I don’t know if you’ve noticed (and if you didn’t, please lie and tell me you did), but I haven’t written much lately. Here are my excuses:

– I have enough energy to actually be really focused on work.
– I’m a lawyer, so the last thing I want to do after writing all day is to write more.
– I’m still not fully back up to normal speed, so my focus at work drains me for the creativity necessary to write.
– Blah blah blah blah.

The true problem is that writing about what I’ve been dealing with lately is hard. Really hard. I’m no longer dealing with the physical symptoms of chemo or cancer. (Well, sort of, but I can only talk about fertility or being out of shape for so long before I start boring even myself.) I’m dealing with this amorphous, ethereal mental/emotional something that I can barely wrap my arms around.

“How are you doing, Lydia?”
Honest answer? I have no clue. Literally.

Physically? I’m completely different than I have ever been. A different weight, a different shape, an athlete trapped in an unathletic body.

Mentally? No idea. Not as…something…as before. I’m not slower, I’m not less educated, but I’m not something. How does it manifest itself? I’m not really sure, but I know it’s different. I have more patience for jumping through certain mental hoops (editing, document review) but less for others (problem solving, complex situations).

Emotionally? In many ways, completely fucking freaked out. My body doesn’t work the way it used to. My brain doesn’t work the way it used to. People don’t treat me the way they used to. Some very fundamental ways that I have achieved the extraordinary success in my life are different. I’m very used to being personally and professionally successful in very specific ways. Those ways are now different, but I have no idea what they are. I’m in this weird limbo-land, and I don’t know where I’m going to land.

So…this is why I haven’t been writing. The problem is that since I can no longer go for a long run to process all of this crap, writing is my only way to process it. So, here’s my promise to myself: I’ll start writing again. Even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, even if there’s no answer at the end of the paragraph, even if it requires me to admit that I’m different (for the moment, at least) in ways that I don’t like at all.


Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Gabrielle Hill says:

    Thank you for finding words for your unknowable.
    Love, Mom and Dad

  • Kate says:

    Yes! Write like the wind! So happy you’re back at it.

  • John Mutz says:

    I think the thing to remember is that your are an extraordinary women and it sounds like you are opening yourself up to a new inquiry and you don’t know how it will unfold. That is the thing about inquiry. What I do know about you is that you have the capacity for anything!
    Look to music and poetry or nature if you can.
    Thank you for sharing and much love to you Lydia.

  • Dawn says:

    Notes from a strange land. Sounds like a plan!
    I love you. – Dawn

  • Ange says:

    Welcome to limbo-land…… Passport – not required. Check out date – not required. Destination – completely unknown….if once known…is now long forgotten.
    Next stop…..ah……nobody knows. Enjoy your stay. Enjoy the ride. You never know what you’ll discover once inside.

    Love Dr Suess. (Or a very bad attempt at such)


  • Mary S. says:

    Dear One, I understand all too well. All I know is to find joy in the present. You have so much ahead that will bring joy as well. That’s a big enough challenge for today. Love to you, M.

  • Dea Butcher says:

    Just right. And so are the responses in my opinion. Life is a journey full of the unexpected. .being open and curious and patient would be my recommendation but do whatever you want and follow your bliss.

  • Scott C. says:

    Ok…what you describe above is quite similar to how I felt in my early 30s. So leave some room for the possibility that you may actually be completely normal (leaving some room for some of the obvious physical experiences)!

  • heather says:

    brave, strong and beautiful. you may not know how or what to be and feel… but we know, and love, every inch of you, even when you are unable to put words to each part of your being.

  • Bobbie Hillman says:

    You are an amazing woman. You’ve been through such an order and walked such a different path than the one you were on. You’ve never given up and keep plugging along. I know there is so much hope ahead and you will come through all of this. Look to nature, maybe a garden in your new home, poetry, Tai Chi. Whatever appeals or calls to you. Know that uou are very much loved by friends and family.

  • Gus says:

    I thought there would be more recipes posted. Wait, this is a food blog, right?

    I kid, I kid. But I both take some comfort in what Scott C. says above and second it. I feel like as we are in each new decade it all becomes so much more amorphous. 0-10? Easy, do what mom and dad say.
    10-20? Still pretty easy, go to school, go to college.
    20-30? Now it’s getting trickier, but grad school might take a chunk and the rest of it you just feel like hard-charging against the world and take some comfort in the feeling you’re always moving “forward” (though towards what or where, who knows?).
    30-40? Uh-oh. Way too much time to go to “move forward” with destination unknown. Treated like a grown-up by the world but feeling much closer to that just out of college you. Looking around and seeing enough that seem to have it “figured out” to freak you out (but luckily enough that aren’t even close to keep you sane!).

    So where to go from here? If you find out, let me know! But fortunately, someone created OnDemand TV, so that should buy us all a year or two I hope.

  • Ms.Lydia Slaby,
    I read your post on the LLS.org site and was inspired by your post!
    You explained things very well and especially about the white blood cells and platelets and your energy levels.
    I just finished 12 months of chemo and not as ruff as yours but still kept me down most days to limited activity.
    I’m curious to know with some chemo’s the effects stay in your body for how long after you finish treatment?
    Does it cause your muscles to weaken or diminish completely for a short term or long term?
    I ask b/c I try and stay fit and have increased my duration each day but have noticed my muscles to be like flab or something like that? Being an athlete is important to me and is who I am so I hope this doesn’t sound bad on my part. I wasn’t told this would be a permit issue?
    I pray your doing better and wish you well!
    Hope to hear from you,
    Andy Marshall

    • Lydia says:

      Hi Andy,

      I’m sorry it took so long for me to respond. Congratulations on completing your chemo! I only went through 6 rounds over 4 months, so I have no idea how long it would take for someone to recover from 12 months of chemo. However, as for me, my fatigue had fully resolved by about 18 months after chemo finished, and my muscles came back fairly quickly, but I was too tired to do anything with them for a while. Careful how quickly you get back into things — you’re bones weaken along with your muscles from chemo, so if you push your muscles too hard you have the danger of damaging your ligaments and other connections between your muscles and your bones. So make sure that you get back into shape while listening very carefully to a trained professional or your body. It’s ridiculously frustrating, especially for us athletes, but pays off over the long term. The last thing you want to do is tear a muscle or connective tissue.

      Good luck!

  • Joelle says:

    Hi! I found your blog through live strong, and after just reading through a couple of entries thought you understood me too well and might be another mediastinal lymphoma survivor. Hope you are doing well in limbo land. I’ve been there, maybe am still there. I keep thinking my next blog entry will be “how cancer made me an introvert” because I end up liking alone time and just time to think now (where in the past I always wanted to call people up or sing loudly with the radio whenever I had a couple of free minutes to myself). Just wanted to say hello, hope you are doing well and thanks for sharing. I will be reading more of your blog in the next hour. 🙂

    • Lydia says:

      Hi back! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying (is that really the right word? 🙂 ) my blog! Yes…as I’m sure you’ve discovered by now, my tumor was in the mediastinum. Limbo land is an interesting place for me to live. I’m still working on a series of blog posts that describe what can happen from limbo land almost two years after chemo is over and cancer is fully resolved. I’m less of a control freak…more willing to roll with the punches…and constantly working to make sure that I stay that way. As for being introverted…I always have been one of those who finds the quiet more restful than the interactive…chemo would have been difficult for me otherwise. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well…stay in touch! All best, L

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