not done yet

A Smooth Sea

I’ve long trusted the universe and for the better part of my adult life, have been able to put stock in something bigger than myself. I think that’s why my cancer diagnosis never crippled me.

I have faith.

I I have faith that everything happens for a reason, and that even life’s biggest obstacles are put in our war to teach us priceless lessons.

A lot of heavy stuff had transpired in the last few months, and yet has worked out for the best. Our lease expired on May 15th, and though we scrambled to find a suitable housing situation for months, a great little opportunity eventually came through. There were personality issues for me at the studio, which were eventually abated and morphed into a managerial promotion. We were forced to put the land we purchase just prior to my cancer diagnosis back on the market, and it sold. Private lenders were paid back. After 18 round of chemotherapy, mostly in Boston, my oncologist gave me permission to do the remaining 13 infusions locally – saving my hundreds of dollars and countless hours of travel time. Things were looking up…

So… how sad was I yesterday, when shortly after the needle was extracted from my arm, my old friend nausea showed up knocking on my door. Dizzy, exhausted, and no– not yet done with treatment, despite the fact that it’s been 15 months and the story seems like it should have come to some conclusion long ago – these side-effects shocked me. Me, the newly Cancer-Free Caitlin. And they were, excuse my french, super fucking disappointing.

I don’t know why I thought that somehow this time things were going to be different… As if all the empirical data I’ve collected over the last 3 dozen treatments would somehow support a different conclusion… But maybe it was because I had been averaging 16 miles a day on my bike every day for the last week or because I had just completed a stand up paddle yoga teacher training last weekend. Or maybe it was because, in my rush to finish this chapter of my life, I’ve decided to open up a new business, and bring a 10 week old puppy into our family. But somewhere along the way, I feel into a little denial pothole, and apparently I forgot just how yuckie  the chemo would make me feel

I got home from the hospital and balled my eyes out.

I’m so close to being done with chemo: with Herceptin, and yet some days – like yesterday – it feels like these last few weeks will never end. Don’t get me wrong, I am sooooooooo grateful for my treatment. I am so grateful for each of the three chemotherapy drugs i’ve been on, and especially for this last one, which for my specific kind of breast cancer, is the real power punch: blocking my cancer from binding with the protein in my body it’s specifically attracted to. But common Cancer Sisters, let’s just admit it: treatment is HARD! and it’s okay to feel resentful, tired, angry, sad, vulnerable and weak at times. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself…

You can be full of grace and gratitude and still have rough days. Fuck that, you can have a rough WEEK if you want!

Anyway… I know many people think I’m done with treatment (and that’s kind of hard too), but I’m not. I’m almost done, but not quite yet. I have 2 more infusion to go: June 25th and finally July 16th. And you can bet that I will be taking full advantage of social media that day to Tweet about it, post it on FaceBook, take all kind of ridiculous chemoAsanas for my Instagram account, and celebrate the my way through the halls of the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. I want crazy dance music in the infusion ward and a big bouquet of flowers for my chemo nurse, Gretchen. I want to crack open a big bottle of Veuve and dance all over the place.

Then I’ll go home and sleep for 2 days….

Infusing: May 29th, 2014

Infusing: May 29th, 2014

ChemoAsana: my pre-treatment yoga cancer rally.

The Cancer Diaries: June 26th, 2013

What the hell is a ChemoAsana? You might be asking… 

che•mo asa•na (noun) ˈä-sə-nə

: the use of yogic arts to uplift the body’s assimilation of chemical agents in the treatment or control of disease (as cancer)

First Known Use: circa 2013, Nantucket, MA.

 

As those of you who have been following me since I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in March already know, I’ve developed a little pre-chemotherapy routine that helps me to feel empowered. This ritual includes packing up my chemo bag the night before (statues of Ganesh and Nataraj, Bose earphones, iPad, eye pillow, thank you cards to be written, and my son’s blankie) getting to the hospital extra early the morning of my treatment for my blood draw, and then taking a 75 minute yoga at my studio. The ritual continues with a stop at The Green (smoothie, green juice, shot of wheatgrass) on my way to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital and ends with getting hooked up to IV fluids and doing my ChemoAsana.

As of today, I have completed 14 infusions of Taxol and Herceptin, and I have the 14 ChemoAsana photos to prove it. Now I get to kick back and let the chemicals work their cumulative mojo while focusing on building my blood back up and preparing my body for surgery.

To celebrate I thought it would be fun to revisit all the ChemoAsana photos my friends and I taken over the past 3 months. The first two are hardly asanas at all, but as the chemotherapy progresses the poses get more complex. Looking back on the past three months, it seems that the days I felt the most out of control I would harness whatever power I could muster from my yoga asana.

Now more than ever I believe in the power of yoga to heal. I have my very own, first hand empirical data forever charted in my medical history; proof that yoga boosts your white blood cells, platelets and my personal favorite; the ANC, absolute neutrophil count.

Call me crazy but I attribute my son Griffin’s 2 hour natural childbirth AND the way my body has held up over these last 14 infusions of highly toxic chemicals. “Om F-ing Om” sisters and brothers!

ChemoAsana

Below is a compilation of all the pre-Taxol ChemoAsana I’ve done since the end of March. Some of them much more ridiculous than others.

1. Enter the Dragon

March 28th, 2013. Mass General Hospital
ChemoAsana: a first infusion. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

Awaiting my first infusion: March 28th, 2013

 2. Maskasana

April 4th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana #2: April 4th, 2013

ChemoAsana #2: April 4th, 2013

 

3.Pincha Mayurasana

April 10th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #3: April 10th, 2013

 

 4. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

April 17th, 2013. Mass General Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #4: April 17th, 2013

 

5. Anjaneyasana

April 25th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #5: April 25th, 2013

 

 6. Natarajasana

May 2nd, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #6: May 2nd, 2013

 

 7. Leg Behind the Head Pose

May 8th, 2013. Mass General Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #7:May 8th, 2013

8. Hanumanasana

May 15th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #8: May 15th, 2013

 

9. Inverted Chemoasana

May 22nd, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana: a first infusion. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #9: May 22nd 2013

10. Adho Mukha Vrikshasana, straddle variation

May 29th, 2013. Mass General Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #10: May 29th, 2013

 

11. Dragon Fly Pose

June 5th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
 
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #11: June 5th, 2013

12. Upavistha Konachemochairasana

June 12th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #12: June 12th, 2013

 

 

13. Flying Lover’s Padmasana (bonus #1)

June 20th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #13: June 20th, 2013

14. Group Loveasana (bonus infusion #2)

June 26th, 2013. Nantucket Cottage Hospital
ChemoAsana. Breast Cancer Jedi, Caitlin Marcoux

ChemoAsana #14: my final infusion of Taxol – a drug that made me absolutely sick as a dog.

 Sometimes pictures tell the best stories.

As I end my dialogue with Taxol and move phase two of my treatment (mastectomy and reconstruction) I do so feeling fully supported and cared for: nurtured by my practice and supported by my community. I have professed my love of yoga hundreds maybe thousands of times and I’ve said that I love Nantucket at least as many times. I’ve lived in NYC, Paris, Ireland, and Chicago, (and I’ve practiced yoga in everyone of those places) and yet I cannot imagine a better home than here.

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