Thursday, October 17, 2013

To The End of Fall and Back

Cancer is weird. For many people, the symptoms are strange and untraceable at first, and then there's a death sentence. For others, there are almost no symptoms but the process of treatment is like dying a little bit. I'm one of the others. My time in Berlin during treatment was spent slowly dying, then I was allowed to come back to life and heal again.

The relief of life after the specter of death is immeasurable. It barely registers when you're drugged, exhausted beyond comprehension, but still it does register as relief.

For the first couple months after my last radiation treatment in early May, I was just glad to be improving and getting stronger again. Despite pain and troubles, things keep getting better. Now I'm almost entirely normal. Anything I suffer from is not particular to people with cancer, even if cancer treatment was the cause. Acid reflux? Everybody gets that from time to time. Edema? Not even as bad as what some of my friends with kids have described about their pregnancies. So I'm fine.

Now the anxiety. The cancer cells that were in me got zapped hard - trust me, I was there. I probably don't have to be afraid of cancer coming back. But I have to get those tests done, and now the tests are looming. I cannot help but consider what will happen if the biopsy comes back positive for more cancer cells that are not fried to a crisp. I guess that's part of the deal. Spiraling back towards near-death? I stumbled upon a blog called Teaching Cancer to Cry, kept by a man who has terminal cancer and is no longer having treatment. It is terrifying and illuminating. I want to look away but I can't.

I crave an escape from the waiting. The usual routes are not really working. Work has been quiet. Wine gives me bad acid reflux, a reminder. I have a lot of time to think. It should be nice. Instead it's haunted.

I am anxiously awaiting the tests and the results and it will be a relief when that part is in motion. But I only have the MRI appointment lined up, because I don't live in the city with my health care providers. It's been frustrating. They want to wait to make further appointments until after the MRI, but I just want to make one trip to Berlin and get it all done quickly. And behind the tame frustrations of not getting the easy appointments that work best for me is the reality of what these appointments are for. I can't just skip it and do it later, actually, it's critical that this happens now.

Travel is a worthy distraction, and it has been good to be on the road. We took the train from Voss to Oslo, on a surprisingly old and wobbly set of tracks, considering the wealth of the country. The scenery was spectacular. We went up and over and as we gained altitude early fall sped past and turned to late fall, almost winter.

As we went over the pass and headed downhill again we went back in time. The trees had leaves again, they were red, they were yellow, and then the grass was green again.


Back at sea level, fall was just beginning.

Fall. Last fall I had normal problems. I was working through a tentative plan to settle down and have kids, without an idea of where that might happen or whether we'd be able to afford it. There were early signs of a problem which I did not understand the proportions of and maybe I should have taken action sooner. I just hope this winter is better than the last one. That shouldn't be too hard.


  1. Great post, Ramona, I'm cheering for you in Northampton, MA!!!

  2. Beautiful pictures enhance difficult feelings. Anticipation is worst than the reality. Stay in the reality and do what you need to do in the time... no procrastination. Letting difficult thoughts linger is masochism... in a way... I know. When they begin creeping you get the GOOD thoughts doing the counter attack : ) You are very good at that... who am I preaching to? besos and I'm wishing that goodness invades you : )

  3. Lots of hugs and love!! I keep sending good vibes your direction. Keep the words flowing and I agree with Rennea - no procrastinating! :)

  4. You are an amazing writer and human being! Thank you for sharing your reflections with us. You inspire me, Dear Ramona! Much LOVE

  5. Your beautiful pictures are the perfect illustration for this post. I can feel the fall chill. And they remind me of the time I drove from Siena to a friend's family place in the Swiss Alps in May; I had been at the beach a few days before and it was gorgeous spring in Tuscany, and we got through the tunnel into Switzerland and there was a blizzard and several feet of snow. Nuts.

    Hugs and love to you in this tough anticipation time. xo