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Just tell them you’re a cancer patient

'And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.'
-Haruki Murakami

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This year (e.g. holy-fuck-THIS-year)

I was hoping to slide into 43, celebrating, being done with this year that has floored me, surprised me, stunned me. Sometimes, I look back at all that has happened and I am left breathless, no words in me to fathom all that has occurred.

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Go on, go live your life.

And then I had to go back for a second scan - this one that would tell me if the preliminary one, with a small dose of RAI was correct. Perhaps the small dose wasn't taken up by a small subset of cells that had decided to migrate south of my neck. The apprehension of the scan was off-set by the fact that I was starting to feel better, as I was able to get back on my meds, and I could feel them slowly taking affect. My pulse moving into the low to mid-50s. The ability to focus longer. No longer feeling like I needed to melt. The swelling around my eyes going down slightly. 

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On the cusp of knowing

I hadn't realized I had been holding my breath for months, since my surgery, really. I hadn't realized that it was a big deal, or maybe I downplayed it, because what could I do, really? It is all so out of my control.

But it all is, isn't? This whole little life of ours.

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Forgetting and remembering.

Days blended into days, my routine becoming normal, back to living my life. It was easy to ignore, easy to forget. I felt normal, I was encouraged to return to all my activities and live my life.

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What lies within

Tomorrow marks 8 weeks since my surgery. Eight weeks since part of my body was removed. A part of my body that was actively trying to kill me; growing and spreading to nearby organs. A part of my body that served a function, but now is replaced by a synthetic hormone I wake early to take each morning.

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Choosing all the figs

I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, the feeling of fall. One of those beautiful early fall days, crisp, sunny, blue skies. It's not yet fall, with hopes for more summery days over the next few weeks, but the feeling of transitions, of seasons changing.

September 1st. Tonight, I was scheduled to be on a flight to India; first to Delhi, and then onto Ladakh, for 3 weeks of trekking and climbing in the Himalayas.

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Just in case

I drunkenly worked to take off the toenail polish, questioning the decisions of the hospital - why my toenails?!, but following them anyways. Superstitiously. If I do all the things, I will be ok.

I gulped down a glass of water. 11:30. Only half an hour more of taking anything into my body. In the back of my mind, I questioned the beers, assuring myself they would be out of my system come morning and congratulating myself instead for not getting high along with everyone else I was out to dinner with.

This moment had come on too soon. From the time we scheduled the surgery two weeks prior, I worked hard to put the reality of it out of my mind, other than the fears that would seep in around the edges in unexpected moments.

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High Risk

I used to climb mountains. We would talk about the risks - all the objective and subjective risks. The risks you can control and the risks you cannot. Weather and crevasses and roping up and routes and conditions. Judgement calls and other people and how your body responds to altitude. So many risks, all to be considered and managed. For anyone who spends time in the mountains, it is that risk, that fine line we walk that is part of why we go out there. To be able to play with that risk, to manage it and come out the other side, safe and sound, but having lived it.

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‘Frida is setting shit on fire’

"She doesn’t mind making someone slightly uncomfortable, because she recognizes that death is always on the way."

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