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In the last two weeks of chemo, your nails get streaked and shadowed as the last of the cells die. Yellowish brown, like dirty animal claws. The highest of the chemical cocktail tides pushing its way out of your very fingertips. You have hit maximum saturation. You have been like an Egyptian hairless cat for months, that money you save on razors and the warm blankest at the hospital being the big bonuses of the treatment. Also, no eyelashes. Well, okay, three randomly placed ones on each eyelid and no eyebrows. The over all effect is one of a lizard. A friendly Geiko insurance kind of lizard, but a lizard nevertheless. Freaky!

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We are always shedding dead cells and skin and hair and aging and transforming, but chemo treatment simply magnifies that which usually goes unnoticed. During the last two weeks the nails have become brittle and broken half way down the nail beds. New growth is coming in healthy and pink. Pushing its way out. My head stubble is getting longer by the day. Hopefully eyelashes are not far behind.

The last week of chemo, as well as the first weeks after are surprising. Unwinding is not linear. It is choppy. Three steps forward, two steps back. Or one forward and three back. Full of energy, or incredibly tired. I do not push through. I rest when my body says to. Sleep is my bestest friend.

A great excitement when you know there is only one more, you are almost done! The horse is racing back to the barn but suddenly it veers right, because, you start radiation in 10 weeks, so you are NOT done yet. Not yet. Not only not done, but stepping into yet another unknown experience of which you should have no preconceived notion of how you will respond. Oh yeah. Shit. I almost forgot…

There is nothing to “get back to”, only where you are now and the unknown you are heading for each moment. Not attempting to recapture, or replicate, but allow something fresh and true with where you are right now to emerge.

When I share these images and these stories, it is so that others who have never ridden this ride, can have a glimpse into what it is like. It is a knowing smile and secret handshake I offer to those who have.

I continue to love the alien that I have become. She who emerged from this deep inner space adventure, stripped down to bare bones, spare and unadorned.

Next stop…Radiation Land. Stay tuned…

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On my birthday 4 months ago

 

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Chemo #1

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Chemo #3

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Chemo #6

 

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Chemo #12

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Chemo #10