Thursday, May 30, 2013

Off to See the Wizard

Well, that didn't work out as planned. I'm not sure which one of you dropped the Love and Light ball (I'm almost certain it was a cousin on my mother's side), but please know that I forgive you (everyone but my cousin on my mother's side).

Yesterday, after an endoscopic ultrasound (aka more ass probing, this time with colored pictures), I was diagnosed with a T3 tumor. This is not the news I was hoping for. As soon I heard the words come out of the doctors mouth I knew my 5 year survival rate went down 37%.

FUCK CANCER!!!  Fuck, Fuck, Fuck FUCK CANCER!!! 

Speaking of FUCK CANCER, did you know that 90% of all cancers are curable if caught in Stage One. I was poised to do some major fundraising for Lets Fuck Cancer, thinking I could be the poster child for early detection, until I discovered my wrecked-tail cancer. Even so, this is a great organization - 100% MONKEY endorsed - so please take a moment to check them out. 

fuck cancer, fuck cancer, fuck cancer
(deep breath)

In a personal essay I wrote titled, Kerry's Wallet - a futile attempt at understanding the circumstances surrounding my son's death - I relay the contents of his wallet.

Late last night, between tears and screams and lip lined bowls of wine, I felt compelled to clear out mine.

In the center pocket of my wallet, pressed between old sales receipts and wilted business cards, was a half-folded, yellow sticky note. Written on it was the name, "Dr. Felice Zwas."

It was November of 2011 when my gynecologist, Dr. Donna Hagberg handed me that sticky note and said, "don't put it off." I remember thinking, "Zwas sounds like Oz, how bad can it be?" so I made the appointment for my first colonoscopy (syrupy Seuss rhyme alert).

Unfortunately, I was hyper-vigilant that day and also made an appointment for my yearly mammogram and we all know how that turned out.

14 months, and 7 surgeries later, I finally visit the great and powerful Zwas and the trip is not so sweet.

This time it's not self contained. This time it is not two, dried up udders being chopping off. This time I'll be losing something functional and necessary. (notice how angry I am)

What lesson did I miss from my breast cancer? I understand that I am here to learn and grow. I understand that adversity is my greatest opportunity for growth. I understand that I signed up for all this before touching down. So what piece of the puzzle am I missing??? (That is a trick question... don't answer it. You know I hate being told what to do and you know I have to figure it out for myself.)

I know, I know, I know I am strong, I can take it. But even so, I must confess, I spent the past week trying to figure a way out of this mess. (why is everything rhyming?)

What's next...

Two more opinions. One in the city at Memorial Sloan Kettering. God, how I hate the thought of going there but if you're unlucky enough to have cancer, and you want to live, it's hard to avoid.

The other opinion is a local doctor who is well respected.

I'm getting hugs, and tears, and even a few appropriately placed kisses from doctors and nurses who are compassionate and sincerely concerned. I find this extremely comforting. I like to make them laugh and I have a slew of one line ass jokes that I practice on them. Making them laugh helps me feel less vulnerable, less humiliated. Besides, I'm hoping my twisted sense of humor reminds them that I am human.

I love you all. 
Please keep your love light flowing.

If you don't give up on me, I won't give up on me.

xo, MonkeyME

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wrecked Tail

"The Jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be... 
because of all I may become I will close my eyes and leap" Maryanne Hershey

After 3 years and 367 posts, THIS is the moment where you start to doubt me - where you question if all the pain I've professed has been nothing but pure fiction. 

On Monday, May 20th - 8 days after Mother's Day, 7 days before the anniversary of my son's death, and 18 days before my 54th birthday - I went for a routine colonoscopy and was told I have cancer.

I am in shock.

I asked the gastroenterologist if we should wait until the biopsy results came back. She told me the tumor is large and it's "advanced" and that if it was in a better spot (as if there is a good place to have cancer) I'd already be in the operating room.

I was going to hold off telling you but I need your help. Please send me light and love and positive energy. 

I am having a test on Wednesday that will determine the stage of the cancer. We need it to be STAGE I.  The lymph nodes, liver, lungs, kidneys and ovaries should not get involvement in this wild ruckus. We need these confused, out of control cancer cells to CALM THE FUCK DOWN! 

I have rectal cancer but we monkeys call it "wrecked-tail" cancer. I have no idea how my tail got wrecked. So far, no one does. 

I put off having my colonoscopy at 50 because I hated the idea of drinking that ill-tasting concoction and hovering over a toilet for 24 hours. I hated the idea of someone shoving something up my ass while I slept. But let me tell you, that was a walk in the park compared to what I've experience these past 4 days and what my immediate future holds. 

I'm trying to get all the doctors to agree on my treatment but ultimately the decision will be mine.

My choices are radiation and chemo prior to surgery or surgery first and then chemo and radiation. If we can keep it at STAGE I, I will only need surgery. We need to keep it at STAGE I. 

The surgeon will need to remove my entire wrecked-tail and part of my colon. I will have a colostomy bag for 2 or 3 months and then there will be another big surgery to reattach and build new body parts. My surgeon is 90% certain I will walk away not needing a permanent colostomy bag IF I do not have radiation first. My oncologist believes I have a better chance of living if they do the radiation and chemo first.

Tough choices, right?

My main focus right now is (((LOVE))). Please surround me in love - rich, rapturous, radiant love. A LOVE that transcends. A LOVE that heals. A LOVE that is eternal.

Love and Light, MOnkeyME

There are four questions of value in life...
What is sacred? 
What is the spirit made of?
What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? 
The answer to each is the same.
Only love.

Johnny Depp

Monkey Me sketch by Lars

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Me Day

Mother's Day 1999

Early Sunday morning, at about 5:47 AM, my son Kerry gave me a hug. It was a powerful hug. It was his Mother's Day gift to me.

It was bigger than a dream. I was outside, near a pool of bubbly blue water, when my dear friend Donna yelled, "Look Shannon, it's Kerry!" I turned quickly and saw him in the distance. He was very tan, his hair was dark brown, almost black, and he had a mustache. I thought he looked like a pirate.

He walked towards me with his arms stretched out wide. It was so vivid - his steps, the look in his eyes, his prudent smile, the slope of his shoulders, the force of his hands. I have only received one other hug from him since he passed away. This time there were no tears, only joy.

Selfish but true, Mother's Day is about me. I spend this day comforting myself. I recoil and revel in my sorrow - as much as I want to, as long as I need to, in whatever way I see fit.

Next on the calendar is my son's death anniversary - May 27th.
And then my birthday - June 8th.

It is a mercurial journey I take, from Mother's Day, to his death day, to my birthday. Sometimes, I'm pointed downward - huddled in gloom. Other times I'm craving stars and willing clouds behind me. And when it rains, like a fair-weathered fairy, I hide.

On this Mother's Day, I felt the warmth of the sun. I watched and listened to the birds. I marveled at the flowers. I dug with my hands into rich, dark soil. I remembered what I had, what I lost, and what will be.

I love you Kerry.


Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me... 

                                                        E.Y. Harburg    

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison