I’m Still Here: My Year in Review

Six years ago today, I started this blog. So, first of all, thank you, dear readers and friends, for visiting, emailing, commenting, sharing, and generally making this labor of love worthwhile. You have definitely put the ‘social’ in social media. I’m glad I’m still here.

Things I Did in 2014

1. According to all my requisite tests, I remained free of cancer. Or, at least, whatever cancer can be detected by means of these tests. You never know. You do what you can.

2. I took what might be considered an embarrassing number of mostly cellphone pix of my cat Fiona. And why not? She’s eminently photogenic. There are, however, several other reasons for this. Not the least of them is that she’s my one remaining fur baby. Since I started this blog, which was shortly after finishing acute cancer treatment, I’ve lost four of the five fur babies I’ve had the pleasure of living with in the past six years. Three of the ones I’ve lost were cats, including the inimitable Chloe, a glamorous peach-point Himalayan; a silly, lovely black Persian male named Jett; and the incomparable Teddy, a gray and white Manx who was more popular among my Facebook friends than I was. The other fur baby I lost was my dog, Foxy. I miss them all. One of the things I noted from the start about being diagnosed with cancer is that, while it frightened me witless, wore me out, drained my bank account, and pissed me off, it didn’t break my heart. Losing my fur babies? That broke my heart.

And this past summer, for a few awful weeks, I was afraid I was going to lose Fiona, too. She developed hyperthyroidism, a not unusual health problem for older cats. But it snuck up on us so stealthily that, by the time her symptoms become obvious, she quickly developed other symptoms that are sometimes called a thyroid storm. Not only had she lost a significant amount of weight, but due to the stress on her system, she also exhibited cardiac and respiratory distress, and neurologic symptoms that manifested as seizures. She’s fine now, back to her normal fluffy self, everything behaving as it should, and taking her methimazole twice a day in her nutritious wet food. I may only have her for a few more years, but I want every minute of them that I can get. Hers is the face on my little web avatar, resting on my computer keyboard when I post comments on blogs, and I intend to keep her there as long as I can. So, in the meantime, she’ll just have to put up with my picture-taking.

3. I shredded about 38 cubic feet of paper, or the equivalent of about 20 good-sized cartons. It continues to mystify me, in this digital age, that I end up with so much paper, but there it is. Most of this accumulation was a direct result of being completely poleaxed by cancer treatment. Cancer-related fatigue is a subject about which I’ve posted many, many times, and has undoubtedly been for me the most life-altering aspect of cancer treatment. Needless to say, when about all I could manage for days and months and years on end, after dragging myself home from work, was to collapse into bed for a nap, scrape together some food for me and my pets, make sure I paid my bills, and keep the house from falling down, keeping up with the disposal of extraneous paper was very far down on my to-do list. So, it would get piled up, then stuffed into boxes or brown paper grocery bags, which would then get stuffed into whatever corner I could find, and summarily ignored. Until this year. There are still a few more cubic feet to go. But I’m on it now, and I have a lot more floor space. More room to dance.

4. I turned sixty. So did several friends, and a lot of other people, like Rene Russo and Denzel Washington, as well as writer Anne Lamott, with whom I share my date of birth. So far, it’s been pretty good being sixty. I may be slower, but I’m also a lot wilier.

5. I divested myself of a lot of stuff. Clothes, mismatched socks, tchotchkes, broken patio furniture, dead batteries, electronica. I recycled where I could, and the Big Sisters got a lot of donations. Maybe it’s something to do with getting older, but I’ve gotten to that point where I just feel like I have too much stuff. I’ve even made a pact with some of my friends about it. We now try to gift each other with experiences rather than things whenever possible.

6. I planted new plants in my garden. My long-term goal is to replace as much grass as possible with plants. Lawns are so overrated. It’s also nice just to have a long-term goal. For a few years there, I was afraid to make any goals at all. Perspective, baby. Buzz off, cancer.

7. I created a few memorable internet memes. The most successful of these was the Pinknado meme, which was created for a post that kicked off that hideous period of pink merchandizing excess known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I don’t know what officially constitutes having a meme go ‘viral,’ but I do know that my Pinknado poster was widely and satisfyingly shared over various social media. I can also report that it was printed, with my permission, to poster size and is hanging on the walls of a few like-minded souls. It was also featured in an article about cultural resistance to the Pink Peril by writer Gayle Sulik for the Breast Cancer Consortium. Among my favorites, it was even used, poster-sized, as part of a college sociology class, along with a showing of the documentary film, Pink Ribbons, Inc. This caused one of my friends to joke appreciatively, “Fantastic! ‘I received my Ph.D. in Pinknado.'” Perhaps the most promising news is that the folks who made Sharknado, whose movie poster inspired me, also released Sharknado 2 last year, with plans to release Sharknado 3 this summer. We could both keep this up for years to come.

8. I started writing a memoir. No, not about cancer. About my frequently crazy, sometimes magical, always challenging upbringing. It won’t be a linear thing, but a collection of stories and vignettes. I have a long list of them. I’ve shared a few here on the blog from time to time, so there will likely be more. Stay tuned.

