196 Chemo Cycle 7, Can You Believe It?

The classic depiction on screen cannot convey the full body experience of chemotherapy reactions. Even to live with someone going through the process… I just can’t see that there is a way to convey the whole experience to anyone without causing distress, fear and overwhelm

The last day of the sixth cycle put me half way to the goal of 12.  And today is the third day of infusion, so the seventh cycle is now adventuring with my cells, helping them align.

There are strange things to notice.  One that comes to mind is that there is a lot of empathy for people in cancer treatment.  Yet, I don’t feel like I am suffering the route of peril (and some people truly must be).  There is a balance.  The classic depiction on screen cannot convey the full body experience of chemotherapy reactions.  Even to live with someone going through the process… I just can’t see that there is a way to convey the whole experience to anyone without causing distress, fear and overwhelm.  Yet none of those are necessary.  Cancer treatment truly affects every physical way of being.

It changes your skin, your throat, your lips, your neuro pathways.  The bowel, the continence, the urine, the hair.  It shifts the way your heart beats, the way things taste, whether you can eat something cold or not, eat something sweet or not, eat something with any spice or flavor, or content of fat.  It changes the muscles, the movement, the abilities, whether you sleep a lot, or barely sleep at all.  It makes good days and bad days… which are really normally longer stretches of moments that are perceived one way or another.  There really aren’t bad days, but there are days with a lot of moments focused on forms of survival.

It sounds so much worse than it is.  Yet, it is that, and more.  How can this make sense to anyone?  It just doesn’t.  I think that is why awareness in our culture is so limited.  This stretches out into all forms of long term illness.  How can we understand the plight of people in illness and disease, in emotional distress or monetary challenge?

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Audiobook Excerpt)

Kwami and I have had several conversations about “walking a mile in another’s moccasins.”  He has been working with the concepts expressed in How to be An Antiracist (Ibram X Kendi). 

I was hit with knowledge around unfathomable empathy when I read Kent Nerburn’s books on his Indigenous experiences.  A white man, accepted into the inner traditions of Native cultures for decades, he shares a self expressed witnessing… that he can never fully comprehend the depth of ramification that the last 500 years has put on the cultural peril of the individual from Tribal decent.

I get this deeply.  If you think you can walk a mile in another’s shoes, you haven’t considered the obvious fact that you cannot (Kwami’s analogy).  You don’t have the same shoe size or foot shape. The shoes or moccasins will not feel the same way or work the same way for your journey.  The truth of individuality is that it is individual.  And apparently, if you want to begin to try to understand, you have to ask questions, not of a race, but of a person. Ask the person you want to understand, and attempt to drop your own interpretations long enough to hear, to really hear, what they need to convey.

This is big, even for the best of listeners.  Hard. Huge.

I get lost in my tangents, maybe for the Ultimate Goals. So back to the original, I am not complaining about my health journey or experiences.  There is a lot of joy.  There are tons of amazing people in the process, and even experiences I would not change for the world.  And there is nothing I can do to express that the highs meet the lows, that the wave has some form of gift cycle.  Spike meets spike to the other side?  Every cycle adds something new to the list of challenges, but also to the list of ways I grow and change.  I am grateful for this side of comprehension. Seeing the world from a new angle, a new light.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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