Wednesday, March 3

3 down, 5 to go...

I don't know about you, but for me, hearing that someone has been diagnosed with cancer brings dark gloomy imagery to my mind's eye. I haven't been close to anyone going through treatment, so haven't seen what receiving chemo entails, so I have only had my imagination to fill in the blanks. With an unclear picture, my view had no clear details, but colors of darkness, gloomy grays, sludgy browns, encircled by sterile whites and chemical scents would probably be the closest I could come to imagining the unknown. Of course I've seen beautiful, vibrant people interviewed, heads wrapped in colorful scarves, or playful hats, faces bright and illuminated, speaking from a place I never dreamed I'd visit.

Now that I'm on the 'inside' I understand it's not really different than anywhere else. There is the full spectrum of color, life, and laughter here, as there is every where. I thought I'd share a window into one of the rooms that cancer treatment inhabits.

Today was my third of eight rounds of chemo. I'm being treated at Phelps Hospital, in Sleepy Hollow, NY, through a branch of Memorial Sloan Kettering. Every area of the oncology department greets your with a beautiful salt water tank. The chemo department has the smallest, but no less enjoyable of the three (oncology, radiation, chemo).

They really are fun, and soothing, to watch. I'm afraid the second guy could use the visit of a good orthodontist though!

The view from the room where we receive our chemo treatments is a wonderful one - overlooking the Hudson River.
Here I am, getting comfortable and receiving fluids with the anti nausea medication that precedes the chemo itself. There are eight stations with big recliners and an upright guest chair for any company we bring with us...

and here I'm trying to catch up on email while my husband cracks me up! Near by a patient has an allergic reaction to his treatment, while another wretches from the nausea she is experiencing. I feel very fortunate that I'm doing well...

I was alone during my first two rounds,
but my husband came with me this time,
which was really nice, and made the ride home a whole lot easier, too, as the nausea I didn't feel during treatment suddenly moves through me.

Now I'm home and getting ready to settle into a comfortable ball, with a pile of pillows, a blanket and a cup of tea...


  1. Wow! It is beautiful to be able to find the light in what could have been a dark place. Thank you for being able to do so and for demystifying the process some. Take care x

  2. Dearest matter where you go and no what you're involved in I've always known you to make the most and the best of each helpful and inspiring it is to see you helping us learn what this new chapter entails...bowing in your direction my friend.

  3. this is a gift on so many levels. it helps everyone see your spunk and courage, helps the love encircling renee, educates and enlightens.

    i hope your treatments allow you to rest comfortably and i'll be counting along with you at this point.


  4. Thank you for sharing a step of your current journey, Karin, and for showing all that may fear this particular journey that there is colour, light, and laughter to be found there. So good to see you and your husband smiling. Be the change, dear one. Love & bright wishes. xx

  5. Just look at that radiant smile! Karin you are a star.

    What? No kissing fish? In several waiting rooms where I sat waiting for my husband to finish various treatments there were fish tanks .... so relaxing ..... and I was often entertained by kissing fish. They would slowly float around the tank mouth to mouth.

  6. I really appreciate you sharing this post with us. Your smile lights up the room. I'm so glad it's not all dark for you. I'm sending you healing vibes, my friend!!

  7. Yes! that awesome smile! it says all is well always!!!
    my dear neighbor has been through it twice now and so I understand the process. so nice to see you bringing such vibrancy to such a clinical setting! sending you lots of healing and silly happy vibes, cara mia! xoxox

  8. HUGS! I recognize the chair and set up (it became so familiar when I was expecting and getting my infusions for ITP, during my pregnancy). I wish I was there with you now, to keep you company and chat while you sit.

    I'm thinking of you, girlfriend, and wishing you all the best. Also, if I figure out how to bottle it, I'll be sending you some of little man's hyper energy. I have a feeling you could be using a dose or two right about now.

