Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fine Print

Fine printsmall print, or "mouseprint" is less noticeable print. Smaller than the more obvious larger print, it accompanies, advertises or otherwise describes a commercial product, service, or state of mind.

My fine print is rather bold. It reads:

Chemo, solo, sucks.
Chemo sucks.
Solo sucks.

That's my truth. That's why I haven't posted in weeks.

If I don't spin sunshine and honey out of this debauchery, my reality is difficult to digest. I am your worst nightmare.

Right now, most of what flows from my heart and my head is counterproductive.

Right now, I'm squatting in a vat of self-pity, self-loathing and self-punishment.


I hate the holidays. Always have.

Under the best of circumstances, the pressure to be merry and grateful is exhausting.

I don't like to be told what to do, or how to act, so I resist shopping and forced expressions of gratitude.


They say you lose friends along the way. That your cancer beats them down. I certainly hope that's not true. I need everyone. Every single one of you.


Because, in the past, men have been my drug of choice - I've elected to give them up for a period of one year.  It's harder than I thought. I'm counting down the days (307 remaining).

I need to learn how to love myself. And my love of self has nothing to do with how desirable and irresistible you, with penis, think I am.

Clearly, after 54 years and three failed marriages, I am a slow learner.

What angers me the most are the choices I made that brought me here. And the reality that most of my pain is self-inflicted.


I adored my father.

"Don't look back," my father would say after each of my failed relationships.

And yet here I am, fixated on the rearview mirror.

LOOK ... that's ME ... back when I was healthy. Back when I thought my marriage was strong. Back when my smile said it all.

I don't know for certain who ME is anymore but I know that ME is not my cancer.


xo, MonkeyME
whoever that may be

For a complete list of my ridiculous cancer journey click HERE

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fairy Infusion

I have done many bold, adventurous things in my life. Some required courage, others resilience, and several were an exercise in reckless stupidity.

I climbed the Mayan Ruins, swam with sharks, ran five marathons, skydived, parasailed, hung upside-down on a flying trapeze, rode in an ultralight 12,000 feet above Burning Man, rode a flying pig at Burning Man, spun fire topless in a wind storm at Burning Man... 


The other weekend I chased what looked like a sniper in the back of a pick-up truck, down interstate 95 so that I could get a picture of him with the hopes of blogging about it.


Imagine if my cause of death ended up being ballistic head trauma due to a high velocity bullet from a masked madman's semi-automatic weapon and NOT cancer.

But hands down the most frightening, the most daring thing I've ever done is chemotherapy. I feared chemo more than cancer, more than surgery, more than death itself.

Two weeks ago, with my soul-savvy daughter by my side, I faced my deepest fear.

Initially, I was adamant about not doing the drug oxaliplatin because of its potential long term side effects but eventually long term side effects seemed a small price to pay for a 27% chance at a longer life.

Besides, if Luciano Pavarotti (pancreatic), Walt Disney (lung), Steve Jobs (pancreatic), and Bob Marley (malignant melanoma) couldn't beat cancer with their wealth, talent and tenacity, then I knew I had to be courageous and committed to finding my cure.

The side effects from the infusion were immediate, intense and intimidating. I developed chest pain and pressure thirty minutes in that required additional monitoring. I developed an extreme sensitivity to cool temperatures the minute I walked out of the hospital. I couldn't breath the brisk fall air without the sensation of slivered glass pureeing my throat. I couldn't touch anything cold, even with gloves on. I couldn't walk outdoors, even with winter boots on without pain, similar to an electric shock, shooting through my body.  My eyes hurt, especially when I cried and my jaw hurt when I chewed. I couldn't swallow anything unless it was heated. Even room temperature was agonizing. I developed extreme pain at the site of the infusion and my doctor worried the surrounding tissue might had been damaged.

Despite all this, I am okay. I am wiggling my way around the unpleasant side effects and I am learning how to ask for help.

When I worried I would not be able to care for my dogs, my neighbors came together and offered to walk them. When I broke down crying at the grocery store because I couldn't hold a quart of milk or a package of cheese, my neighbors, family and friends, pitched in and brought me food.

Because I recognize that my mind is powerful, daily affirmations and visualizations are some of my wellness tools. I have mentally replaced the "poison alert" label on my chemo drugs with a "fairy alert."

My infusions enlist the aid of hundreds of flittering fairies whimsically gliding through my bloodstream. Intoxicating, fierce fairies darting around platelets, capillaries and lymph nodes - detecting and destroying the genome instability of minuscule cells before they have a chance to feed and form tumors.

Slowly, I'm doing it. I'm learning how to cope with my diagnosis and my treatment. Fear still bubbles up but mostly it's about tomorrow so I'm focused on today.

Today I studied the dance of golden gingko leafs against a milky blue sky, and the call of a catbirds song at dawn. Today I cared less about what I looked like and more about discovering my life's true purpose. Today, while savoring my coffee, I got down on the floor and thanked Sasha, Lucy and Phoebe for their love and loyalty. One by one I stroked their fur, scratched their sweet spot and watched them eat their treats.

Today was a very good day.

For some it's diabetes, or auto immune disorders, or chronic pain, or heart disease. For me, it's cancer. But that's not an excuse to stop living. It's a reason to live larger.

xo, MonkeyME

Photo by Sarah Hickox taken at Burning Man 2006

For a complete list of my ridiculous cancer journey click HERE

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison