Crossing Cancer (Chapter 5)

Tomorrow marks my eighth treatment.  Perhaps like house arrest, time has concurrently crept and flown by.  I shift between thinking how far I’ve progressed to wondering when I’ll glimpse the finish line.  I have nine more treatments left which translates to another 3.5 months of chemotherapy before surgery/radiation.  When asked how am I doing or what this feels like, I try to give an accurate response.  At best, I have about half the energy than normal, at worst- well, suffice to say that the other day I was slowly walking up the stairs when I thought: “It’ll be easier if I just crawl on all fours.”  So I did– and it was.  When people describe chemotherapy with the word fatigue, they must be referring to this bedraggled feeling.  Like your limbs are failing with an alarming, barbed lassitude.  It’s accumulative; four weeks ago I was able to fly to Princeton for a swim team reunion and that wouldn’t be possible now.  In fact, Mauricio is away for a work event and my mom is flying out to substitute as the parental figure around the house since I’m so grotty.  I sense I’m getting close to a blood transfusion.

Last week I had an allergic reaction to the medicine as it was administered– something that is relatively uncommon but within the realm of normal.  I was watching “House of Cards” with my dear friend, Jennie, when all of a sudden a hot, sharp pain developed in my lower back, quickly enveloped my pelvis, and ignited down my legs.  Tears involuntarily flowed and I whispered to her: “something’s not right.” Swiftly, she got the nurses and they switched the chemo for other pain-reliving drugs while attending to my vitals. “Describe the pain,” they asked while caressing my shoulders. “Feels a lot like childbirth,” I uttered.  Within the hour, the pain subsided and I was able to take the chemotherapy, somehow.  Modern medicine!

My Dad, Dixon Moody, pictured in Vietnam in 1969 home after serving a year there.  He returned home weighing less than 130 pounds.

My Dad, Dixon Moody, pictured in Vietnam in 1969.

God knows, when I’m close to reaching a new nadir I think about the sacrifice this has taken on me.  When I use that word, sacrifice, I mean the suffering that in a certain light feels absurd.  There’s no other way to describe it but pointless in the normal world.  It’s human to look for meaning and hard to find it, at least for me.  I think about how there’s no guarantee that I’ll be cancer-free after all of this is over.  Even if they find no trace of the disease at the time of surgery, the only unassailable data point is time.  Over time I’ll know if I’ve beaten cancer.  But there’s no option other than to fight it and know that I’m lucky to have great care both at UCSF and in my home.  The harsh reality is that I’m in a zero-point-zero something percentile, just by living close to an amazing cancer center.  I’ve read some distressing statistics about cancer care around the globe, specifically on the high rates of women dying from breast cancer in developing countries.  That’s unfair.

In a recent visit, my doctor was positive with the response the chemo is having on my body.  After he wasn’t able to locate the locate the lump anymore during a manual exam, he smiled at me and said: “You’re defeating this thing.  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.”  Nuggets like these make me think that within his new odious cancer universe, it’s do-able.  I’ll get through it, cross the finish line, and move the hell on.

When I was younger and complained too much about something, like being tired after a grueling twice-a-day swim practice, my father wouldn’t bend.  “If I can survive a year in Vietnam, you can withstand anything,” he repeated (but never elaborated on any details).  Close family friends described the Moody household as a “loving boot-camp” and maybe you get a tiny glimpse why.

Dad– Happy Veterans Day!  Today I’m reminded that you did the impossible and that many, many brave people have endured far more than I.

No solider here!  Just wearing a wig of my old hair and trudging on. Scarf creds to Emily and her mom. xo

No soldier here! Just wearing a wig of my old hair and trudging on.

Related Articles:
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 1)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 2)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 3)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 4)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 5)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 6)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 7)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 8)
Crossing Cancer (Chapter 9)



Categories: cancer

17 replies

  1. Mucho animo Susan. Vas muy bien,
    ya hay buenos resultados. Será un año muy dificil pero pronto lo recordarás como un momento muy duro que lograste superar y ganar. Te admiramos mucho todos los que te queremos en Mexico. Tienes a mucha gente en el mundo que te quiere y admira porque eres una persona generosa, buena y preparada para cualquier lucha. Eso es admirable. El amor y cuidados diarios de Mauricio también te ayudarán mucho.
    Mucho animo Susan. No estas sola. Te quiero mucho.
    Te mando un abrazo muy cariñoso,
    Isabel

  2. Wow!!!!! Maravilloso como siempre!! Gracias!!!!

    Isa

  3. Un abrazo fuerte! Muchas ganas de verte!

  4. Susan, I am sending you strength and love. I have known you since we were little ones swimming in North Carolina and I know how you can fight and win! Love you dearly and love reading your entries. You are truly amazing and truly loved. xoxoxo

  5. I vividly remember a trip to Winston Salem the summer after sophomore year and Dixon and Kate were practicing volleyball in the driveway of your house. Kate was ready to go in and your dad kept her out there serving against the garage doors. Just a few more he kept saying..resilience, fortitude are two qualities her instilled in you and your sisters..the same resilience that will see you through to the other end of this challenge. Thinking of you, sending love and prayers and the knowledge that you will kick this in the ASS.

    Love you tmoo. xoxox

  6. I vividly remember a trip to Winston Salem the summer after sophomore year and Dixon and Kate were practicing volleyball in the driveway of your house. Kate was ready to go in and your dad kept her out there serving against the garage doors. Just a few more he kept saying..resilience, fortitude are two qualities he instilled in you and your sisters..the same resilience that will see you through to the other end of this challenge. Thinking of you, sending love and prayers and the knowledge that you will kick this in the ASS.

    Love you tmoo. xoxox

  7. You are so strong and it brings tears to my eyes reading about your journey. much love–vicki

  8. Dear Susan, You ‘re a soldier to everyone that is around you. You are strong, determinant and positive to overcome any situation. We know this will be history soon. Lost of love and blessing from the Rallo Family.

  9. love you amiga! thinking or you daily and have not doubt this will be a battle that you will conquer and use as a life experience to motivate others. we love you tons!!!

  10. Thinking of you every day, Sooz. You’re a fighter.

  11. Susan, I am late in hearing about your diagnosis and want to let you know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Grace is right, anyone as tough as you will make it to the finish line! I am so glad to hear what a wonderful support network you have. Keep the faith, you are not alone.

Trackbacks

  1. Crossing Cancer (Chapter 7) | Swim4Good
  2. Crossing Cancer (Chapter 8) | Swim4Good
  3. Crossing Cancer (Chapter 3) | Swim4Good
  4. Crossing Cancer (Chapter 4) | Swim4Good
  5. Celebrating and Movin’ On! (10th and Hopefully Last Post in Crossing Cancer) | Swim4Good

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