April 8 Newsletter

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Forging a Path Through Uncertainty.

Dearest Friends,

I hope this finds you well and trust that you are navigating a path with skill and in good health. What follows below is mostly a personal update on us, and Tracy in particular. Many thanks to you for your compassion, kindness and inspiration.

This past year+ has been filled with chronic and ongoing uncertainty for all of us. There has been no “normal” to measure things against, our lives inexorably altered in ways we know about, and in many ways we have yet to process.

This different world had flashes of brilliance and joy– but we had a good dose of collective heartbreak last year.
We lost so many lives to this pandemic, with inequity falling hard on minority and underserved communities. Our collective grief has seemed to me to be accruing like interest on a growing unpaid debt.

For over a year we have been isolated in family/household pods, interacting electronically through screens. Our faces hidden have been hidden behind masks and some bodies are recoiling from concern over getting too close to the six-foot radius we have set around one another.

I notice when our kids remark about how strange it is to watch unmasked people interact in close proximity in the TV shows we watch at home. 

Tracy has been feeling poorly for over a year with ongoing lethargy and mild to severe pain in her kidney/lower back region (aching, sciatica), among other symptoms. For many months she has suspected her symptoms were the result of covid-19, but her tests to detect the virus were consistently negative or inconclusive.

Toward the end of the year, she suspected something was wrong with one of her kidneys. She could “feel” pain that she was certain was referring from her kidney. She went to the doctor and said there was a problem with her left kidney. The doctors ordered a scan but told her that absent infection or a stone, she couldn’t possibly feel the referred pain she was describing. Her symptoms persisted. Her body’s intuition constantly signaling to her that something was wrong.
Tracy went for a CT scan and sure enough doctors discovered a tumor (scary word) is residing in Tracy’s left kidney, and they expect it could be cancer (a very scary word). Tracy’s CHEK2 gene indicates a mutation. The “curse” of this genetic marker pre-disposes her to malignancy.

The good news is we are told most kidney tumors tend to be very slow growing and the tumor is highly unlikely to have metastasized — and thus it is highly unlikely any cancer has spread. Since then, we have been monitoring this tumor. Many weeks of measuring size and growth have passed. Running tests on blood and urine. Performing endless scans and cancer screens.

It is times like these that we more directly face our own mortality as individuals, as families, as communities. In the last year and a half Tracy and I have reached the phase of life where we must think about losing a parent, but losing a spouse is even more unthinkable (or a child…) And yet we must think about it — at least a little– and enter into the conversations with death, yet again in this life.

As the medical and spiritual inquiries have been ongoing, we have been likewise considering all sorts of other stuff. Processing the meaning of all of this in our lives. Considering what and when to share.

Alongside the docs, we have been analyzing the knowns and unknowns, calculating percentages, weighing the probabilities, and considering paths of action.

I will be in touch. I will update social media as I can. I will also try to respect Tracy’s privacy needs as we navigate this next part….

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