Stunned Curiosity

Today marks the day before a season of fighting cancer recurrence with a new combo of chemo drugs.

I am feeling many many emotions as it relates to this news that was disclosed to me on December 21st. Treatment was not an emergency, so I flew out to Ohio for Christmas, and came back with the agreement to call in to my oncologist upon my return.
I did that, and then the motions began to ready my body for the impending treatment of tomorrow.
Power port procedure.
Blood work.
Waiting for skin to heal two weeks-not one-my request.
Boom. Now it’s time to start the infusions-or “fusions” as my word maker mother texted me.
She wanted to know when the “fusions” started tomorrow.
I was amused by her use of hat sounds like…infusion, but she chose to use fusion. I much better prefer the ladder word. It sounds like a sophisticated gathering of a party of sorts. “What time will the “fusion” be happening darling? You’d have to know my mother to appreciate the humor in this. I loved it, and embraced it. I can honestly say the emotion that arose in that word fumble really brought me a chuckle and what felt like “Joy” . Years ago I would have felt annoyed and the need to correct her. Now, I smile, accept her, and her words, and embrace the joy in turning something that feels really medical and borderline terrible as an infusion to a fusion where some cool events could have. A mixing of sorts.

Writing Through Cancer with Sharon Bray

For the Week of January 15, 2012:

Lost and Found

by Sharon Bray

“Before you know what kindness really is,” poet Naomi Shihab Nye tells us,

“you must lose things…”

Loss. It’s often synonymous with cancer. Loss of hair, parts of the body;

loss of self-image, of dreams, or loss of loved ones.

We feel overwhelmed


we face a landscape defined only by losses, hopelessness and grief.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

–from “Kindness”, by Naomi Shihab-Nye in

The Words Under The Words ©1994

Here’s a suggestion for writing. First, take a blank sheet of paper and list all that you have lost. Don’t stop there. Turn the page over. Now list the acts of kindness that you remember, the ones that made a difference. And gave you hope, rediscover what you thought your lost or help you see things in a new light? Explore what you’ve lostand what you’ve found

So, this is my writing assignment for this week. The week that begins the first infusion of battling the cancer that came back. Returned. Didn’t retreat. Did NOT stay down.
Was not eradicated.
It came back.
That is the beginning of many losses, but as before in the desolate there were gains innumerable.
I will write on this all week here.
I have lost contact with old friends, and cancer brought them back.
I have lost zeal for living when I endured heart break and disappointment in men I have loved and lost, but cancer brought back the zeal-not the men.
I lost hair during round one, but it came back fabulously curlier, and a bit wild. (women pay for this look)

V Blog Experiment

Elisha and I have this idea to video blog along side one another as I journey into this second round of chemo infusions to kill the ovarian cancer that has grown back in my body. It’s not a bad idea. As you can see, we are both fairly comfortable in front of the Canon Powershot!
This is in my body now!
The experience of getting that port place in my chest was overall not too bad. My incision is healing. Itching, and the strips of tape over the incision should fall off soon.

A Word of the Week for Me

Psalm 116

1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”

5 The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the LORD when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, LORD;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, Jerusalem.

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  1. Psalm 116:19 Hebrew Hallelu Yah

Tuesday Emotions

I have been reading a blog since my first diagnosis. This was way before I realized that I, too, may be dealing with a chronic cancer diagnosis. Turquoise Gates.

