how to love a chair

Goddess pose

(photo: Larisa Forman)

16 months ago I invited you to join me on an adventure to CancerLand. Through my pieces on Rebelle Society and the more spontaneous posts here on my blog, I took you with me from the point of my initial diagnosis (terrifying), on a chemotherapy roller coaster ride (tenacious) and through my surgical recovery (triumphant). We’ve moved through the phases of my disease and healing process together as a tribe and I’ve tried not to pull any punches along the way. I’ve attempted to share my experience of cancer with you without embellishment, exaggeration or pretense. I’ve tried to be authentic: presenting my vulnerabilities when feeling weak, and my fortitude when feeling strong. Hopefully together we have demystified the big C at least a little, shed some light on chemotherapy, debunked mastectomy and embraced on the healing process.

I hope that through my writings, my FaceBook posts, and my Instagram pics, that you’ve seen just how resilient we humans are. Since I began attending the cancer support group at Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket, we have said good-bye to a number of extraordinary members. Each parting has been painful, scary and traumatic for those of us remaining. But my resolve, OUR resolve as a community to memorialize those who have departed by living the fullest lives we can live, and cherishing every single fucking moment, has grown with each grief-choked tear.

I can no better explain to you why some of us survive and others pass than you could reassure your 20-something year old daughter that after immense heartbreak, she will in time fall in love again. But here I am. And here we are. And I’m still writing. And you’re still reading. And we owe it to Jenny and Claudia, and my late husband Aaron, and everyone we’ve loved and lost to keep going.

We owe it to them to smile big, laugh lots, and love hard.

Now, as of July 16th, almost a year and a half after our disembarkation, I’ve finally  come home. I’m finished with treatment. The infusions are over. My time in the chemo chair is over. The trips to MGH are bi-annual and in just 9 days I will be able to say I am officially a year out from the removal of my tumor. 365 more days after that I will be 80% likely to side-step a reoccurrence.  Something will kill me eventually, but it won’t be cancer.

I’m sure I’ll write about my life as a cancer survivor in the months and years to come, but for today, I’d like to leave you with the following video. My heartfelt thanks to Lisa Frey for filming, and to all of you for watching.

###

(10 Practical Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer)

(Making the Breast Decision)

(Life After the Knife)

{How to Talk to Someone with Cancer)

(Let’s be Friends)

 

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

grief

Caitlin with cancer

I took a yoga class this morning and cried. I cried every time we came into a forward fold. I cried every time we opened our hips.I cried during cat & cow, child’s pose and even downward facing dog.

I cried for the last 8 months of treatments my family has endured. I cried for every needle stick, every blood test, every biopsy, injection and surgical procedure. I cried for every night spent writhing in pain on the couch, and every morning kneeling over the toilet. I cried for every time I was too tired to play with my son, or walk to the beach.

I cried  for the natural breasts I now miss; the ones I was born with, the ones I used to nurse my son.

I cried for the physical strength I once had, the endurance I’ve lost, and the muscle tissue that has atrophied.

I cried because plank is hard, chaturanga is impossible and cobra is painful. I cried because laying on my stomach pushes my implants into my chest and makes it hard for me to breathe. I cried because I’m not sure I like anything about these new appendages.

I cried because I’ve lost sensation in the skin across my chest. I cried because I cannot feel my nipples, and when my lover touches them I do not know.

I cried for all the days I have not recognized myself. I cried for the impermanence, the letting go and saying good-bye.

I cried for the medically-induced early menopause. I cried because I will never have another baby. I cried because last night I had my first true hot flash.

I cried because amputating a part of my body has been a big deal, though I have played it down.

I cried because for 8 months I’ve rarely let myself.

I cried because it was long overdue.

###

I am starting over with a new body. This body is softer and wiser. It has some big scars and a few little ones, and each one tells a powerful story. This body moves differently, expresses itself differently and even sits in silence differently. But as vulnerable as it may be, this body loves bigger, connects stronger, and is home to a depth of gratitude and appreciation I would never have found on my own in the time before cancer.

