Friday, September 6, 2013

A Change In The Light

The light of the sun has shifted ever so slightly, so that the color of the light is more glowing, more mellow, more flattering to the landscape on the whole.  The golden days of autumn are fast approaching, with their fiery leaves and glorious cool mornings rapidly bearing down on the last remnants of summer.

There are most likely a number of hot "dog days" left, but you can feel the crispness of autumn in the air this morning.

Lately, the constant shift and tug of time, pulling me swiftly, swiftly forward, has been a far more conscious experience even as I far too often feel like I am standing outside of the swirling chaos, looking inward from some place far away from myself.  The ever-present hum of daily cancer treatments, the whirring and buzzing of the radiation equipment and the feel of being trapped in a constant arcade game as it zaps my cells, day in and day out, does not lend itself to a feeling of reality.

It is a surreal way to live one's life, five days a week.  Week after week after week, coming so quickly on the heels of the flat out exhaustion of chemo that I have barely had any chance of catching my breath.

I am at the halfway point of the radiation, and beginning to see a shift in the light at the end of this treatment tunnel.  But what that means going forward, I have no idea.  There will be more scans, more tests, and several years of tamoxifen or something similar to come.

This morning, though, as I sit here in our sunroom bathed in the glorious golden-hued autumnal sunlight, my world feels ever so slightly like a bit less of a slog.

Which is a desperately needed balm on a bit of a wounded perspective from all of this.  Looking on the bright side, indeed.

This morning, tired and in a 'haven't had my coffee yet" fog, I drove The Peanut to school without first remembering to throw on my headscarf to cover up the bald.  Had to laugh at myself -- it is the first time that has happened, and I didn't even realize it until we were already halfway to the turn-off to school.  My "nubbins" (as we call my stubbly little hair bits) are coming back in quickly, but not quickly enough to be seen while I'm driving a car.

Hopefully, I didn't give anyone a shock with my head glinting in the morning sun.  If so, my apologies.  I try to be careful not to do that around the tiny kiddos at school who are sensitive to big changes, but the whole thing ended up giving me a big laugh at myself.

At this point, any change in that perception is a good thing because the day to day grind has begun to wear me down.  It is as though the entirety of my life has been ground fine between the heavy wheels of a grist mill, pounded and sifted fine until only the smallest of grains is left for examination: hard to see and even harder to figure out as a piece of the whole.

It has been a wearying trudge thus far, and one that has tested my ability to sustain a cheery countenance in the last few days.

It is funny how in the throes of the worst of chemo, I could keep looking forward precisely because there was so much further to go, so much more to get through with as stiff an upper lip as I could manage under some pretty uncomfortable circumstances.  Now, though, as I approach an ending to the worst of this, it gets harder to keep up, as though the weariness has infested not just my legs but my will which used to be ever so strong.  We've reached the point where my skin within the treatment zone has begun to be unhappy, but there is nothing for it but to grit my teeth and keep going forward through whatever is to come.

If ever an infusion of positivity were possible, I would take it in a heartbeat today.

The truth is that the prognosis is really good, that my doctors are very happy with how things are going for me at this point, and that every test and scan thus far has been right where they wanted it to be.  The trick is getting through the rest of this with some measure of my inner self intact, and not get crushed under the weight of the constant thrum, thrum, thrum of whatever comes next in yet another treatment or test.

Because it never, ever ends.  Or at least it feels that way at the moment because I can't seem to get to the finish line fast enough.

But the finish line will eventually come, even if it isn't quick enough for my impatient heart.  And when it does, when my will and my perspective has been completely broken down and reassembled by all of this morass, where will I find myself?  Who will I be -- who do I want to be -- after rebuilding all these pieces again?

Guess that is something I ought to begin to ponder.

(Gorgeous photo of fallen leaves via Anthony Kelly.  Love the feel, the perspective and the clarity of this shot!)


Jim Clausen said...

Hey Redd,

Hang in there and know that there are alot of friends who care for you as well.

My "peanut "is 10 and loving 4th grade and is the light of my life. I know your Peanut is as well.

Take care and know how much we all care.

Jim Clausen

Susan McIntosh said...

Dear Christy,

"A marathon, not a sprint" - You can do this. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat; love the little one and Mr. S. That and a few more doctors visits, are all you need to do. Truly.

