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Friday, December 2, 2011

Snow and desert

I saw my oncologist yesterday. He says that my PET scan showed that some lymph nodes in my chest are hyperactive or "hot" -  a characteristic of cancer cells and abnormal cells. He thinks that it's "probably not lymphoma" but did some blood tests as another check. If those tests are normal, then he'll follow me for the next 6 months to make sure that those lymph nodes and lung nodules don't grow. If they stay stable, that'll be great news. In the meantime, I also have to consult an expert on autoimmune diseases since they can cause lymph node and lung pathologies.

I feel as if I should be very happy that it's "probably not lymphoma". As I snowbiked out of our clearing with K this morning, I glimpsed blue sky in between snow-laden pine trees and focused on it to try to chase away the gloom.
I also played with K and tried to share her enthusiasm for the day. In the photo below, she was very curious about something up in a tree, and her bipedal antics made me smile.
Yet, despite my best efforts, I kept feeling gloomy and seeing the darker tinge in every scene.
Perhaps it's the loose ends have me unsettled. The word "probably", the blood tests, the need to watch for growth of bad things inside me for the next half year, and the specter of an autoimmune disease. Or, perhaps I'm simply emotionally exhausted. I'm not sure what it is - but I certainly don't feel the happiness that I expected. I hope that the incredible joy of living returns soon.

As an antidote for gloominess, I thought that I'd tell you about one of my favorite desert mountain bike rides that I took last week. The memories might help me! And, perhaps you'll enjoy hearing about it.

Near the middle of last week in the Moab area, I started my ride, as I almost always do, with K by my side. I admired how the red rocks complemented her rusty chocolate fur.
We headed up a slickrock slope, an apron for a huge butte off to our right, and K charged ahead. I had to ask her to "wait" before she disappeared over the top. She stood like a statue on the horizon.
We paused together at the apex of the slope to enjoy the view of the gargantuan rocky sculptures that dwarfed us.
Because I don't take K on super long mountain bike rides anymore, we soon returned to camp so that she could ride in the Labmobile to meet me at our next destination. I had the pleasure of doing a point-to-point mountain bike ride to meet the rest of the pack at our next campsite.

I set out again, with the goal of circumnavigating a huge rocky and sandy canyon before slipping through a slot in the cliffs to travel over to a nearby canyon where we planned to camp next. I took one last long look down the canyon where we'd camped for a couple of days. It's one of my favorite places in the Moab area.
After more uphill pedaling, I soon left the slickrock and started through the sand. Snowbiking has improved my "sandbiking" skills immensely so I could ride even in the loose sand. I saw no one else during my entire ride... so my shadow was my only companion!
Near the top of the canyon, I climbed out of the sand and onto the rocky apron of a hulking butte that sits prominently on a hill. As I rode, I heard birds twittering and noticed some yellow leaves. I spotted something that looked like a mirage - a small pond in the desert left over from a recent rain. It was an oasis for numerous birds flitting about so rapidly that I couldn't identify them.
After reflecting on the miracle of a pond in a desert, I pedaled around a gorgeous butte that's shaped like a huge ocean liner. There was absolutely nobody else around, a rarity near this butte. My bike looked like a child's toy at the base of the butte.
I swooped and sped along it's base, and then I looked back over my shoulder to see red rock and snow in one view.
To slip through the slot to the next canyon, I rode past a cluster of towers known as "Determination Towers". I've always thought that their name is appropriate because pedaling through the sand to get to them requires amazing determination!
I made it, and I pedaled through the magic door that led to the adjacent canyons. The adjacent canyons are also known as "washes", which means that torrents of water course down them when intense rainstorms hit the area. It was clear that a big storm had filled the washes with water recently.
I met the pack in a dry part of one of these canyons where we camped under skeletons of Cottonwood Trees and played on slickrock.
We watched the sun set over the cliffs as another day in the desert ended.


  1. Here is wishing you better news and better trails. I would wish you better views, but that is probably not possible, the views are spectacular.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  2. I can't believe there's an adventure story that starts with you going off through the desert on your own and doesn't have a part where you get lost! :) At the beginning you mentioned how the red rocks compliment K's fur and I thought that there isn't any setting that doesn't compliment her!

    I'm glad to hear that the doctor was cautiously optimistic! Six months seems long from right now, but it will pass quickly. I'll be praying for the best results!

    Your stories about R's puppy days gave me a grin this morning. I'm betting he still has a lot of puppy to him. If he and Kuster ever got together, I fear it would be holy hell! lol

  3. I'm glad the Dr. thinks it's probably not lymphoma! I think I can understand why you would still feel gloomy. It's hard to have so much uncertainty and to have to wait to see what will happen. The time will pass quickly though. The bike ride in Moab looks wonderful! We'll keep sending healing thoughts!

  4. Oh heck, so it is still a "Wait and see" kind of thing. That in and of itself would leave me in a darker mood too, Yet, the upside is the word "probably"

    We will cling to that word for you.

