Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cheery O's in my cereal

Cheery O's in my cereal! Each one a thought floating around representing my furtive brain this morning. Must be the wind in the trees or the "pre-meds" that spin me!  I love the rustle and sway of the trees up so high. This breeze blows out the heat of yesterday. It feels like a perfect early summer day with sweet grass smells, the clicking sounds of cardinals and bright spots of colored flowers bobbing in the garden. How can this not be Eden?

My biology is not quite so picturesque, more tempest than tempret for the moment. I just keep remembering that "this too shall pass". The countdown to the end of chemo continues. After today's session only 2 more sessions of the drugs that poison. In the chemo room, when a patient is on their last day, you ring a bell. I want that bell to be Big Ben. i'll be ringing that thing so hard for all the world to hear!

Today though I want to try to tell you of the amazing women that help me, love me and lift me up. I'm quite sure the others will not mind my going on about two of them. Charlene and Helenm.

Charlene has been my sister through all of these months of trial. She has seen me at my worst, at my most vulnerable and scared and has not flinched. She has nursed me and cooked and cleaned for me. Been with me hours in the chemo room. She has given to me a calmness and constancy that I could rest in, cementing our relationship into the strongest ties of sisterhood. Not that we weren't already close for all the ladder and scaffold dancing we'd done over the years. This wasn't about work, this was just us dealing with new circumstances together. She also gave to my husband the freedom to carry on at work and not have to divide his heart between taking care of me and being away from me!

Charlene's sidekick, Helen Miller, " Helenm" orbits me as a friend through Charlene. She too, over the months has showered me with gifts of support in the form of flowers, cards and supplies for dealing with chemo. Even when I didn't want to be receiving the "chemo kit" I later understood it's necessity and meaning and loved her for it.

Helenm (Helen Miller) is proprietress of "Flowers & Such" florist in Adrian, MI. A talented designer, Helenm, like Charlene has become my art benefactor, purchasing some of my artwork. Recently though she was sneaky in leaving me a monetary gift after visiting. I can handle the sale of paintings as a means to earn my keep while I'm recuperating but it's so emotionally difficult to know how to feel when these women give me so much and then give me more by way of funding? I am so grateful for their help but always feel I should be painting something for it!

I illustrate my love and appreciation of these women certainly not to slight my other most loving women friends but because I want to tell of another woman I met recently that came at me in such stark contrast to these woman.

I met her at a party. She's a very beautiful woman of near my age. She misunderstood at first thinking my cancer was in my breasts. It took a minute to correct her. When the light of cognition reached her face she was horror stricken. I was so surprised by her reaction. Immediately she declared that having ovarian cancer was a death sentence. My immediate reaction was to want to shake her by the shoulders and scream NO! I found myself campaigning to her that, of course it wasn't an automatic death sentence. Her experience of it being so was in having lost her mum to ovarian cancer at 60. She was also very afraid that she would have it as well. It's one of those damndable things we all perceive that if our mum's have cancer we shall go the way of our mums. But that ain't necessarily so as the song goes! It felt like her fear could be the very thing to bring it on. She was so convinced of it just as I am so convinced otherwise. And there we were!

Later it came to me that most people are either sympathetic to the pitiful about the news of cancer or are really good at being caretakers and looking you in the eye and then there are women like this. I find myself consoling them to prove that while we're breathing in and out, while we're thinking and feeling and living there is no death, only determination to carry on!

I know in some way I scared that woman but I hope I scared her to know that there are no forgone conclusions in life!  Just try and follow those cheerful O's floating in the bowl. Who can predict where they will go!?


  1. Kate is the strongest person I know. She may have her down days but dammit, this spirit of her's has no bounds ! I stand in awe of her determination to go beyond mere "cancer" and sore above the clouds of her huge imagination!
    This one truly has humbled me Kate....

  2. Everyone needs a Charlene and a Helenm. I am so glad you have them Kate! Thanks ladies, for being such an amazing source of joy and help for Kate.

    Always in my prayers and I agree with your take on the survival thing. There isn't a question in my mind. The Heavens would have a hard time containing you anyway ;)