Still Here


The last 9 months have been a blur. This fog phase started in Montego Bay Jamaica in December. Well no. It started months and months and years before that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But somewhere around the fall of 2018 my back started paining me. I thought maybe I pulled a muscle during my attempts at Yoga or spine twisted a little too much during Tai Chi.

I never thought for a moment that the cancer had metastasized and spread to my spine. My bones were brittle. Fractures everywhere.

Backstory. Every year my daughter and I spend Christmas together in Jamaica. And for a number of reasons I felt that December 2018 might be our last. For one, I thought** I might not make it much longer and secondly Kenya was headed to Africa and her work schedule would make it difficult for us to commune for our annual sojourn which we had already been doing for over a decade. So I packed up all my pain killers and we met in JA.

Somewhere between the rough roads of Jamaica and a cancer that I didn’t know at that time was spreading throughout my body I cut our annual vacation short and found myself back in America in Emory Hospital Emergency room. My palliative doctor spoke with the medical doctor at Falmouth hospital in Jamaica and advised him what drugs to give me so that I could get on the plane. The pain was unbearable. I arrived on a Wednesday in January and I was already on the books for spinal compression surgery on Friday. I had not consented and in fact refused the surgery despite the pain. I eventually gave in only after consultation with my ancestors, spirit guides and my closest circle of friends.

From that day until now my back has not been the same. I could barely walk and used a walker for the last 9 months while maintaining a heavy medicated state with help of morphine, fentanyl patches, hydrocodone, oxycodone and various cocktails and combination of opiods. Oh and yes, Cannabis.

In September I stopped taking opiods. They didn’t seem to help the pain and I knew after so many months I was probably hooked. So I stopped. I learned to bare the pain. My memory started to come back and I felt like I was rising from the dead.

**PS. I don’t think like that anymore. I choose life in all my thoughts and prayers

Photo Credit:  @TerrellClarkofficial

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By karen marie mason