Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I'm scared.

I’m writing this out now, before I sleep, so that I might not have to wake up still wrapped in these fears.

After my CT was clear, I was so relieved and elated that I stopped believing this cancer could hurt me. Sometime in the past few days, that fear crept back. My PET scan is Monday. Surgery is the 15th. I know that the worst that could happen, would be to be admitted for a neck dissection. I’d wake up every morning with a puffy half of my face, after that; it would recede in a few hours. After a few years, your body figures out what to do minus some lymph nodes. (Right now, we have no evidence of lymph involvement.)

I’m not afraid of a smaller left ear. Nor of scars on my neck, if it comes to that. I’m not physically afraid of the flu, knowing there’s an end date. I want to experience this—I also want to be able to put it in the past tense. If there is lymph involvement, I’ll never be able to fully trust my body again. I’ll never know that they got it all.

I’ve caught myself trying to feel my own lymph nodes. I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I could tell if something was strikingly swollen—but not just sleepily incubating. And health-wise, other than exhausted and anxious, I feel fine.

My body, and I, need so much love. I need to be gentle with it; to not attack it for being vulnerable to cancer cells. But I have this alien growing on my ear, that could start firing any time it wants to. I just want it off of me. My body didn’t choose this. Without my brain, it isn’t sentient. My body didn’t betray me. Biology, happened. Many, many people are sicker than I.

This isn’t the initial fear of not knowing—and of still being innocent enough to think and hope you’ll be okay. This is the heavy, twisty fear you could get sick on. It’s, “Oh, fuck. This isn’t just about now—I’ll have to be aware of it forever.” It could never come back. It could come back like it is now. It could come back and go metastatic. It could come back, when I don’t have health insurance.

How many people have I met, who have to ask those same questions? I’m caught up in this sleeplessness --> anxiety cycle. I know that many people are praying for me. I know God is present. I’ve lost track of where.

I’d slipped off the chapel prayer list, this morning—and I could still hear people all around me, whispering my name. That, was powerful. If you love me, if you’re praying for me, please tell me. Even if you know you did, yesterday. People tell me all the time that I'm doing well—I take strength from my community. Right now I don’t know how to pray for myself. I put up a brave front, when I need to, and sometimes I really do feel sure and strong. Other times, that’s about as real as the man behind the curtain.

All this, and Burma too. Pray for me. Pray for all.


Leslie said...

Dear Kirstin,
You have every right to be afraid, but the Lord will not turn his back on you. He will care for you and love you deeply. He will take your fear away.
All members of TEC of St. Francis,Turlock are praying for you. I have asked friends and relatives to pray for you as well. Be strong my friend.
May Christ Surround You With His Inclusive Love.

MikeF said...

Praying here, Kirstin. Not about to stop. You're on my daily office intercessions list, and that's where you'll stay.

Lots of love & all possible blessings


Kirstin said...

Thank you, both.



themethatisme said...

Biology happens... it sure does Kirstin. Part of what I sense in your post is a panic at having strange new thoughts which you have not yet assimilated. It is all fresh and challenging and you will accomodate all of these new thoughts. You remind me of all of my frustration when I was diagnosed with a chronic condition a few years ago. It'll kill me eventually but it will take it's own sweet time doing so. But I have adjusted and so will you. You will find strength you never knew you had and will grow as a consequence. Be assured. Know that Blogland cares and shares in prayersd for you.

Anonymous said...


Being afraid is all part of the cancer experience unfortunately. You will have this level of anxiety at least until after your surgery. The tests are all things you've never had before, and I appreciate the level of your fear. I guess I'm saying I'd be frightened for you if you weren't a little afraid. This will always be a part of you, in the back of your mind, just don't let it own you.

The one think I didn't include when I originally wrote you, was I had a kidney transplant last year, because of complications from previous surgery's. I was so blessed to be in the right place at the right time (thank you God), because a new transplant service was beginning at our regional medical center. I wasn't on dialysis, but I was truly blessed to have a niece step forward to donate her kidney for me. BUT the work-up I went thru was greuling, and if anything could go wrong, it did. (there were repeat tests, nothing major) My priest was my saving grace. She was the BEST person in my life at that time, and one Sunday morning at the altar she annointed me and prayed for me as did my community of faith. The anxiety just melted away. I went into the surgery at peace and everything has worked wonderfully well since.

