Penny’s Blog

Letting the days go by

Posted on: November 20, 2008

The message is finally sinking in this past week or so: I need to lower my expectations for myself between now and March. People told me, and now I’m appreciating, that even the most trivial activities and plans of my regularly-scheduled life will just have to be put on hold until chemo season is over. No new projects will be launched, no stacks of books read, no quilts made, no awards for “Most Chipper Cancer Patient” earned. At the most basic level my body is just a host for the chemotherapy process, and the goal is to survive it.

This became pretty clear during the last bunch of “down” days. My earlier expectation about the treatment cycle was that on my “down” days I’d take it easy—do a little reading, drink some tea, write a letter, maybe get some knitting done… cozy as a Mary Engelbreit greeting card, the homey kinds of things you’d do on a snowed-in day. It’s been hard to let go of that fantasy. The fact is, on my “down” days I do just about nothing. There’s nothing cute and cozy about this kind of day… it’s queasy and flat and dull, visited by a sense of impending doom… a day not to be enjoyed, just tolerated until bedtime.

And then one day I wake up, and the morning’s tentative “?” is answered with a “!”—it’s an “up” day. I’m perfectly fine, as if yesterday had just been a bad dream. I look healthy (only the stubbly pate gives me away) and feel cheerful. I go to work. The brain functions. Food is digested. Humor is appreciated. I sense possibility and potential ahead. I have to ration my energy a bit, don’t accomplish anything superhuman, but that’s okay. I’m happy.

The trick is to see the “up” days not as an expected norm, but a groovy bonus. I figure there’ll be at least 7 of those days during each 3-week cycle, and I’m going to try to appreciate the hell out of them.

As for the other days, I’m just going to get through ’em and X them out on the calendar. Accumulate enough Xs, and it’ll be spring. That’s what I’m aiming for.


4 Responses to "Letting the days go by"

Dear dear Penny,
I know exactly what you mean with just getting through–you will! You are 1/3 of the way through already! Day by day and it will pass. Ride those good waves whenever you find them….I hope I can ride one with you.

Hey Penny- I’d give my URL if I knew what it was. But I found the blog. No food – However, go to YouTube and look up Les Misbarack. Do you walk your cat on a leash? I’ll walk yours if you show me how.I’m cat sitting for a friend and she left me a leash but I can’t figure out how it works- the cat stays inside. You stay in my prayers. See you soon. Love- Shabari

Screw Mary Engelbreit. As my son would say, “the cake is a lie!” Forget others’ expectations but not their positive energy. Remember and feel the love; reject the rest. We’re all idiots about the experience(s), but love you nonetheless.

Hang in there, Sis. You don’t owe anyone anything. There are no rewards for bravery or good-patient-ness, and no one thinks less of you for being down. I know that some days it can be hard even to be thankful for just having one more day. At least each passing day brings you closer to the end of this treatment. Love, Jonathan

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  • dswope: I just happened by after my I received an email from a close colegue that he was headig for IVPalooza. All I knew was that it was a form of chemo.
  • Brian: Hi Penny; When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma I found your site. Reading about what you went through was incredibly helpful to me. Tha
  • Tricia: Still here; still caring; still rooting you on!


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