Cancer and The Wizard of Oz
Remember the scene that starts the story of the The Wizard of OZ? Dorothy caught in her house as it whirls around nauseatingly spinning, caught in the tornado. There is a blur of objects, drained of color, flying by the window, the mean and nasty witch-like lady chasing Dorothy through the air on her bike, Dorothy flailing and losing her footing. The whole scene intending to convince the viewer of a complete loss of control and creating a visceral connection to the chaos on screen. Until, suddenly, the house lands…in OZ. What is behind the door, now?
There’s quiet. There’s unknown. There’s extreme color. There’s a yellow brick road to follow. Dorothy, cautiously, carefully opens the door and tiptoes out with curious trepidation.
That is kind of how we, the Taylor’s, have been feeling for the past 11 months and roughly 15 days (but whose counting?). We have been caught in an uncontrollable tornado, being thrown about in the madness trying to balance and navigate our way to a safer, healthier, happier place.
Well, I am happy to report the (metaphorical) house has landed. Last week, Kaycee received the results of his first CAT scan post chemo and we are happy to report he is CANCER-FREE! This is the first of many scans to come, in fact every 3 months for the next 2 years then 6 month intervals until 5 years out when they will declare him cured. We are now in a stage that they called survivorship. This is a good place to be, a great place to be really but there is still a lingering feeling of concern and caution about what could be lurking around the corner. It is hard to relax and feel the relief…this I believe is where the term cautiously optimistic comes from.
And Toto we are not in Kansas anymore! What we knew as normal-life does not exist anymore. We now are living an adjustment to that life, a parallel existence of sorts. Just like Dorothy we are taking small steps out on to the yellow brick road to Oz. There are weird lollypop kids (scans and additional tests) and good and bad witches (doctors and hospital visits and surgery Oh My!) in the most unsuspecting places. Recovery is the crazy unpredictable road and Oz is the cure, the new-normal we are looking forward to easing into. But as each brick on this road gets bigger the path to Oz widens as our optimism grows. Along the way we have encountered new friends and old friends, all have become comrades in this fight to survive. They have lifted us up and carried us when needed and we look forward to a time when we can reciprocate their generosity. There are still times when the yellow brick road will be scary and bumpy and we may feel lost. I mean remember the tress that throw apples, the dark forest where we find lion and the flying monkeys? We are prepared to continue to lock arms and skip down the road.
Kaycee still has another surgery to endure and this surgery comes with a lot of unknowns. The recovery can be very difficult and then there is the job of figuring out what our new normal is. So while I feel like I want to be singing, GOOD NEWS, like Galinda in the opening scene of Wicked (yes, I am a fan of the Wizard of OZ in all forms) it is hard to be too excited. Holding back the emotional tidal wave until just one more clean scan or recovered surgery or glimpse of OZ is the state of being right now, cautiously optimistic.
So no Toto we are not in Kansas anymore… and we probably will never be back in Kansas again. We hope to have some sort of new-normal that reflects all the good parts of the old-normal. A life filled with joy and happiness, hard work and good friends and family. But this new normal will be in full technicolor. It will have a vibrancy that you get only from living through whatever dangers and obstacles that you encounter on your road. Oz really is just a state of mind, a mindset to finding your way back home, to what really matters. I wish it was as easy as in the movies; three clicks of your heels and thoughts of the people you love, and POW! you wake up from the awful dream. Reality is a bit more brutal. But the simple truth is, there is no place like home. A comfortable place, to find the new normal, filled with love, family and friends, free of cancer and all those damn flying monkeys!