“When we become sick, we often take the illness personally and feel that our happiness is conditional upon getting ride of it. We forget that illness- along with aging and death- is a hallmark of our human existence, and we get angry at our bodies for “letting us down”. When we realize that illness is inescapable, realize that stress around illness increases our suffering, and that being sick is not a shortcoming – only than can we be at ease with, and even empowered by, illness.” ~ Jean Smith

May all we learn to hold ourselves sweetly, no matter where we are. May our commitment to practice compassion begin with compassion for our Selves. May we continue to show up, rise up and hold space for our own intrinsic value in sickness and in health.

Hot Rubber

This is an exercise. This process of writing. It stands in place where once physical exertion use to be. When in the time before cancer, I used to move my muscles and bones, now I push my mind to extract thoughts, words, descriptions. It makes me feel clearer, proactive, more engaged, and re-connected. I don’t write for sympathy, or  empathy even, but for the sweet relief that comes from a solid work-out. This mental treadmill temporarily pacifies my atrophied body, and so I continue…

~

MGH Cancer Center

It is a strange thing to be cancer free and still in treatment.

I am out of the woods. I am going to live. There is no more imminent threat. No more DEFCON 4.  No more evidence of disease. So in many respects I should be elated, overjoyed, or in the very least, relieved.

And I am. Much of the time. But not always.

Sometimes I am clumsy with my feelings, and I trip myself up.

I want so badly to celebrate victory over my disease, to feel – really feel – in my cells that the danger has passed, and that I have come out on top, ahead, successful, triumphant. My heart aches to authenticate the alleviation I am meant to feel knowing I have won. I hunger to embody the gratitude my mind has embraced for surviving this ordeal, but my tummy is rejecting the solace of cancer vanquished.

So I feel guilty and disgraceful.

I have lost people to cancer; friends, relatives, a husband, and yet I am still here. Why? I know people living with Stage IV cancers who move through their lives with dignity and seem not to have a single ungrateful moment. Surely I am a bad person for indulging my trivial discomfort.

And yet my physical pain is real, and life still revolves around treatments, side-effects and medications. There are more trips to Boston, more Herceptin, Tamoxifen, early menopause, and come January,  more surgery.

I ping back and forth between feeling justified in my anxiety and feeling ashamed of my short-sightedness.

Chemo now has me in a bind, literally. My gut is twisting. My intestines cramping. My digestive system in revolt. I hunger for food, but  cannot eat. I am subsisting on peppermint tea. Candida, apparently unchecked by the probi0tics I take each morning, makes me emotional and itchy. Insomnia visits me nightly and hosts thoughts of unworthiness and insecurity. I feel isolated and crave constant companionship, reassurance that I am not alone. I am bloated in my abdomen and swollen in private places you cannot see beneath my clothes. I feel ugly and vulnerable.

Sunday night I gave myself a large second degree burn on my breast from falling asleep with a hot water bottle. I’ve lost sensation in parts of my chest, so I had no idea my skin was boiling beneath the hot rubber until dressing Monday morning. Obviously the burn didn’t cause me any pain, although you’d be hard pressed to believe that if you saw it, but there was something so sad to me about this self-inflicted injury, I burst into tears when I realized what I had done.

It dawned on me this morning while watching the sun rise over the Atlantic, that the psychic scaring I have suffered from cancer, while not a wound I will die from, is deep. There is no denying it, so I should probably stop trying.

I am going to be okay. I’m just not 100% okay yet.

Cancer survivors are just that, survivors. Implicit in this identity is the endurance of trauma: the trauma of breaking bad news to our loved ones,  of lying nearly naked on a cold CAT scan bed, the injustice of burning radioactive dye injected into sensitive places, bone scans, biopsies, disease staging, port implants, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, infertility, neurological, sexual and digestive disfunction. We’ve temporarily lost our old identities as athletic go-getters, given up control of our bodies to nurses, doctors and caregivers and have at times felt extremely, extremely powerless. Let’s stop being stoic and call a spade a spade; we’ve been through a lot.