Figuring out the big picture, who you are, will all come with time. There is no hurry. I hope you are letting other people help with things they can do, so that you can rest.

Maybe it would help to think of one week at a time, one day is better. what do you need to do this week, a true minimum? Kiss child, brush teeth, get horizontal and rest.

You have an enormous fan club out here praying for you. Lots of love and gentle hugs,

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Jim -- Thanks much for the virtual support. Our Peanut is in the 5th grade this year, and still very much loving school and reading -- it is seriously awesome to be a parent in our house, too. :)

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Susan, you are such a sweetie. Came home from picking The Peanut up from school to find Mr. ReddHedd vacuuming the downstairs and then loading the dishwasher-- so, yes, I do have a wonderful support network in my own house. What's the song that Dory sings in Finding Nemo? Just keep swimming...which, as you already know about me, I will continue to do.

Hugs to you, too. Hope all is peachy with you. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm seven weeks from my last chemo, and my hair has ever so slowly passed the 'nubbins' phase - I've got just enough to colour in where it's supposed to go, just not really enough to call proper 'hair.' Just fyi - and it's a personal choice for everyone - by the end of my chemo I was sick to death of wigs (hot, scratchy, don't look like ME) and scarves (cancer head), hats (cancer head), beanies (cancer head - some things you can hide but never hide.) I wasn't fooling anyone. Also, I pretty much looked like death on a hot plate, scarf or no scarf.

I too left the house without a scarf a couple weeks back, realized and thought 'tough, I've had enough,' and went with Naked Cancer Head, chin up and face the world as is. Instead of the usual pitying sympathy the scarves and hats elicit, mostly what I got was smiles and 'you go, girl!' I don't know why - but I much prefer the latter to the former. (Just had to remember the sunscreen, naked cancer head burns easily...)

My partner loves stroking the fuzz (it's not hair yet, my CAT has longer hair than I do!) like I'm some sort of weird plush toy. I had beautiful thick hair down to my waist six months ago. He says he likes me with short hair - I know he'd prefer the old me to the new me, but given a choice would prefer the me here to the me not. I'm so lucky to have a man who loves me that much, and I know it.

My last CT scan came back clear and latest CA-125 was 11, the lowest it's been since even before surgery. (not breast - endometrial Type II stage III with a squamous cell metastise to an ovary). That's all lovely news but those of us in this club know there's no test to tell the future - the only thing I can do now is wait. And wait. And hopefully wait a whole lot more...

Best of luck to you! It's a shitty club to belong to, but most of the members are excellent people...

Eileen Hanning said...


Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Even from far away, you have many folks who love you, walking along side.

We can't do any part of it for you, although I know you know there are many who would if we could, but we can be with you while you travel.

Your perspective, this close to the end of treatment, makes complete sense. Weariness, I think, is most indeed in order. My brother said to me once, "the night is darkest before the dawn."

I have so many friends who have been on this journey too, and have come out the other side. You will have a life again that isn't defined, daily, by cancer. You will get your life back, but you are right--you'll be different. Who could go through all of this and not be changed?

But that's ok. You'll still be you, and we'll still love you!

Just keep going, honey. Just keep on going! xoxo

robin andrea said...

Sometimes you just have to have your endorphins raised by love. Remembering all the good wishes and support sent from afar. It's all there, lifting you and helping you get to the other side of this. Sending every good thought and more to you.

Jill said...

In our house it's bladder cancer so my DH too is in the whir of radiation after having to stop chemo due to an unrelated and rare brain condition. Our journey has been shorter than yours, only six months, but once it starts, it's hard to remember the "before" time, isn't it?

Sending good thoughts to you and all dealing with the beast that is the Big C.

Elliott said...

Good morning Christy, hang in there - soon it will be a bad memory (which is easy for me to say)...

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Thanks everyone for all the supportive notes. After a better night's sleep last night, am feeling a lot more human today. It helps to have my weekend break from treatment, too, so that I can kind of re-center for the next round. This too shall pass, right?

Gorgeous day here. Am enjoying being home with my loving hubby and The Peanut and taking it easy for the day. If y'all were here, you could have some football Saturday gumbo with us. :)

Ed Walker said...

Christie, You write so beautifully about it I almost forget how miserable you must feel, and then along comes another sentence that shows your strength. I hope things continue to go well.