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    It’s a good line though, and sort of true!

    But mixed in with the gardening for sanity is the hard work for my family’s benefit, and supporting a friend through her cancer treatment. She was diagnosed in June and was not insured. I just posted about what insurance gets you at my blog at Everyday Health.

    My boy has been away at wilderness camp, and being a champ. We’ve had quite a lot going on around here.

    Life gets fast, and it has been, very much indeed. I got my wish. Some days I don’t think about cancer at all, or wouldn’t if I didn’t have so many wonderful friends on the blogosphere to keep track of.

    Tomorrow I am headed out backpacking with my dear friend Susan, her brother, another friend I haven’t met yet, and my Godson.

    Now I’m gone fishin’!

     

    I’ve been AWOL the last few weeks, and busy with the end of the school year. I sometimes forget that posting makes me happy, and put it off until I think I have something great to contribute. Other times there is so much that I feel like I want to just scribble and scribble, and provide link after link. I know I don’t have time so I don’t do anything!

    Ah, perfectionism…

    In any case, I did post over on Everyday Health. Some pretty exciting stuff going on in the treatment world, which I will elaborate on later, probably after I finish with the shows for the drama club where I teach. Summer, here we come!

     

    I just posted at Everyday Health about what I learned that affected my everyday behavior.  Yes, it did!  Knowing that we are not as far along as I thought when it comes to preventing recurrence and metastasis scared me even more than I already was.

    We lost another in our blogging community.

    What to do….what I can to stay well, and what I can to end it.

    Here’s the post at Everyday Health.

    Again, roaming, following blogs that lead to blogs. What a treasure trove I found!

    I found this one by following my friend Anna, who was herself the inspiration for this award!

    Hey, Disruptive Cancer Bloggers!

    The comments from those bloggers guilty as charged, and their justifications for the honor was the best belly laugh I’ve had in weeks. Some highlights:

    Anna’s super snark on Pink Town

    and Kathi’s beautiful self portrait

    Maybe if I stick around and play with the big kids long enough I can learn such snark skill!

     

    F—#*!!!! CANCER!

    Every so often I go roaming the internet late at night. I followed the blog of my friend Anna, and ran into the devastating stories of more lives lost, to ovarian cancer.

    My support of Deadline 2020 for the end of breast cancer is something I am 110% behind because it’s time for the end of ALL cancer. Yes, that is ambitious, but it’s logical. The important pieces we learn about one cancer often leads to inroads into understanding other cancers. We will wipe out breast cancer when we understand how to prevent it, and how to stop metastasis. Do do that we need a major paradigm shift, because currently only less than 5% of research currently goes into the study of metastatic disease. People don’t die of cancer in the breast. They die of metastatic disease. What the @#!!! is going on here? When we understand this process and how to stop it, the treatments for many cancers will change. For more on what’s really going on in breast cancer research, check out the Deadline 2020 website.

    I lost my father to Lymphoma when I was 19 and he was 44. I have several friends with metastatic breast cancer and I am reading all across cyberspace about more deaths, a tide that has to be stopped.

    Fran Visco said this weekend that when we reach January 1, 2020, we will all be out of a job, because we will have accomplished our objective.

    Not me. Not until it’s over for all of us.

    Here it is…

    My very first conference. I am so stoked. I will be reporting on what I learn when I get back! I am not even going to bother to take my laptop, because I know I will be too busy to scribble. I have good ol’ fashioned pen and paper for notes.

    Kindly send good sleepy thoughts tonight! I don’t sleep too well on planes, alas.

    Until soon!

     

    Oh yes, it is a delicate balance.

    Some folks pace themselves ever so beautifully, and life maintains a steady and doable pace.

    Others, like myself, fluctuate madly between just right and ‘way too much, and then all the balls I’m juggling in the air come crashing down in a disordered heap, and I look around at them dazed and confused.

    This has been the way I do it for my entire life. Will I ever learn? Perhaps, I’m still hoping!

    The show was great, I had a blast, and when it was over I was unbelievably pooped. I also discovered that more than I had been willing to look at had fallen apart while I was in my happy theater place.

    So, what to do? I’m not going to stop doing theater! However, I’m going to do the next one differently. I have learned a good bit that I will try not to forget.

    Next time a do a show, I will have less on my plate to begin with, so there is less to fall apart. I also will clear my schedule as much as possible during tech week so my sleep is not sacrificed. I have the flexibility built into my work life that I can add more in the weeks before and after so I don’t get so wiped out during tech week. I guess I have learned some things!

    It is my habit to take on too much. I used to do it for other people, now I do it like a little hungry kid who thinks everything looks great and orders too much food. There’s nothing in my life that I don’t enjoy. That’s the progress. There’s still just a bit too much of it, and I’m not the barrel of energy that I used to be and that’s all there is to it. Gotta pick and choose, and that’s not a bad thing.

