Week 5 – Poem 2 by Ken Arnold

Week 5

Poem 2  by Ken Arnold

August 14, 2013

Little sleep for me last night after 3rd chemo treatment.  The steroids keep my wired at the same time the fatigue sets in to create a tug of war pull from both directions.  No amount of sleep aid seemed to help so I simply got up and wrote for the blog.  I know my vision will blur, the fatigue and nausea worsen and possilbe pain set in over the next days so I do it when I have energy regardless of the time.  1am and 3:30AM last night.  Ken Arnolds’s 2nd poem in a series called “Finding Beauty in Kimberli’ also helped.  Yesterday we learned that my friend Ken’s prostate cancer has spread to a tumor surrounding his liver.  He goes back into chemo next week.  My other friend, Terrill Collier,  is living with cancer as well and entered in again this week.  We’ll have a little team of some sort now.  A clever name for this team I can share with them would be appreciated.  An artist, a poet and a tree guy all in chemo.  What would you call us?

 

Finding Beauty in Kimberli

Once when she went

out to play with her friends

on the kind of day

when it rains, as it will,

and her long red hair

began to frizz

 

and then was gone,

its roseate beauty fled,

such splendid hair,

 

and the rain carried

her hair to sea, her spangled

hair, where it became

 

an island and her friends

went there, to the island

of her hair, to play

 

in the tropical sun,

in her vermillion,

and she didn’t mind.

 

Her friends adored

her bald remains, if you can

say what’s gone remains.

 

You can. Consider

how cherry blossoms

are born to fall.

Week 4 – Self Portrait

Week 4 –  Self Portrait

Written at 3AM, Aug. 14, 2013 because the night after chemo I don’t sleep.  Wired on steroid, exhausted from everything and nauseated.  Fun times.  Get up and write.

After 4 days with the fun pixie cut it, became apparent I had to call my new friend Tamara Lackey Dayton at http://www.oranjstudio.com/ to shave it all down.  It was falling out by the handful.  In the shower, on my pillow, anytime it was touched.  Messy and distressing.  It came out in more like it was thinning rather than in big chunks so I could keep it for a couple days once it really started to go, but when it was time I knew it.  I called my 29-year-old brother, Dean, to come with me, as he’s ex-military and has some personal experience with shaved heads.  He was the perfect partner that day. Tamara’s studio was bright and sunny, with lots of orange and massage chairs. The “so-homely-he’s-cute” dog first growled at Dean, then jumped on his lap and wanted love. Dean was a good brother, looking up from his iPhone on occasion to tell me I looked pretty good as Tamara worked in stages to see both how much hair was still there and out of kindness to not shock me with an immediate drastic shave.  I got to see myself in a mini mohawk!  I so love that girl.  In the end, my final shaved head felt fresh and light.  I thought about starting over with completely new hair and how many years of growth I was letting go of to create something new.  I thought about all the different ways I could grow it out again, colors, styles, lengths.  We declared it beautiful, and I decided I needed to go sit in public somewhere and “try it on” with myself, although it was the Monday after a chemo treatment the previous Tuesday, just 7 days, and I was very fatigued still.  Together with my younger sister, Katy, and her friend Madeline, we sat outdoors at Ken’s Artisan Pizza in SE.  My experience being bald in public was a good one.  I watch others and no one, expect a fellow baldy, age 9 months, stared.  Madeline said I looked like a model on an assignment.  I went with that one because I recognized that it is my choice what I say to myself.  With something this new I get to write my own narrative about how I feel and who I will be.  The words I tell myself that repeat in my head create how I carry myself and perhaps what other people see and feel when they are with me.  My question when I was first diagnosed remains: I wonder, if I truly believe and carry myself as a beautiful woman who’s bald, will others around me see that even before they see a chemotherapy patient.  Or do we always see the cancer first?

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Week 3 – Self Portrait

Week 3 –  Self Portrait

I loved having a pixie cut a few days!  My hair hasn’t been short since I was about 12.  It was fun to see and feel life with short hair.  I found that 1) my head was lighter, 2) getting ready was faster, 3) men say it’s all about the neck.  I was also thrilled to simply like how I looked with short hair knowing this is where I’ll be after it grows out for a few months. Note, it usually doesn’t start growing out until many months after chemo ends.

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Week 2 – Self Portrait

This is from the week after the 1st Chemo treatment on July 25th.  This is right before the big haircut shoot.  Each week I’ll photograph myself from the waist up to document the progression of treatment on my body.  Just however I look.  I forgot to take my jewelry off this week.  Red lipstick in honor of my grandmother, girlfriends and beauty.  Note the bandaid from the port placement surgery the previous week.  At the time of the photo I’m about 9 days out from the 1st treatment and feeling pretty good aside from a bit of nausea and fatigue. I’m able to stay up past 8pm and this night was pure magic with the haircut photo shoot and family in the studio.

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Week 0 – Self Portrait

Week 0 – Self Portrait

Each week through the project I will post a raw self portrait regardless of how I feel.  Just however I actually look each week.  With or without hair, breasts.  No makeup except for red lipstick in honor of my grandmother, girlfriends and beauty.  I hope to show the transition of my body as well as the contract between the canvas and the recreation which will happen every other week in collaboration with other creatives.

This is where it all begins.

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