tight bond that had as an anchor the pain and suffering of this disease. I'd hear the name Pete Pew and he'd be just another human being out in California going about his every day life completely oblivious to the cruelty of this monster. I wish I had that magic wand.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Time, what are you?

Time is a precious mysterious thing that we don't understand at all. We like to divide it up into different segments so we can have a calendar and fancy watches that are useful if we want to watch it tick away. We like to freeze it in pictures, imagine what it will bring us, lament what it's taken. We live inside of it's vector and are strapped in, forced to travel only in one direction. Our brains haven't evolved to a point where we can comprehend infinity, it's futile to try. Nor can we imagine what time looks like when it bends around massive objects. We spend our time, as though it's payment for life. But what are we buying? I may not know much, but I try and feel time as it slips by me, through me, over me, within me, without me. We will always be a part of this continuum, stamped forever in each moment. We have a long way to go as humans before we actually know what's going on here, but we might as well make the most of it as we tag along for the ride.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All the hugs

I am so grateful that I was able to hug so many wonderful people yesterday.