I keep you in my prayers, and today send you a huge hug, cause I'm a hugger. take a deep breath, you'll get thru this.



unfortunately I send these under anonymous because google will no longer recgonize my pass word. CRAP!!!!!!!!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Kirstin, I send love and prayers your way from my way. I posted the contents of your email at my site. As for the Scripture passage, I quoted, it's what came to my mind. If it serves you well, use it. If not, put it aside for now. Maybe I posted it more for me than for you.

Much love.

Jim said...

I am also praying for you.

Fear is a reasonable response, of course you are afraid. You will weather this too.


eileen said...

Praying for you K...ceaselessly.

Fear is a part of all this...I'd imagine I'd feel all the things you are feeling!


Tandaina- said...

K you're in my prayers though we haven't met.

susankay said...

Kirstin -- a year and a half ago my physician thought I might have lung cancer -- so far no one else thinks so but given my smoking history the thought still occaisionally looms large. My husband died of lung cancer so it is a double-barreled fear for me.
So .. of course you are afraid.

But today is the feast day of Dame Julian of Norwich; she of: "All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well" She didn't say that things would go as one directs -- but did have absolute assurance that all will be WELL. I think so too.

Love to you.

Caminante said...

On this feast day of Julian of Norwich, I send you this healing mantra,

All will be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well,
all will be well.

And I send you a prayer that I started praying six years ago when my friend went through his melanoma scare. It is on my computer monitor so I see it every morning.

The breath of my life will bless,
the cells of my being sing,
in gratitude, reawakening.

(For awhile we prayed that his rogue cells wouldn't rejoice and simply be gone.)

Prayers for you in this horrid in-between time of waiting and wanting to get the surgery over with so you know with what you are dealing.

"Right now I don’t know how to pray for myself."

That's why you invoke the communion of saints, living, dead and yet to come. We'll surround and carry you with prayer.

clumber said...


Canine prayers, hugs, and tail wags going out to you! You are doing great, and God and the blog world are there with you through it all.

clumber's best woof of all goes out to you!

Anonymous said...

Kirstin. . .you will be in my prayers. . .I hope you feel God's love wrapped around you. Murray

BooCat said...

Kirstin, You continue to be in my Daily Office and will be for some time to come. I am a twenty-six year survivor of the Big-C and know the fear. Usually it is not there, but even now an unknown lump can unearth it, as it did recently when a mammogram found an area of dense tissue that turned out to be merely that and nothing else. You are wrapped in God's loving arms, Kirstin, and are smothered in the loving thoughts and prayers of countless people (many of whom you don't even know) all over the world.

susan s. said...

Prayers going up to God from across town for you, dear Kristin.

All of us survivors of any cancer know how you feel. The waiting is the hardest part.

PseudoPiskie said...

May God hold your hand in the waiting, Kristin, to remind you that we are never alone as we try to deal with what life gives us. Lots of us are holding your other hand virtually.

Jake said...

Almighty God, graciously comfort your servant Kirstin in her suffering, and bless the means made use of for her cure. Fill her heart with confidence that, though at times she may be afraid, she yet may put her trust in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pisco Sours said...

You are absolutely in my prayers, Kirstin.

The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bow and obey: Be now and evermore your defense, and make you know and feel that the only Name under heaven given for health and salvation is the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

bls said...

You don't know me, Kirstin, but I offer you my prayers also. God bless you and be gracious to you.

johnieb said...

My prayers for you continue always, dear sister, and all shall be well with thee and thy Godde, and with us in the Feast and in Fasting.

It's not a part of your body, though it interacts biologically with it in some terrifying ways: yes. It's gonna be alright this mornin; wait and see.

Yes to unexplained life -threatening disease, not yet Cancer--thirty five years ago.

