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Way Back Machine Activate: Belly dancing through chemo and a major abscess!

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Cancer journey co-pilot's log star date 10.3.23. My co-pilot liked to say, "Your story isn't over till you are." I get her point, because so many medical experts and others wanted to write her off without knowing who she was and what she stood for. At the same time, I disagree that one's story ends when one's earthbound body turns to dust. I am an extension of my ancestors and my parents who adopted me at birth. I carry their knowledge, wisdom, failures, and triumphs. In a loose sense, I continue their stories, even if some were told long before I was born. But what does this have to do with the blog? The blog is part of Kara's story, and, like Kara, it can and should evolve if it can continue to "ignite a spark" in readers, as she had hoped it would do from the beginning.

To continue her story then, in my mind, means reflecting (at least for a while) on her transformation through illness so that her death does not become merely one more reason to say, "Fuck cancer," as if that is all that can be said about one of the most powerful events all of us humans will ever experience. If Kara could blog from her current travel arrangements, you know she would have some wild and surprising things to say about the shuffling off of the mortal coil... an expression she used fairly often here. But the continuation also means revisiting moments that really capture her spirit throughout her four-and-a=half-year cancer journey. Part of the way many of us keep our dead loved ones alive is by retelling the same stories about them, transferring old memories into new moments and new understandings. It may sound inefficient, but 100% efficiency is a poor way to show up to the entire sweep of one's life. Not to mention a dreary and potentially exhausting illusion.

So here then, is a trip through Kara's Way Back Machine, to Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, to be exact. Two months after colostomy surgery. Because she wanted a challenge to look forward to, she put on a roughly 10-minute performance at the Offbeat Belly Dance show at The Liquor Store on Belmont Street in Portland, Oregon. She was unable to practice for it physically, due to the effects of chemotherapy and surgery the day after New Year's for a butt abscess the size of a grapefruit. Instead, she came up with a three-part routine and visualized it over and over in her head in place of actual movement. Then gave her performance and went into a second abscess surgery the following week. Courtesy of Phoebus-Foto, I have the entire video of her performance if anyone wants me to share it through Google Drive or Dropbox (it's 12 minutes long, so it will take some storage space). Drop me a line here if you would like me to share it to you through either of those platforms.

Meanwhile, here is a short excerpt that YouTube has not blocked.

I promise not all these "Way Back" posts will be this lengthy.

Until next time.

--Charles Austin Muir

Photo by Gary Lowe

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Oct 04, 2023

this is amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing - thank you so much for sharing! I missed that Youtube clip, so glad you pointed us to it! She's incredible and her energy is sooooooooo vibrant, leaving her body hasn't diminished that as far as I can tell. I think about her every day and feel an extra sparkly boost in my step for it. so grateful for your retellings, Charles, these are cherished moments that are so worth reliving and remembering. This is uplifting and encouraging and funny and hopeful in all the right ways, just like Kara.

Chanel Pichaco
Chanel Pichaco
Oct 10, 2023
Replying to

I couldn’t agree more, I am grateful that you continue to bring her to life for us in different ways Charles. When I miss her I watch old videos on YouTube to hear her voice…thank you so much for more of her.

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