Returning to Chemoland

My 39th Birthday lunch with Auntie L & Miss M.   Looking swollen already.

My 39th Birthday lunch with Auntie L & Miss M. Looking swollen already.

I’ve been sucked into a vortex.  A seemingly endless space of sadness, self-pity, and pain.  It’s no fun living in this space.  I’ve been here before.  I don’t want to be here again.  And yet I can’t seem to pull myself out.  Out of the endless crying, the emotional eating, the depression, the self absorption.  I feel i’ve lost my spark.  My fight.  My mojo.  My inner warrior.


Three days ago I made the decision to move forward with more chemo.  I start today.

I’m not thrilled about the decision but feel it’s necessary at this point.  In the last 3 weeks the pain has gotten out of control.  My tumor markers rose from 90 to 245.  The circulation is practically cut off in my shoulder and arm.  Most mornings a few of my fingers are numb.  When i went to put up Miss M’s hair in a ponytail for ballet class the other day I couldn’t twist the elastic with my left hand.  My entire left arm is swollen.  Cancer swollen.  Swollen that reminds me of my mom’s body when the cancer took over and she was spiraling toward death.  I need help.  Hopefully chemo will be the help I’m looking for.

So off we go again to chemoland…

I had a new port surgically inserted into my chest Monday morning by a wonderful radiologist who did her medical training at NYU (instant brownie points).  As they wheeled me into the operating room, I felt the love, support, and prayers of everyone surrounding me and it brought tears to my eyes.    I was awake for the whole procedure (which I actually preferred) and the pain has been manageable with lots of good ol’ extra strength Tylenol.

Yesterday I went in for an echocardiogram to make sure my heart is strong enough to handle treatment.  Which has never been a problem before so I’m assuming it won’t be a problem now either.

Now this morning I meet with my oncologist and start chemo.  I’m set to do 2 of the 3 drugs I took the first time around (almost 2 years ago) – Taxotere and Herceptin.  I’ll be taking the medications through my port once a week.  We haven’t discussed end dates yet.  Right now I’m just trying to get the tumor load reduced before December so I can take my trip to Europe without being in pain.

Because let me tell you, being in pain completely sucks!  After living with chronic pain for the last 3 months I can sympathize with those suffering from painful chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia and arthritis.  My lord!  The pain just wears you down.  Takes away from your enjoyment of life.  How can you enjoy anything when your body is constantly screaming at you.  I just want to tell it to “shut the f*~k up!  Leave me alone!  Let me enjoy my walk in the woods, my meditation, my family dinner!”

And while I know it’s well & good to feel our feelings I also know that staying stuck in them is not healthy.  I know that negativity, stress, fear, and depression compromise my immune system and feed the cancer.  I can’t get stuck in this.  I’ve been here before.  In this depressed place.  I wrote about it on my blog here.  And I’ve pulled myself out before and I will do it again.

I watched a couple of clips from Oprah’s last Super Soul Sunday show with Kris Carr and Mark Nepo and their experiences with cancer last night.  You can watch the whole episode HERE, or just check out a couple of clips here:  Kris Carr and Mark Nepo.  I realize I need a lot more of this.  I need to surround myself with lessons, and wisdom, and gratitude, and acceptance, and spirit.  I feel most alive when I’m learning, growing, or connecting with other spiritual folks.  This is integral to who I am.  I need to make this a priority.

Although I have my doubts about the effectiveness of ALL forms of cancer treatment the one thing I never doubt is the importance of the mental and spiritual piece of healing.  I don’t think anyone can truly heal until they address the truth of their lives and come to a place of acceptance and understanding of the universe and their place in it.

I know I need to make life about living again and not just about avoiding death.  As Kris Carr said, I may never be “healthy” on paper but I can still be healed, healthy, and whole at my core.

Hopefully this chemo will kick my cancer back to the curb.  But i know I am the only one stopping myself from achieving my dreams and truly living life – for me.  Not for hubby, or Miss M., or the cancer.  For me.  It’s time I get out my own way.  Put the excuses aside.  Step out into the fear of the unknown.  And truly live life.