The writer of the blog, Genevieve Thul, is suggesting exploring emotions every Tuesday for a month.
I am not sure what it all means, but I, without hesitation, signed on to her proposition.
What am I feeling today?
My predominant emotion today was peace. That is- peace- until… it was interrupted by a high level of annoyance. That emotional steam was brought on by a group of students that were acting verbally cruel to one another, and were disrespecting me with lack of compliance to my directives within in my classroom. I am a middle school teacher.
I felt this type of contentment today.
I felt at ease with all my student groups in school today.
I felt very focused on what students were saying today-not just getting all the objectives out and having them engage in writer’s workshop.
I was really listening to many of them, and what they had to say about anything-topics that came up were mid-terms, school, my cancer recurrence and impending treatment, and why an eighth grader can’t have a latte when she needs one during school hours.
The only time that peace was shaken today was by a group that group of fifth grade writers that hurled their negativity in my classroom- like a booming train. They seemed to have momentarily railroaded my peace.
In fact, when that fifth grade group came in with their usual complaining boisterous ramblings. My patience for this type of behavior suddenly became null-zip-void. I reacted, and immediately halted all planned activities to do this one activity I felt would get them in touch with a positive attitude towards each other and their teacher-me! I thought it would get these kids to think about seeing the best in someone else. I thought it would confront their offensive ramblings.
We picked names and wrote a letter to that person that included positive compliments and words of encouragement. These were my only 2 criteria for the “letter to a fellow writer” (a classmate) 1. State the positive in that person, and 2. Give them a compliment. 7 out of 11 students could do this on the spot assignment without a problem. We read them to each other. I was amazed and stunned at the positive insight these kids had in a moments notice. I wish I had some of the letters here at home with me to quote.
I get really upset-borderline angry-when I hear the constant complaining and negative comments my students make towards each other. Lately, it had been getting out of hand with this one particular group, and I had let it go too long, and had been spending a lot of energy trying to teach over the chaos. But today something snapped in me, I and just burst forth this spontaneous assignment. I may have to re-do it with “less emotion”, and more direct delivery next week.
Sadly, There were four students that somehow could not just state the positive only. They wrote a litany of complaints first as if to air the recipient’s character defects, and then barely wrote the uplifting words I had so hoped to solicit with this activity.
It has gotten me to think about habits. Negative talk is like a bad habit. Easy to do-Hard to break.
It takes more effort to be positive.
Ahhh. but, overall, so much more energizing than the constant negativity.
Peace. Negativity. Miffed. Emotions can be fleeting.

Pan Mass Challenge

It has always been an idea (I won’t say dream) of mine to ride this challenge.
Well, actually, Elisha has been bugging me about it since my first season of battling the ovarian cancer.
I am just sending out the link thinking perhaps some cyclists I know might want to be part of this great cause.
There's a lot riding on this. The Pan-Mass Challenge registration is open for Heavy Hitters. Every rider, donor and volunteer gets us closer by the mile.

Family Covenant

Always be honest

Proverbs 12:22

Count your blessings

Psalms 34:1-3

Bear each other’s burdens

Galatians 6:2

Forgive and forget

Micah 7:18

Be kind and tender hearted

Ephesians 4:32

Comfort one another

I Thessalonians 4:18

Keep your promises

Romans 4:21

Be supportive of one another

Acts 20:35

Be true to each other

Revelations 15:3

Look after each other

Deuteronomy 15:11

Treat each other like you treat your friends

Matthew 7:12

But most important

Love One Another deeply from the heart

I Peter 1:22

I thought about what I want to bring into this new year all day long as I prepared to journal my first entry with the “Writing Through Cancer” project. As I was eating dinner with Elisha tonight, and looked up at our funky kitchen wall pictures and sayings, I saw our family covenant. I typed this out the day we moved from the comfort of Abba’s House to our new home here. I wanted so much to uphold these biblical principles. I fall way short, but want to bring these into the new year to continue to grow in these commitments to my family members much more deeply.

That is what I want to bring into this new year.

Also, I want to carry the rich and good memories from my lifetime, so far, and leave the bitter moments behind.

I also leave in 2011 any unforgiveness in my heart towards anyone in my life that wounded me. No need to bring that in. Done.

Writing Through Cancer

“I beg what I love/ and I leave to forgive me.” What in the years past do you want to leave behind? What do you want to retain in the coming year how will you shape the life you want out of the material of your past and present?

This is the writing prompt for the first week of January 2012.
I joined a online workshop with a writer in San Diego, CA, and this is the first prompt. Her website is called “Writing Through Cancer” When I signed onto her journal project, I was not fully aware of the impending physical situation of mine with the cells turning to tumors.
Perhaps between playing the harp with the music therapist at MGH, and writing with an unknown facilitator, I will begin a journey infused with creativity as I am infused with the drugs (once again) that will kill the cancer. (once again)