So, perhaps, instead of beating ourselves up – as I have, we would do well to forgive ourselves if this trauma does not fade as quickly as our tumors may have. Holding ourselves with the tenderness we would extend to a dear friend, maybe it becomes more possible to create space for those who have departed while accepting we are still here. Teaching ourselves to be patient with the healing process, perhaps we gain more insight into the mechanisms of recovery.

 ###

{Let’s be friends}

How to Talk to Someone with Cancer

Originally published on RebelleSociety.com
May 15th, 2013

Bummer. Sounds like you have to talk to someone with cancer.

I’m so sorry – for you both! After all, it’s no easy task for either party. Going through this very thing myself, I’d like to help you out with a little cancer context, so that we can put your inevitable dialogue into your loved one’s perspective.

How to Talk to Someone with Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

Making the best of a bad day of tests at The MGH Cancer Center.

The thing about people living with cancer, is that we are a complicated bunch.

Our senses have been rubbed raw by diagnostic testing and medical evaluations. We’ve been graded, staged and given projected survival rates. We’ve seen the fragility of our lives held up before our own faces, and we come away from our treatments feeling vulnerable in a way we’ve never felt before. We cling to our independence, but know we’re dependent on others for healing and help.

We are emotionally taxed and psychically drained.

The very nature of our dis-ease has thrown us into a world off-balance. Not only are our bodies working over-time to halt the production of alien-like rapidly mutating cells, they are struggling to process the toxic poisons we voluntarily ingest to cure ourselves. The very treatments we implement to make us healthy, make us sick. We walk a fine, contradictory line on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Cancer survivors know better than most how fleeting life can be.

We live with a foreboding and heavy awareness of risk. We are almost painfully aware that each day we have is precious.While certainly there are many silver linings, we remember wistfully what our lives were like Before Cancer, before the silver linings needed to be pointed out. We navigate the remainder of our days knowing that we will never again feel the pre-cancerous freedom we may have taken for granted.

“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” ~ Helen Keller

We know it’s a tall order, and that our needs are inconsistent, but we really appreciate your patience as we figure out exactly what we need. We want you to be sympathetic, but we don’t want your pity. We want you to look us in the eye, but please don’t stare. We’d like it if you could meet us where we are, not judge us for where you think we should be. We want you to reassure us that we are capable and brave, but don’t blow smoke up our asses; being the authority on ourselves, we know we’ve looked better, felt better, or seemed more grounded.

We’d like it if you lent us a compliment or even two, but for heaven’s sake, please don’t go over board. Sure, Bald is Beautiful, but given the choice, most of us liked ourselves just fine with hair.

How can you love us? Let me count the ways.

We still want to be loved, and by that I mean made love to. Those of us withbreast cancer and facing mastectomy could be on the brink of loosing the very largest symbols of our sexuality and femininity. If in the face of buzz-kill cancer, we can muster up enough energy to jump in the sack, please do whatever you can to rise to the occasion.

We might complain all day long about not feeling pretty but at night we’d like to be pursued as if we were the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen. We might ask you to turn off the light, just go with the flow.

Shower us with empathy.

Shower us with Love. Talk to Someone with Cancer.

Compassion is a prized commodity amongst our kind. It’s better that chocolate, red wine, or our anti-nausea medication. A single empathetic commiseration that indeed things can suck may be more appreciated than any other grand gesture of affection you can bestow us. It’ll certainly go over better than the knee-jerk condolences you might be tempted to offer up.

The truth is, no matter how above it we may project ourselves to be, we are embarrassed by our vanity. Even those of us who walk a path spiritually devoted to cultivating an awareness deeper than the skin, know real and intense discomfort when our physical identity starts to fall apart.

We may attempt to take control of our hair loss by cutting it short, or shaving it off. We may throw ourselves a Boobvoyage party before a mastectomy or parade around with our newly bald head held high. BUT we are actively engaged in the most difficult task of accepting that we are completely and utterly out of control.

