The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In and out of normal

Some of you have mentioned to me that I haven't been posting quite as often on my blog. True. The thing is, I'm just too damn busy! But I'm busy in a good way. In a NORMAL sort of way.

Last week and this week I started commuting again to Normal (IL), as a new semester at Illinois State University has started up. I have the great fortune of co-teaching this semester, and yesterday we taught our first classes. Seeing so many of my students from last semester in my class this spring, as well as many new faces, was like teaching-candy. This is is an undergraduate course in which I get to work along side and supervise prospective teachers in one of their first substantial clinical experiences: tutoring elementary school students in literacy. On top of that, we get to do this at a bilingual school with youngsters whose linguistic repertoires are wide and deep. Other than for a few class sessions, this class meets at the elementary school, so the prospective teachers are further immersed into the school/professional setting. This is a new thing for many of them--a new beginning that probably seems a bit disconcerting, if not downright scary, to them at first. But soon, that too will seem normal, and on days when school is out for teachers' professional development or spring break, and we meet back on the ISU campus, we will all feel odd and out of place. Teaching this class (and taking this class) is WAY better than cancer. But there are similar aspects of fear of the unknown, and a human desire to come out unscathed and better for the experience.

I did another normal thing this evening: I went to Soccer Planet and played soccer with my women's over-30 team (Femme Strikers). I can't say I played a whole lot, and I was feeling a wee bit icky having just had chemo this morning. But what fun! What an inspiration to run around the soccer pitch with a bunch of other athletic women, smart women, strong women, and women who are willing to take risks. It is just pure awesomeness, and felt very, very normal.

Finally, and I think oddly, another normal thing today was my blood work. My ANC (which stands for something nebulous--maybe my white cells or it's an indicator of how my immune system is doing?) was back up to normal. Maybe it's the large quantities of green smoothies I've been drinking since the families on Nate's soccer team gave me a brand new blender and green smoothie cookbook! AND, I still have hair (although there's much less of it than there was a few weeks ago). On top of all that, I now have a fairly regular chemo schedule and I know what to expect, so even that sometimes seems normal. Other times I sit in the "chemo suite" at Mills Breast Cancer Institute thinking, "WTF?! Why I am I sitting here hooked up to an IV with toxic materials flowing into my veins in a room with a bunch of sick people?!" Then I realize they're probably looking at me and thinking the very same thing.

I guess what I'm saying is that I am very much aware--sometimes painfully, sometimes cautiously, and sometimes eagerly--of a back and forth, a toggling in and out of normal. Things seem to shift underneath me at times, and yet at other times I am able to do things to shift them in ways that I want; to shift things back into normal, even if just for a while. [Slap! Slap slap!].


  1. So, you're commuting to and from Normal and toggling in and out of normal!

    And on top of that, you played soccer, too! Good for you! Sounds like there's a whole lotta slappin' goin' on! Keep it up!
    -- Mom

  2. I get what you're saying Lara. I haven't been in your situation exactly, but there have been times in my life when normal is the most wonderful thing and what I wanted more than anything. Normal is definitely under-appreciated, but we don't realize that until we don't have it. Cathrine


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