Out of the Honeymoon and into the Fire

Who knew you could have a honeymoon phase with a diagnosis of cancer? Going with the parenting analogy, perhaps it’s a bit like having a baby. “Wow, we have a baby, this is new and different! Like Christmas every day! Oh, isn’t it cute (coral don’t cha know)?! Why won’t it stop crying? I haven’t slept in days, weeks, months. REALLY? Now I have to WORRY about this thing for the REST OF MY LIFE??” So, yeah, it’s a little like that minus the Christmas everyday (oh, wait, the prezzies…).

And I am only 2 chemos in? I keep picking up scrunchies, which I had not realized were laying all over my house, and almost putting my hair in a virtual ponytail. I continue to be shocked every time I look in the mirror. Food isn’t interesting which has NEVER happened to me before. And the other day Mo and Duff came to visit me after her chemo and during mine. She had just been to an IBC support group. Like me she had been measuring her days by the milestones of this cancer. Okay, first round of chemo down, start second round. Okay, date for surgery established, then onto radiation, and DONE! What she realized after attending the support group with IBC veterans is that you really are never done. So that would be the fire, never done.

N.B. I continue to be so thankful that I have Mo a few steps ahead of me, preparing me, all the while making me laugh. Her loss, my gain. The simple economics of cancer. Ugh.

Under the Heading of TMI

The first time I heard of the shock of a cancer patient finding one’s hair all over the pillow in the morning was when I was reading Gilda Radnor’s memoir while at the family house in Rindge, NH, 1989. That would be 30 years ago… (oh Gilda, you are still missed). Since then, it is has become a pretty common cancer trope, bizarre tho I am sure it is. It’s part of the reason I decided to shave my head and donate my hair: CONTROL in an uncontrollable situation.

What has not become a trope however is having your PUBES be the first victims of chemo! Oh no, no one ever put that out there for rumination… There you are taking a shower, massaging and exfoliating your scalp with Lizzie Boolukos’ 7 Flowers of Luxury Citrine Gems, and you reach down to give your nethers a little scrub et voila! handful of pubes! Okay, handful is a little strong but you get my drift. Woah! you say. Then you call your daughter and she tells you you have to share that on your blog b/c someone has to take the bull by the horns and let the people know!

Then a few days later you think, my legs are getting a little on the furry side, maybe I’ll take a long hot shower and shave. And you start with your armpits (I have never liked that term. A pit just has bad connotations and as we know some people just love them! I just looked up alternatives on thesaurus.com: axilla (oh yeah, way better.. not.. and which I already knew, being an old nurse and all) and oxter. Oxter?? Cool! Totes going with that). And you start with your oxters, as you do, et le voila! pas de cheveux! (no hair). Oxters the likes of babies’ bottoms!

Meanwhile, my hair continues to grow back on my head needing shaving every 4-5 days. Sheesh.


Let’s get philosophical, philosophical, I wanna get philosophical, let’s get into philosophy, Let me hear your mind talk, your mind talk, let me hear your mind talk…

about “non-dual knowing.” Ruh roh, where’s she going with this?

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar and author of spiritual contemplations (Jack turned me onto him, go figure), writes in his one of his emailed daily meditations about what most of us probably associate with Buddhism, the way of “being here now.” As we all know, this is a very important way of being when facing mortality (which we all are everyday anyway. Yes, I mean you).

The Naked Now

He writes, “Non-dual knowing is learning how to live satisfied in the naked now, which some called ‘the sacrament of the present moment.’ This consciousness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. (Wow, the words “naked now” cut right to the heart of how this cancer reality feels for me. Living satisfied in the naked now. Methinks I have some work to do…)


He continues, “To touch upon Reality requires a both/and synthesis rather than an either/or differentiation where we throw part of reality out (the part we don’t like). The non-dual mind is open to everything that comes its way. It does not even deny sin or evil. It is capable of listening to the other, to the body, to the heart, to all the senses. It begins with a radical yes to each moment and to all other people.” (Radical yes to IBC, hmmm, and some more work…)

If this is more than you signed up for feel free to skip down…

And from the website for musician Adam Rudolph’s CD “Both/And”: “As an idea, Both/And invites us to move beyond binary thinking. Dualities such as good/evil, us/them, male/female, …(dare I say no-cancer/cancer)…, and so on, limit us to a kind of disjunctive thought which can suffocate intuition and stifle imagination. Both/And implies what Carl Jung called “transcendent thinking” (you’re welcome David), which contains nuance, synthesis and the holding of (seeming) opposites. For example, Yin/Yang may at first appear as a simple duality, but upon deeper reflection is revealed to also be a kind of Both/And because each part contains qualities of its opposite. Both/And manifests too as Eshu-Elegba (a spiritual guardian of the Yoruba religion; Yeah, I had to look it up too) who sits at the crossroads and reminds us to look at a person or a thing from all sides before forming a general judgement or making a move (good advice). Significantly, the conjunctive thinking that infuses Both/And can open doors to the personal mysticism that frees and inspires creative imagination.”

To here!

So… if you are still with me, and I don’t blame you if you checked out on this one, I am both the me who never had cancer AND the me who does, the fiercely independent me who is trying really hard to welcome help, the me who believes I will put these toddlers to bed so they can grow up to be human rights advocates AND the one who knows those self same toddlers may prevent me from being a grandmother (which really, of all the things, is the suckiest). And they both exist and affect one another. Whew, I need a nap!

What is your non-binary thought of being today?

Thought after all that you might need a pic of Keep and Fennec.

10 thoughts on “Out of the Honeymoon and into the Fire

  1. http://www.awakin.org/index.php?op=show_email

    I hope you can connect with this link. It’s the strangest thing because I got this today on my favorite blog ever( and the only one I follow.) Same idea but with a visual metaphor I love. I would say my non binary thought of today is that change is all around me today and it is devastating but full of joy in the freedom and possibilites of living our lives in an ever changing world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth, I love this!! It’s a great visual for what I am trying to understand. “Oh! It’s breast cancer! Just what I was looking for! Now what can I learn?” Obviously on my good days :).


      1. Richard is my daily go-to guy. Come June, I’ll be hankering for a Scrabble date – I’ll give you a call. Also, I’m good for a drive to DF – I can sneak in a visit to Miss A! ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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