the little engine that could

April 15, 2008 § 16 Comments

My blog is like a diet or health club membership. The longer I’m off it, the harder it is to get back on. I’ve had plenty of good ideas. I’m sure I have. I just don’t know what they are at the moment.

It’s been tough. I was two months out of treatment and still had days when exhaustion played the lead role. This wasn’t the “stayed up too late” tired. This was the “who stole my Chi” tired.

Three months out, no change. Four months out, and I realized I felt better during chemotherapy. That was a singular tell.

I was warned about the first year, that it was challenging. That it would take time to recover. There’s even a formula, for every month in treatment you need at least that much time to recoup. I was dismissive. I was different, more resilient. I exercised, ate well and went to acupuncture. This healthy trifecta should have made me a human superball; not only able to bounce back, but bounce back harder.

The only thing that was harder, was life, much harder than I imagined. Turns out I was different, but in a way no one would be envious. I couldn’t tolerate the drug that squelched roaming cancer cells by inhibiting my estrogen.

For months I’d naively pop the daily dose and by the end of the afternoon it felt like my muscles were being torn from my bone. Mornings I was an old engine. Sometimes I wouldn’t start. When I did start up, I was slow moving. Even up and running there was the threat of a breakdown. 

Was this my new normal? I was so far off my mark I didn’t rate a scorecard.

My doctors were sympathetic, but none jumped to conclusions. They suggested I wait another few months and see if things improved. I felt I waited long enough. I stopped taking Femara and for a couple of weeks, I joined the rebellious ranks of the non-compliant. With estrogen in my veins again, I had a joyful reunion with my former self. Enthusiastic, energetic, and able to stay awake past 8p.

The party lasted a couple of weeks, then duty-bound to live cancer-free, I moved on to a second drug designed to stifle estrogen. Aromasin promised solid results. With some luck, I would have fewer side effects. I was as lucky as an average lottery player and just as disappointed. Within a week, a veil of exhaustion descended on me, along with a full accompaniment of sweats and chills, sometimes up to 30 a day. Steady as a metronome, hot-cold-hot-cold a persistent beat of thermal extremes.

I’ve been on drug number three for a few months now and comparatively speaking, I am much better.

Seems the problem all along was my expectations.

I wanted to move fast. I wanted to catch up with everyone else and make up for lost time. I kept slamming on the pedal, but my engine refused to accelerate. It over heated and demanded adjustments, check-ups, tune-ups and attention.

Then I figured it out.

I’m a tempermental sports car, not a Hummer. 

Beep beep.

xoxo Momo


§ 16 Responses to the little engine that could

  • oz says:

    Good to have you back on the web…it was feeling kind of empty without you.

    oxoxo oz

  • Hi Marilyn,

    I wonder about you from time to time. I tried to call Mark awhile back to inquire about you but didn’t get through.

    My best to you.


  • Kelly says:

    so glad your back, and feeling better! Keep posting we are lost without you!

  • Margaret Jeddry says:


    Great to see that you’re writing again.

  • Nina Schwarzschild says:

    Beautiful. Thanks so much for telling us your story.

    Much love,

  • Marilyn,

    Curse those meds that dare mess with your mojo, but bless the gods that gave you your writer’s voice.

    Hot damn, woman, you can write.


  • caryl hull says:

    Hey Marilyn,
    Who knew behind your your big smile and thick head of hair this recovery phase was so damn demanding! PS i don’t know anyone who makes it pass 8:30 these days…there are drugs for that? You are indeed a sports car — racy, full of life and amazingly creative and at 40+ you can BLOG! how hip is that! keep purring along, you are doing great!
    Glad you came out to the party the other night. Spring and good weather will help all the way around.

  • Paul Levy says:

    Hang in there! Great to see you again.

  • Liz Hill says:

    Yup, I can see you now – revving that engine without the desired results – what IS up with that??!

    Maybe this is where the zen part comes in and you just have to let yourself be….whatever.

    I remember saying to myself on the 6 month anniversary of my Mom’s death, “okay, that’s done. I gotta move on!”

    HA – the stars and the moons have other plans for us all I guess, eh?

    Peace to you babe, and thanks for writing again. I missed you.


  • Karen V Stack says:

    A temperamental sports car, huh?… let’s call it like it really is… like a ’75 Triumph Spitfire!

    We have simply GOT to get you a publisher! Your writing is raw, honest and has never failed to put a smile on my face.

    Let me know when you’re ready for another Pomodoro night.


  • paula says:

    well well, those meds skewed up some stuff but those creative juices are there, and ready to be released.
    so potent and mindblowing. Love the words, the emotions, the scent. like flowers abloom. so go girl go. god damn it, such a great writer, now we ALL know.

  • Lorelei says:

    Lorelei says : I absolutely agree with this !

  • I haven’t been on the web much these last several weeks, so haven’t checked on you until today, but I think of you often. Thanks so much for the update. I’m sorry that you have struggled so much, but I’m glad that you have hit a place where your expectations and reality meet, at least somewhat. I’m so glad you are doing better. Know that you are in my thoughts and in my heart.

  • Gail says:

    Been thinking alot about what it means to be “well” and how many bits and pieces need to be in alignment. It’s a delicate balancing act – but when it comes together …. Bam. You feel whole and complete. It doesn’t happen often for me, but it’s a goal worth striving for…..

    The latest advice I got from my therapist was to envision who I want to be in the future and live my life in the present as if it will come true.

    Who knows, but at $110 p/hr she’s got some nifty ideas…

    love to you on these long and lovely days….

  • Oh, you make me cry with your words…”joyful reunion with my former self”…that is exactly how I feel, exactly what we spoke about when we met.

    The tears are still flowing as I write this, but I am smiling because I feel your significant presence in my future!

    Hope Lives, sister!

    Mary Ann

  • sir jorge says:

    wow, a very good post, i just randomly stumbled upon it

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