249 The Realities in Chemo Cycle Eleven

“I am health.” I go out and garden. I take walks, shop, do the laundry, clean, live the normal stuff.

My brain is glitching. Sometimes I cannot speak the correct words. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on google, looking for a word when I type. They are not complex words. I might not remember what the room with the stove and refrigerator is called.

My body is glitching. Systems are slipping. This is the first chemo cycle that I have entered with a blood circumstance marked “Low” on the labs. All other cycles, they have been normal on Day 1. The tests are done the day before. The body has had two weeks to process the last cycle and “recover”.

Systems are slipping. Dry, cracked skin, lips, feet, private parts, ostomy parts. Bladder infection. Ostomy hernia pain. Sinus issues.

I get it now. I was definitely surprised at first, when it was “easy.” But now I understand the movies, the way chemotherapy is portrayed. They are picturing the end parts, either the death part, or the end of the set of cycles part. They are teaching us empathy for the worst, for the time when others are needed most, or have no chance to be close (because the person just has nothing left).

When I described my symptoms at the Cycle 10 appointment, I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be doing Chemotherapy that day. Too many symptoms, too much break down, no week of balance in Cycle 9.

But I did not understand that this is “normal.” The further we go, the tougher it gets. The “quality versus quantity” equation is tested. Quality is observation. It was a week of harder, and a week of easier, and now there is no respite. Can consciousness bring awareness away from the deepest hardships? Do I have the ability to override the pain, to manage it with my mind and spirit? Can I forgive myself for crashing, for crying, for experiencing the depths of this process? Can I just be with it, flow with it?

woman with floral headdress lying on green leaf plants
Chemo Cycle eleven is like a woman in labor Photo by Ezekixl Akinnewu on Pexels.com

The chemotherapy is not a cure, but a postponement. In the ANRP appointment, she implied that I would go directly into the next cycle. I haven’t seen Dr. Wilfong for a while. He doesn’t work on Tuesday, the day of my infusions. I just noticed that they have automatically scheduled a session 13, 14, and 15.

I did not agree to this. I did say to Nyasha that I thought I might be able to do a couple more, if the advantage was tremendous. But no one has spoken to me about any of it. And my body is pretty down, with this one to finish (I am hooked to the at home pump until tomorrow), and then process. And then another. Where will I be?

When I was in labor with Nyasha, I told myself I could survive 24 hours. Babies are born in 24 hours (I thought), in fact that is a generous number. When we came to 23 1/2, I was doing a lot of desperate praying. It is likely that “transition” does that to most women. Nyasha was born at 23 hours, 45 minutes of labor, which when I think of reality, means the birthing process took the full 24. Did I create that? Poor manifestation. Go for 12. Not too short, stressing the body, but certainly long enough.

I’m in chemo labor. Twelve cycles. I have set myself up to make it through 12. I scheduled a trip to the ocean, a week and a half after infusion 12. To heal, to regroup. It is not flexible or refundable. It isn’t even optional.

“I am health.” I go out and garden. I take walks, shop, do the laundry, clean, live the normal stuff.
“I am joy.” I laugh, read, write, smile, share, inspire and am inspired.
“I am emergence.” I can watch my experiences, process, consider my body in separation and in communion with God. I am the eye of the storm. I am grateful.

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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