Marshall said...

Prayers and blessings, Kirsten. And remember the Deer Song:

"Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."

Arkansas Hillbilly said...

You don't know me either, but you are in my prayers as well. Lord Bless You.

Anonymous said...

Love and prayers for you Kirstin.

Glenn Gould said...

I lurk and post at Jake's. Now I'm wanting you to know that you're in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

" I put up a brave front, when I need to, and sometimes I really do feel sure and strong. "

Did that last year. Foolishly thought I had to soldier on serving my parish as their priest. And last year, most of the time the only prayer I had for myself was anger.

From the depths of my experience, and the reprieve surgeries, chemo and radiation have bought me, which may or may not have been a "cure", I'll never know, you are held before God while I storm the gates of heaven on your behalf, holding last year in my hands in supplication for you. At some point this scourge of the earth must end. Bless you, (((((Kirstin)))))

revLois Keen

JCF said...

Damn, fecking fear: unlike (most) cancer, it's contagious, too.

Soon after your story was related by the Priest-Who-Is-Mad, Kirstin, I noticed a damn growth on my arm. That I hadn't noticed before. That's probably nothing. That whenever I notice it (which is frequently), I think of you. :-(

Prayers, prayers ascending for you, Kirstin: for your SOON healing from the cancer, and for your IMMEDIATE healing from the fear.

And could you, in a spare sec, give (uninsured) me a prayer, too? That this growth on my arm really is nothing, and soon gone? [Oh yeah: that I might find a job w/ some health insurance, too?]

Anonymous said...

Kirstin, I don't know you, but I know sharing your fears is a gift to us all. Thank you for being vulnerable and real in this time. My prayers are with you and you'll be placed on our congregation prayer list. May God's peace surround and hold you. VEW

Kirstin said...

(((((All of you))))

Thank you for your prayers, your love, your time. Thank you for speaking up when I said I needed to hear you. Thank you, just for being here.

Dear God, JCF, yes I'll pray for you. I know how important insurance is, now--and I want you well.

Love to all.

Josh Indiana said...

Lord, hear our prayers for Kirstin.

And when I post this comment, let me go directly to my online prayer list and add her name so a hundred others will see it and pray with us for her health, her fear and her faith. Amen.

Counterlight said...

I haven't forgotten you, and I will remember you when you get your tests.
You are amazingly brave in all this.
I hope you won't have to be so brave anymore after the test is done.
I remember you in my prayers and continue to wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kirstin,

May you be blessed with the ability to face your fears bravely or cowardly but squarely (as it sure reads like you are) won't make any difference how you face FEAR because as you walk through REAL you will gain on TRUST that all will be as it will be...acceptance FEELS so right when one doesn't look away.

Quietly, steadfastly keep remembering you are the authentic person and spirit that God has destined you to be.

Love to you,
Leonardo Ricardo

Beryl Simkins said...

Many prayers, Kirstin. Not knowing is the worst. May you know the comfort and strength sent to you from all these friends who have made prayers on your behalf.

May you feel God's certain love in this difficult time.

Suzer said...

Praying for you, Kirsten. May God lend unending Strength, Love and Comfort to you, friend.

Jane R said...

Dear Kirstin, others have shared wonderful prayers above and I will not add to them, but pray them with you --Merton's prayer, the Lorica, and the short three-line morning prayer of thanksgiving (which is Marcia Falk's inclusive-language translation of a traditional Jewish prayer; I have it in my book on prayer, too) in order to slow myself down to accompany you as you walk.

I have found that in difficult, frightened, and distracted times it can help to write these sorts of prayers, that the tactile experience helps and also brings the prayers into my body and heart as I write them. Saying them out loud, slowly, and repeating them also helps. They can be great helps in the middle of the night in those solitary times of anxiety and restlessness. Icons, too. Repetition, simplicity, comfort.

I am so glad that you have started yoga again. Do all those good things -- yoga, exercise, good nutrition, sleep if you can -- and be gentle with yourself, being kind to your bodymind and also forgiving of yourself when you have not been able to love yourself in that self-caring way. Let these healthy patterns of living be an invitation and not one more burden.

