Life in First Remission


I apologize for being so quiet but settling into a new house, new routines and submitting a new work proposal have kept me busy. Today marks the 6-month anniversary for being diagnosed. And I could barely care.

I wish I didn’t have metastasized cancer but if I do, so be it. I have more fun things to pay attention to. (Not that understanding this disease is not fascinating.)

I wont deny staying sobered by what comes next and when. I am scared for my early November tests and appointments that look back inside for the first time since early May and might see more than I am ready for. I still can’t face the grief of looking back at what precious parts of our lives we have given up. But all in all, me having stage iv ovarian cancer just is. Whatever.

The new house is lovely and serene. My new neighborhood reminds me of Scappoose. I am loving being able to bike and walk everywhere and soon plan to master the bus system. And while I may not be ready to look backwards, I love bringing my old life forwards as I construct a new phase of life.

In the next little bit I make three treks to Seattle. First to pick up an award (thank you, Social Justice Fund then to attend a multi- day research symposium on Ovarian Cancer, and then return for my long awaited second opinion.

Being off chemo is wonderful. I even have a cap of fresh hair sprouting. Since the blond whisps of hair on the pale scalp stay hard to see, I am fast to grab people’s hands and make them feel that yes, I have hair! Strangers beware.

I feel fine most of the time. I wish I were less bloated with fewer gastro-intestinal upsets and the surgical spots rebelled less when I am active, but nothing really limits me. I am so grateful for the pink flowers that just popped out on our camellia bush on the 20th of October, and the blue sky and the surprise packages that arrive in the mail. I love having the time to enjoy life. I feel very much alive.

And that brings me to you. Statistically, I should die in the next five years but I am hopeful for my own story being extended. Why? Community and love – even studies show how community and love changes dire outcomes. And I feel the love and live the community and it makes me feel ready for whatever happens today or tomorrow. Thank you making that so potent.

Much love, marcy


About marcy westerling

I am a long time community organizer with a passion for justice and founded the Rural Organizing Project in 1992. Derailed by a Stage IV Ovarian Cancer diagnosis in spring 2010, I have stayed in treatment since then. I am learning how to embrace livingly dying and hope that by starting a Phase One immunology clinical trial at UPenn in spring of 2013 I will have more time to find the sweet spots of thriving while terminally ill.

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