Kat Caverly

Bringing JOY into people’s lives since 1986 creator/producer/bon vivant

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Silencing My Inner Big Baby

I hate being sick.

I’ve always hated being sick. My bottom lip sticks out and everything. The hardest part are the tantrums. My inner child is a brat.

Kat Caverly as the Big Baby photo no.1, Oct. 17, 2013

My outer child hugs her close. She tells her, “We have to do this.” She’s the big sister. “We’ll do fine.”

Deep down I know we never really know for sure. Still, I am grateful for the optimism.

Truth is, I am just not a very good sick person, which explains why, even with a diagnosis of cancer, I still refuse to think I am sick. My inner Big Baby thinks I am just making myself sick. “Stop it!”, she screams. Sadly, I know that I cannot.

Kat Caverly as the Big Baby photo no.2, Oct. 17, 2013

I have to stubbornly do it again. And again. Then again. The cure is not worse than the disease. There may be no cure. Twenty years from now, with still no evidence of cancer, I still may not be able to say I am cancer-free. Wait, what?

No wonder my inner child is a big baby. My adult wants to...

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Mein Hair

My new chemo-do is best described by my husband’s new nickname for me, “My Little Peach.” I am fuzzy.

Kat Caverly and Thomas Hudson Reeve in Mein Hair October 8, 2013

Tom has always encouraged a total freedom when it came to my hair. The truth is, he has always supported whatever I wanted to do creatively, and I have stretched that tolerance and support every which way but loose.

But this is not just a story about my lifelong love affair with hair, his as well as my own. This is a tribute to the skills I draw from, the laughter I depend on, and the love that gives me the strength to do whatever needs to be done.

Meet Mein Hair. Ours is a match made in heaven, with a little devil on the side. To know Tom is to love him. To work with him is to respect him. I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of both. I have enjoyed visiting him on almost all the sets in his IMDb profile. He is an accomplished fine-art photographer, and the director/screenwriter for our...

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Flying High

Kat Caverly self-portrait no.1 copyright KCS October 6, 2012

I had my first dose of paclitaxol (Taxol) on October 2nd. Besides my hands turning a lovely shade of jaundice for a few minutes, I felt this all-encompassing wave of calm contentment. All I could think was, “How long will this last?”

Chemo drugs aren’t suppose to make you feel good, and certainly there are numerous irritations, and downright onslaughts I could dwell on. Yet it was, is, this state of peace I find remarkable.

Because of the serious risks associated with Taxol there are serious pre-meds. I took a high oral dose of the steroid dexamethasone, the night before and again in the morning before I got an additional IV dose of the same drug. I was flying high on the hyper-energy when I arrived for my infusion, and it was not unpleasant. I was singing and dancing!

I also got the IV pre-medication of Benadryl, which also tends to excite my system, again, quite pleasant and...

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One Day at a Time

This is how my medical oncologist described how he deals with all the dying and death he has seen in his 30 years of practice, and still smiles with me on my journey.

One day at a time is how I have dealt with the adventure that is chemotherapy, and the uncertainty of the unknown that comes with each treatment, and with each new course of toxins that are giving my best shot at a long life ahead.

We’ve talked about how I don’t look at these treatments as a cure, and how I am dealing with the possibility a lifelong, chronic condition, even metastatic breast cancer at some point. I am ready for whatever this brings and I am not facing it with fear. Instead I am finding an angle of view of each challenge that enables positive action. I am making the most of the good days.

The past few weeks have blessed me with some unexpected great days. I celebrate those with lots of singing and...

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I don’t want to be young again. All I want is to continue getting older.

There is something about a cancer diagnosis which makes you jump back to the past in search for that elusive “what-if”. Luckily I have wanted only one thing since I was three years old, and that is to get to be very, very old.

“My best birthdays of all are the one’s I am still looking forward to celebrating!” ~Kat Caverly

No one could tell me how much longer I had before I got cancer. I’m not going to let anyone tell me how long I got left now. I still want to get to be very, very old. Some thing’s don’t change.

So, yes, I’m not going to think about dying. I didn’t think about it before and I sure don’t want to think about it now. Half of my chances of still living a happy, even healthy life are up to me, my actions, my thoughts. The other half is up to this cancer and to 21st century medical science.

The first time I heard the word cure in relationship to my situation, was in the...

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Wild Hairs

close-up photograph of Kat Caverly's right eyebrow September 2013

During a time when I was expecting to lose my body hair how could I explain the explosive growth of my eyebrows? There’s lots of information about hair loss during chemotherapy, but
screenshot: SERP for chemo-induced hair growth

One thing I’ve learned in the two months with these side-effects is that you cannot be sure what’s going to happen next. But this was a delightful form of self-expression on the part of my eyebrows. You go girls!

I have had many kinds of “Wild Hairs” over the course of my “Hair I Am” lifestyle, but none has ever been so unintentional, so unexpected.

I asked Tom to shoot some macro photographs of these hairs, as much for study as for posterity. Macro is a window into a magical world, seeing something that isn’t possible with our eyes alone. Maybe this would give me an insight into the why my eyebrows were stubbornly insisting on playing the opposite game.

I had already decided that when (if?) I lost my...

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Be Patient

I prayed I would learn how to be patient, and the first thing that happened was I was made to wait. ~Kat Caverly

Being “patient” has taken on a whole new meaning now that I added “cancer” in front of it. I love the vagaries of the English language. Patient, as a noun, means a person under medical care, and as an adjective means, “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint” – Merriam-Webster. Never did the word mean starkly both to me until I added “cancer patient” to my resume.

I need to be patient with my cancer. I need to be patient with my treatments. The body needs 5-6 weeks to acclimate to anything new. I am just finished with my seventh week of bi-weekly chemotherapy and I am amazed how good I feel on this Fourth Cycle -Day 4. The Second Cycle was the hardest. The Third Cycle was the strangest. Starting over again with a new chemo drug for the next four cycles comes...

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This is a Pity-Free Zone

Save the pity for this fucking cancer. There I said it. It needed to be said upfront each and every time I told those near and dear to me that I had been diagnosed with cancer. This gave them permission to start cracking-wise which was what I needed to hear right after they told me they were sorry to hear it.

tweet from @katcaverly August 29, 2013 4:47PM

My friends and family were quick to oblige, and I quickly filled my days after diagnosis with the sounds of my own laughter. I was hell-bent on putting some fun in this dysfunction. I had to start with not feeling sorry for myself.

I had lived a life for over fifty years turning feeling sorry for myself into a fine art. If I still practiced this black art I would be in a world-of-shit right now. I knew when I heard that I most likely had Stage IV breast cancer I could not afford to take the risk of freezing in fear. I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions yet, but I had...

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Starting Out Life Living with Breast Cancer

I don’t remember a time when breast cancer wasn’t in my life.
photo of Grandma and Kat Caverly1958
Picture of me and grandma before her breast cancer, 1958

The first five years of my life were turbulent, to say the least. Started with my mother’s schizophrenia diagnosis when I was only six months old. My grandmother who met the challenge by taking me on to raise, was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was four years old. I watched as she suffered and died from it just six years later.

I didn’t think about it much as a kid except that I was freaked out about all the illness that surrounded me. Then when I was 17 years old I discovered a lump under my left arm. I told me father, who freaked out. I was in the hospital having a lumpectomy just two weeks later. I was shocked the incision was in the middle of my relatively new breast. It was benign. The surgeon told me that the scar would go away. I still have it over 40...

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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...

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