Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beating Back Cancer at Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine

Mickey and I are in the large reception room in West Pavilion, Level 2, waiting for my appointment with Sunita Nasta, a specialist in Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Hematology, and Oncology. Three months ago, almost to the day, I ventured to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and it was the best decision of my life, reinforced several times. Since I chose Penn Medicine, I have met several doctors and surgeons who validated my choice. Nice to have my research confirmed as a fine choice. But I knew that as soon as I was treated by Dr. Nasta.

Driving to the PCAM in Philadelphia, we allowed 2.5 hours to drive, and still arrived late. Turnpike construction, likely stimulus package funding, made lane merging a nightmare and the pace crippling. Then, another 15 minutes trying to find a parking space. How does anyone live in cities. Despite anxiety about being seen as a late arrival, the ambiance of the Perelman Center always calms. Perhaps that was part of the design capture, but this spacious center, dotted with upcycled art, feels reassuring. That's good because I am nervous just a bit because I think my lymph nodes are on the march, reminding me it is so much easier to be optimistic when things are going well.

Which leads me to a dear friend's story of a family friend in the OBX who succeeded in surviving cancer, only to have it return with a vengeance years later. This time her clock is ticking, and her otherwise open and optimistic approach has changed. All of which is a timely reminder to me. As this appointment approached, I noticed a mood shift. Not much gets me down, but the countdown to this visit came after a week's anxiety with weather and the llamas, followed by a postponed surgery.

Again, what grounded me was my girls. After the heat wave we survived, I looked at life on the farm as the new new. Now it's time to rethink the new new as I move forward, beating back cancer. Knowing that something in my life will keep me laughing, as my llamas do, or at least smiling through the difficult down times gives me courage and faith to move forward. See what I mean as you meet Maria, my talking llama.

A Talking Llama from RJ Stangherlin on Vimeo.

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