Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have signed up for an online writing tutorial through Sharon Bray, a writer and teacher at Berkeley, called Writing Through Cancer. Reminders to write, and gentle suggestions of restorative topics related to wellness. Incredible. Life is so full of these wonderful little surprises, like this course, and  the people who make those connections and enrich our lives. Thank you Simona for showing me this.

Wellness, and contemplating it, is nicer than bleak, and I feel I owe it to myself to focus on the positive, and leave as much of the bleak in my wake. Hard to do. Kind of like Mental Olympics. So, I try to write the bleak out of me, then focus on the positive. Last time I was able to write more during my chemo, this time not so much, and so as I lay there, I write in my head. I store images, snippets, and hope somewhere in there they stick, and that I will remember, and watch them emerge from the fog.

And my assigned task today:  Write about a ritual. Something that matters to me that I do often, and provides healing properties.

 What matters most about a healing ritual is that it is something that gives you the space or quiet to replenish yourspirit, a time to listen to what is in your heart and mind.

So, I write. Writing has become one of my rituals. I ask the children to give me my privacy, right there in the middle of the house. So far, so good. I do not want them to read this till they are at least 35.  It allows me to vent the vitriol, and then some, and then try to find a path through to the good. It is mentally soothing to type, even though it actually hurts - the repetitive strain injury I now possess and the trapped nerves from the mastectomy smart. Even so, it's better than not doing it.

For example, I wrote a post on Friday, and while the news from Dr Warr was excellent, he cannot even feel the liver - somehow, I was deep in a dark canyon, and felt myself clawing at its walls, and thus the post was bleak. [I did not post it live]. But I had to get it out of me, and onto the proverbial page. I think perhaps it might have been the palliative care discussion at the hospital - which per se, was not a bad, sad or even vaguely negative experience; in fact it proved very enlightening about what it really means - caring for the infirm, rather than just the dying part [which I firmly believe I am not]. Pain management, psychological care, and other types of help for family members who need it; comfort, really.

It was more the shock that at 43 I would even have to utter the word palliative. It conjures up images of bed-ridden  decrepit sick people, and the smell of pine sol and urine combined. Ok, am I wrong? I think not. However, reality was an incredibly compassionate nurse and doctor. Complete information package. And also, feelings of overwhelming helplessness and deep sadness at this new twist of fate.

That is why I was feeling bleak. That is why I write. My ritual - the written word as emotional exfoliation.

I need to embrace the chemotherapy as a cleansing, more than a poison, because it will save me. Yes, I can appreciate Weibo Ludwig's reticence to participate in the traditional treatments of cancer, but with respect, I am not 69, I am 43, and I am unwilling to take such risks. I have ways to out the poison, and release it to the universe.

This is one way to out the poison.

xo KO

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