During 2014, I felt that something was slightly wrong, but couldn't place it. Then, in October, I found a lump in my breast. A biopsy confirmed my immediate worry: breast cancer. What followed were weeks of hope and fear, until an operation and a genetic test brought the more detailed diagnosis. With a little more (relative) luck, I would have been in the group of those who are early-stage and on-the-safer-side, so that treatments are light(er). But the genetic test showed that the risk factors were too high in my case. At least the whole diagnosis and medication has come a long way in the last 20 years, And so, for a year, my life was a very different one:
Altogether I went through almost 12 months of treatment: first the operation, then chemotherapy, then radiation, then a cure stay for recovery.
Both the sheer length of time and the system of treatments sounded frightening, but it's in fact pretty much the standard treatment for this type of cancer when chemotherapy is included. And of course, the real frightening stuff isn't the treaments, but the cruel nature of this illness, which so far has neither an easy nor a safe or fully effective cure.
I wasn't really prepared for the dimension of all this, but at least I had my writing - which helped me to cope with the situation and all the smaller and larger obstacles, emotions, thoughts, fears, hopes, encounters and realities it encompasses.
From start, I blogged about this time, basically as a help to find my way through it, just as reading the notes of others helped.
You can find the collected notes (in the usual inversed blog order) here: C is for cancer, and for courage, too.
There are also several posts with practical advice:
- Things that helped during chemotherapy: Walking
- Things that helped during chemotherapy: Books About Cancer
- Things that helped during chemotherapy: Art Therapy
And here's the sorted list of blog posts, starting at the beginning:
Diagnosis + Operation
- 17. October: life is what happens to you while...
- 26. October: this translucent state of fear and hope...,
- 28. October: the day before, "Serious was last week"..
- 02. November: november roses + not knowing..
- 17. November: hope + fear
Chemotherapy Part 1
- 23. November: "we're sorry, it's chemotherapy"
- 13. December: getting to know the Emperor of Maledies
- 20. December: from last island day to first chemo day
- 11. January: second round of chemo & my hair, falling
- 02. February: paradise, counting my blood cells & ...
- 22. February: chemo milestone + healing and reading
- 14. March: first short trip, me with a wig, and a friday scare
Chemotherapy Part 2
- 29. March: intense, or: anger, hope, spring + the larger picture
- 30. April: If. Then., Bravery + Joy + Fear, and: May.
- 19. May: time / lake reflections
- 31. May: final chemo, snapshot of me, and a flashback forward look
- 13. June: "Deported", chemo dreams, and a life lesson in a bubble
- 24. June: emotions vs. logic, ghosts, that parallel world, and a hammock
- 5. July: a breakdown + an oasis, and skin-on-skin advice
- 15. July: radiation countdown: 13 left to go (+ the tiredness of it)
- 28. July: radiation countdown + hairy identity matters + shadowlight
- 3. August: the final radiation date, and this lightness of healing
After the treatments + Cure
- 16. August: from hospital to road to loft to mountains, or: this new feeling of freedom
- 26. August: 5 days in the mountains
- 5. September: in Bad Waldsee, finally
- 9. September: feather lake + circle inspiration from long past
- 14. September: rain, sun + the surprise of walking and discovering places
- 23. September: ending / beginning, or: steps, birds, 1 year, and the background work
The new normal
- 25. October: winter time, one month ago and beyond, this far, and: the joy of an ordinary work week
- 30. October: october light, returning, and catching up once more
- 14. November: Paris skies and more troubled news
- 22. November: The news around the corner, 5 years, and my personal mortality curve, or: Wherein I try and catch you up on everything
- 25. February 2016: timelines, a 4-line-version of me, a different sky + my new normal