Star date: Monday - February 10th, 2014 10:00 am PST
I noticed a lump in my right breast while showering.
Star date: February 14th, 2014 (Valentines day) 10:45 am PST
Nurse practitioner: "I'm concerned and am sending you for a mammogram, right now."
5:30 pm PST-
Radiologist: "This is cancer we're looking at. 99% positive."
Star date: Monday February 17th, 2014 8:45 am PST
Oncologist: "You have an aggressive form of Breast Cancer. We need to begin treatment promptly."
In retrospect, I recognize how my professional training sculpted me to best navigate those first few days. In the moment, it was all a blur. But it was a blur of YES AND's that keep me even keeled at a time when it would have been totally reasonable for me to feel otherwise. I was calm, relaxed and ready. Like walking into an improvised scene. I was listening. I was focused. They said "cancer" and I said "how high", metaphorically. What I really said was "Okay. So I have cancer and we're going to move forward." Because I am an improviser and not an Oncologist, I couldn't make the next "move" in a give and take kind of way. It was just like being a passenger in a scene you can't quite get the direction of. You just listen and join, listen and follow, listen and join. And that's what I did. There is no blocking, "you have cancer". You can't say, "No! You have Cancer." or "Not anymore. Wanna ride bikes." or "You're crazy. Time for your pills." You just HAVE TO accept it. Then you have to join the action, (period). The more one flails about trying to negate the cancer offer, the further one dips into delay, idling, stalling or regulating. None of those things are useful. None of those things move you forward. This was a case of first accepting, THEN understanding my role and not vice verse. Blind trust. This was a scene wherein I seemingly had no power, but only seemingly. As we improvisers know, there is an immense power in relaxed readiness. There is an ultimate power in following, joining, supporting and trusting. Without those skills I could have spiraled into doubt and fear, questioning, irrational thinking, irresponsible action...etc. This is not to say I didn't experience strong emotional reactions. I did. A lot. But I did so with my mind and body tuned into the moment. I reacted authentically to each offer, one at a time and was surprisingly able to keep myself from leaping, lurching into fantasies of impending doom, invented dangers or any other world of tomorrows. I have always know that the work I do is life affirming. I have long known that the necessary skills of improvisation translate loudly to the necessary skills for life. They teach balance like nothing else can. I am so grateful to the work I do, so thankful for its gifts.
In this time, Star Date: Monday, March 17, 2014 8:00 am PST,
I am an Improviser to my core. An Improviser who will beat Cancer without losing focus, without losing spirit, without losing myself.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
"Love Harder" has long been my moto. If something is hard, love it harder. If someone if being difficult, love them harder. If you can't love something, love it harder. And above all else, love yourself hard as you can, every chance you get. It's been the answer to each and every stumble, scuffle and snag. And it's always been the successful avenue. Sometimes it takes me a moment to get there, but once I do. I can resolve any amount of fear, doubt, anger with ease and grace. Today I plan to love chemo so hard. I will focus on its gift. I will focus on the faces of all the others in the room plugged into the same drugs. I will focus on you, my friends and family who are so glad Chemo is there to kill the cancer. I will focus on you my friends who are willing to hold my hand physically and metaphorically. I am going to love the nurses, love the chicken broth, and love my bravery, love my body and accept healing with my whole heart. That is how today is going to go. LOVE HARDER
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Friends, a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with a surprisingly aggressive breast cancer. I guess the word "surprisingly" is unnecessary, as cancer is just surprising. I have begun chemo, have terrific oncology and naturopathic support, but will face surgery and radiation before the fight is won. I feel balanced about the ordeal, angry, sad, scared, optimistic, able, ready...etc. The international improv community has shown enthusiastic support and encouragement. Encouragement I don't need so much, as I've had quite enough, "Be strong"s and "Kick it's ass"s. What I really need is love sent on the wind and CASH MONEY. To get the care I need I must raise a minimum of $10, 000. I've never even seen that much money. If you are in a position to help financially there are many ways to do this. To stay in the loop please join Breast Cancer Support Group EVER! on facebook. And if you'd like to send money directly to my hands, please private message me for my address. There are no adequate words to describe my profound gratitude. If you're sending love on the wind, know that my love box is always open. Wait, what? No, I don't mean my... I mean, I think wind in the love box is hilarious, but just not what I meant. You get it. Thanks again, Domeka Parker