9. I kept my sanity. Once you know the depth and breadth of #8, you’ll appreciate why this is an unparalleled achievement. Every day, in every way, I am thankful to be relatively sane.

10. I had the love and support of my friends. Without them, I’d surely be unable to accomplish #9. Real world and online, I was lucky enough to make new friends and deepen my relationship with old friends. I also lost a few dear friends in 2014, and I keep their memories in my heart. Surely the best thing I did this year was to be, I hope, a good friend to those I love. I don’t make resolutions, but I always resolve to be a good friend.

So, I didn’t go bungee jumping or skydiving, but when one works as a physical therapist, such activities lose their appeal anyway. I didn’t write as many blog posts as I’d like, but the mental rest has done me good, and I have lots of notes for upcoming posts. It was a year when I had to avoid listening to the news quite a lot. But I helped a lot of my patients. And I read dozens, if not hundreds, of books. And I had fun. And I laughed. And I found something for which to be grateful every day. It was a pretty good year. On to the new one. Hope you’ll all continue to be part of it.


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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Thursday, January 01, 2015 at 02:01 pm, filed under Life & Mortality, Survivorship and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

13 Responses to “I’m Still Here: My Year in Review”

  1. I’ve enjoyed your journey KAK. Happiest of new years to you. Love, S.

  2. And to you, too, Sharon. xoxo

  3. Wow, Kathi, you’ve done so much this past year! I’m sorry about the loss of most of your beloved pets; it is heart-breaking. My brown tabby, Cosette, has thyroid issues (she’s 15 and helped me through cancer diagnosis and treatment), so I would be beyond anguished if anything happened to her. You know how it is. In the meantime, she takes her pills like a semi-good patient.

    Your Pinknado meme was fantastic. I showed it to friends. Everyone thought it was genius, which it was. I’m glad it was used for a sociology class.

    I bet your memoir will be great. I just know it! I can’t wait to read it when it sells; you will have to let us all know when the book is out.

    Have a wonderful 2015, and I hope you continue enjoying life and I hope you have a great year with many great years to come!

  4. Thanks, dear Beth. Maybe we need to start a support group for humans with sweet older kitties with thyoid issues. Teddy died in 2013. So I really could not have borne it had I lost Fiona in 2014.

    It was a strange year in some ways. Felt like a kind of limbo, but mostly, I’ve been trying to wrest my house back from the detritus of cancer fatigue! Like an archeological dig…!

    Hope we both have a great year. xo

  5. Happy new year, Kathi. And congratulations on keeping your sanity!

  6. Thanks, Eileen! We’re not much use without it, are we? 😉

    Happy New Year to you as well.

  7. wow!
    You rock, Kathi. Put me down for the memoir when completed,by the way. Love you.

  8. Thanks, Knot! Love you, too.

  9. Hi Kathi,
    I relate to so much of what you shared about here; the pets, the house cleansing, the fatigue, the limbo-like feeling, the memoir writing, the love we have for online friends, and the ongoing ‘picking up of the pieces’ post cancer dx. Sometimes I wonder how we do all keep our sanity… I am so glad you are still blogging when you can. Rest assured, you are a good friend to many. May 2015 be good to you. May it be good to us all. And by the way, never wanted to go bungee jumping or skydiving either. Love you. Nancy

  10. Thanks, Nancy. When I started to write this, I felt like, from an objective perspective, I hadn’t really done much of anything in 2014, but I decided just to be candid about the things that stuck in my mind. There were a lot of things I could have described that maybe would have sounded more glam, but as I’ve said for way too long now, I’m on a mission to finish wresting my house from the grip of this cancer experience, and make it look like a ‘normal’ person lives in it!! Love to you too.

  11. Kathi, as an avid reader of your blog and Nancy’s, I love Nancy’s “Share don’t compare” motto. We don’t have to be bungee jumping….

    I take my students to assisted living and I had them read the Roger Angell piece in the New Yorker, about being 94, and I told them what resonated with me, was his comment that he “outlived ambition”.

    I did have an awful interaction with a urogyn recently, where I got incredibly strident about how I would not accept the social narrative that cancer is a gift and it was a horrible interaction. First visit and she raised some serious concerns without consulting any of my other doctors, and declared herself captain of my medical ship. My great nurse, a long time psych nurse, watched me wrangle my many doctors to deal with this, and said “Wow, this cancer stuff sure looks like PTSD.” Yeah, it does.

    So, I’m so glad you’re still writing. Happy New Year!

  12. Judy, what a great thing to take students to an assisted living facility. I think a lot of practicing physicians ought to visit them, too, and revive the practice of making house calls, at least now & then. It’s rather lovely to outlive ambition, I think. Ambition can seduce us into living in the future. I still have goals & desires, but my notion of success is very different now, much more oriented to living in the present. I’m so sorry to hear about yet another ridiculous interaction with a doctor. Hubris sure is tedious, isn’t it? Happy New Year to you, too. xoxo

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