Facing Chemo – A Personal Perspective


I was asked to write the below this week. Done, I am now attacking my work space, an intimidating task as I hoard EVERYTHING just in case it could be used in a future project. I want clean. I want work surfaces. But my evil twin brings home every tossed aside item I come across. This cleaning of the art space is a soulful negotiation between my two selves.

beloved clutter

beloved clutter

So rather than write a new blog post, I share what I just wrote for something else, hoping it just might serve a purpose here.

Spilling out on to the floor!

Spilling out on to the floor!

warmly, marcy

Chemo: How I Faced It, Tips I Might Share – A Personal Perspective

A photo documents me beaming out as the very first chemo drip started. My long hair, a source of life long pride, was having a good hair day. A table was laden with healthy foods and drink. I look strong and hopeful. The truth is moments later I asked everyone to leave, turned off the lights and I lay there crying the slow, quiet tears of defeat that seemed to befit a younger stage IV ovarian cancer patient.

My six frontline chemotherapies were pretty standard. No real crises outside of the ongoing saga to find a willing vein. Oh, to have had the starting wisdom of a port! Eventually I got “plugged in”, infused and left, counting off one more chemo treatment until they were done, as was all my bodily hair, and I walked out to build a life in remission.

I approached frontline chemo as an endurance test. I rigorously took notes and followed them attentively. I started a “blackout period” free of all supplements and green tea the day prior to each infusion that lasted for the two days after infusion. A support team coordinated having food available and people to look in the days I would feel the sickliest. The days, in fact, when the last thing I wanted were visitors. They were assigned to bring a book and leave me be, that is if I didn’t head them off before arrival with assurances of just how fine I was. Compared to the horror stories of imagined chemo, I had more good days then bad albeit always weary in a newfound way. I walked every day. I ate well. I enrolled in a local clinic for immune deficient people that offered weekly treatments of acupuncture, shiatsu (Chinese massage), and access to a cancer-trained naturopath who assigned supplements that my Western team of medical experts then approved me to take. East met West courtesy of my body.

I was recovering from surgeries to my chest and abdomen and the news that I had one of the worst cancer diagnosis imaginable. Shock, grief and a raw primal fear I had never before experienced were daily components of my initial reality. The routines of chemo survival helped me by being concrete.

My husband and I moved in with friends in the city when it was obvious I faced a huge medical phase. This decision allowed us to under-function initially as friends took over being the competent leads. They told us what to do when. This allowed us space for walking through our emotions. Living with friends infused such a sober period with joy, love and laughter. I don’t know how we would have handled this same crisis at our beloved home in the woods but I suspect the increased isolation would not have served us well.

Four years later, I am a chemo pro. My port is a dear friend and I have different tactics for the different chemo regimes offered up. My life is good; I look healthy and bike or walk everywhere. I feel strong and hopeful most of the time. I have pride in a new head of hair even if shorter.


10 responses »

  1. Once again, thank you for sharing this saga. Your news keeps me closer to you as I share, at least in words, what you are enduring. You are a beacon of light in the dark world of cancer that so many of my friends now seem to be sharing with you. Love and hugs.

  2. Wow Marcy. You never cease to amaze me with your wisdom and grace. You are indeed a beacon of light in the dark world of cancer as Penny stated. Hugs and honks.

  3. I got my port right after my first chemo. There weren’t any problems with the infusion, but my vein turned purpleish and hurt. That was all it took. It was several weeks before the purpleness and the soreness went away. Yay for ports!

    You must have some awesome friends to help as they did.

  4. My father did eastern medicine as well during the entire time he was sick. I know it made a difference while he was still working against it, and, as the end drew near, the eastern medicine gave him much needed peace of mind. I will always be grateful that my father had access to the best in both eastern and western medicine.

  5. Thank you Marcy for the gift of witnessing your experience. You two were so fortunate to have good friends that would take care of you at such an emotional and sensitive time. I’m glad you got the port. I kept mine in for years after I was done with chemo. I was very superstitious! Ports are wonderful.

  6. Dear Marcy, is it possible? You and I have the same evil twin!!! I shall attempt to follow your cleaning of the space spiritual exercise… as soon as I find room to negotiate. thanks for sharing and for the chuckle of recognition. So good to hear your voice. love and a hug, c

  7. Marcy ~ I am now almost 72 years old. I have actually almost faced the fact that I don’t have enough years left to use all the “stuff” I have been saving. I don’t even have enough time to look at all the books, let alone read them (again). I empathize with your dilemma. Stay well in the light. 🙂

  8. So inspiring, Marcy. It makes me happy to picture you riding your bike and feeling healthy. Perhaps it makes me feel less guilty somehow for my own good health. My my, we all certainly do have our issues, don’t we? Sending love!!

  9. Marcy, I am always overwhelmed with how elegantly you express yourself and what is going on in your life, I do share your comments with a dear friend of mine who is a survivor of many years ago from her cancer. She endures long-term after affects from the cancer but she’s a survivor and so are you.

    Here I am whining to my family about an upcoming eye surgery but it’s a piece of cake compared to what you and your loved ones have been through the past years. Keep the faith…you are a WINNER with a great husband by your side along with other family and friends.

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