The Anatomy of Hope

The Anatomy of Hope

If you know me, you know I’m no fan of statistics. It’s the whole reason I wrote two books about people who beat the odds and why I continue to do this blog. It doesn’t take much digging to see their unreliability. As the American Cancer Society states on its site, the statistics they have for breast cancer survivorship are based on “people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with breast cancer.” I look at my survival. According to these outdated statistics, I only had a 22 percent of being around five years. It’s been seven years since I was diagnosed, and I’m still here. And the past two drugs I’ve been on...

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Keeping it real: You don’t always have to be strong

Keeping it real: You don’t always have to be strong

We’ve all been there. You’re in a social setting and someone asks you how you’re doing. “I’m fine; how are you?,” you automatically reply. You might chat a bit about your kids, work or the weather … maybe a vacation that’s approaching. Then you move on to the next person. I was at our spiritual center on Sunday after the service. Everyone was downstairs having coffee and snacks, chatting away. And I was  feeling lost. lonely and agitated, even after the very positive message our minister gave. I found my mind wandering during the whole service. Fear about my scans, anger about having to deal with cancer all the time, and worse of all, a feeling of helplessness. I looked in the mirror in the bathroom and thought I...

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Scan update: F*&^ that fortune cookie!

Scan update: F*&^ that fortune cookie!

Sometimes hope is hard. It’s like a muscle that needs exercise to keep from getting flabby. It’s not always something that comes naturally. You have to work at it, especially when the going gets tough. That’s the space I’ve been in lately – wavering between hope and fear, gratitude and disappointment. Last Thursday I was having what you’d call a bad day. Nothing was working out as planned. I missed my yoga class because I had to go down and wrangle with the grumpy manager of the hall we were renting for Chrissy’s 16th birthday party. Then I got interrupted after 15 minutes on the treadmill at the Y because I had to go home to let in Chrissy, who forgot her key. And the kicker – I picked up my scan results, and they...

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A love letter to my valentine

A love letter to my valentine

This morning I had my PET scan. Before I left for the hospital, I said to myself, “Cancer, I quit you! I don’t want you in my life anymore. You can go now.” It was a brief, “Take this job and shove it” moment and an affirmation/hope that this new treatment will finally do the trick. I know the nature of metastatic breast cancer, though, and at least for the foreseeable future, I don’t think I can turn in my resignation letter. I’m still in the fight and will in all likelihood be in treatment until they find a cure. But my husband didn’t apply for this job. And he could quit if he really wanted to. He could check out with alcohol, drugs, or literally leave like I’ve seen other spouses do. Or like some husbands...

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It was seven years ago today

It was seven years ago today

Today is World Cancer Day, and it also marks the seventh anniversary of when cancer changed my world. I remember vividly that cold day sitting in  my breast surgeon’s waiting room, which was decorated for Valentine’s Day. I finally wised up and asked to see her a month earlier than my regular checkup because of the lump in my armpit that had been causing me pain and concern. I don’t know what I was thinking, going to the appointment alone. I must have been in denial just like I was the first time about five years earlier when I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. But there I sat in the exam room as my doctor gave me an excruciating sad look and told me she thought it was a recurrence. We quickly scheduled surgery, then follow-up scans...

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The “If” word and planting seeds of hope

The “If” word and planting seeds of hope

It’s the dead of winter and I’m thinking of seeds sprouting. That’s how I’m seeing my life and work these days. I mentioned to Mike that when I went to California to promote my book, Miracle Survivors, I felt like I was spreading seeds of hope on the west coast. I sprinkled them here and there during my talks. Now Lynda DeWitt and Dikla Benzeevi, two amazing 12-year, stage IV breast cancer survivors who are in Miracle Survivors, took the show on the road with their own signing while networking about advocacy work. I have several opportunities germinating locally and in different parts of the country to do talks and signings. All I have to do now is wait. I feel the same way about my treatments now, but there is a lot more riding on the...

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About this stress thing …

About this stress thing …

Last week, I delved into why I take care of myself and how stress, if not handled properly is harmful for cancer survivors … and everybody else for that matter. I got a lot of great feedback from the post, and I thought this topic deserved a little more attention. Cancer advocate Heather Swift shared this interesting article about cancer and inflammationn from the Oncology Nursing Association’s news magazine. As the article states, studies show that 25 percent of all cancers are associated with inflammation. The body produces inflammatory markers in response to stress, and studies show that certain malignancies develop in tissues severely damaged by chronic inflammation. If you read on, the article suggests several things that can help manage stress,...

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