    I laughed today when I had a hot flash and realized that the time for complaining about this has passed. I am approaching 50 (OMG, really?) and this would really be just about that time! Menopause at 45 when I still felt young was one thing. Menopause in the natural order of things is just “the change” and we all deal with it.

    Are my aches and pains the leftovers from treatment or am I just getting old? Do I need more sleep for the same reason, or have I just stopped being so foolish as to not notice what a ditz I am (not to mention needing a steady supply of caffeine to function) as to think that sleep is expendable?

    I guess this is the midlife crisis, when the reality hits, as one person told me once, that “there’s less in front of ya than there is behind ya”. The good ol’ days of endless energy and resilience are gone, and whether I had cancer or not they’re still gone! Sooner than they would have been? At this point I don’t know.

    I still enjoy everything I do as much as I ever did, but the fact is that I can do less of it.

    On the other side of that are delicious things I get to do more of. I get to putter in my garden, which I never had the patience for before. I take naps, and I love those. I am free of the obsession with looks and size. I’m ripe and mellow instead of young and wild.

    Best of all, I made it this far, which at one time was in question.

    So, all the balls I’ve been juggling in a heap on the floor means that I have to be a little less ambitious.

    One of the things I’ve learned is that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is impressed with what I’ve accomplished. What matters is how I feel about how I’ve spent my precious time.

    Now, for a doze….

     

    Well, I just posted a rant over at Everyday Health.  It’s important information.

    Please, go check it out!  And Susan G. Komen, shame on you!

     

    And for Linda, and for Pat, and others who have asked. It’s so hard to know where to start with Complementary Therapies! My first thought when I was diagnosed was that I would use all the big guns my oncologist recommended, and all the big guns from the Complementary Therapies arsenal. At the time I was diagnosed, I had been a full time professional Massage Therapist for nearly 20 years. I knew all about complementary therapies, but I had been neglecting myself, badly. I wasn’t just a wounded healer. I had been limping for a long time. I had just emerged from an awful divorce, huge work stress (the hospital where I worked was downsizing, and the pressure was on!), and my children were suffering. They were 7 and 9. I knew something had to give, but I didn’t really know how to get out of the quicksand I was in.

    When I got the diagnosis, I knew I had to fight and fight hard. I decided that I had an opportunity to heal my whole life, and that embracing that task would give me the best chance to survive. I sought healing of body, mind and spirit, and most importantly to mend the rifts between them. The word “congruence” was my operative word, and still is. So, my take on complementary therapies is really an approach rather than just a list of modalities. having said that, I pretty much used them all!

    My practices for myself:
    1. Say “yes” when anyone offered help. Accept with gratitude. Believe that I deserved the help and that giving it was a blessing to the ones who offered.
    2. Put myself first, for the first time ever in my life, no matter who it upset. I was fighting for my life, and I knew it. A total stranger told me to do this, and I believed her.
    3. Actively and deliberately sought my own happiness. It took awhile to figure out what that looked like.
    4. Made a decision to stop beating myself up, period. Nothing was gained by my perfectionism, and I was beating myself down. Now I question my tendency to self blame, and if I find something that needs to change, I take note and move on.

    I had to rely on #1 a lot, because I was not in a financial position to pay for everything I received. Still, I accepted it, and it all helped, more than the sum of it’s parts. Here’s my list:

    1. Massage Therapy. I received a massage once a week while I was receiving chemotherapy. My colleagues at the hospital did this for me voluntarily, on their own time. I will always be deeply grateful for this.

    2. Healing Touch. I received this through a Stanford University study called Healing Partners. I received one session per week for six months.

    3. Acupuncture. My mom offered to pay for this because she knew it would help. I was a struggling single mom when I went on this journey so I did not have the funds to do this. I received acupuncture once every two weeks.

    4. Guided Imagery. I believe this had a huge impact on my treatment. I used it to keep my blood cell counts up, to maximize the effectiveness of my treatments, and for healing after the treatments were over. I’ve already written a short article about that on the pages for Complementary Therapies. Excellent Guided Imagery CD’s and MP3 downloads are available from Health Journeys.

    5. Support: I went to an Art and Imagery support group. This was a combination of Guided Imagery and using art therapeutically. It was very helpful. That program closed at the hospital and I really miss it. I also found my Caringbridge site to be a huge source of support.

    6. Counseling. Fortunately for me, this was available through California Cancer Care where I received my treatments.

    7. Laughter! I didn’t do “laughter therapy” (whatever that is…I haven’t tried Laughter Yoga but I have a friend who’s into it and loves it) but at the time I was diagnosed I had been attending a comedy improv class every week, and I made sure to continue. I timed my chemotherapy so I would be up for my class, and I didn’t miss a single one! Even after my surgery, I couldn’t play, but I could watch. I’m convinced that laughing my head off every week was very good for me.