    Take care,


  9. we have fish tanks all around MD Anderson...someone must have done some kind of study wherein is was found to be good for cancer sufferers.
    a friend had/has lymphomia (sp?) he had no sickness with his chemo and said it was no big deal. that was 2 years ago and he is doing fine.
    I could go on all day about the big C, too much around too many.

    Hang in there baby, you are worthy of fighting for

  10. For what it's worth, hearing someone's been diagnosed with cancer brings up far less dark gloomy imagery to my mind than it used to. When I was growing up, I thought of that as pretty much synonymous with hearing someone's going to die. In recent years, though, it seems like one relative or close friend of the family after another has been diagnosed...and, in a number of cases, expected to die...and each one has survived. And, it even seems like the stories I hear about chemo sound far less harrowing (I tend to think of that book I read in junior high "Death Be Not Proud," which I think took place in the early days of chemo).

    So, it's good to see you smiling, and to know that your husband and the fish are there. Enjoy your tea...

  11. Karin- Love the phoos of you, you little cutie face! The sassiness of the fish can only mean that they feel secure knowing with all of that nausea going on, they will not be some body's dinner...snack, I guess, they are just nuggets.

  12. John... Love him for keeping you laughing!

    I'm diggin' the fishes too.

    Rest well, dear one. Enveloping you in a soft blanket of golden-white healing light.

  13. I love seeing the photos of you and John ... and the fish ... They are mesmerizing, aren't they ...

    Loving you huge xoxoxoxoxoxxo

    P.S. Have you heard anything from or about our Renee??

  14. Thanks for sharing your experience of chemo here. For those of us who've never had cancer or had a loved one go through it, we are as much in the dark as you were.

    I'm so glad you've got fish and a lovely view and a wise-cracking hubby to keep you company.

    And I continue to send best wishes and happy vibes to you! You're such a strong and beautiful soul and I just know you're gonna come through this with flying colours! xo

  15. Interesting post about the chemical process of your day.
    Rest n recover for a few days would be the next step.
    Wow, you got to blog there-cool! I hear it can get pretty boring.

    Those fish are adorable- I think it's the eyes...

  16. you are so strong! nice to see pictures and to read your powerfull post

  17. I assumed the same about the gloomy darkness but what an insight you have given us. The lovely fish and the beautiful view must make such a difference. I took my mother-in-law for radio therapy for many weeks and the building was soo dull,you felt doubly depressed by the end of the visit and I was the well one!!
    That husband of yours has such a nice face hasn't he? Special people obvoisly, both of you.

  18. That was my hope - a little demystification. Seeing what actually is always puts my imagination at rest, so I figured it might for others that don't know but care about those going through something once hidden. Thanks for your visit Betsy! xo

    Hey D, thanks so much for seeing that in me. I return the bow :) sending love, K

    Hi kj, yes, I think about our friend Renee non stop. I haven't been able to bring myself to address it here, but I hold her so close in my heart.
    Thanks for joining me in the countdown :)

    You're welcome Carol Anne - yes, it's so important to find that balance in our darker challenges, isn't it? My husband is a big smile maker for me!! xox

    thanks Robyn! Oh man, I'd LOVE to have kissing fish to watch - what riot!!

    Hi Manon, than you for those healing vibes - they help add to that light!!

    Hee, silly happy vibes are the best :D thanks Cat xoxo

    Hey Liz, yeah, the big old infusion chairs! They are universal, aren't they?! Ohhh, I'd love a bottle of little guy energy!! My oncologist has prescribed something they've found helpful when the fatigue is as intense as mine, where days go by that I wasn't even able to muster the energy to make a sandwich, or eat properly. I will give it a tentative try, since I don't like taking more meds... Big hugs to you, too!

    I think you're right Paige. There's a beautiful tank at my dentist's office too! Probably any potentially high stress environment can use one. I agree - so much cancer these days. With no family history or typical risks, my diagnosis is a good example of how anyone is susceptible. Very glad to hear your friend is well and handled the treatment with ease. Everyone is so individual, but it's good for people to know there are those experiences out there.

