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Who knew a year from my first chemo I would still be alive?!

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Holy crap I am still here...I guess I should start thinking about actually doing my taxes, ha! Last year when I got my diagnosis, I wasn’t sure I would still be alive let alone make it to my (dare I say it 😳) 50th birthday. I had a thought when I heard that I had stage 4 colorectal cancer, silly as thoughts can be “Of course, I should have known I would die young, I am pretty good, so good that I probably won’t make it to June 15th, 2020.” Okay it wasn’t that wordy, or actually maybe it was more wordy, “Well of course I am going to die young but dammit, I have things I still want to do...How is Charles going to take care of our dog farm? Crap...I should figure out all of my passwords and make sure he has them, I have to go to the bathroom again, I hope I can make it...To the bathroom I mean.”

At this point in my journey I feel better than I have in years, I do not take this for granted. I still have stage 4 colorectal cancer, though that term is not as definitive as it used to be. People don't always go into remission but they can maintain the disease, this is actually a fact, my oncologist reminds me of this all of the time. I remain hopeful but I never put anything in the bank until I have it in my hand to deposit. That being said, I am good.

I have a neighbor that lives on my block, she is older, probably late 70’s and her son and his partner live with her. She has had cancer for quite a few years. When I was first diagnosed I ran into her and told her what was going on with me, she was very negative about it, don’t get me wrong, she is a sweet woman but there is a certain type of cancer patient...I risk offending but that is not my intention. Fear is real and fear is unhelpful in regards to the long game. When you allow yourself to live in fear you also become complacent, a victim to this seemingly foreign monster that has moved in to wreak havoc and lay waste to ones body. There is a tendency to give up. Her tone and words were peppered with phrases such as “They are putting poison into me” foisting the blame on the doctors, relinquishing all of her power and responsibilities. All the while her son shudders and shakes his head in that way, looking at me with THAT look, a look I have gotten used to over this year, a look that says “Poor you, you are dead and you don’t even know it.” This usually is accompanied by a slow head shake and crinkled forehead skin.

When I found out that I had cancer I thought “Well, let’s see what I can do with this.” I actually addressed my fears right off, jumped into a few things I had heard about that were potentially helpful (which ended up being immensely helpful), along with visualization distance healing and spiritual healing I nipped that in the bud, I am not saying I don’t ever have fearful moments but fear does not rule me and I have not once ever been complacent.

I ran into my neighbors son the other day, he is a couple years older than me but his demeanor is older in that Debbie Downer kind of way. I asked him how his mom was doing and he shook his head “She has her good and her bad days. I have to take her to chemo tomorrow” he actually physically shuddered at this point like he was covered in fleas and cooties, “I only went into the infusion room once, never again, those people” he actually kept shuddering and shaking his head in that “Why bother?” kind of way. He went on to say that he takes an IPad, sits in the lobby downstairs and just numbs out on nature videos...No offense but if any of the people that were on my support team were like that I would have to immediately remove them from their position. Seriously, cancer is bad enough without having that kind of drag attitude from those closest to you.

When I come upon a person who is set on being the way that these neighbors are I have a tendency to try and combat it by sharing how I am doing in that moment. I try and shift the narrative. “Hey, I am on my third round of chemo but I feel pretty good, better than I have in years, look at me, I am walking my dog!” Unfortunately I can’t shift everyone’s way of thinking and there can be a tendency in some people to almost be addicted to being unwell, which I understand. Dealing with any kind of disease can be an identity that you can wear like the Mask Of Monte Cristo, if you feel bad long enough you can get to a mindset of fear around feeling good, the preset disappointment seeps in as you wait for that other shoe to drop hard. It would ALMOST be easier to accept the suck and forget about feeling better, who needs that let down? Well, I do! I have had my ups and I have had my downs. I will admit to feeling disappointment when I dip after I have had some good days but I have never given up. I note the patterns, I treat my disease like I am Matlock and this is a mystery I work at solving. I look forward to doing things, even force myself to do things such as perform even when I don’t feel very good which has a tendency to ultimately make me feel better. I didn’t become (tied) for 4th best air guitarist in the country laying on my couch lamenting my situation.

So tomorrow I get my chemo pump unplugged on Charles’ birthday, exactly 1 year from when I had my very first sparkling infusion. I still don’t know my outcome in relation to this disease but what counts is that I feel good, almost healthy despite my issues. Charles wrote an essay for a magazine about me and...Debbie Gibson... AND my cancer. He sees similarities between me and the singer, though I am a way better dancer even with my whacky cells. Anyway, I will attach his essay to the end of this post. It is quite good and it made me cry once again in the infusion room yesterday, a sign that it is indeed really that good.

Until next time ❤️

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I love you Kara!! I will check his essay out. Does Charles write a lot of CNF? I took a CNF writing class spring term at PCC so I had something to do while not working, and I realized that it's my favorite genre, something I read all the time. Would love to check it out from a local and beloved author!!

Some people do define themselves by their illness. You have such a lighthearted spin on it, even though it sucks the biggest metaphorical dicks. Whale-sized dicks. Damn, now my mind is in the gutter thinking about if a whale dick is bigger than me, thanks a lot.

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