Friday, March 14, 2008

Celebrate Good Times

I've been a bad blogger lately. But in a way that I'm sure people would understand, I've felt like retreating from the world, real or cyberwise. Still, I've had great interactions with people, had some nice company lately. Last week, I was honoured by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC for the work that I've done with the writing workshops I taught and the books I edited and published. My parents, Dude's parents, Dude's sister and her husband were in attendance, so it was nice to have all this family support. My "students" (I still feel weird calling them my students since they're more like my friends) got up and roasted and toasted me. And Professor Jan Walls made up a Chinese clapper tale about me, which I will post a clip of once DH gets around to downloading the film. It was a really sweet and touching event.

What was really cute and cool was that I don't think my mother had any clue about why we were at the dinner, even though I tried telling her it was because I was being honoured. I don't think I could even describe it in Vietnamese if I knew the words. Usually, in Vietnamese culture, young people just aren't honoured in that type of way. So my mom couldn't fathom it. Imagine her confusion when all these people started getting up and staying all these nice (and otherwise) things about me! My favourite moment was when I stood up to thank everyone, and I mentioned that my parents were in the audience, and how special that was to me. My mom stood up, smiled, and pageant-waved to everyone there (there were over 100 people in attendance)! She was so proud. It was really cute. Here are some highlights:

[This is the dinner menu. The organization made colour, laminated copies for me and my parents.]

[My students worked together on a secret project, a surprise for me: a book of recipes from our Iron Chef-style "Yam-Off" competition between the two workshops.]

[Another surprise: a little illustration of how I whipped them into shape.]

[This picture was taken by Roy Mah. Here's I'm accepting a gorgeous bouquet. Check out the hair I grew just for the occasion!]

In addition, I got a real treat when author Wayson Choy introduced himself to me at the dinner. A few days later, DH and I went to a reading that Wayson gave, and he was just as gracious and inspiring there as he was at the dinner. Inspiration is what I really need right now.

This Wednesday also happened to mark DH's birthday. March has always been the month of birthdays in our family, including our niece's, our brother-in-law's, and finally, DH's brother. The Monday before Dude's birthday, we went out to Fortune restaurant to celebrate, and we were treated to Alaskan king crab (I think this one was a 12-pounder) by my in-laws:

The funs times are good and much needed. To be honest, there's an imbalance of fun times and darkness—though I believe that even if I had fun 20 hours out of the day, there would still be that imbalance, heavy on the negative. It's exactly one month until my surgery. On Wednesday, I had a CT scan in my chest, abdomen, and pelvic region, for re-staging my cancer. That basically means they want to see what exists in those regions (if there are any metastases, any shrinkages). I see my oncologist on Tuesday for the results. Yesterday, Dude and I went to St. Paul's hospital for a pre-surgery education clinic, when we met with a nurse who told us what to expect on the day of and the days after following surgery, and we met with an anesthetist who explained the "going under" process. And then there was more blood-work (I used to be a champ when it came to needles, but ever since my vein has hardened from the chemo, it's become a little bit more uncomfortable). The reality that the surgery is only a month away is a shock. And this period of waiting—and getting more tests done to determine my health situation—places me back at square one. I kinda feel like I did back in July when I was first diagnosed, and I would wake up every morning for the first few weeks and realize with a shock, "I have cancer."

The timing of all this couldn't be any weirder to me either. It was just five days after my brother-in-law died of lung cancer that I was diagnosed. Now, next week—which will be three weeks before my surgery—we will be going to his brother's interment in Los Angeles. It will be a quiet private ceremony, which we and Dude's sister will attend.

Going to LA also means seeing friends and getting some sunshine, so the trip will be bittersweet, as life in general mostly seems to be right now.

I have a lot of fear--but I have much to hope for too. As Wayson Choy said at his reading, "I want to see what happens tomorrow."

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