Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pushing Through Like I Said I Would

A throwback photo.

Sometimes I am embarrassed by how I reacted to my initial diagnosis, shocked at how immature and naive I was – invincible! cancer! fighter! At other times, I’m so jealous of who that 26-year-old was. I feel that about other aspects of my life, too, not just dealing with my disease. As time passes and as I age, more difficult things happen, which can leave me guarded, jaded and tired at times.

I feel like things used to be so much simpler, though they probably weren’t, they were just different. But what I can guarantee is that I did not know as much and now that helps or hurts me depending on the situation.

I’ve never been one to say: “ignorance is bliss.” I’m curious, an information gatherer and problem solver almost to a fault. I want to figure everything out and know about not just everything that is happening in my world, but in the greater world around me. I think that’s why I love books and good news coverage and documentaries so much, because these are things that are really happening even if we as people pretend they aren’t.

But right now, in this moment, I know too much. I know that the tremendous pain I’ve been in over the past four days means lymphoma is growing. It is very intense and very concentrated right in my hips and pelvis and sacrum, exactly where it always flares up. It’s at times like this when maybe ignorance would be bliss, and I could just pretend that it’s a fluke – too much squatting when planting our little herb garden.

My doctors and I don’t even need to directly speak it: they know I know and I know they know what’s going on. No one has said: “It’s cancer in your bones that is causing you this pain” just like no one says the ground is wet because it is raining. Why state the obvious, especially when we’re all getting a little tired of acknowledging it?

I’ve been prescribed a new cocktail of pain meds that got me out of the blinding, seething pain that was Sunday and Monday and into the uncomfortable, woozy, nauseating – though pain-free – high that has been last night and today. Tomorrow we will stick with the plan of a higher dose of Gemzar and the addition of the chemotherapy drug, Navelbine. We’ve got to stop the growth as the pain is intolerable.

When I was first diagnosed, I went at this so simplistically. It was a challenge that I would conquer. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I never thought it would be impossible. Now, I’m looking back at 26-year-old Karin for some of that old positivity and confidence.

In my post from May 8, 2009, entitled “Diagnosis,” I wrote:
"So it's confirmed. I have been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.  
I know I'll always remember where I was when the twin towers were hit. In my dorm room at UNH in between classes as our floor mates all started piling into our room to watch the news coverage huddled together. 
 Now I'll always remember where I was when I got this news: with three cocker spaniels, a hot dog dog, a giant poodle, a black and a chocolate lab, two great danes, a furry, white mutt and Sammy at the Granby dog park. With a slobbery baseball in my hand and Sammy wagging her tail at my feet for me to throw it, I got the call from the oncologist. An odd place to receive a life-changing phone call, but the whole thing has been so surreal that it was almost fitting.  I'm feeling better having a diagnosis and am ready to take on this challenge. I'm looking forward to getting better no matter what it takes. My oncologist is "very optimistic" and assures me that the chemotherapy is very effective and that I'm young and strong and will do fine.  A couple more tests scheduled next week then Wednesday is the big "plan of attack" talk with the doc, me and Craig and the first chemo treatment by the end of the week. Feeling overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from so many people, relieved to know what's going on in my body and that there's a treatment, and anxious to zap these cancer cells out of my system.  I will beat this. It's just a matter of pushing through the tough times."

That last statement was at the time so simple and is now so profound to me. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. My wildest imagination couldn’t have fathomed what “tough times” would mean. But whatever was to come at me, I knew that I just had to push through it, like how we all have to put our pants on one leg at a time. Simple as that.

I guess none of us ever know what we’re in for and because of that, there’s not much we can do but promise ourselves that we’ll work through the tough times because those are part of this good life, too. 


  1. Hi Karin,
    I know what you mean about knowing, not knowing, wanting to know and not wanting to know. There is a very fine line between all of this. I think it depends a lot upon the day, your mood and your wanting or not wanting to be in the know as to what you pick. You know that eventually you will ask but you also have to be ready for the answer. You are an extremely bright, educated and curious person and most of all brave. You will get through each set of issues at your own pace and in your own way. You are someone I admire and you should actually admire yourself for your courage and ability to smile your way through your cancer----ever on the teary days.
    Donna and Don Bruno in Torrington

  2. Not knowing is a blessing and a curse. That initial diagnosis can sometimes be like how a child views the world: naive, optimistic, full of hope and even joy. It's easy for those of us not going through your battle to say push PUSH but you need to listen to you. We are all behind you 110%. I admire you for your introspection, how you listen to your body and how eloquently you everything into words. Keep it up love.

  3. The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity
    the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart.
    This cross He now sends you
    He has considered with His all-knowing eyes,
    understood with His Divine mind,
    tested with His wise justice,
    warmed with loving arms
    and weighed with His own hands
    to see that it be not one inch too large
    and not one ounce too heavy for you.
    He has blessed it with His holy Name,
    anointed it with His consolation,
    taken one last glance at you and your courage,
    and then sent it to you from heaven,
    a special greeting from God to you,
    an alms of the all-merciful love of God.

  4. I don't really know you but what I do know is that I love your gift of expression. You move me to near tears (saying a lot, few things do, mostly relating to dogs!). Stay strong.
    The other Karin Diamond

  5. Your writing never ceases to speak volumes, Karin. Moving and descriptive and succinct all at once. Maybe “simple and profound” is all you need right now. Doesn't that seem to be the way with the really important stuff in life?

    What a lesson to us all to look back to our younger selves for the positivity and confidence that we once had. In the midst of tremendous pain and wooziness, you still have such a unique, humble wisdom and you are so good at sharing it.

  6. Karin, I only hope you are feeling better and able to get some rest. Being in pain is horrible...to be able to write and share with the rest of us is extraordinary! Thank you....

  7. A beautiful post, and it made me think of Bob Dylan's cryptic refrain:
    "Ah, but I was so much older then
    I'm younger than that now"

    keep writing, you are an amazing talent.