The Last Chemo by Carol P. Christ

When I went to the hospital for chemo on Thursday, the doctor told me it would be my last one. That was a surprise. I thought I would have at least one more. But it was a good surprise, because I had felt more tired than usual after my most recent treatment. Apparently, I had started to feel a bit better when my cancer became inactive, but chemo is cumulative, and it caught up with me.

I slept well on Thursday night. On Friday morning I felt great relief and joy thinking that my chemo was ending. I called a number of friends to tell them the good news. I suspected that I might feel very tired for a few weeks from the last dose of chemo. But after that, all of the symptoms caused by the chemo would begin to lessen—including numbness in my right foot, instability, lack of energy, shortness of breath, anemia, and hair loss.

By the mid-afternoon the tiredness set in again. This time I did not get the few good days that I have attributed to a prescribed dose of cortisone to counter the effects of the chemo. Even though I predicted that the last chemo would make me very tired, there is a part of me that wants this all to be over—and now! 

But in truth it will not be. Not for months. I will get the results of my next CT scan towards the end of March. Then I should be scheduled for surgery, which, if the chemo has removed the cancer from the peritoneum, will be a hysterectomy, with a recovery period of six weeks. If there is still cancer on the peritoneum, the surgery will be more difficult and the recovery period longer. Either way, the doctor says I have good reason to hope that the surgery will remove all of the cancer.

Through the seven months since my diagnosis, I have not broken down or cried about my fate. I was very sick and in shock during the first months, but, somehow, I managed to remain optimistic that I would recover. Then as I began to feel a bit better, I got the bad news that my cancer might be inoperable. Still, I managed to be positive most of the time. The third CT showed no evidence of inoperable cancer and indicated that the tumors on the peritoneum were fewer and smaller. My next blood test showed the cancer to be inactive.

After that, I had a few good weeks when my physical strength and energy seemed to be coming back. I dove back into a writing project and made good progress on moving in to my new apartment. This process was halted with the recent chemo. Not having the energy to do much else, I spent much of the past three weeks watching Judge Judy on YouTube. Though I still have not cried, I have felt tears welling up behind my eyes several times. I can feel my body and mind letting go: I worked so hard to “be a good girl” during my ordeal, and now that the end is in sight, I am able to let myself feel some of the feelings I could not allow myself to feel when all of my energies were needed for healing. And yes, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

While this “setback” is not what I expected or wanted, I know it is part of the process. The end may be in sight, but it is not here yet. In the meantime, I must be patient while the final chemo does its work. After that, it will take time for my body to become free of all the drugs I have been given.

Spring is already on its way in Crete. A few days ago, one of my new neighbors brought me a big bouquet of small white daffodils with yellow centers, picked in her family’s olive grove. If all goes well, there will be a spring in my step again by the time spring comes into full bloom.


Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who lives in Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book is Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.

Categories: Embodiment, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

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26 replies

  1. Dear Carol, with Spring bringing forth new life and beauty, I wish you the same… recovery and health and energy… and joy.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. the flowers are beautiful … they do bring a smile; and I am sure they brought you grace and pleasure. May you be well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Carol–Am so sorry you are suffering. I continue to hold you close every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Carol, once again you share with us the truth of this kind of journey and once again I applaud your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable.
    Clearly, you are aware that this is a process and that there are going to be times of feeling exhausted on a psychic level for having stayed afloat for so long… What I hear most is the need for you to rest. Really rest, and give yourself the time you need to do nothing but attend to your body. That you are sick of being ill and long for this ordeal to be over seems so human, so real. Please be patient… it sounds as if the prognosis is good but you still have a surgery to go through, so please rest well. It distresses me to learn that you have not wept. Why is it that we have so much trouble allowing ourselves those healing tears? Sometimes I feel as if our grief gets stuck somewhere too deep for tears? At least that’s how I seem to experience it. I send you those threads of love that stretch from one woman to another –