Here’s to living!!!!  – T

30 Responses

  1. And don’t forget the Beatles immortal pearl of wisdom as you move forward- “I get by with a little help from my friends”….
    It’s time to call in the troops- be it folks from your Bernie Siegal support group, family, your therapist, friends. It’s time to open up the door to this space you’re in and let others hold you through this pain. Witness this pain. Process this pain.
    If there’s one thing I’ve learned personally and professionally, in addition to our solo work, we must reach out to that loving life force within those around us. Feed off it. Immerse ourselves in it. Sustain ourselves with it. God knows there are plenty of us eager to share our love, our support, our spirit…
    And please keep on writing, reading, watching those important shows that speak to you. These to are tools to growing, connecting and ultimately, living the authentic life that is yours.
    I love you from the depth of my soul dearest niece. Good luck today. Know I will be there with you surrounding you with love. And soon thereafter, wrapping you in my arms…
    Love, Auntie L

  2. I hated to read this! I deal with the fear of more chemo every month! I don’t want to be back in that chair! Right now I think your doing what you need to do. Hopefully the chemo will beat it back down and you can get back to your natural way of doing things! Thinking of you!

  3. Sending big healing thoughts and prayers your way. You WILL kick cancers ass buh bye. It doesn’t have a chance vs this warrior. We are with you all the way….Good Luck today. Stay Strong! Love u

  4. Felt sad, angry and disappointed but not discouraged when I read this, so I did what I normally would do I picked up my book for some words of encouragement…hope they help. I Declare I will not just survive; I will thrive! I will prosper despite every difficulty that may come my way. I know every setback is a setup for a comeback. I will not get stagnant, give up on my dreams, or settle where I am. I know one touch of God’s favor can change everything. I’m ready for a year of blessings and a year of thriving! This is my declaration for you!
    Love Cindy

  5. May you be healthy… may you be safe… may you be joyous… may you be free from suffering. I know there are many people thinking of you on the west coast. I hope the trip to chemoland will be a brief and remarkably successful one.
    Mary on Gabriola

  6. We’re rooting for you, Terri. I have several friends living with cancer, some newly-discovered, some are being told they’re near the end… and I think you’re all inspiring people.
    I admire your strength and courage in dealing with this, and I send you all the good wishes and healing thoughts in my body and heart.

  7. You don’t have to pull yourself out …. we are all here, your countless friends, family, & followers, & we are tethered to you with an unbreakable lifeline of support, understanding & love. xoxo Wishing you much healing.

  8. The only day that counts is this day , are we living it so it’s fullest, seeing the joy and love around us, drinking it all up. The only guarantee any of us have is the here and now. No one is more aware of that and you and your whole journey thus far has been to harness that living in the present power. It has taught the rest of us so much and inspired my daily life. You have had a bit of a knock and I am sure it is playing havoc with your emotions but never forget what you taught the rest of us, nothing can change that, not chemo, pain or fear.
    As always I send you positivity and love and as always you send me back inspiration and a reaffirming push to live my life with the cup half full.

  9. We’re here for you Terri! All around the world – folks are rooting for you. You can do this and we all know it. My brain is focussing on the fact that in the last round, the chemo WORKED. Hopefully it will kick that tumor quickly, shrink it down to nothing and the pain will shrink with it. It is horribly hard to think straight and to be emotionally upbeat with pain dogging your every step. If the chemo can help knock it back, well bring it on! And don’t forget that this time, your body has been bolstered by your new lifestyle of healthy eating, spiritual work and supplements. It is not the same body that had to deal with the side effects of the chemo last go-round. You are stronger and healthier this time and that can only be a better place to start from. Big, huge hugs and squeezes to you and the gang.

  10. Remember…sometimes you just need to tell someone that it hurts so that you can get the help and support that you need.I think that the pain you are in is likely much worse that arthritis pain,because,while I am in pain pretty much all of the time(to a greater or lesser degree),I am not scared.I have no cancer that is trying to get me.While MY best option is often to surrender,you must fight.I hope the pain has been reduced enough by December that you can go to Europe and enjoy yourself…I went last year and it was amazing!I know that the chemo will suck-a lot-and i’ll be thinking of you and holding you in my heart.

  11. We are thinking of you and sending our love and support from the west coast.
    Your name is on every Well Being service that we do here.
    Much love and caring from everyone.

  12. I felt sick when I read this, just knowing how hard it would be to go back to that. You are truly one of the most positive & strongest people I know & just like you got through it last time, you will power through again! Damn cancer!!!!! Kick it’s ass!!!
    I’m here if you ever want to talk, cry, bitch, scream, rejoice!

  13. Terri, my partner in rebellion, I know through reading your words that we are a lot alike. I know that you probably feel weak, like you’re giving in to the “medical machine” against your will, again. Don’t. You’ve done a tremendous amount of work these past two years in figuring out exactly what it means to be alive on your own terms. You’ve bucked the system and had more courage than most people can muster in a lifetime.