Bask in the comfort and presence of the Lady Julian today.

As the Epistle says, "let your inner self grow strong." And may you know also the strength of the love of the saints around you.

Peace to you.

Kirstin said...

Wow. Ask, and ye shall receive. You all give me amazing gifts. Thank you.

Counterlight, thank you--but I don't know about brave. It's easier to go through this, I think, than to watch someone else. You all know how afraid I am. This diagnosis changes you--and your focus--quickly. I'm just doing what I need to do: having tests, talking to doctors, falling apart, rising up, asking for prayer.

You all make this much easier than it would be, without you. Thank you.

Paul said...

Have I told you lately that you are in my prayers? Probably not lately enough. Well you are, and I know you know that, but as you need a bit of reminding today, here it is: you're in my prayers and heart and, more importantly, in Godde's and in the hearts of this great company of saints on earth and in heaven.

May Raphael, Archangel of healing, guide, guard, and defend you.

What a feast of compassion and prayer you have provoked here. May it help you in this part of your journey. I have on many occasions felt unable to pray and been carried by the prayers of others. It is a grace-filled thing to let this happen.

Lots of love!

Apostle In Exile said...

Another bit of encouraging news--was talking with a nurse friend, who said she has a co-worker on interferon, who takes a weekly dose in the middle of the work day, goes on working the rest of her shift, absolutely no side effects, not even tired. So it IS possible--and God willing, and all our prayers working, that will be YOU!

You are loved, and supported, and in the prayers of more people than you can possibly know. Rest easy in all their prayer-arms!

Yankee_Fan_At_Fenway said...

Add my prayers for you to the list!

Dennis said...

I haven't been around much to tell you that you are certainly in my thoughts, and prayers. Mimi and I had a phone conversation today (about a case study that I'm having to write in my geropsychology class!) and she was telling me how worried she was about you. And I realized that I hadn't been around enough to see what was going on.

I am so sorry to hear about this. I'm never much of a prayer but I will get my BCP out tonight and start praying for you.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

FWIW, I pray for you several times a day, Kirstin.

Boaz said...

Praying as well, Kirstin.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kirstin. You are so loved! I will pray for you ceaselessly.


Anonymous said...

I'm remembering you in my prayers. The peace of God which passes all understanding be with you always.

Kirstin said...

Doxy, it's worth a lot. Thank you.

All of you: thank you. So much love.

Janet Detter Margul said...

Kirstin, you don't know me, I've been a lurker for months, been trying lately not to be, but I should be completely unknown to you. And I've been praying for you at least twice a day (sometimes more) for what seems like weeks. When good news came, I added in thank you prayers with the please be with prayers.

Kirstin, every prayer I ask God to be near you, so I know God IS near you for sure. God is not hiding, all will be well.

Kirstin said...

Thank you, Janet. I take your assurances to heart.

How did you find me?

Diane said...

Kirstin, I'm sorry to be late, but I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you here.

Kirstin said...

Thank you, Diane.

Late is fine; take your time. I'll be on this path awhile.

Mary Clara said...

Adding my prayers to all the others, Kirstin. I'm 23 years past melanoma and no worries. Let those bad cells go and you just carry on.

Kirstin said...

That's great news, MC. Thank you.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

God bless you and keep you!

Two Auntees said...

I have been off line a couple of days while babysitting for a 3 year old whirl wind. I have read your posts from the beginning of your posts about your cancer. You remain on my mind in my prayers............even though I only know you through your blog. My heart goes out to you knowing how frightening this can be.

Even though you may have slipped off a list somewhere, you have not slipped off the minds nor out of the prayers of countless people.

Kirstin said...

Thank you, so much.

I'm back on the list in question. But I'm indescribably grateful, to be on all of yours as well.

3-year-old whirlwinds are the best. :-)

Kate said...

Hey -- here via Grandmère Mimi. Kinda late but better than never. I'm praying for you -- be well.