This week I’m grappling with something I find simply humiliating. As if it weren’t bad enough that my hair has fallen out only in patches, to add insult to injury I now have something called folliculitis, a bacterial infection of the hair follicles, not only on my scalp, but also in the soft downy follicles on my neck and all the way down the small of my back. It is nearly impossible to feel sexy when touching your own head gives you the heebie-jeebies.

For all the cancer patients out there who have experience this particular itchy, hot, and unflattering torture, I bow to you. It takes a formidable person to rock this particular look without tears. And to those of you, who like me, have wanted to hide far from society in the seclusion of your own homes, or in the very least under a hat, I feel you. I know the last thing in the world you want to hear is how beautiful you look, when you feel like shit.

Let’s get real.

We know that you know we are strong, but don’t you know we don’t always feel that way? Do you know how hard it is for us to be brave when our hair is falling out and our bones are itching? Do you know there are days we don’t feel graceful, moments we don’t act graceful and times we fail to live up to our own graceful expectations? It is hard for us to feel empowered with an icepack on our head and a heating pad on our knees, dry red eyes and a rashes lashed across our skin.

Sometimes we feel bad.

Post-chemo Prayers: How to Talk to Someone with Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

Praying at the Post-Chemo Alter. Summer 2013

We don’t envy you: those of you who run into us at the grocery store, or the coffee shop on one of our bad days. We know it’s awkward to hear us panicking on our cells phones with our mothers, or crying to our husbands. But please don’t walk away and pretend that you didn’t hear. Chances are in a moment like that, we need your help and we might be too proud to ask.

Forget attempting to offer up some gratitude platitude (we are more grateful for the chance to keep living than most), just give us a silent squeeze. One hand on the shoulder is worth a million well crafted aphorisms. Most likely, we will hug you back with all our strength; perceived or projected.

We want you to see us. To see our strength and our vulnerability. To feel our pain and to know the depths of our gratitude. Ask us sincerely how it is, and we will tell you the truth.

“There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; no disease that enough love will not heal; no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem…” ~ Emmet Fox

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when you talk to someone with cancer:

1. If you know about our disease, address it immediately. Chances are we already know you had dinner with a friend of a friend the night before last and they told you all about it, so get it off your chest. Waiting for us to tell you how we are puts us in the awkward role of feeling like we’re complaining; usually things could be better, but if you’re curious about how we feel, just ask.

2. If you’re not prepared for some detailed response to your inquiry, just don’t ask. We may need to vent about some gnarly side-effect, and most of them are kind of yuckie. Be prepared to listen. Your shoulder to cry on might be the biggest boon we get all day.

3. Please refrain, if possible, from telling us a story about your friends and relatives who died of cancer. Just like a pregnant women gearing up to deliver her baby, it’s important that we surround ourselves with stories of success not fatality. If you haven’t experienced cancer first hand it is normal to want to relate in any way possible, but for our sake think twice before sharing a story with a bad ending.

4. Unsolicited advice might be great, but it’s still unsolicited. You might just have the most miraculous outside-the-box alternative therapy that you’re dying to put to the test, but please, unless we’ve asked, soften your enthusiasm. No one takes their diagnosis more seriously than the patent themselves. Most cancer survivors I know have thought long and hard about their treatment plans. They’ve often consulted their nearest and dearest and have gotten a second and third opinion. And by the time we are in active treatment we have a pretty solid plan of attack in place.

5. Empathy, empathy, empathy. Plain and simple, cancer sucks. If anyone wants to talk about how it’s a gift, leave that to the patient to offer up.

6. Shower us with love. According to the mother of Western yoga, Judith Lasater, all emotions stem from the two most basic: Fear and Love. We, cancer patients, are confronting our fears in a full frontal attack. Showering us with love is like helping us stock up our arsenals and helps us prepare for battle.

7. Lighten Up. The more you can make us laugh, the better. This is not to say we don’t appreciate you taking our challenges seriously, but let’s face it, laughter is the best medicine. If you can find a way to make us giggle we will love you forever.

I am lucky enough to have some of the best and silliest girlfriends in the world. When three of them came to visit me last month we took over the infusion room at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. When Gretchen, my infusion nurse, slipped out to go to the lab, the girls promptly took over and we turned Cancerland into Clubland.

