Yes, I know it’s the end of June. Yes, I’m aware that means that Summer has announced itself in no uncertain terms (or temperatures). It hardly seems an appropriate time to rhapsodize about the life-giving season that is Spring. Although it may be a little late, I assure you, this Spring was worth acknowledging, both in health and in fashion!
Now that Spring has already opened up our hearts and wardrobes (Sheep Meadow, Mr Softee, sundresses!) it’s hard to recall what a wretched winter we had. Or at least, I had. Winter became the designated season of loss. Sweeping my newly chopped hair off the floor in February was just the beginning. I lost energy, eyebrows, motivation, mobility, courage, confidence, fingernails, and fight. Chemo hit me at all the weak spots in my life and bulldozed through them with no apologies until I had perfected the art of losing. While my self esteem was plummeting, there was one area of my life that was gaining. My weight.
As much as I had worked through the shock of my baldness, the almost 25 pound weight gain that accompanied my 6 treatments threw me into a tailspin that I could not bounce back from. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Aren’t you supposed to lose weight during chemo?! I had heard endless stories of losing all desire for food. The nurses hammered in the idea to eat whatever appealed to me since almost nothing will. I was supposed to eat all I could leading up to chemo (which I excelled at on our pre-treatment trip to Europe!) because for the next few months, eating would be a chore. But the first time the nausea hit, I wanted bread. The next day, mac and cheese. When I would wake up at 3am with unrelenting insomnia, cold leftovers eased my ravenous appetite. Huddled in the light of the fridge, cooling my hot flashes, I could rationalize it all: “I DESERVE THIS.” Didn’t I deserve this? I had cut out all bread, sugars, grains, unstable oils, anything that even hinted at feeding my cancer for four months. Now I wanted dessert. ALL OF THE DESSERT. Every meal required it. I had rewritten the rules of the cancer diet. Rule #1: Eat whatever the fuck you want. You have cancer and you deserve it. No need for any more rules.
Turns out, you can’t eat 7 full meals a day and exclusively lay on the couch without gaining some weight. More weight than I had ever held on my body. I began to feel like a science experiment. Every doctor’s appointment weigh-in showed a higher number on the scale. Once, I saw the same nurse in April that I hadn’t seen since January. When I stepped on the scale her eyes bulged out of her head more than my stomach bulged over my jeans. She double checked the number three times before I finally told her “Yeah, I’ve gained a little weight”.
“A LOT of weight,” she corrected me as she shoved the thermometer in my mouth.
Spring arrived just in time.
Basically everything in my life changed as soon as the blooms started arriving on the trees. My chemo ended in April but my mastectomy wasn’t coming up until the summer which allowed me a glorious sweet spot of replenishing. My health sprung back into action. My chemo brain melted slowly, washing away like the black snow on the sidewalk. Peter and I relocated to Los Angeles via a cross country road trip filled with memories and yes, more food. But the best thing by far to happen was the “Spring” that revisited me when I was sure the season had past.
In late March, I was cast as Ilse, my favorite role I’ve ever had the pleasure to play, in the Deaf West production of the musical Spring Awakening. For those of you who don’t know, I was in the original Broadway production of this show almost ten years ago. But this version incorporated hearing and deaf actors in a breathtaking display of song and sign language. I would have never imagined this show would come back around but the director, Michael Arden, gave me the gift of revisiting it. At my lowest opinion of myself, he gave me an opportunity to shine, to feel useful, to step outside of my own pain and into the beauty of a new world. We incorporated my baldness into the character which allowed me to be brave with my appearance. My weight began to decrease steadily as I threw my body into performing. It was a glorious feeling. I could almost feel the old me waking slowly after spending the winter hibernating inside my soft body.
There’s a lyric in Spring Awakening that has always been my favorite and it was particularly relevant to me in this phase of my life. I would listen to it every night and breathe in it’s meaning, allowing the truth of it to wash over me.
The stars, too,
They tell of Spring returning.
And summer with another wind that no one yet has known.
