Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Simple Things

Cancer doesn't just limit your physical capabilities, it also hits the mental ones. Unless it's work- or cancer-research related, I don't want to think about anything too complex. With my world so full of new things to learn about my body, my disease, my prognosis, my medications, my mind gravitates toward the simpler things in life. 

It's almost like a return to childhood. Maybe it's the occasional feelings of helplessness and complete dependence, feelings I haven't felt (and worked all those teenage years not to) in a very long time. But I've surrendered to the security blankets, stuffed animals and thumb sucking (figuratively) when necessary.  

My eyes widen at cookies like I'm a five-year-old and I lick my fingers after brownies like one too. I don't even think about calories and how that gooiness will later render itself on my hips anymore. I just think about how delicious they are and eat them. The chemo seems to kill any chance of gaining weight anyway, in fact I keep dropping it (it's my new diet secret, everyone should try it (sarcasm))! Our cousins sent a basket of Mrs. Fields cookies, some even shaped like flowers with smiley faces on them and I was instantly as happy as a clam. An aunt gave me a stuffed turtle and I have it prominently displayed on the TV stand and I play with it and take it with me to treatments and it makes me smile. 

My sister-in-law, a second grade teacher, sent me a laminated book created by her class full of "Poems to Make Me Laugh" and "Pictures to Make Me Smile" and boy did it work. Poems about splitting pants on the playground or Helga's bad hygiene were just what the doctor ordered. And I've always loved children's artwork, but it never struck me so much. I literally started bawling looking at these beautiful, calming pictures they drew of rainbows, space and underwater scenes ... just breathtaking! 

Dumb bathroom humor jokes, courtesy of several joke books people have sent, and TV shows like "Wipeout" where people bounce around and wrench their bodies on ridiculous obstacle courses with challenges like "big balls" and "sucker punch" sliding around in shaving cream and mud wearing neon-colored spandex are HILARIOUS to me. 

When in the Cancer Center waiting room I don't reach for Time or Newsweek, all I want is trashy celeb mags: US Weekly or People, it doesn't matter. These are things I've never read in my life, but they now provide such an escape to such an abstract world of stresses over celeb baby bumps, drunken rampages or bad hair days that it ironically melts away the things that I worry about. If I try to read about important social issues like starving children in Africa or the threat of nuclear attacks in Korea I just cry, literally. I've never been a crier but my emotions are at peak. If I see a baby, I cry. If I see a beautiful tree, I cry. If I see a dead animal on the side of the street, I cry. 

I used to listen almost exclusively to NPR news and other topical talk radio when in the car, now I hop back and forth between hip-hop and country. How can I feel bad about my problems when these people can't be with the one they love so they "kiss them through the phone" or have to "do the Helen Keller and talk with their hips." Country can be even better: Taylor Swift is my new favorite. It's much happier singing along about high school romance and fairy tale princes than deep, haunting lyrics. And then there's the new Dave Matthews CD that I am in love with --- couldn't have come out at a better time: "Funny the way it is if you think about it ..."

Several friends and my sister have burnt me CDs full of feel-good and lashing out songs which I love. A good soundtrack makes any obstacle easier to overcome and singing out loud has been fantastic therapy. But the one that may have taken me most by surprise was the arrival in the mail of the newest Miley Cyrus CD: the soundtrack to the Hannah Montana movie with a note from Vanessa saying that she always thinks of me when she hears "The Climb." I love Miley Cyrus more than ever now and I'm not ashamed ... I'll sing right along with all the tweens out there. So I'll close with the wise (and simple) lyrics of Miss Hannah Montana: 

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking 
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that 
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going   

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on 
'Cause there's always gonna be another moutain 
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle 
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose 

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah! 


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  2. Hey Karin,
    It's funny how you come to terms that you are just going to enjoy whatever you desire. At this point, you deserve anything you feel like eating or reading or doing. Life is always going on around us whether we are keeping up with the pace or falling behind... sometimes when we go through hardships, we can take a step back and appreciate all that lies around us. Your future is brighter than ever and like I've said before, you will be stronger than you ever thought imaginable. So keep eating those cookies and listening to hardcore rap music! LOL

  3. EVERYONE should lick their fingers after eating brownies... the world would be a much happier place.


  4. Mrs Field's cookies are cool
    Brownies should make you drool
    Funny when a kid splits his plants (unless you're him)
    Or when an elephant piggybacks on an ant (one tough ant, but you're tougher K)

    Celeb stories are so exciting
    Their antics are just so enticing
    Their Botox-shot faces
    As tight as their asses

    Weeping for a dead animal by the road?
    My mother would pull over and pray for its soul
    Tearing up at a pretty tree?
    Emo release for free!

    Nothing like some bathroom humor
    To attack and defeat a sleazy tumor
    I have a little joke up my butt
    A tiny fisher too tiny to cut

    But hey, I'm a fashionable lass
    I'll let the doc shoot Botox up my ass (sometime in the distant future! sigh!)

  5. Karen, you make me appreciate every day more. - Amanda R-P

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