Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mini-Update, 3 Years Out

Joshua and I celebrate the same birthday in September. We were married in January of 2010, and six months later we left our life in LA and started traveling around Europe on our bikes. We were both at the terrible Pap smear in November of 2012, which lasted for hours and eventually lead to the first diagnosis. In December, between Christmas and New Year's, we were overwhelmed by the diagnosis. January was when we moved to Berlin and found my doctors. My surgery date was at the beginning of February.

March is when I started chemo and radiation. I had five chemo treatments but I don't know the dates or even remember when the last one was. Sometime at the beginning of May was my last radiation treatment. 

A few months of recovery, and then in November we got the good news that my first check-up came back cancer-free. 

All year long we can celebrate, or look back in anger or sadness or with the echoes of pain, physical and psychological. Most of the time we do not think about it. Our life is very good, right now.

But this year, in May, there was a milestone that we acknowledged with weight, quietly. Three years. I can't be sure why we use May as the marker. The end of treatment, we now know, is when the cancer was over, even if the confirmation didn't come until November. That's probably it. We never made a conscious decision to celebrate one date or another. In fact, there's no date - just the month of the year.

Over the past three years there have been all kinds of milestones, and a long, slow progression towards feeling good and strong again. Even though we did a lot (oh my goodness, that first year was crazy), each day and each week took everything out of me. I could feel myself functioning at a controlled pace. I don't know how many of you know about The Spoon Theory - if you don't, now you do. Every day I only had so much energy, and I had to ration it carefully to ensure that I didn't crash. Some days, and weeks, were much better than others. If I overdid it, my body revolted with a solid 8 hours of waves of abdominal cramping, vomiting, and drinking water just so I'd have something to throw up. 

In June of this year I overdid it - took on two or three more things within a week than advisable - and I was fine. Tired, but that was it. Just tired. Is it possible that things are that much better, after three years? It took this long to get to fine? I don't expect it to last. In fact, this week I have felt like doing nothing. I want me some Pokemon GO running on the table beside a jigsaw puzzle, to eat all meals out, and to treat every day like a vacation during which day drinking is no big deal. 

It's just another week, so that hasn't exactly been the routine. But I feel like I would rather not be present for the obligations and responsibilities and chores that daily life requires. I do not want to see people. I wish I would leave myself alone.

That feeling, like all the feelings I've had, will pass. I know what it's like to one day wake up with energy again, excited to go out into the world. That will happen. 

Healing takes time. Recovery takes energy. Things are still getting better. I made it to three years, more than halfway to the 5 year mark which will indicate that I am just as likely to get cancer again as anyone else. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This Blog: In Order

We hat a lot of extra fun at the February check-up because it's been three years since surgery! A CT-scan, an overnight stay, a new hospital (Halwani got a new job!), aaaaand everything looks great. The CT was of my entire torso, to make sure they're not missing anything in my lungs. They're not missing anything. Everything is clear. Take a little break to have a dance party.

Here's a crazy idea: what if you could read this whole blog from start to finish, in chronological order, without having to click through and read bottom to top? I've been thinking about writing a book, a real memoir that includes all the blog stuff plus whatever else I've written and thought about being a cancer patient at 32 and everything that happens afterwards. This is not an original idea, but I'm hoping to be original about it.

But writing a book is hard! I'm working on it, I'm even paying other people to help me work on it, and one day I hope something worth reading will come of it.

In the meantime, the problem that spawned the book project still irks. If someone new comes to this blog and wants to read it all, in order, they're stuck with click, scroll, scroll-scroll-scroll, scroll-scroll, click, click, scroll, scroll-scroll-scroll... and on and on. I've now done that myself. I read through all of my own blog. The good news is that it's not that long and is totally worth reading. The bad news is that blogs are meant to be read as the posts are posted.

The magical internet produced a quick solution, though. On my first search for "turn a blog into an ebook", the top result was It's brilliant and free and not very customizable, but there is a link to each post at the end of each chapter. So thank goodness for Sergio, who invented this simple tool. There are some minor problems. For example, not all of the photos are included. There's no simple reason for this to be the case, but Sergio knows now and he knows about a couple of other minor things. I couldn't get the .mobi file to open in the Kindle app - kind of a big one.

Mais! Ma! Aber! The simple version, a wee ebook version, of this blog is available as an .epub file, which you should be able to use in most e-readers, especially iBooks, and can be downloaded right


The file cannot be previewed with Google Drive, but you should be able to download it.*

*If you have any problems with this, or want me to try again with the .mobi thing, please just write to me at ramona.marks at gmail.