    8. Exercise is very important! I took advantage of the “Living Strong, Living Well” program at my local YMCA and did weights, cardiovascular exercise, and whatever else seemed like fun. I also did yoga at home, and some chi gong. I had a couple of videos and they worked well for me. I have a chi gong video that offers a 10 minute sequence for cleansing, called simply “chi gong for cleansing”. I am convinced that my complete recovery from surgery with my range of motion intact is because I did yoga.

    9. Nutrition: My doctor told me, “Eat what looks good to you”. I wanted to be a martinet about what I ate, but I had decided to accept all help so I indulged in comfort food when it was offered. What I did do is create a smoothie that covered all the bases, and I had that every day during chemotherapy. Now I’m a bit more careful, but not super strict. I find the information on “Food for Breast Cancer” useful and I read the research they publish.

    10. Cultivate hope, actively. I read everything I could get my hands on about recovering. The book “Remarkable Recovery” was my constant companion. I read the stories over and over, especially if I was feeling worn out by it all. The gist of what I got from it was that beating the odds was about doing it how you do it best, and it’s different for all of us.

    11. Self expression and creativity. Everybody has her own way to do this. I found blogging, and loved it. I also got tons of support online, which was a huge help. I picked up a paint brush for the first time in 20 years or so. As I went through radiation, I was also rehearsing for a musical, again for the first time in 20 years. For you it may not be this sort of stuff, it may be something else, but whatever it is, it makes your spirit hum! If you’ve forgotten what that is, it’s time to discover it again!

    12. Prayer. Whenever anyone offered to pray for me, I said yes, by all means please do! Acknowledging that my life was worth praying for, and allowing total strangers to pray for me (I was on a ton of prayer lists) was an important act of self love. There is research that supports the effectiveness of prayer, and I believe deeply that true self love sets all kinds of positive cellular happenings in motion.

    13. Substitute “Feel Everything” for “stay positive”. I heard that stay positive stuff all the time from well meaning people. Being a Pollyanna does not help. Neither does denial. What does help is honoring what you feel, give it expression, and keep things moving. I didn’t elevate my lousy mood by pretending I didn’t have it. I blogged, “feel like crap, going to bed” and then later absorbed the messages of hope from my friends on my guestbook. I cried my way through a few infusions, and then felt better. After I cried I could make art or settle into my warm bed with some hot chocolate. Everything is allowed!

    There’s my first stab at it ladies, for my dear IBC sisters and anyone else this may help. If you have any questions about what’s here so far, or want me to elaborate some more, please send me an email at elizabethdanu@rocketmail.com. What you tell me you want is what will be in Part Two. In the meantime, I am sleuthing out links and resources.

    I hope this helps!

    Love,
    Elizabeth

    Here is the post that started the Army of Lego Princesses

    The Army of Strong, Brave Princess is growing. Go to Toddler Planet and follow the link to Annie’s blog, and believe that this world is full of good people!

    I ran into a friend today, one of my theater buddies. Our two daughters talked and played games on our cell phones while we had a good visit, a hard one too. She is terribly worried about a dear friend of hers, another mother fighting cancer. Felicia shared her ambition to involve her school in a massive fundraising effort for cancer research.

    We had stopped into a store earlier in the afternoon that is run by a breast cancer survivor. She’s got this cute little shop on B street in downtown San Mateo, dedicated to making a difference. You can find out more about her at www.livingpeacefullystore.com. I found out that Barb was a cancer survivor when I asked her about the “Cancer Sucks” bear she had on display. I used to wear a badge on my bucket hat that said the same thing! It made me smile.

    Felly and I got matching little heart necklaces with a peace sign inside. Hers is pink, mine is purple. After we visited the store, we got some frozen yogurt and she told me what she wants to do. She is envisioning car washes, bake sales, maybe a musical theater production, all to raise money for cancer research. I think she was inspired because the lady who runs the store has a son in Felicia’s P.E. class.

    How many of our children have been touched? How many want to do something, and don’t know who the others are in their community that also want to do something? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

    It’s a mighty good world, with good folks in it. Yes, there is all kinds of ugliness, violence, want, disease. And, joining together to do something about these things is such a deep satisfaction, such exhilaration, such hope. Today instead of being paranoid about my aches and pains (I have a spot at the front of my right hip that is bothering me, stretching like a nut so I can make it go away and stop worrying) I can focus on what I am able to do, and remind myself to take care of myself so I can keep doing it.

    Susan, what you inspire in others inspires me. The disease you face stinks and what your courage in the face of it draws from people is simply amazing and wonderful. Now that little lego princess is on my desk too, every time I turn on my computer.

    Rock on Princess!

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