    We loved all your pictures today but have to say we love the first one most. My Vickie and I often look at your posts and imagine ourselves in your world.

    We love the silent forest after a heavy snowstorm....untouched and serene.

    This is a world you offer and we thank you every day....

    Much Love

  5. So sorry to hear the news. I think that being in limbo is worse than if it were bad news. It seems it is always so much easier if you just know and can take it from there.

    The desert is so beautiful. There is something about being around all that rock and fascinating formations by erosion that makes you realize the power that is held in them. Hope sharing about it made you feel better, if only for the moment.

    Paws crossed and thinking of you.

  6. That picture with the desert and the snow in the distance is amazing and intense and could be read in many different ways.

    I am glad the doctor was cautiously optimistic, but six months ...gosh, that's a long time. Try not to worry and hang in there!

    Your pal, Pip

  7. What a glorious memory - with magnificent photos! That is definitely something positive to boost your spirits. Try to fill your mind with positive thoughts just as you fill your days with positive activities - and beings - that you love. Anticipating the worst is useful if corrective action is possible; otherwise, it is just a waste of precious time.

    We're keeping our paws crossed for you.

    Jed & Abby

  8. Alright, KB, you can go to work and keep your Sunny Side Up for the next few months. It might make a huge difference, you know!

    I thought I was going to hear about a huge windstorm but it must have missed you, is that so?

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you for these six months (and longer!) so I am expecting you to come out all well.

    Always, always these fabulous photos, how I love them. Loved seeing Mr. R too, its been a while I think.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Ziva Zophia

  9. Stunning scenery, lovely photos. I hope all vet news continue to be positive (and more positive than 'probably').

  10. Beautiful country! We'll hold good thoughts for the right kind of test results. Give those most excellent dogs a pat for me --


  11. Hi KB, well its a bit of a waiting game, but you must keep positive. You are surrounded by such wonderous places and then you take the time to photograph them and show us. This shows your positive side.

    You have the love and support of all your blog friends and we aren't about to leave you alone during this testing time. We are all here for you. Take strength in our support. No worries (especially for you) and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  12. Looking back at the posts over the last two years I can't but feel that this is good news !

  13. Geez, all the very best to you.. rather unsettling news. However, try and remain hopeful as per doctor's thinking...

    Gorgeous country by the way!! I just love all that wonderful rock!! You live in such a paradise...


  14. It's the waiting that is the worst. I had an abnormal breast x-ray last year and had to wait for results...BUT, at least you got out and saw some spectacular scenery. My thoughts and prayers will be coming your way.

  15. Sending you good thoughts that the "probably not" is "it's definitely not" lymphoma. The wait is always the longest. It's hard to put something like that out of your mind. How? Hopefully, your wait for the good news will not be too long so then you can get on and enjoy that beauty that surrounds you. I hope all goes well at the autoimmune specialist...thinking of you...

  16. "Probably Not" are very strong words for a doctor to me that is truly hopeful

    In the meantime, you are the epitome of courage....'Grace Under Pressure'

  17. Bibi is right, most doctors are very hesitant to say anything unless they are certain. So for them to acknowledge a "probably not" is a good thing. Like you, I would rather have heard some more definitive words, but given what they could have been, this is good news. You always have such a positive outlook on things, I hope that optimism can conquer your worries and make you feel better soon. Meanwhile the prayers and good thoughts will continue from this end. Hugs to you from me.

  18. all our feets and paws are crossed for a positive outcome. Hopefully the beautiful world around you and furry kids will ease the way through this stress
    Benny & Lily

  19. I have thought of you often over the last week, and wish like you that you had a definitive answer. But I think that in reading your post, despite what the conclusion will be, I have a feeling that your direction will continue to be forward one with focus and determination, and all of us here cheering you on!! Stay positive, and know that you are in my prayers!!

  20. Hi Y'all,

    Everything has already been said...the unknown, the always a shadow...but you still manage to see the beauty and share it. K is your constant...aren't we always there when you need us most?

    Paws crossed here and prayers from the Humans,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  21. We'll be thinking of you and hope your tests turn out well. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and stunning area of the country with us!

  22. Your desert story should scare away the boogie man now...your love of life is being tested and mustering all your strength should be your focus....only good healthy energy can surpass this wall that has been thrown up in front of you....<3 Sophie and her Dads!

  23. Hi KB
    Were going to keep wishing for peace to fill your heart during this waiting time. We would feel exactly as you are feeling.
    Uncertainy and worry can pull you down- so we wish that all you love, will fill your heart with peacefulness. We also keep our heart close to you

  24. We are keeping you in our thoughts

    Stop on by for a visit

  25. Oh, how I want to go back!!!

    I hope you have better news by now. I hope the hot spots aren't really hot; my sister-in-law's hot spots moved between photos! So they weren't really hot spots! I know you can't expect that same outcome, but I do home it's not going to be more to add onto your already full plate.

    I love when I recognize scenery in your photos! And I'm green with envy because I still have to walk my bike through sand.


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