I have been this week with the effects of treatment. For the most part, I think it wasn't that bad but when I read these words of Alicia, I try and remember back. I remember that at times I felt that Drano had been poured down my throat. How am I affected by that now? I want to put it all to rest but I think some of the trauma may still be there.
After I started chemo on Jan. 26 in an attempt to stop the growth of cancer in my lungs and hip, I knew I didn't want to write a piece chronicling the experience. Everyone knows chemo can be awful.
The difference was that no one expected my chemo experience to be awful. It was one of the "better" chemos, all the doctors and nurses said, and I shouldn't have much nausea or vomiting.
So they were humble and guilt-ridden when I told them I had spent 48 hours bedridden -- not a moment up even to go to the bathroom -- because my head and stomach were swimming with nausea.
I was so sick, so surprisingly sick, that Sally, my surrogate mother in Concord, was concerned she wouldn't be able to take care of me. She asked me to move to the Roseville area, where I'd grown up, to stay with the family of a friend, Kate, while receiving extra support from my dad, my church and other friends' parents. After being blindsided by the nausea and finding myself in critical need of support, I felt an internal push to organize my team: a group of people willing and prepared to step in and share the burden of helping me.
I read her words. My experience wasn't that bad, but does saying that not honor what my experience was. Have I tried to joke about what happened, to say that others, and there are many others, are much worst off than I? Our first editor asked why I would write about something so horrible and I felt somehow it wasn't that horrible, that it was beautiful, that I was writing about all the love and care, but maybe there is a horror in there that I have not yet been able to fully feel.
My brother almost died from Lyme disease and wrote to me today about how that felt to him. That was probably four years ago now. Does it take time to "feel," to integrate? Have I had time this week to take more of last year in? Jane has requested I not work on the book this week. She is wanting to find her way into it as it exists now so I have had some "spare" time and I think that is good. I needed it.
I am opening and gaining movement back. I am learning new ways to gather, move, respond and I am fragile and vulnerable. I stand perhaps as a weakened member of my tribe and I hope in that recognition that I am also strength, perhaps even guide.