Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I want to write, before I lose my brain to chemo drugs for a week. (I'm in the hospital now.  Treatment starts tomorrow morning at 6.) But I don’t know if I’m capable of making sense. I’m still processing all of this.

It hasn’t fully hit me yet, that the disease progression has been stopped. I’m on the right side of statistics. How the hell did that happen?

I know what it means, in practice: I have one more chemo cycle after this one, and I’ll be closely monitored after that. I’ll be transferred back to my oncologist at home for follow-up care. I could have months or years or decades with no further change. The tumors could shrink. Or they could start growing again at any time.

They are not growing right now. “Now” just got bigger than, “This exact present moment.” Now isn’t tinged in fear anymore. Now means, from this breath I’m inhaling, until I start throwing tumors again. Now could be a short or long time. Now could be until I die of something else. There is no way of predicting.

I have a feeling that I won't be done with cancer.  And that's okay.  It's been my teacher, and a good one.  Maybe I just can't imagine this being permanently over.

I won’t have my life back. I wouldn’t want it. I don’t want to forget where I’ve been and what all of this has taught me. I’m grateful that I can touch two of these tumors. The reminders are there.

But I can live my life, again. I can give myself completely to the things that matter most to me. I don’t have to learn how to be fearless; I already know how to let love heal. I can let myself go into the wildness that graces the life I choose. I can be my strong, safe self. I'll live long enough to use the things these gifts have given me.

I felt threatened with no time. I had the time to go where I needed to go, and to learn what I needed to learn. Not just for my own emotional survival, but for the work in the world that I’m called to.

The tide went out a little, with the news I got this morning. The edge of the world got a little bit wider. But the ocean is never still, and I wouldn’t want it to be. The only true safety is the One who loves us all. That is enough, and more than enough. If you want to make a safe place, walk into the waves. Go into fearful places. Love the people who live there.

I’ve said over and over, God doesn’t give diseases. Biochemotherapy stopped the progression of this one. The idea that I’ve been somehow singled out gives me hives. But my path through this has been utterly bathed in grace. I can’t do the math. It doesn’t make sense to me. But it’s true. I needed to go as far as I went into terror, grief, and anxiety. And I had the experiences, fighting cancer twice, that made me go there.   I learned how to transform and be transformed by love. I remember the scared, fragile, broken kid I was two and a half years ago, and my whole life before that.  I know what my community and my God have healed in me.  I know what resurrection means. And I will have the time, short or long, to live into it.

If you see a stranger on the road, and she offers you bread, it could be me.


MelissaL said...

Wow, Kirstin, this is once again wise + profound. Thank you!

Rani said...

incredibly good news this morning! i'm so happy for you. it's a beautiful plateau in this little adventure. your writing always makes me so emotional. thank you for sharing and thank you for the honesty. i hope this bout of chemo stings less than the last. what a great thing you decided to go through with this. you've been rewarded well. xox

kat said...

Beautifully said, my friend. The paragraph that starts, "The tide went out a little..." is a song, a poem, and a charge. Your honesty is so profound. Thank you for that.

Prayers and praise ascending as you being this cycle and catch your breath.

Much love, always.

Caminante said...

I take these words of the resurrection to the healing eucharist this morning where we have been praying for you all along and will continue to do so.

Traveller, there is no way.
The way is made by walking.

May you be known to us in the breaking of the bread.


it's margaret said...

"I won’t have my life back. I wouldn’t want it."

But I stand in awe of the life you share with us, and the one who holds us all in life. Like Caminante said, may you be known to us in the breaking of the bread. Amen.

You are in my prayers --joyfully m'dear!!

Kirstin said...

Thank you all. Love to everyone.