I will be done today. I will be done with a 6 month journey through the roller coaster ride of a lumpectomy, the fog-laden slog through the physical and emotional swamp of chemotherapy, and the the daily grind of the radiation spout of doom.

Today marks my last “official” treatment at mayo for my invasive ductal carcinoma. I’ll still be on Tamoxifen for 5 years, but I will no longer be bound to the hospital schedule.

In some ways, this experience has broken me. I’ve been broken open to allowing others to give me help, to forget Girl1’s ballet rehearsals, to sitting in front of the tv in the afternoon without feeling the drive to be productive, to thinking thoughts about death and how chronic illness can break a family or just completely change it.

But I am a lucky one. I made it through, without too many of the terrible side effects one can experience, and I’m still alive (cue Pearl Jam.)

Now I just have to figure out how to be “normal” Kirsten again, survivor instead of patient/victim.

Meanwhile, here’s a lovely poem by Anya Silver that I think encapsulates some of the lovely brokenness:


I place you by my window so your skin can receive the setting sun,

so your flesh will yield to succulence, lush with juice,

so the saints of autumn will bless your flaming fruit

because cancer has left me tired

because when I visit God’s houses, I enter and leave alone

not even in the melting beeswax, and swinging musk of incense

has God visited me, not when I’ve bowed or kneeled or sung

because I have found God instead when I crouched in bathrooms,

lain back for the burning of my skin, covered my face and cursed

Persimmon: votive candle at the icon of my kitchen window

your four-petaled stem the eye of God in the Temple’s dome,

tabernacle of pulp and seed

dwelling place for my wandering prayers

I am learning from you how to praise

Because when your body bruises and softens, you are perfected

because your soul, persimmon, is sugar