Plan B-by Margie Lawrence
When I was living and working in the city, I belonged to a recreational curling league that played one night a week over the fall and winter months. Although we were probably the most non-competitive team, we played hard and laughed even harder. Often, our skip would make a call, one of us would throw the stone, and then we'd be pleasantly surprised to discover that although our stone didn't land where it was supposed to, it landed somewhere meaningful on the ice. At that, one of us would yell, "That was Plan B!" And we'd cheer one another on for having made our "Plan B" play.
Although I loved my job as a community recreation supervisor for the first two decades of my career, the work environment changed after the amalgamation of five cities into the one, Toronto. It became more politically charged and policy driven. During the next ten years, my work load became larger than large. One day, my partner Pete and I decided to retire early from our fast paced, high stress jobs so we could pursue a calmer lifestyle in the country. Our kids had all grown up and had independent lives of their own; it was a perfect time to leave the city. We'd be creative in finding ways to supplement our incomes.
Even when my kids were little, I had this vision of retiring somewhere in the country, preferably on a lake, with a canoe out front. This was Plan A. I also had a vision of starting a wellness business in serene and peaceful surroundings, so I could make use of the skills I had developed over twenty five years. Bit by bit, I had become certified in Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Chair Massage, Hot Stones, Reiki, Indian Head Massage, and I became a Healing Touch Practitioner. Plan A was looking pretty good, as I sold my townhouse in the city in exchange for a beautiful home surrounded by woods in a town three hours north, with the nicest wellness room one could imagine. To top it off, only a half hour's drive away, Pete's cabin on a beautiful little lake had a canoe out front! Plan A was looking great.
And then along came Plan B. About five months after settling into our new surroundings, we learned that I had a cancerous tumour in the upper palate of my mouth. In 2010, three years previously, I had addressed concerns about intermittent pain in my palate by going to see two specialists. When the dental specialist and the ear, nose, and throat doctor assured me I was fine, I disregarded my concerns. When I mentioned to my new dentist that I still had pain, he sent me to have a biopsy immediately. Since I was still assuming I was fine, you can imagine what a shock it was when I was given the news that I had adenoid cystic carcinoma! The next day I was in Toronto, meeting with a surgeon for CT scans and MRI's. A date was set to have surgery six weeks later.
Here's where Plan B really kicked in. In order to prepare for my surgery, I knew that my priorities needed to change, quickly. I needed to focus on me. Over the past 30 years, I had focussed my energies on raising my family, on being an attentive supervisor in my Parks and Recreation role where I was in charge of eight full-time and five hundred part-time staff, on teaching part time at a local college, and on catering to my Reflexology and Healing Touch clients. Time to switch gears. I had six weeks to become emotionally, spiritually, and physically prepared for surgery. I began visualizing what I wanted. The first thing I wanted was to keep my teeth and keep the bone in my palate. A prosthesis had been made before my surgery, in case my surgeon needed to remove some of the bone in my palate and some of my teeth. So, my mantra became, "Keep the teeth! Keep the bone!" Every night before I went to bed, I'd lie on my massage table in my wellness room with a relaxing CD and I'd visualize the tumour shrinking small enough so that my surgeon would be able simply to scoop up that tumor without having to take any bone or teeth. This was only the beginning of my work to prepare for surgery. Now was the time to make good use of as many resources as I could. A friend of mine who does Healing Touch recommended that I choose a healing colour to focus upon. Immediately I chose the colour amber, for I have a beautiful amber-stone necklace that a dear friend's mother gave me.
She also recommended that I round up a team of healers who could serve as my support network. I was touched to discover that the five women I approached (who were my Healing Touch colleagues, instructors and mentors) were happy to become my support team. Once a week, I received phone support from one of my team members. This helped me to keep focused and energized. The day before my surgery, my entire Healing Touch team of women gathered at one of their homes, and I received an amazing treatment. I was as ready as I could be for surgery. Following surgery, I was thrilled to find that my teeth and bones were intact!
Throughout all this time, I received beautiful amber-related cards and gifts from friends and relatives. Loved ones were able to put their positive energies into the colour and the amber stone. I believe this helped them to participate in my journey to get better. I now have a collection of beautiful amber stones and trinkets on my bedside dresser, reminding me of everyone's kindness.
Two months after my surgery, I had seven weeks of radiation, five days a week. This part was a kicker! It was a struggle to eat. I went down to 94 pounds. Ice cream became my best friend, coffee-flavoured Hagen-Das to be exact. My healing team of women were steadfast. I continued to receive weekly phone support. The team took turns coming to the hospital every day to give me a Healing Touch treatment after each radiation session. Can you believe this? Not one day was missed! On my last day of radiation, one team member was waiting for me in the lobby, dressed in clown colours, sporting streamers, and blowing bubbles!
Slowly, I began to build up my strength and stamina. When I felt it was time, I started my wellness work in my home again. Providing my clients with their varied choices of Reflexology, Massage, Aromatherapy and Healing Touch which gives me pleasure. It was time to be more creative. Last summer, I enjoyed offering a bed and breakfast service in our home to guests who came from out of town to take week-long courses at the nearby Haliburton School of the Arts College.
Health issues continue to surface, caused by the radiation that I had a few years ago on my palate. Recently I had eight weeks' worth of hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments, in hopes of healing a hole in my palate. Soon, I'll be having a couple of root canal procedures in hopes of saving some teeth. And the beat goes on. Plan B's beat. I suppose in Plan A, I had taken for granted having good health. So now, I have to work a little harder. A little harder at maintaining my health and in remaining positive. Other than my mouth issues, my health's pretty good! I try to remember to live as much as possible in the moment, to count my blessings (especially at night, so when I fall asleep, I'm in a grateful and positive mind-frame), to be physically active, to eat nutritious meals, to participate in my community, and to love my friends and family.
My partner Pete has played a vital role in our entire journey of moving from Plan A to Plan B. He's such a trouper. He's been my confidant, my positive role model, my source of entertainment, my chef, my reflexologist, and my soul mate. His continued support, along with that of my friends and family has made all the difference in the world. I'm looking forward to sharing positive times ahead. Whatever plan it is.
Margie Lawrence is a reflexologist, aroma-therapist, chair massage practitioner, and a Healing Touch Practitioner. She lives in Haliburton with her partner Pete. Their home serves as bread and breakfast over the summer months. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-457-9696