Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I have been in a terrible funk again.  It comes, it goes.  The end of this week it felt like a mule kicking me in the right side of my rib cage.  I have been clenching my jaw, my teeth hurt, my jaw hurts, and cranky as a bear being poked out of hibernation.  And it is not funny.  The tone of my voice is terse.  I am short tempered.  Example:  We go to start rehearsal on Thursday.  I talk to the cast about using all the props that are available.  Some listened, some appeared to ignored me.  Well, that is what it felt like.  I had to bring it up to one of the actors in what seemed like 15 minutes, "please use the prop."  Then about 15 minutes later, the prop is at his feet, but does he pick it up?  No, he just pretends to have it in his hand.  OK, these are not big deals, but to someone who has a fuse that has been burnt out with all the things not being filtered properly through my liver, this was enough for me to sound like an out of control bitch.  We were both wrong.  But it is not up to me to be critical of him.  It is up to me to be the best I can be right now.  And right then, it did not seem like I was being any where my best.  And I guess part of my terseness, my frustration with this actor is that he is one of our directors and regular actors for the Stage Company.  He knows what it feels to be on both sides.  Did he deserve to be spoken to tersely?  No, should he have listened to my harping on props?  Yes.  But no one deserves to be spoken to as I apparently spoke.  I do not deny it, but I am working so hard to focus and be there and do my best all while I am poisoning my liver in the name of chemo, and I am not my best.  I did apologize.  And I meant it, but I can't promise it will not happen again.  I wish I could.  The only way to make sure this does not happen?  To quit the play.  We have it blocked.  We have a lot of the character  development set up.  Now we are waiting for the cast to learn their lines.  This will free their eyes and hands and they can really start to have fun and grow into their parts.  But if I am going to be aggravated and unpleasant to the cast, then maybe I shouldn't be there.  I know that things are going to get stressful at times.  And I know that they don't purposely forget their lines, not pick up their props.  But when half the cast can do it, and the other can't, it is frustrating.  But not a sin, and no reason to let it upset me. But it does.  It is not anger, but that what it feels like.  It is a chemical thing.  I try to take my ativan to minimize this "anxiety".  But I am afraid to take too many at one time. Am I only poisoning my liver by taking these pills?  So am I taking 2 steps forward and one and half back, each time I take more meds?  I don't know.

I will go to rehearsal today.  I will try and do the part where you walk around the theater listening for projection and are we blocking any one.  To try and keep notes over the things that they are doing well, and what things need to be tweaked.  And if I can stay calm and help make this adventure fun for everyone, then I will stay.  If it just stresses and frustrates me, then I will quietly walk away.  Judy is more then capable of directing this by herself.  And with Ms Denise handling props and helping with costumes, and lights.  Everything will be fine without me.  But will I be fine?  I don't play at the Opera House to boss people around or to get aggravated.  No, I do it because I love the process.  I love to watch people taking their free time and memorizing what to say, how to say it and where to say it.  I love watching them when they finally get up on the stage and come alive as the audience responds to them.  To see the bubbles of endorphins bubbling up and out of them popping into smiles on their faces.

So Friday after a long but very productive day at work, I ran by Costco and then came home.  I spent a quiet evening with the kids.  

Then yesterday, Saturday, I spent the entire day gardening.  Does the house need to be cleaned?  Yes.  Does the laundry need to be done?  Well I have worked on that.  But yesterday was not for work, but for gardening.  For play.  And I did.  I dug, I weeded, I put out pots, I cleaned, I moved, did a little here and a little there.  I did not just start in one spot and work my way through.  Instead I worked here and there as I saw something that needed to be done.  That I wanted to do.  That I could accomplish.  And I was outside bending and stretching and reaching and lifting and carrying and loving every minute of the work.  Which did not feel at all like work, but instead like a dance, like play.  Dirt crammed under my finger nails, ant bites, scratches, the spring sun beating down on my shoulders and my face.  As often as possible, I would stop what I was doing and look around, and for the first time in a long time, I saw the garden and what I had accomplished, instead of what needs to be done.  I saw the spring green, the flowers, the buds, the growth.  I see my favorite irises, Kissie, reaching tall green fat leaves that hold the flowers.  That will burst open in pink, mauve and yellow.  And my heart will catch a beat as I see the first one of the season.  And then again each time they bloom.  And the hydrangeas are putting on their flower buds.  The azaleas have peaked and now new spring growth is shooting up out of them.  I can name all the trees in my yard again as the leaves have pushed out.

