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Family Update:

We are celebrating the two-year anniversary since my daughter’s last cancer. She is following a more frequent version of the Toronto Protocol (the go-to surveillance program for Li-Fraumeni Syndrome). We ride the rollercoaster every three months – so far so good. She survived her recent 10-day vision quest in the mountains with the requisite three-day fast and the close-call bear encounter with the revelation that she will grow old. I cried. Continue Reading…

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As most of you may know, we are almost finished with the latest new six-episode installment of the show ‘The X-Files’. For the uninitiated, ‘The X-Files’ is about a fringe group of the FBI that is tasked with investigating alien abductions and beings as well as other unusual phenomenon. The two agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, over time, believe that there is a larger government conspiracy to cover up the aliens, the abductions Continue Reading…

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For as long as I can remember, throwing myself into a new and challenging activity has helped me cope with anxiety and grief. It has been a lifelong desire of mine to really learn how to dance. My husband gave me six ballroom dance classes as a gift more than four years ago and last March I finally signed up.

So, for the past 10 months I have had to focus on being in my body and moving it in very different ways. I have had to overcome my physical space bubble, touch and be touched by strangers in a way that didn’t involve IVs, blood sticks, surgery or other physical assaults. I have had to learn to be SEXY (still Continue Reading…

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The last tumor, a leiomyosarcoma, was removed from my daughter through a liver and gall bladder resection in July of 2014. I am happy to report that she is well. Something, if not multiple things are scanned every three months. When she says she’s tired, I worry. When she doesn’t feel good, I worry. I’m always worried. I am so grateful she is still here.

At the time of my daughter’s last cancer diagnosis, I was recovering from a broken leg and still had contractors working in my house repairing the extensive damage caused by a broken water line to the icemaker behind the refrigerator. I am happy to report that my leg has healed completely. The contractors are gone. Now anything that normally happens in a home – a burnt out light bulb, a faucet leaking, even a dead plant causes stress and triggers my well-worn trauma response. The record drought has not helped. But I am grateful to finally have some peace and quiet. Continue Reading…

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In March, like millions of people, I sat enrapt watching the three-night premier of the documentary by Ken Burns, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.” As you know cancer is very personal to me. I have “battled” and “survived” the diagnoses of multiple tumors for more than twenty years. I am not a doctor or scientist but a “career” cancer patient. I have had different bilateral breast cancers, pancreatic Continue Reading…

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The Ken Burns Event

Just like many millions of people, I spent the past three nights watching Ken Burns’ Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. This has been something I have been very excited about, have talked about, blogged about, posted, and tweeted since I learned that the Pulitzer-prize winning book by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee was going to be made into a documentary.

My impressions:

First of all, in my history and devotion to PBS, I have never seen as many sponsors listed before the Continue Reading…

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Then

As most of you know, my daughter had another tumor removed last July. This was her second occurrence of leiomyosarcoma. She had a liver resection. Two institutions opined that it could not be determined if it was a new primary tumor or Stage IV as the cells of leiomyosarcoma were exactly the same. She was 6 months shy of her 5-year anniversary.

As a parent, at first I was first in warrior mode, then caregiver mode and then when the dust had settled became completely distraught. I have complex PTSD and this event was a trauma trigger on the magnitude of an 8.0 earthquake collapsing the entire house. I went into the usual grieving over whether she would live or die. I had to wrestle with Can I stand by and watch my daughter die from this? Would I rather be dead? Even after all I had been through, fighting to live, living through my first husband’s death, could I do this again? I asked myself these questions and more. Continue Reading…

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March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. I don’t know why it is not called Colorectal Awareness Month.

It is only the middle of the month as I write this and the ‘colon’ has been everywhere in my life. I have Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and a predisposition to cancer – basically anywhere – with a multiple family member history of colon cancer and precancerous polyps. The screening protocol for my Syndrome recommends biennial screening with a colonoscopy after age 40 or beginning 10 years before the age of any family member with a history of colon cancer.

So on March 5th I began my FIVE-day prep for my biennial colonoscopy. This was the 4th or 5th time I was Continue Reading…

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I love going to the movies. It is the only place where I feel completely unplugged and immersed in someone else’s story, especially if it is a good movie. This year I have started ‘Wednesday is Movie Night’ and I go with a very good friend each and every week.

Even before the 2015 Academy Awards where Julianne Moore won best actress, I was interested in seeing “Still Alice”. My movie partner wasn’t as interested but went this week with me to see Moore’s Oscar winning performance. Continue Reading…

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As you are aware the end of the year and the holiday season may be a difficult time for The Nation of Cancer. It is a time of reflection; a time to look at where one is in their life. It is also a time that may exacerbate the loss felt if a loved one has died or is very sick. It can also be a time of sadness if you, yourself are dealing with your own illness. I know that there have been many years this has been true in my life and this year has been no exception.

As I have been writing out holiday cards, I have been struck by how difficult this year has been but also struck by the gratitude I feel for what I do have. For one thing, I feel very grateful that I was able to accompany Jean Shinoda Bolen on a trip to Ireland a few years ago. I am also grateful that she graciously endorsed my book.

I have read most of her books and have always learned so much from her. Her latest book: Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywomen is a prime example of her writing, another wonderful book full of stories of mythology and how they still apply to each of us. This book has helped in better understanding my nature, further identifying mythological archetypes and contributed to continuing my journey of knowledge of who I am and what I can be.

I am including an e-mail that I received from her that I think is something to ponder as we continue on our path of healing. As suggested, I am passing along the gift of Jean Shinoda Bolen.

December 11, 2014

“Still Here” is a short essay that I read in one of my workshops at Esalen and said that I would send it to them. Intuition after hearing from others about people they have lost:  send it out to all. Continue Reading…