Finding Peace on the Tightrope


It’s been a quiet week on Harold Street. I re-started standard of care chemo last Wednesday and after my steroidal protections wore off, I retreated to bed. I felt lousy and exhausted. Sitting up for ten minutes seemed an accomplishment. My extreme response surprises me since the treatment, Gemzar and Avistan, is pretty light in the world of chemo options.

Am I so weak as I continue to stabilize from my January/February deterioration that I can no longer tolerate chemo? Or after five years of heavy treatment is my body just declaring its limits? I have chemo again this Wednesday, my birthday.

I feel unsteadily perched on a tight rope – on one side is the land of advanced terminal cancer, where I have learned to live well, on the other side is end stage cancer, which I have tried so hard to avoid.  images

But aren’t we all on some type on tightrope? And how much control do we truly have?

With love, marcy  images

“Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” – Susan Sontag


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.

31 responses »

  1. Dear, dear Marcy — I’ll be holding you in my heart on your birthday, and onward. Celebrating your birthday with another round of chemo surely sucks, but reaching yet another one is a triumph. Take care of yourself the best way you know how and always remember that you are cherished.

  2. Dear Marcy, Thank you for your updates……and I love your insight into this journey…….you are so good at expressing yourself. You are a Teal Sister Warrier that I admire greatly. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers always!

  3. Amazing that you are able to write your blog given how exhausted these treatments have left you! Blessings on your birthday and hopes for many more. xoxo

  4. I had chemo on my bday this year and decided that it was cause for celebration that I was still alive and able to take the chemo. I’ll be thinking of you on your bday and celebrating that you, too, are alive and able to take chemo that will knock that cancer back. Your body may be weak right now but your fighting spirit is strong!

  5. Kind and generous Marcy, I’m thankful for your words because they show me you’re fighting with everything in you. Chemo on your birthday? I will consider that a present of life for you. Big, big hugs. Carol

  6. Birthday greetings, brave woman! Miss you and think about you all the time. Sending healing thoughts and love for your birthday, love!

  7. It is, indeed, a tightrope. We are your balance bar. Surround yourself (even visually, I have) in your bed with thoughts and images of all who are witnessing and accompanying. We are all just a nano-second away from slipping into the illness/death country. Thank you, as always, for your generosity (could a disability agency help you get a voice/keyboard translator?)

  8. Happy Birthday – each one is one to celebrate YOU! And you are remarkable, your balancing act may be more difficult, but you also have more practice under your belt. And never fear – wherever you land, you will be caught by those who love you and know you best….nobody is running out of the way.

  9. Marcy, you are always in our thoughts and I hope you are picking up on those positive vibes so you can rest and re-energize as you go through your next round of treatment.

  10. Thanks so much for keeping us in your loop! I think you’re well balanced and manage the tight rope admirably. May your birthday be as a blessing as you experience all the deep love that envelopes you! Your willingness to light up your path is a definite gift to me! Hugs, Sylvia

  11. Here’s to celebrating another birthday, even if it’s spent with chemo treatment. Better than the alternative of the other side of your tightrope. Thinking of you always and sending good thoughts your way.

  12. Maybe they can give you extra steroids- a few days worth anyway….
    And yes, it sucks and yes, I am so very glad you’ve made it one more time around.
    Holding you in the light, Dear Heart.

  13. | | | |

    | | | Dear Marcy,BIRTHDAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! blessings from me and the famous 3 sock monkeys Sending love + light,Lily |

    | | | |


    | | | Stationery, a Yahoo Mail and Paperless Post collaboration |


    From: livingly dying To: Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 9:57 AM Subject: [New post] Enduring the Tightrope #yiv0025459098 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0025459098 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0025459098 a.yiv0025459098primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0025459098 a.yiv0025459098primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0025459098 a.yiv0025459098primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0025459098 a.yiv0025459098primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0025459098 | marcy westerling posted: “It’s been a quiet week on Harold Street. I re-started standard of care chemo last Wednesday and after my steroidal protections wore off, I retreated to bed. I felt lousy and exhausted. Sitting up for ten minutes seemed an accomplishment. My extreme respon” | |

  14. I think having chemo on your birthday will most surely increase its potency and improve its aim. I’m so glad you were born sister Aries.

  15. I send along with all the well and positive and warrior wishes that you have the balance of all options including not feeling like you have to push your body forward if that is what you are feeling in the moment

  16. Thanks for the tightrope images. I’m incorporating them into my Marcy Birthday Dance along with an Infusion Toast. To Life and Light and Love and You, carol

  17. Dear Marcy, It’s sad to hear that you are feeling so week, but great to hear that you are going to have another birthday. Take care good friend and have a piece of cake and a big hearty laugh to celebrate your life.

    Judy and Linda

  18. Marcy, Happy Birthday cabin-mate, you made it again beating all odds. Thanks for your continued dedication, no matter how weak you are, to these posts. The ever-present tightrope you/we walk only allows for a few slips and sometimes we are susceptible to elements beyond our control. Love you.

  19. You continue to inspire me thru my journey with debilitating disease. Best wishes for your birthday even if there are other places you’d rather spend it. Xxx

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