Here’s the video to prove it.

 

9. Touch us. Cancer is not contagious. We can’t give it to you. What we can give you is the chance to heal our aching hearts. Most of us just want to be held.

How to Talk to Someone with Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

The healing power of contact.

###

when fight and flight turn out the light

3:00am April 11th, 2013
Nantucket, MA.
Breast Cancer Day 26
 

Taxol/Herceptin

Like I said in my last post, there are good days and bad days. This is just as true in regular life as it is in life with cancer.

So I knew it wouldn’t be long before the adrenalin my body’s been using to fight and fly it’s way through the first couple of cancer weeks would eventually wear off. Adrenaline is an amazing chemical that helps us deal with difficult things, prepares us for battle, gets us juiced up to win the big race. It gives us a powerful boost of fast acting energy, enables us to run like the wind, and in my case, got me from exam table to operating table, bone scan to CT, biopsy to chemotherapy. I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself, I was too busy getting organized to save my life.

Over the last few weeks I’ve felt galvanized to attack my responsibilities with gusto. I’ve read the research, the this is your life with cancer books, created treatment plans and schedules, mapped out my calendar for the next 15 months, organized childcare and playdates, re-structured the medicine cabinet, organized the refrigerator, corresponded with countless friends, and plowed forward with work to the very best of my ability. I’m not bragging… I’m preparing you for the crash.

 office work in the MGH halls{Me: organizing my thoughts while awaiting a lymph needle biopsy}

Too much of a good thing is usually bad

Once you’ve won your race, passed the big interview, or absorbed the news without fainting, and bathed in your pool of epinephrin and nor-epinephrin, it’s time to get out. It’s not a good thing for anyone, to stay in a state of sympathetic nervous system overdrive. Too much cortisol; another neurotransmitter which is designed to act in harmony with adrenaline and perpetuate your state of fight or flight, will eventually cause damage to other parts of the body: things like

  • Exhaustion
  • Physical pain
  • Lack of concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Anger
  • Sleep problems
  • Aggression

Really? On top of having invasive ductal breast cancer, I was going to take on that list? No thanks…

So as it came a little closer to the time of my actual treatment I did my best to prepare myself to actually feel things, not sprint past them: fear, anger, resentment, shame, guilt, helplessness, and vulnerability, I let it all well up and come flooding out. I made  a pact with myself that I would allow myself to experience these things as they came up, sit with them, and then do my best to move through them.

So this is where the yoga, meditation, gratitude lists, thank-you notes and writing come in. I have absolutely no interest in becoming bosom buddies with cortisol, or any other part of chronic stress, or the PTSD they say many cancer patients cope with for the rest of their lives.

Have you ever been to a chemo session? The video below is of me, obviously before the recent haircut, getting my first infusion of Taxol and Herceptin (the two chemo drugs I’ll be taking until June 12th). It’s just raw footage, nothing very interesting… but if you’re curios, go ahead and watch. I won’t be offended if you don’t; it’s long.

 

Have a sense of humor.

It’s so true, having a sense of humor will take you far: way farther in fact than adrenalin, and without any side-effect.  Laugh at yourself wearing a stupid mask. Strike a gorilla yoga poses out in front of the hospital. Make a positive SPLASH in the murky, dreary often depressing world of deathcare, I mean healthcare.

Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn.  ~Irvin S. Cobb

my second chemo treatment{April 6th, 2013. Me: getting ready for infusion number 2}

Humor prevents one from becoming a tragic figure even though he/she is involved in tragic events.  ~E.T. “Cy” Eberhart

The truth is, I am very willing to be here and that makes it easier. I’m willing to sing out loud, probably off-key and to laugh at myself in spite of my fears. I’m willing to learn the most that I can from this crazy teacher named Cancer.

But just in case you thought I was playing this all too cool for school, I’, going to share one last (short I promise) video with you here. Maybe I’m the crazy one for sharing, but if my students are out there reading this, especially my Strong Girls, I want them to see that you can be fierce, loving and vulnerable all at the same time; that you can smile on the beach in the sunlight one day, and ball your eyes out the next – It’s all part of this amazing privilege we to enjoy as humans.