    Hey Dr J, I'm with you on the knowing that cancer is far from the death sentence is once was, and am so glad that talking about it isn't a hidden practice any longer. I guess because I am a visual person, my imagery is more about the cancer itself - feeling the sense of dark sludge growing and taking over internally, within the body. A shadow that lies hidden, trying to take it's host before it is found out. I have had very sinister feelings about cancer - and long before I got it, thinking about it mainly pissed me off! I don't like parasitic energy, but the truth is all life is parasitic - relying on consuming something else! Anyway, that's where my darkened images come from - the internal stuff. My tea was very soothing, thank you :)

    God I love your sense of humor Linda Sue - Yes, those fishy tid bits are very safe out there. I asked about their feeding and learned that they only get fed three ties a week! They get clams and other sea food "no flakes for them", said the receptionist :)

    Hey EM, yeah, that John :) I'm taking in that golden glow, thank you

    Hi Jaliya, no I'm afraid there hasn't been further word about Renee. We can only send our prayers and love to help carry her peacefully on to the next plane...

    you're welcome Svasti, and thank you for your loving support my friend, xoxox

    Thanks Snaggle tooth - yeah, we get free wi-fi there. Pretty nice!!

    Thank you Valerie :)

    Hi Whitney Anne, I know - there are some offices that are so incredibly depressing. When I was going to a pain clinic I always left feeling so much worse than when I arrived, just because it was such a dirty, broken down environment. These offices are very comfortable - i have the radiation treatments to come and they are daily for 6-7 weeks, so I'm very grateful to have a nice place to go. Yes, my husband has a very nice face!! I couldn't get him to fully smile, but he's got light up eyes :)

  19. It is so good to see you with a great big smile on your face. You are almost half way through, yay! Wishing you well xxJ

  20. You are am amazing person; this post is brave, delightful, insightful and thoughtful - I wish you the best.. and I wanna see more great art!

  21. What a great idea, to post pics of your treatment and tell a little about it. I think everyone's afraid to be diagnosed with the illness beginnning with "C" one day...I mean, nobody wants to talk about it...let alone know what it's like to receive treatment for it. We all have the most awful images in our heads. But like you say, there's even laughter there, in what may very well not be the darkest place on the face of this earth. Sometimes the darkest places are behind the brightest smiles. So, thank you for showing there's light in the dreaded "darkness".
    And especially good luck to you! I hope you'll get through the chemos well so that you remain to see light and colors! They will help you heal!

  22. what an inside view - of something that can really only be understood when experienced. so glad John was there. Now, about that fish...

  23. We are all by your side on this part of your journey!

  24. Oh Karin! karin! Oh dear. I read your comment on Renee's blog and I was trying to comprehend and when I understood I wanted to deny it. Oh dear Lord. God bless you my dearest Karin. I shall pray for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You were anyway because of your hands and now. Darn cancer affecting so many of my beautiful friends and family members.

    You look well, very brave of you. Please know I am praying for you, fervently so.

    My dear sisterfriend!

  25. i have to ashamedly admit- I'm scared to go THEre with you. I also have never been really close to someone in treatment. I also filled in the blanks with all kinds of horrible stuff. But you, well, once I had the courage to read all the way through, made me feel like, Yeah, she's doing it. I could do it too maybe. I want you to get through it bravely.... for me... and for others. It's not all about me though. I want you to be okay. ... but then, again, that would make ME feel a whole lot better. Forgive me for being so shallow. I haven't waded in the pools you tread so gracefully in.

  26. You have amazing strength and spirit, Karin. I'm praying that these treatments do what they are supposed to do. I'm so sorry for the awful side effects. Your art says it all.

    By the way, both my daughters were born at Phelps. :)

  27. I just came across your blog through Paige who named us both in some posts! You are a brave and very artistic lady and I wish you a full recovery as your Dr J mentioned, it is not the big bogey it used to be any more.

    I love what you are doing with your Mandala Journal and I shall be popping in to see how you are getting on with your treatment.


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