It’s a mad, mad, mad world!

Everyone is feeling the stress of our world, which seems to have gone crazy! Dealing with cancer is just another part of the stress.

My own world of living at the end of pancreatic cancer seems to be just one more element of change and uncertainty.

One of my goals for this blog was to be able to support people who are also living with end-stage cancer, pancreatic cancer, if possible. I was connected to a friend’s cousin who was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March, 2020 and began a treatment regime of chemotherapy that paralleled my own experience. She was also a motivational factor behind my last post, Pro Tips. We spoke occasionally and while I was supposed to be her support and cheerleader, her model of survival, she was my support too. She was even more positive than me about her ability to fight this disease. Sadly, she lost her fight last week. Just 6 months into the battle. Her experience is the common experience with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It reinforced for me that I am the “outlier”, the person who defies logic. 

Why am I surviving?  Should I be doing something to help this “gone crazy” world? One of my sons wisely chided me for that comment – “What! Do you think you should be doing something that would win you a Nobel Prize?”  Hm-m, no. But something??

Instead, I get to deal with another blockage of my bile duct. (What a terrible label of a body part). Another surgery. While my body didn’t like the experience of losing body parts in my younger years (appendectomy), it also doesn’t like to gain metallic body parts, such as stents. So, I spent an unexpected day in the hospital getting fluids, pain meds and every test available for infections while a brother from Cleveland visited and had the honor of caring for his sister. I left the hospital with another drug being added to my list of allergies with the rare reaction of the serious heebie jeebies, feeling overwhelming discomfort of being in my own body. A get-out-of-body anxiety reaction.

And as my body continues to react with pain, I’ve been informed I must learn to accept daily opiate use to combat the pain. I’ve reached that point in the progression of the disease.  It certainly is easier to pretend the disease isn’t winning when you don’t have pain. So, I’ve created a “druggie chart” to help monitor my drug use. But that doesn’t mean I will stop focusing on living. My thought processes have always been rather fluid, so most people won’t notice my new relaxed zen style.

So, what is a person to do….to help them survive as Wisconsin leads the nation in rising COVID cases? We purchased an outdoor gas fireplace, were gifted (from wonderful family members) an overhead gas heater that restaurants use and perhaps may have to build warming igloos so I don’t have to be so isolated in these winter months. Perhaps, my last months.

So, what is a person to do…when the political world seems in chaos, with a debate that belonged on VEEP. Wauwatosa is surviving days of serious protests that are only blocks from our home. One night after hearing the helicopters and protests all evening, a loud knocking woke us all from sleep, our dog barking and running in circles and my sleepy husband yelling about woodpeckers as he chased the dog. Chaos in our home with no explanation for the knocking. A mirror of the world.

As a therapist, I learned that the best stress reduction activity during times of anxiety, when there’s nothing you can do to change the world, is just do something normal. Keep to normal routines.

So, I’m cleaning windows. I hate cleaning windows. And clean windows doesn’t qualify for a Nobel prize. Each fall, I try unsuccessfully to clean them as I pull down the storm windows preparing for winter. For some crazy reason, this year it is calming me. It’s the normal activity I can connect with in a world that is anything but normal.

If I’m not out walking or napping, you will find me most days near a window with a rag in my hand, attempting to clean and trying to locate those nocturnal woodpeckers.

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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

3 thoughts on “It’s a mad, mad, mad world!”

  1. Kathy, you continue to amaze and marvel me. Your are my star. I feel your pain and body violation with the need for the bile duct stent -been there, done that – a few times. Though I know being on pain meds is a turning point for you, thank God and doctors for them. Take advantage of the relief they bring – you deserve that relief. I love you so much and wish I could shoulder so.e of your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy, thank you for all of your kindness and spport that you provided to Janis. She always was so grateful that I introduced you to her. Two positive soldiers working together during her 6 month fight of Pancreatic Cancer. She lost her battle last Monday with her husband and three boys by her side.
    You made a difference Kathy❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy – I’m sorry to hear of this more recent change with the pain level getting worse for you. Your post brings another layer of understanding on what you are dealing with. I must say that your attitude and insights on it combined with all the craziness that we are living through (including the extra stress of the Wauwatosa activity recently) always makes me marvel… and amazingly often bring a smile as well! (The story of the knock on the door was great!). Sending loads of love. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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