Everything in my life was pointing toward a new beginning. Spring was on it’s way and I just had to follow my destiny there. This lyric eased me every time I would think about my impending summer surgery. Each season has it’s own wind, it’s unique emotional weight that cannot be anticipated. It can only be felt as it’s arriving. I still have a long way to go in accepting my new appearance and accepting it is the first step to changing it. But in the meantime, I will honor each season as it comes, releasing it when it is time to face the next. Let’s see what the summer brings!
Stay tuned to see some of my favorite Spring looks!
11 thoughts on “The Glory of the Spring!”
Good to know there is casting after chemo.
As you begin the next phase of your…uh, adventure, perhaps it would be a good time to regale you with a philosophy of life I have adopted, otherwise known as Kimo’s Hawaiian Rules:
*Never judge a day by the weather.
*The best things in life aren’t things.
*Tell the truth – there is less to remember.
*Speak softly and wear a loud shirt (or whatever…).
*Goals are deceptive – The unaimed arrow never misses.
*He who does with the most toys still dies.
*Age is relative – When you’re over the hill, you pick up speed.
*There are two ways to be rich: Get more or want less.
*Beauty is internal – Looks mean nothing.
*Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
AND (especially appropriate here, I think…)
*No rain, no rainbows…
You have a LOT of rainbows n your future, sistah, so no worries about a few more raindrops…
The weight gain does happen. I thought the same things you did, but 15 years later I am happy to be alive despite the weight issues.
IHi Sweetie, Just had a wonderful visit with Jeremy & Ashley & asked how you were doing. You always amaze me with your positive outlook. Wish I could have seen you in “Spring Awakening” Jer & Ash will be in L.A. soon for Supergirl so you will have more friends there. Looking to seeing your new fashions & hoping for & easier time for you in the future. Susan Long (JJ’s Nana)
Oh I had to laugh a little at this. Finally, I’m not the only one who gained weight during treatment. Loved the breads. I said to my doctor I’m bald, feel like crap and I gain weight. Thought I’d at least lose a few pounds.
What the heck!!. Thanks for sharing.
I found out that you were in the Broadway cast of Spring Awakening earlier this year. So when I heard that you were coming back to Spring Awakening as Ilse, I was really excited! Although I was unable to to see the show, I’m sure you were amazing as always! Can’t wait to see you on TV again!
i must admit, 2 years ago I’d never heard of Krysta. Then I saw “First Date” on Broadway and wondered how I could not have known of this mega-talented, stunning beauty. I was so saddened to learn of her cancer, but I can say for sure there are three things she has not lost from this hideous disease: her strength; her talent & her beauty. What an incredible inspiration you are Krysta. Keep up the fight and come back even stronger.
Hi Krysta! Ali and I saw you in “Spring Awakening” in L.A., and you truly look wonderful. Your character was wonderfully wacky and poignant, and you were truly amazing. Loved how you whipped off your wig. I have to say it was one of the most powerful plays I’ve seen, perhaps because of the clever use of signing and signs throughout, perhaps because we, of course, were focused on you–perhaps both. I’m glad to hear you are starting to feel more energy, and I know you’ll conquer your surgery and recover in true style. Keeping you in my thoughts every day.
You never cease to amaze me. You unrelenting spirit continues to shine. I hope Spring Awakening brings you much joy. And as the summer approaches and your surgery date nears, I wish you strength- and peace.
I have so enjoyed your posts…and loved you on Smash. I,too, am a Cancer survivor…Ovarian…3 years remission (I believe remission forever). You have such a smart and positive outlook, which I have found to be the most important characteristic of survival in terms of myself and many others I know. I, too, could not believe my chemo weight gain…30 lbs.! But, I did so enjoy the foods that tasted good to me…cinnamon buns for breakfast (a reason to look forward to waking up each morning! ), comfort food such as grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, pastas for dinner, Ben & Jerry’s for dessert. It really helped to have these comforts when I was feeling so wiped out and fatigued from the chemo. I have children your age so am probably closer to your mothers age…but my weight loss has taken me these three years to “almost” lose it. Anyway, please keep your positive outlook…and keep blogging…and you will do fine…and beat “the beast”. Best wishes for a very long, happy and fulfilled life.
You rock!! Loved this post….let yourself shine!!