Don’t worry though – I’m laughing today 😉

Last thought for today..When life gives you lemons, make lemon aid! I hope anyone who has been affected by cancer will join me at the Yoga Room on Mondays, where I will be leading a FREE Yoga Therapy for Cancer Care class from 11-11:45am. You do not need to register, just drop in – just check the class schedule here, to make sure I’m not traveling for treatment that week.

Yoga Therapy for Cancer Care

Until next time, stay receptive.
Love,
C
 
 
turning tragedy up side down.

A great day to have cancer

Nantucket, MA.
April 8th, 2013
The campaign continues…
 

Dearest Friends,

So much love to all of you whom have continued to offer your support. I am continually humbled by the generosity of you all; near and far. I can honestly attest that only other time I have felt this level of deep primordial human connection and love was the day my son Griffin was born. It has been and continues to be  AWEsome.

Since my diagnosis on March 15th, I have had all kinds of tests and procedures, and am now comfortably navigating my treatment plan. To those of you who have sweetly offered up alternatives to the traditional Western medical approach, please know that your suggestions are appreciated, but that my family and I are fully committed to our current path. Please respect that our decision to seek treatment at Mass General Hospital is final (I say this with the utmost love and respect).

I have this amazing portal into my heart now, and I fully intend to use it.

portocath

Although it may surprise some of  you that I have embraced chemotherapy, I have complete faith that it is the right choice for me at this time. With the support of the Caitlin Marcoux Charitable Fund and donated services, I am thrilled to be able to  supplement my infusions with weekly Acupuncture  with Tammy Belanger,  bodywork with Casey Boukus and regular chiropractic care at Nantucket Family Chiropractic, with Dr. Mindy Levin. I have also begun practicing yoga with Sheri Perelman.

Most of you know I am an avid juicer already, and Jenny Bence has begun force feeding me a steady diet of wheat grass (read here to hear all about the benefits of this power-packed little plant). I am also pursuing colonic therapy, jin shin jyutsu, and Reiki.

So as you can see I am keeping myself tuned up and as in balance as I can be under the circumstances.

It is also my goal to begin each day with a big glass of alkalizing lemon water, 15 minutes of meditation,  a gratitude practice of some kind (journaling, thank-you note writing, and intention setting) and 20-60 minutes of gentle yoga. So far I’ve successfully done this the past three days in a row and hope to hold myself accountable for each remaining day of my treatment.

As I said in my Rebelle Society post last week, no man is an island, and neither am I. I don’t think so highly of myself that I cannot accept help. For me individual counseling has been an ongoing part of my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Now that I have cancer, I think it’s even more important. I’m also a big fan of couples’ therapy. So if I could write that piece again, I would add #11: Get a Therapist.

(incidentally, there will be a follow up to that Rebelle piece that will probably included several more tips, so if you have one you’d like to share please feel free to comment on this blog below).

In any event, the chemotherapy is going well. I already feel like my tumor shrinking, and I have less pain in my right breast. There have been side-effect of course, but so far I feel lucky that I’ve been able to work a little and there, and it has had less of an impact than I had anticipated.

I preemptively cut off all my hair at Darya’s Salon last Monday night, so don’t be too shocked when you see me all punked out and Billie Idol-like. I want to send out a HUGE shout-out to Darya Afshari for being an amazing source of support and sexy inspiration, and to my Cancer Ninjas:  Julie, Heather, Alison, Ariel, Emily, Megan, Patti, Tracy, Elisa, Kristen, Melissa and Siobhain for being there with me every cut of the way.

Haircutting Angles

 

I have good days and bad. I’m exhausted from the day I get my infusion (Day One) through day 3 or 4. On a good day, like today, I feel almost normal. On a bad day I have headaches, bone pain, joint pain, anxiety and lots and lots of bloody noses… but this I can take in stride, and it feels like little to sacrifice for the chance of living a long and beautiful life.

 

Until the next update…

Love & Light,

Caitlin