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ddCookies and Chemotherapy

As a holistic exercise professional, I have lived with the belief that if you do all the right things for your body, nothing bad will happen to your health. I admit that I judged others who were overweight, ate fast food and smoked cigarettes as people who would get cancer and die prematurely.

Last May I was diagnosed with a fibroid growing so large it was causing my belly to swell. As my abdomen continued to grow, I refused to accept the diagnosis and made an appointment for a third opinion when I suddenly became very ill. Thanks to a dear friend who is a physician who had stopped by for an impromptu visit that day, my life was saved. He had found me in tachycardia, bleeding to death internally, but took the necessary steps to stabilize my blood pressure before driving me to the hospital.

In hindsight, I am amazed by the miracles that took place on my behalf. When my friend, a well-respected doctor, entered the hospital with me in tow, everyone came to my aid immediately. I didn’t even have to register my information to be admitted. Some of the best doctors in New Jersey just happened to be at Overlook that day. Thanks to another physician friend of mine who rushed to the hospital to see me, an error in my CAT scan report was corrected—another lucky save that sent me into the operating room for emergency, life-saving surgery.

After a complete hysterectomy and three transfusions, the call came in ten days later that it was an extremely rare stage-one cancer. The doctor assured me that if I didn’t do chemotherapy, it would come back. With a heavy heart, I committed myself to the treatment.

The day I walked into the infusion center at Summit Medical Group to receive my first round, I was tone and buff. My strong arms allowed the nurse to start the intravenous easily and when the poison flowed into my veins, I fell off an emotional cliff. My sobs filled the room at the realization they were going to try and kill me to save my life.

Next to the nurse’s station sat a table with refreshments, coffee, tea, cookies and a jar of tootsie rolls. “Great,” I thought to myself. “First they give you chemo and then they give you sugary poison to fuel cancer.” Another friend who was also a physician, stayed with me to make sure I was cared for in the event a reaction to the medication occurred. She innocently brought over two peanut butter cookies on a paper napkin while my infusion nurse covered me with warm blankets, trying to comfort me with her kind words.

I stared down into my lap at these two cookies while drugs I didn’t understand filled my body. The weight of the situation felt dreamlike and the first cookie tasted bitter when I put it in my mouth. How ashamed I was for getting cancer. It wasn’t until I tasted the second that my life changed forever. With my back against the wall, not knowing if I would be alive next year, this delicious second cookie started to love me. It was sweet and I felt comforted by the yummy taste it left in my mouth. It made this horrible situation a little easier to endure. It wasn’t just an instant gratification rooted in shame, it was kindness during a terrible time.

Perhaps it was something I should have understood long ago, but it wasn’t until the moment I ate that cookie that I realized I had the power to choose my thought. I could choose to think that it was my fault for getting cancer, or I could consider this a beautiful opportunity to live my life a new way and to treasure everyone and everything in it.

For four months I suffered every side effect possible from vascular infections to sores that covered my tongue and mouth. I shaved my head in the middle of summer and went from Ms. Fit to misfit. I got to feel what it was like to be ugly and shunned by society. I finished my therapy needing two inhalers to breathe and an additional thirty-five pounds of water weight by the end of September 2014. I never missed a day of work and never stopped running errands necessary to take care of my children and myself. Like a rock that has no choice but to soften wedged under a raging waterfall, I never lost sight that this event had great purpose.

For each one of my twelve rounds of chemo, it was always an overweight nurse taking me in and getting me ready. Each time the thought rose up in my mind that she should lose weight but now there was another voice in my head even louder. She wasn’t being prepped for chemotherapy and I should mind my own business. Who am I to decide what this woman needs to experience in her life? Who am I to judge her? I didn’t need to be better than her anymore. I didn’t need to be smarter. I just needed to find a place where I could be grounded within myself.

Cancer came into my life to heal my arrogance. It healed the left over anger and resentment that slept dormant in my heart for so many years. It brought me to a place of caring and empathy for others beyond anything I thought possible. Gratitude is there every morning when I open my eyes and for the first time in my life, I am not going to be afraid to live and I’m not going to be afraid to love.

People may say this or that is wrong and this disease or this cure is bad. I don’t have the answers of what is good or bad anymore. I do however know something I judged as bad brought me a precious understanding. I have the ability to choose my thought. I have the ability to think whatever I want to empower myself and create happiness inside my heart, regardless of the circumstances. Perhaps this event came into my life to save me?

My friend, John offered the most perfect sentiment. He said, “You didn’t almost die Kris, you were dead. You’re alive for the first time in your life.”

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12 responses to “Cookies and Chemotherapy”

  1. Bridget Jaeger says:

    Kris,

    You are strong and beautiful and your courage is an inspiration to us all! Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom.

    • Kris Timpert says:

      I appreciate your kind words Bridget, thank you! Also thank you for all the times you came to my house with food, flowers and conversation. Thank you for caring about my children and always asking them it they were alright. You are a true friend and I am so grateful to have you in my life.

  2. Kris, I smile as the tears well up in my eyes.
    Much love to you, dear one.

  3. Sabina says:

    Your strength and ability to get up every day to come to work, to be an amazing mom and person was truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Xoxo

    • Kris Timpert says:

      I so appreciate that Sabina. Thank you also for your strength and how hard it must of been for you to watch me go through it. You were there from the beginning and helped keep my spirits up by believing and encouraging me all the way. You have become a dear friend and I am grateful to have you in my life.

  4. Marly Graubard says:

    Beautiful.

  5. Sheree says:

    Your story is truly inspiring!! You are an amazing person with a gift to help others. I am so happy that you are well and your positive outlook will make way for the best times to come!! I wish we didn’t lose touch and I could have been there for you during your cancer. I am so happy to have you back in my life

    • Kris Timpert says:

      Thank you Sheree for those beautiful words. You have always been there for me if I needed you and I have always known that. It’s wonderful being connected again and I do look forward to sharing all the good times that are no doubt on the way!! xxoo

  6. Anne says:

    You described a traumatic experience with an opportunity for hope. So incredibly written! Thank you for sharing your story. You are a beautiful soul.
    Xo

    • Kris Timpert says:

      I appreciate your kind words Anne, thank you. Thank you for your strong shoulders when I needed to cry and for holding my hand while I made my way through the darkness. You are forever in my heart and in my life. xxoo

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