Effects on the Side

Kat Caverly. self-portrait, copyright © August 2013

No one every puts “Cancer” on their To-Do list, but when it found its way onto mine I was determined to make the best of it.

The beginning of this chapter of my life started with a diagnosis of Stage IV breast cancer on July 22, 2013. This was also the beginning of me getting very lucky. I was scheduled for a PET CT the following week which proved it had not metastasized, so it was NOT Stage IV, which cannot be cured.

I have learned a lot about this part of me in the past 6 weeks. Yes, it is a part of me. Mutated into Bizarro Kat sure, but still made by me and evidently immortal. I learned that from the extraordinary book, “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Mukherjee, a book I ravenously consumed in less than a week. This read gave me respect not only for the oncologists and cancer researchers, but for the cancer I had created, albeit with no intention.

I expected the chemotherapy, and the tests, and the surgeons, maybe radiation, and definitely too many risks of side-effects. But what I didn’t expect were the effects on the side. Starting with a new-found tolerance for the human condition.

It ain’t easy being human, mostly because it is our nature to be irrational if you believe Dr. Albert Ellis, which I do. I studied with Albert over the course of 1995-96. I learned the theory and worked it in practice, beating the zero odds a psychotherapist gave me in getting over an early childhood trauma. So I figured even Stage IV breast cancer odds wouldn’t stop me from grabbing this bull by the horns and riding it all the way into enjoying my life anyways.

When I was 17 years old I decided that I was going to be happy. I had never seen an example of a happy adult human being, so I wasn’t even sure if it was possible. But I was committed to getting as close to being happy as was humanly possible. I achieved HAPPY in early 2011 with a happiness practice which includes Haysa Yoga. I’ve believed for almost twenty years that you can even be in pain and still happy. And now I get to prove that theory in the laboratory of my own body!

Don’t get me wrong. Cancer sucks and the treatments are intense. I didn’t know if I had the emotional, intellectual, and/or physical strength to get through all of this. Now I do. I am ready for this.

More to come as I continue on this adventure.


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