Here's a little tip: if your doctor tells you that a drug might cause "mild to moderate joint pain" what he's really trying to tell you is that soon you will feel like someone threw you in a burlap sack, took you around the corner, and beat the living bejeezus out of you with a baseball bat. And when he tells you that you can manage the "discomfort" with Aleve or Advil, laugh at him - hard - because he's lying to you.
I spent most of Wednesday sleeping or crying. I was feeling not unlike a science experiment - "now let's see what THIS drug will do..." Although I get the point of all of this intellectually, sometimes it's hard to reconcile how I could feel perfectly fine three weeks ago, with the reality that, thanks to things I've willingly submitted to, I now have the energy, stamina and pain levels of an 80 year-old woman.
It was in the midst of all of this that I woke up from a nap to this photo in my email inbox. It's from my friends Jen Bradwell and Todd Boekelheide who are traveling in Europe. The note with it said:
"We are presently cheering you on from Paris. This evening we strolled through Notre Dame. So one of these candles was lit for you in front of a certain warrior princess... Hope you feel some of her French badassness!"
And I stared to cry (again) but this time it was because from nearly 4,000 miles away, in the midst of this dark, painful and lonely place (extreme physical pain can make you feel that way, no?) here was this light. It felt not unlike this past January, when I found out that all six of my EMILY's List girls were dropping everything and flying in from all over the country to be there for my mom's funeral. And in countless other ways big and small, when I've least expected it, there have overwhelming and humbling acts of love and kindness.
In many ways this has been The Worst Year of My Life. Things like death and cancer have this special way of making the world feel like a more dangerous place. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have never, ever felt more loved or more supported.
So add this to the list of Things Cancer Has Taught Me: All of the love and empathy and the good you put out in the world, it comes back to you. Maybe not immediately, and maybe not in the way you want or expect, but it does, and in my experience it comes in exactly the way you need, when you need it most. The universe is funny that way.