Life in 21-Day Cycles


By Kristen Knott

Written Friday September 27 @ 4:00 am

From the time I can remember, I have always been someone who needs to have something to look forward to. It could be a family trip, or a party, or a holiday. Regardless of the event, I have always lived my life looking ahead. No surprise then, that I am a goal setter and always feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I meet goals or get through whatever task or list of things that was either self-created or handed to me.

Yes, I am a list girl! Write it down, plan it, make it happen! Christmas shopping begins in September and is completed in November each year. Summer holidays are planned in the Fall prior, and kids’ schedules are locked in months in advance. It is not surprising that my career has always revolved around planning and executing on a plan. Being in sales for over a decade and growing up in the consumer packaged goods industry, retail promotional planning was always a minimum of 6 months ahead. Christmas was booked in July, and seasonal planning was integral to the success of the job. I never stood still and my eye (as well those of my managers), was always on the next quarterly target.

I have had a lifetime of training and experience in living life ahead.

What I didn’t plan for was having Breast Cancer. June 6, 2013 now marks my life as changed forever. I, Kristen Knott, had Cancer, and was now faced with making a whole host of decisions about treatment, what doctors to use, what hospital to leverage for oncology expertise etc., etc. Yes, I was looking ahead, but through a completely different lens, driven by necessity, not by choice.

My approach to life suddenly changed. Connecting with loved ones and people I care about became very important, and every day began to count a little bit more. As my youngest daughter candidly stated one night “Mommy, you have changed. You are much nicer now.” That statement nearly knocked the wind out of me, but then I smiled and realized it was true. All of a sudden the small stuff that would normally frustrate me, just seemed silly.  I am learning to let things go far more easily than before my diagnosis. I am focusing on listening more, and really being in the moment. What a difference this makes.

On June 19, I had my right breast removed with a successful mastectomy and sentinel node. I began chemotherapy treatment on August 9. FEC-D, a common regime, is the chemotherapy cocktail of choice. It is a tried and true therapy that millions of women have experienced. I knew I wasn’t special and that I, like others before me, would get through this process, and following it, that life would simply resume. What I didn’t understand then, and what I am currently struggling with now, is managing and coping with my life in 21-day cycles. My chemotherapy is infused every 21 days, of course depending on having enough white blood cells to proceed with treatment.

I now feel as if I am in watching a slow motion movie where as a viewer you want something exciting to happen or you simply want the movie to end. Slowing down and resting is my daily and often hourly challenge. Even writing now, I smile thinking of all the numerous times I have complained about wanting off the treadmill that always seemed to be on warp speed. As they say, be careful what you wish for!

I am in day 10 of my third chemo cycle, which means I am almost at the halfway point of my planned treatment.  So yes, I get to continue to countdown my life in chunks of 21 days, another three more times.

It is my natural tendency to want to jump ahead to life post cancer treatment. I want my breast back. I want my hair back. I want my energy back. I want my kids not to have to ask questions about cancer. I want my friends to be normal with me. I want my husband to stop worrying about me. I want my parents to stop wishing it was them, and not their child dealing with this evil disease.  I want it to end. What I really want, however, is to know what life looks like after my 21-day countdowns? What will be the new norm?  I want to be Kristen, not Kristen with Cancer.

 

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