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Trying to stay in the light

November 12, 2014

It all comes down to the fine line between darkness and light. I have written about this before and it seems to be my own personal metaphor throughout this insane journey. I am starting to wonder if my lifelong obsession with sunrises and sunsets has influenced the way I deal with the ups and downs I have been facing over the last few years.
There is that moment, when you are watching a sunrise, where the sky begins to light up and you are watching so intently for the crescent of the sun to come over the horizon. The light brightens and a new day begins. A new day of endless possibilities, full of varied experiences, hope and above all, life.
When you watch the sun set, especially over the ocean, you can see this phenomenon in reverse. The sun begins to go down, the light fades and you can see the sun slip down past the horizon. Another day has passed, another experience has been had, another day of living this incredible life Is behind us.
Sometimes, I feel like I am stuck right at the horizon, with powerful forces trying their best to pull me into the darkness. When these forces become strong, like during these past months, I have to work incredibly hard to remind myself how beautiful it is to stay in the light. Even if I am stuck right at the horizon, I need to ensure I don’t fall into the darkness.

Since June, I have been dealing with unimaginable pain. Throughout this cancer journey, I have had moments of physical pain, but never constant, unrelenting pain. When we found the tumor in my spine and tried to ablate it, a downhill spiral of back pain, nerve pain and then all over body pain began. Pain that kept me up at night, pain that stopped me from doing things I love, pain that started wearing on my mind and my soul even more than on my body. We have worked to get that pain under control, and I had a good few weeks during the summer where I felt some relief.

Then the pain….well, it started all again. We did another scan in September and the tumor in my spine had grown out from where it was and another had formed. We tried to stay in top of it- steroid injections, cementing the spine, radiating the tumors….it seemed we were getting back on top if this cancer. On that scan, it showed some “possible” activity in my lungs and other nodes we knew about but nothing in any other organs. So, we focused on the spine and I began wrapping my mind around going on a “light chemo” just in case these spots in my lungs where something. (We would not be able to start until about two weeks after the radiation to my spine was finished, which would have been this week.) During this time period, I tried to focus on getting back to me- trying to get on a sleep schedule, trying to regain an appetite as well as lose the 20 pounds of steroid weight I had gained and trying to start exercising at least by walking everyday day. I was trying my best, all the while trying to handle the incredible pain I was constantly feeling throughout my body.

During the last few weeks I knew something else was going on. I ended up in the ER twice- once for leg pain and then again for a blood clot that caused my leg to swell up to 3 times the size of my other leg. With these two ER trips, my pain and my exhaustion, my oncologist decided we should do another scan before starting the Xeloda(light chemo) just in case more was going on. This brings us to yesterday’s results. I knew things were probably a little worse than the September scan, but I was not prepared to hear how much worse they really were.

As it stands now, the cancer is spreading throughout my lungs and has also spread to other areas in my spine and is now also in my pelvic bones. The pain I constantly feel is from the cancer traveling in my bones. The shortness of breathe I have felt lately is from the cancer in my lungs. This is by far the biggest “flare up” I have had since the beginning of this cancer journey.

I am trying to process it all and take it in stride but i do feel like someone stole the air from my lungs completely and I cannot breathe. Decisions needed to be made quickly, and since I have done a lot of research and tried to be as prepared as I can be, I already knew what they were most likely going to suggest so I have agreed to do a chemo regimen called Folfiri while continuing with all of my holistic approaches as well.

I honestly believe I have done an excellent job maintaining this cancer for a long time. I worked on strengthening my immune system, keeping an “alkaline” body, staying in a good place in my mind and picturing this cancer constantly leaving my body. With that being said, I also firmly believe my immune system has been weakened so much since june(lack of sleep, pain, no exercise because of my spine) that my cancer found the space it needed to spread. So my job now is to rebuild my immune system, get this pain under control so I can rest and also wrap my mind around this new chemo plan.

I know half this battle is in the mind and I need to get back to a place where my mind is strong, where I believe I can beat this or thrive regardless of it, where I believe all the things I do to strengthen my body will help fight this cancer and where I believe I can muster up the strength to keep on going.
When all is said and done, I need to remember to stay in the light, no matter how much darkness is trying to pull me down.


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  1. Laura permalink

    kristen, there are no words. I can just say I am so sorry. You are so strong. One of the strongest people I have ever met and if anyone can beat this its you. Keep your head up and remember it’s s marathon not a sprint. Sending you a million prayers and wishing you some pain relief. Xoxoxo


  2. Annie permalink

    Kristen, you have a gift for writing. I am so sad to read this. Only the strongest if people would make it to their nephews soccer game in so much pain. What an amazing spirit you have. I am praying for your body to heal and for you to regain every ounce of your beautiful life..hugs


  3. Jeff permalink

    KrIsten, you are such a warrior. I wish my sister had fought half as hard as you are fighting. I have an inkling of the pain as I’ve been there beside her. I can’t tell you how much you mean to all of us. You are a Mahatma or great soul. You transcend all cultures and prejudices and bring others together. Keep thinking of that light and the life it brings. I love you like my own daughter.


  4. Jeannine permalink

    May we add our strength to that of all those who love and admire you to help you to dig even deeper in your determination to ‘live in the light’. God bless you and all the family around you.

    All our love. Tim and Jeannine xx


  5. Kristi Valla permalink

    Kristen you are an amazing soul! You are a beacon of pure sunshine touching others in ways you may never fully realize. My heart cries and wishes it could wash away your pain. I join the others who are surrounding you during this difficult time with love and light. You are a warrior!! Xoxo


  6. Sending you much love and healing energy and the strength to keep your mind focused on your immune system building up to obliterate the cancer.


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