Rolling forward

Thank you. Thank you for your patience and your support and your prayers. Chemo week is fast approaching, so I welcome your prayers especially on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!

In the meantime, I feel SO much better than I did during my last chemo week. Physically and emotionally, that was a difficult week. Every spot that had a tumor screamed in pain. My back spasmed intensely from the neulasta shot. I felt gross and off-center from the chemo, and I was exhausted. The icing on the cake: I felt indescribably sad.

If anti-depressants can lift you from a poor mental and emotional state and put you in a better place, chemo took me from a better place and put me in a poor mental and emotional state. I couldn’t snap out of it, use logic, or any of my usual tools. I was stuck simply experiencing it. It wasn’t fun or cheery or light or soul-filled. I literally just wanted to die.

Compared to my post-chemo week, I thought that the chemo session itself went well. I recalled watching a movie and staying awake during the entire infusion.

But then Valerie called me three times this past week to check in. I adore Valerie but we rarely talk on the phone and typically don’t “check in.”

When I eventually returned her call, I learned that she had called me during Tuesday’s chemo session, and while I was getting the infusion, I fully unloaded my soul to her. I shared my worries. I cried. I talked about my dark vision of my future and my concerns for my family. The nurse even joined our conversation at one point. We talked for a full hour.

I remember none of this. None. Not even when she recounted it.

I’m glad that she repeatedly called to check on me. Yes, it was good to talk with her (especially since clearly, I didn’t remember our prior conversation). But also, our follow-up call helped me to appreciate that (long) moment of conversation during chemo, and she reminded me of some insights we shared at that time. All good things.

I also bring this up because if I forget a conversation, neglect to respond to an email, or otherwise drop the ball, please please know that it isn’t intentional. Obviously, I am blanking out on large parts of my life, even parts I value. Be annoyed, but do feel free to remind me, even repeatedly, of anything that needs a reminder.

Thankfully, I moved out of last week’s deep, dark post-chemo place. The bike arrived, and life started to turn around. I truly believe that God was working through whomever delivered that bike. Their grace kicked off a theme that continued for over 24 hours. Get this:

Sunday night: The bike arrived. Happy happy joy joy.

Monday morning: The sitter took my older son biking (not on the new bike – that was mine to ride first!) During the ride, she lost the key to my bike lock, setting off a string of drama about that lock which consumed all of us, all day. Small problem, I know, but chalk it up to post-chemo mood swings. And note: Bike theme.

Monday night: I posted a thank you on my blog to my generous anonymous friends. My friend, Tom, was watching Dora the Explorer and, after reading that post, he looked back at the show. At that moment, Dora was receiving a yellow tandem bike to help her solve her quest. No kidding. Love that. And love that he shared that. I decided that my yellow tandem bike was helping me solve my quest.

But wait, there is MORE on the bike theme! My friend, Ig, reminded me of one of my favorite StoryPeople quotes:

Life Cycle

This is a special bike that’s not very good at listening to excuses, so it takes you exactly where you really want to go & if you kick & scream it makes you pedal harder & go up steeper hills until you’re too out of breath to complain & after awhile, if you’re lucky, you start to see that it doesn’t really matter if you laugh or cry, because it just wants to ride like the wind.

I had been kicking and screaming and pedaling as hard as I could, going up steeper and steeper hills until I was finally too out of breath and out of strength to complain. I literally plopped myself in the backyard and just looked at the sky. Exhausted, I could now only go along for the ride. Then I began to feel the wind in my very short purple hair and smiled.

Thank you, yellow tandem bike givers, for getting this all rolling. Thank you, everyone who was part of all the unfolding (even the sitter who lost the key to the lock – I’m sure there is some cosmically-connected message in there somewhere!). Thank YOU, most of all, for reading and bearing witness to all this. I send you much love.


17 thoughts on “Rolling forward

  1. WOW. I feel so out of touch. How are you? And do you really have purple hair? I must see it.

    Samantha starts school at Carroll tomorrow. We are hanging in.

    Miss you. Sending love your way. ox

  2. So looking forward to seeing purple-haired you zooming along on the tandem. OK–bold question–can we have a tandem play date soon? I LOVE tandems and would welcome riding with you!

    xoxo Ann

    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse typos and any odd or unusual autofills.

  3. Dear Marie,

    I am SO happy to have been a part of your positive rebound from despair during you rest week! As I mentioned by email, when I looked up from reading your bike post & immediately at that very moment saw Dora being presented with a yellow tandem bike to help her finish her quest it was a major “WHOA!” moment, my hair stood on end/CHILLS! I just had to email you immediately! I knew it was a sign (I was telling my wife, I can’t remember if I have ever seen a yellow tandem bike in any TV show before – what are the chances to see one at that very moment?!). I think your interpretation is bang on – not only is the mystery gift meant to help you to fulfill your quest but also to show you that you won’t be riding down that path alone – you’ll have help steering & peddling…

    Your brutally honest writing of chemo week hit a chord – email me anytime you want/need, I’ve approached that dark place you’ve described before — but thankfully so far I have always been able to find light in the darkness when I needed it most… you’ll be in my thoughts & prayers especially on Tues-Thur this week-


  4. I know this will be a much better week for you. You are mentally prepared for this, you are stronger, you are awesome, and you are loved. And you are in our prayers. xo

  5. wow! I feel breathless just reading all of this.  Marie, I wish with all my heart I had a magic wand to wave all of your miseries away!  Still, so happy to hear that you are feeling less miserable.  Sending you love    jan


  6. Hi don’t “know” u personally but I’m in the middle of 6 mos of chemo and so related to this post. Feel like the inner well is dry but well I’m sitting in the chemo cubicle as I type. Best wishes. Holding you in complete health. Xoxox

    • Oh the same to you, Jennifer. The nurse told me this week that it is in our difficult depths we learn our strength. Frankly, I could live without knowing my full strength but we are where we are. Sending healing prayers your way as well as prayers for a good chemo session.

  7. Dear Marie, Been thinking of & praying for you this entire chemo week. Every patient reacts to chemo differently but for my 5-FU infusions, I start to feel better (aside from esophagus hurt that was delayed) about this point in the chemo cycle so I hope you are starting to feel better this morning as well!

    You wrote that the infusion made you feel “gross and off-center from the chemo, and I was exhausted”. Exactly how it makes me feel… I described it as being “I had so much fun at the party last night that I have a horrible hangover & can’t even remember the party!”. Made me laugh as I pretended to try to remember/imagine what may have happened at such a crazy party…

    BTW I already thought of you pretty often but now I think of you whenever I see Dora — which based upon my younger girl’s infatuation with her books, apparel & show – is VERY often!

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