Action!

My time has been spent working lately. And LOVING it. I’ve been doing some editing, which I really do love. It’s a time to make your writing shine and sparkle. I’ve also learned that you can’t write in a vacuum. You need people who can look at your work objectively and give you feedback on how to best make your words work.

I’ve been posting little questions for folks over on my Facebook page. If you want to check it out, follow, or just leave answers, feel free!

Kati’s Facebook Page. I’m not smart enough to figure out how to put the button on here.

A Little More Survivorship

In high school a friend “encouraged” me to “get over” my cancer. They meant well. Seriously, they were being kind and thought they were doing something to help me. I had other friends who explained to me that I used my cancer/amputation as a proverbial (or literal) crutch. Again, they were being helpful. They were trying to “normalize” me.

But, here’s the thing about childhood cancer.

It’s never really gone.

From the moment we are diagnosed, we are cancer patients. We will never ever return to not being cancer patients. It’s on every medical record we fill out. It’s on every school form. It’s a pertinent piece of information for the people who help us grow.

I was at a new doctor yesterday (after being in a new city for three years, it’s about time). I take what is called my “Passport” to every doctor I go to. This document lists a brief summary of my diagnosis and treatment, tells the physician what tests need to be ordered and how often, gives the doctors things to look out for. I give it to every doctor I see from dentist to cardiologist.

Because I will always be a cancer patient.

Because of my treatment I have developed cardiac failure, live with an amputation, and have to be vigilant about looking for other possible late term effects. This includes possible second malignancies. Think about that for a moment, the cancer that I had as a kid was treated with chemotherapy. That chemotherapy could potentially cause MORE cancer later in my life.

So, my lovely well meaning friends, I won’t be able to get over it anytime soon.

 

Birthdays

Birthdays were always to be massively celebrated in my house growing up. I remember waking up on my 8th birthday (no idea about what that year would hold) and getting to wear my very favorite church dress to school. I would have a special breakfast and the whole day was about me. And sometimes it would bleed into a week and now I’m a firm believer in the Birthday Month. Or maybe even six weeks.

Today is my birthday.

I’m another year older.

And I am very happy with this.

Years ago I was lamenting about moving into my late 20’s. My best friend, who I met EONS ago in the General Hospital AOL message boards, gently reminded me of my friends who didn’t get to see these years. And it stuck with me. Every time I feel an achy joint or feel the need to wonder if I should maybe switch to “firming” moisturizer, I remember my friends. Not that I don’t secretly (or not so secretly) whine about having to dig out the pain reliever.

I have always viewed Birthdays as a chance to think about what you want to do this year. What you might want to accomplish over the next 365 days. When we moved to Raleigh from Atlanta a few years ago I had a list that said things like: Make more friends (being in a new city is hard at any age), Finish Your Manuscript, Query AT LEAST Five Agents. And that year I did those things and eventually even signed with an agent (Hey there Eric ).

This year I’m going to take a note from Carrie Ryan. At MadCap she told us to make a list of things that would be outrageous and amazing to happen in our careers. So, that’s what I’m going to do this year. I’m making a list of things that are attainable but would also be amazing. Because this year, I’m striving for amazing things.

birthday-selfie
And a Birthday Selfie, because Birthdays are really the best!

Birds of a Feather

About a week ago I was scrolling Facebook, like you do. And I saw an ad for a bracelet on Amazon. It was an impulse buy. A silly click to give myself something for my birthday. Just a little bracelet that said, “She Believed She Could, So She Did.” I have it on a t-shirt. I sometimes write it on my wrist. It’s just a little reminder that I can do this. Even if the this is just life. I can do this.

Yesterday I saw a friend. Now, I didn’t actually KNOW this friend. But, I knew her. I knew what her life is kind of like. I knew some of what she was feeling and maybe understood her in a way that others didn’t. Outside of the restaurant I was having lunch at, was a lovely girl, about twelve just based on looks, who was clearly on chemotherapy. I recognized this girl because I’d seen it in my own mirror not so many years ago.

I always look beyond the bald head because some kids have alopecia and choose not to wear a prosthetic wig. I could see the edges of the tegaderm (medical tape) peaking out from the collar of her shirt. A sign of having an accessed line of some sort. I could see where her eyebrows and lashes, still hanging on, but were starting to thin. I knew this. Because I had lived it.

I was conscious of the fact that my friend wasn’t in school. This probably meant her counts (her ability to fight infection) was possibly compromised. I walked over, totally interrupted her lunch, and gave her my bracelet. It’s not because I’m a sweet person or anything like that. It’s because, while I didn’t know it originally, I had bought it for her.

This was my reminder that kids are living with cancer right now. Not just in my Facebook feed. This was my reminder that people like her need my stories. That I have a voice and stories and the ability to tell these stories.

I gave them my card and became friends with her mom on Facebook. I hope to see my friend again and to chat some more. Because we’re birds of a feather. We find each other in our storms.

September

Hello September!

On September 8, 1989 I turned nine-years-old. I was a having a t-shirt painting party/ 50’s sock hop. In other words, my four best friends and I wore poodle skirts while we painted t-shirts with awesome puff paint. I remember the party. What I also remember is going to the clinic that day to see if my white blood count (the bodies ability to fight infection) had recovered enough to have my friends over. Oh, and if there was a bed at the hospital available for my chemo that was supposed to start that night.

There were no beds, which I was thrilled with. I wanted my party. I remember the relief of not having to leave my party early to go and get checked in for five days of chemotherapy. I didn’t mind going to the hospital by that point. I had friends. There was Pam and Talley and Maria. But, I definitely wanted my painting/poodle skirt party more.

Saturday morning all of my friends were gone and I was watching cartoon and eating cereal when the phone rang to let us know that a bed was available. I checked into the hospital later that morning to start another round of chemo.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I’ll probably spend some more time here talking about it. I talk about it because I can. I have words and memories and a lifetime of living with cancer. And until there’s a cure, I need to use those words to talk about it.