    Use the treatments to end the pain and get back to a place of strength so you can follow your own path again. You have to use all the weapons in your arsenal although they suck really hard sometimes. You will get through this and then we’ll start driving those doctors crazy again with all that “alternative nonsense”. I’ll be thinking of you and sending you good vibes:)

  14. You do what you need to do. When it was possible I had another tumor and I was stressing over it big time; my daughter looked at me and smiled. “Just remember Mom, you know what to expect this time and since you did it before, you can do it again.” Then she hugged me and held me for awhile. I realized she was right, I could do what I needed to do. It wasn’t a tumor, so all my stressing was for naught.

    Today just reading the title of your post, I immediately started sending positive energy your way. In dealing with the pain, just do as was suggested to me, live one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one minute at at time. I know that isn’t easy, but just do what you need to do deal with it. It took some time for me to understand, but then I just took a minute to feel my heart beating, another to breathe, and another to feel the pain, each thing reminding me I was alive.

    You are so much stronger now, you fell down and it hurt, but you have such resolve, you can get back up and move on.

    As others have said, you have an entire network of people, many you don’t even know, sending you positive energy, prayers, and virtual hugs of support. It is my hope that knowing that, you will take the negatives and spread them out so each person can help you the best they can.

    It will get worse, but then it will get better, you will survive.


  15. Positive,hope-filled, and loving thoughts and prayers from me to you. You amaze me in what you manage to handle with grace. May you continue to be strong and filled with love for yourself as well as your family and friends.

    On Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 6:56 AM, gracefulwomanwarrior wrote:

    > gracefulwomanwarrior posted: ” I’ve been sucked into a vortex. A > seemingly endless space of sadness, self-pity, and pain. It’s no fun > living in this space. I’ve been here before. I don’t want to be here > again. And yet I can’t seem to pull myself out. Out of the endless > crying”

  16. You are beautiful. I was also watching Super Soul Sunday that day and one thing that Mark said was that chemo is like the black angel. It may be “dark” but an angel, none the less. I hope these chemo treatments give you the relief you need. You are healthy :-) Prayers and luv to you and your family!

  17. You’ve got your head on straight, including recognizing where your head isn’t where you want it to be. Good for you!! Since you have used the word depression more than twice in this post — and since depression is a really normal reaction to really bad things happening — I’m going to suggest you talk with your oncologist about adding an anti-depressant medication to your regimen. Oh by the way, some of them also help with pain … I just don’t know which one(s) won’t conflict with your chemo.

    Keep on keepin’ on … let love surround you, lift you up and see you through.

  18. I’m so sorry that you have to go back to chemo. I know it’s something you really didn’t want to do. I know you’ll get through this. You are a graceful warrior. Even in the depths of depression, even when you don’t feel like making the next step, you take a deep breath and do it anyway. Never give up, never surrender. *hugs*

  19. Hi : I. Just wanted to let you know that Anita Moorjani is having a one day retreat in NYC on the 23 of November. I want to attend! . Maybe. We will meet each other there.

  20. Sorry to be late offering my love and support; my own issues getting in the way. But I’m here, too. I hate that this setback got dumped on you, but your beloved aunties are so right. And even though you’re depressed and hurting, you *are* still *fighting!* And I’m relieved to hear that you will use every option you have in this battle. Stevie’s right too: you’re much healthier than your first bouts of chemo – and I mean not only your body, but your spirit as well. The first step is the hardest, so cry, bitch, piss and moan, swear ’til you’re purple! That’s like you ;-). Then, as always, you’ll knuckle down and do what you know how to do. You aren’t “giving up” by using chemo. You CAN and WILL do this! Let all this love warm and steady you until you glow again, as you are meant to. <3

    Oh, and Silymarin to support your liver when taking acetaminophen and chemo. Any drugs. Germany's Commission E.

  21. Terri, I hope your first round of Herceptin and taxotere went well. I celebrate you for your amazing vulnerability and honesty. I am trusting the Universe / God with you that by the time December comes, you will be pain free and that your tumor will have shrunk dramatically in size.
    Sending you an abundance of healing love and light and strength.

  22. I was fighting against a stage IV cancer and i won, lucky my husband who helped me all the time.I think it is very important that family support to win, because i was very weak;really helped me participate in one group of victims of cancer, so my mood improved, also helped me a adviser of are doctors).I recomended not surrender, because sometimes the first treatment does not work as me, and change doctors if it is necessary.Read positive thinking books gave me more energy.During my cancer,i changed my diet,now i eat vegetarian organic food(now i not eat meat).I think is a set of things that help me.

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