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September 7, 2009 / Steven Pousty

Unclogging and letting go

For those of you playing along on the home game… This coming friday is my last chemo. I have much to tell and share about the whole experience  but today I want to focus on the piece I am chewing on. It will probably come off preachy but screw it – it’s my blog. You don’t like it go elsewhere.

So I had a great labor day weekend – the Queen was back East visiting her folks, I fought bronchitis with the help of a z-pack, some great friends who helped with the kids, and some extra sleep. Got a ton-o-laundry done, restarted the compost pile, went on a calm and relaxing walk with my kids up the river by Sanborn park, saw some crayfish, and watched Bolt. Overall a win. Oh yeah, I also shaved off my eyebrows because they were going mangy due to chemo induced hair loss.

The loss of my eyebrows allowed Felix to give me these brand spanking new ones. And as I was going on the walk today I realized I couldn’t really keep up with the kids and that I had to use hiking poles to keep my balance. I am anemic and due to neuropathy I can’t really control the muscles around my knees as much. When we went to pick up Fay (the eldest) we were playing some baseball in the backyard and I was trying to walk backwards in the yard and tripped on…nothing. I just fell over backwards because my leg just gave out. And the final piece of this all is that I most definitely am suffering from chemo brain. I don’t have good recall anymore, have a hard time finding words (which some people consider a blessing), and have some serious difficulty keeping my train of thought as long as Dory.

I am fatigued in general, just plain old worn down. I find myself napping everyday and still not feeling rested. My face looks sallow and tired. People who haven’t figured out that I have cancer ask if I am feeling ok because I look really worn out.

So in the end – I am beat down. Not giving up or “refusing to fight” – just plain beat down. I go between being a small child – with no hair, needing to nap, and cranky – and what I feel it must be like to get older for some people – no hair, needing to nap, taking a handful of pills at least twice a day, losing my body and my mental faculty.

I am not sad, I am through that. I am now just starting to lean into it. I ask myself what does it feel like to embrace this state I have entered. I don’t want to stay here, but while I am in this place what can I learn.

Cancer and life in general has taken me to a place where I have almost nothing left that I thought about how the world works. For that matter I have had to let go of so much and yet still/because of it I am  someplace I never thought I would be.  I had started letting go of control a while ago, even before the cancer – but this has just brought it farther along (BTW, I know it could go much farther, so in no way will you hear me say I have “hit bottom”).

Some people theorize that one of the reasons you get cancer is because you have emotions and feelings that are stuck and repressed. They stay in you and eat into you and turn into something nasty and deadly.

I now believe this.

I have gone and gotten myself unclogged physically, the chemo has destroyed most if not all of the tumors. How do I go about and do it spiritually and psychologically. How do I go about changing my life to be true to me and who I am. No more clogs. What assumptions and baggage do I have that I need to jettison.  Given my strong desire to seek approval from others what I have done to myself. All the unquestioned ideas and assumptions I  inherited and chose to carry forward – what has it done to me. Which parts do I keep and which parts are no longer me nor were they ever.

This pain and experience is GOOD, thats right I said it – GOOD. You know what – Cancer doesn’t suck anymore than a whole lot of unfortunate shit that can happen in your life. It is just our fucked up society doesn’t see cancer as something you can blame the victim for (except for those dirty cigarrette smokers).  Whoa serious digression potential here. The point I want to make today is stop “fighting” this and that, because it is part of life. Sure don’t die – I am all for avoiding dying if you can, but get on with loving and living.

I am along for the ride on this one and I am excited to see where I end up. It may not be some place “happy” – life doesn’t give those kind of guarantees – but it can be good.  I am not sure where this all goes except one place it doesn’t – and that is back.



Leave a Comment
  1. Andres / Sep 7 2009 10:59 pm

    Hey Bro,

    Just wanted to let you know that my respect and admiration for you, which already were at what I thought was the peak, have grown even higher. I am glad to hear that the chemo will be coming to an end at the end of this week, and I look forward to hearing about your speedy recovery.

    Stay strong, be well, and keep on fighting like a mofo!

    A big hug and continued positive vibes from the great Pacific Northwest.


  2. Phil / Sep 8 2009 6:48 am

    Hey Bro, hang in there, I’ve been close to where you’re at and it’s not pretty, but the light at the end of the tunnel is the exit, not an oncoming train. The strength will return, the memory will get better and the balance will slowly improve. Call those of us who wait for your call, you know how much a pleasant voice on the phone can bring a little sunshine into what now seems like a bleak bleak world.
    It’s often been said that the cure for cancer’s almost as bad as the disease. I’m at 3 years post treatment and it’s still a major bitch, BUT… I’ve my wife, children, friends and community to help. Take solace in the fact your’re a much loved guy and everyone is rooting for you. Oh! I shaved my head in unity with you but I’ll be damned if I shave the eyebrows too!
    love yah, be strong….

  3. Patrick / Sep 8 2009 7:37 am


    Amazing post. Great journey. Too bad we have to go through the suffering to get there. Are you there? You asked, “How do I go about and do it spiritually and psychologically.”

    You know, I’m not one for advising, but you asked. You can engage in a practice, a simple practice of turning the mind into an ally. Just like we train the body, eat well, exercise. Try

    Be strong, keep questing, be true to what you uncover,


  4. Steven Citron-Pousty / Sep 8 2009 1:36 pm

    Hey Andres and Phil – thanks for the words of support – I really do appreciate them.

    Patrick, I am trying to get going on the Jewish meditation route. I find more and more that my Jewish tradition and gift to me really speaks to who I am and how I should navigate the world. I recently started attending a Mussar class at our JCC and it has been a gift.

    The part I need help on now is practice. Making these things I should do reflexive and not something my little 13 yr old inside fights against.

    The other question is how do you know when you found truth. I think that is another blog post…

  5. Ragi / Sep 8 2009 2:20 pm

    Duuuude… I am just glad to hear from you.

  6. Amy Aaland / Sep 10 2009 6:21 am

    Hey Steve…. thanks so much for posting this – it is great to know what you are thinking and feeling. As one doing the “cancer thing” too – you are often in my thoughts and always in my prayers. I don’t know if I can go with you on the journey that says cancer is repressed emotion – but I do think that there is much to be learned and that having cancer also allows us to really look deeply into our lives and ourselves and gives us an unique perspective about what we need and want both physically and spiritually. Please also note that for one suffering from “Chemo brain” – you are pretty articulate!) Keep on your truth search. love and hugs – Amy

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