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Oh, Carolina, my heart is full of love for you, and admiration for your courage and your unwavering belief in healing all this time. May you be well and regain your energy for the next part of your journey. Love, xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Carol, I’m so glad you have finished your chemo! That is an accomplishment — it is something to be proud of. As some FAR community members may know, I also had aggressive cancer treatment – surgery, radiation and chemo. I also found that I did not cry until after it was over. For me it was part of how I cope with crises — I do what I have to do to get through them and save coping with them emotionally till later. It has been seven years since the start of treatment and I am still processing what the experience has meant. You are wise to realize that it will take time to fully recover physically. I was back to normal activities within a couple of months, but I still needed to be mindful of energy levels for a couple of years. Continuing with healthy habits — diet, sleep, stress reduction, and appropriate levels of exercise — helped a lot with that. Thank you for these posts — you are brave to talk about your experience and I know that it is so helpful to others reading who may be going through similar challenges. Lots of positive thoughts continuing to head your way!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Dear Carol, your journey and your courage and heart in sharing it are such a beacon that I am in awe. I hope you don’t continue to see your emotions welling as a “setback” as that is in the nature of us human beings. We are emotional. Perhaps see it as a cleansing process. You are ridding your body of the cancer and you are not in the process of ridding your emotional body of the pent up feelings you were not able to deal with in the thick of it. It indicates a coming out, a relaxing. All good in my book.

    For me personally, I think its not a coincidence that our tears are salty just as the great-grandmama Ocean water is salty. Our tears connect us to her magnificence and her healing aspects. Our tears connect us to our humanity and each other. I cry along with you.

    I continue to bless your healing and pray that it is complete. May spring and its promise of life and beauty wrap you in wonderfulness, love and health.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Like everyone else, I bless your healing. I’m glad you’re about finished with this whole cancer process and all the turmoil that goes with it. Get some more good rest. See if you can find something cheerier to watch on TV or Youtube or streaming. Something with good music. And enjoy the flowers and the springtime. Bright blessings, my dear. Keep taking good care of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. More than twenty years ago, I visited Crete in the Spring. The abundance of wild flowers remains vivid in my memory. I am picturing you surrounded by their beauty as you continue to heal and walk (or rest deeply in) the beauty way.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I am so glad to hear that the tumors are inactive and hopefully disappearing. Blessed be!

    This recent post reminds me of Muriel Rukeyser’s observation that “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” When you share your story with us, your words and your story become part of the web that connects all of us as community. Your story becomes part of our story!

    The fatigue brought on by chemo treatments is a deep, bone-weary fatigue unlike any other I’ve experienced. For many active women used to ‘accomplishing ‘ much each day, our inability to function as we have become used to, can be discouraging or even devastating. For me, letting go of my expectations of myself (as much as possible) and accepting the current reality has been helpful.

    I’ve found that engaging in right-brain activities has been a useful distraction for dealing with pain and for dealing with the unknown future. Even when I could not sew or quilt, I could paste strips of beautiful fabrics on cards or paper. Paper collage projects have been satisfying too. Think about what engages your right brain–it may take you to another place for awhile. Yes, this too shall pass–thank the Goddess!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so glad to hear the optimistic news about surgery, and about tumor reduction! The healing process is so hard, and your body has been through a lot — I’m glad you are taking time to just “be” and to let the feelings flow, and let your body rest, and to enjoy the blessings of flowers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so glad to hear the optimistic news about surgery, and about tumor reduction! The healing process is so hard, and your body has been through a lot — I’m glad you are taking time to just “be” and to let the feelings flow, and let your body rest, and to enjoy the blessings of flowers.


  13. I’m glad to hear about what chemo has done for your body. Surgery to remove all of the cancer is what all of here on FAR want for you, including me. Thanks for the progress report. Blessings on your continued healing.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Love you Carolina! may the healing continue apace, or at whatever speed it requires. All blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Carol, I thank you for sharing your emotions and results of having surgery. Take this time for your inner spirits to join you in healing thoughts, our mind can be set for positive progress and you are one of a big fighter. Although I understand that you are tired of being sick , yet let your mind not slip into the suffering , let it take you to a some positive path and meditate on that. My mind and heart is with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks to all of you who wrote and to those of you who didn’t but are sending prayers and love for my healing. You all mean a lot to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Deep blessings to you Carol in your arduous healing process. Your immune system will need time to regenerate and restore itself. I hope you are able to rest and sleep and be “lazy” during the recovery period. Letting go seems to be the hardest thing for us “modern” women. Wishing you deep healing. Love, Vicki


  18. Thinking of you Carol with fond memories of our time in Crete in 2003. One of the highlights of my life. With gratitude from Carolyn from Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. So many healing blessings to you, Carol!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Dearest Carol, sending you rose-colored clouds of love and healing white light.

    Your body is tired but Goddess is looking after you. Wellness will come with the spring.

    Blessed be.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Continuing to surround you with golden healing light in my mind’s eye.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank you so very much for telling your story. This is the kind of narrative that connects us all. Illness can be so isolating, and to hear that someone else is undergoing what I, like almost everyone, will have to face sooner or later reassures me that I am not alone in this journey. May you enjoy the spring and may your healing be complete.

    Liked by 1 person

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