Happy Holidays!

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It’s December. Happy Holidays! I hope you are all well, enjoying the days of darkness and the promise of rounding the bend back towards more light with solstice.
My life is peaceful which I adore. I continue with my weekly chemo infusions, now over at OHSU which I refer to as my spa. It is a warm space to spend time – so much so that I rather enjoy my weekly ritual. The low, steady chemo dose approach is much easier to tolerate and even the projection that I would lose my hair seems unlikely. It is thinning (and I leave a trail of hairs as I move about) but not so much that I fear being bald. Small victories that I relish! I have added in fasting before and after the chemo in the hopes that it saves my good cells and targets my cancer for the toxics. Who knows. Each effort I make adds to my sense of possibilities.
Being a patient at OHSU is wonderful. It’s vibrancy exudes hope, whether for you or the next patient, but you can feel the hum of progress. I now get to experience a health team that is fluent on MY CASE. They seem to have systems that allow them not to appear wasted from an overwhelming workload. They are cheery and aware. And treat me like a colleague as well as the patient.
A favorite moment being when they asked me something about my confidence in the current treatment plan. My response included the intent “to be around until I am 72.” The doc turned to her computer without pause and said as she typed, ” well, thats a pretty important goal to get in your chart.”
I am moving towards testing with the exact dates yet to be set. I had hoped to stall until after the holidays but that may not work. Luckily, my blood tests indicate that I am responding to this chemo, although I need to remind myself that in this long 15 months of progressing while on chemo, my blood work showed I was responding, and I was. It’s just that I was also managing to grow new cancer. But with a 10 cm tumor surgically removed in October, the hope is that I have a head start this time.
The vaccine trial that we are trying to get me fully accepted in to awaits. Vaccines best hope of working is with patients that have a very low amount of visible tumor, ideally none. They are not equipped to disappear existing tumors. Their goal is to re-calibrate my body to be able to fight off future cancer deformities as they happen – like is happening in the bodies of the rest of you that do not have cancer growing. (Yes, you too have cancer, your bodies just evict it.) My intent is to go to UPenn regardless of what the scan shows and argue my case. That will likely be in mid January.
A hearty thank you to all who humbled me by attending my Livingly Dying reading on November 15th. It was lovely to see a standing room only crowd. My apologies to those closest to the door who stayed despite not being able to hear!
much love, marcy
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About marcy westerling

I am a long time community organizer with a passion for justice and founded the Rural Organizing Project in 1992. Derailed by a Stage IV Ovarian Cancer diagnosis in spring 2010, I have stayed in treatment since then. I am learning how to embrace livingly dying and hope that by starting a Phase One immunology clinical trial at UPenn in spring of 2013 I will have more time to find the sweet spots of thriving while terminally ill.

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