I got half of my sprinkler system fixed, and it works great.  Now to figure out how to get to the last sprinkler head out of the antique red rose, and then where to put it.  The roses are amazing this year, by next week the yard will be completely filled with their scent.  And more and more flowers will cycle through blooming, seeding and then fading back.  Some will spread underground by producing new tubers or rhizomes.  Some will cast their seeds to the wind.  And I will watch the days roll into each other, and my garden grow and bloom and change.

Peep update.  I woke up this morning to the loudest peeping I have ever heard.  I quickly realized it was one peep.  And sure enough it was one of the barred rock peeps who had gotten out of the tub and was alone and scared with no food or water.  She/he was so happy to see me, and let me pick him/her up and put her/him with the others.  And all is well.  All of the peeps now have full wings with feathers, and all but three have tails and feathers growing up on their shoulders.  I am giving them little treats, a strawberry, grapes, lettuce.  They are more aware of things around them, and not as afraid.  Curiosity has replaced some of their fear.  

Cancer update.  I think  I can feel a difference in the pills.  My liver still hurts, but my mind seems calmer.  I was not as strong as I am used to, but I was stronger then I expected.  I worked slow, and took lots of times of just stopping and looking.  When my liver would pound, I would get a big glass of water and sit down to rest.  I tried to be careful not to get too much sun, to drink plenty of water, to be a normal person.  And I did.  I did not feel like I had cancer yesterday.  I felt like a normal person.  But each time I looked at my garden and how much I have allowed them to grow into disrepair and how they have been ignored, I remembered how long I have been on this journey.  And I have lost so many plants.  But I can grow new ones, I can find each special plant like I did before.  And will I end up with the same ones again?  Who knows.  I will acquire plants like I did before.  Each one at the right time and place.  What does this have to do with cancer?  Everything.  I can not go back in time and have my life without cancer.  But I can have some of the most amazing moments, at the right time and place.  I am feeling good again, strong, a little clearer.  It will take time, but I have faith in my body that I will be like a normal person again.  The cancer will always be there.  It is quite literally part of me, and who I am becoming.  My life used to be separate from the cancer, the little "c".  But more and more it becomes part of the total person I am.  It helps to survive this cancer, to accept it as part of who I am.  To not fight it, to not hate it, to not resent it, not to give in to it, but to accept it as part of who I am and who I will be.  

And now to walk around the yard again, and do a little here and there, and then on to rehearsal.  

Tomorrow I go to the doctor for my two week blood work.  Then Wednesday I will go and see the wonderful and adorable Dr. M.  Reality check, I still have cancer.  I can take a day and pretend that I am normal, cancer free.  But then in two weeks it is time to go back to the doctor and remember that I have Stage 4 lung cancer.  I am growing stronger on this new therapy.  I am able to do more the things that I want to be able to do.  Just ordinary things that we all must do.    And that helps the balance, stretch, push a little, put myself out there, even when I am not my best.  Then a reality check from the doctor.  A slight pull back from pushing too hard, from doing instead of being, and healing.  Like a sweet precious porch visit with Ms Moon, sipping tea, listening to her read me emails that make we cry.  To see her smile.  To hear Vicki's voice over the phone, miles away, talking about her precious grandchildren.  To listen to my cousin catch me up on her family.  To ooh and ah over Ms Judy and Denise's shopping trip to get props and table toppers for the play.  Simply walking around my yard looking, appreciating, working, playing.

This blog started out as a journal on my cancer.  My first line of my first blog, "I am Kathleen and I have cancer."   Then I thought I had thyroid cancer.  Now I know I have lung cancer, but it does not matter what kind of cancer I have, they are my cells, rogue cells overachieving and spreading.  But I met someone who is even more of an over achiever then I am, Dr. M.  And I am happy with my life right now, and I am happy how I am responding to the meds, and right now I am happy to get up and go back out in the sunshine for just a few minutes before putting the top down on the Toy and driving into the OH to help to put up the stage and then rehearsal.  It is another glorious day here.  Another bright sunshiny clear blue sky day.  And yes, I have cancer, so what.


  1. You've made me cry again. Which is good. I love you.

  2. You have a great attitude which may be as powerful as the chemo.