The thing about feelings …

The thing about feelings …

The thing about feelings is there is only one way out of them – and that’s going through them. Now the happy, easy feelings, we don’t want them to end, but the uncomfortable ones, that’s a different story. So goes the problem with staying positive. I can be black and white about it all and forget that feelings have to be felt. It reminds me of when I was in labor. As you moms out there know, it really hurts! But there is no turning back, no matter how much you wish you can, when the labor pains begin. I felt the same way when I found out I had cancer, except there was no beautiful baby to look forward to. I had to go through it to get through it. And I’m still doing it now. Several people have told me lately I’m brave or that...

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Vulnerability is a very good thing – especially when you have cancer

Vulnerability is a very good thing – especially when you have cancer

Sometimes you have to hit bottom to transform your life. It is a common theme in the 12-step recovery program, and it seems to have applied to me lately. The other night I was experiencing what could be called the dark night of the soul. A lot of scary and depressing things were happening at once: 1. My oncologist confirmed my scans showed progression. She is starting me on a new trial, which looks promising (will explain in next week’s post), but it was hitting me that I am again in uncharted territory. 2. I had just returned from a trip to see a friend who is suffering and dying. 3. To top it off, I was sick from and run down from all my traveling, suffering with a cold, nausea and a pulled shoulder muscle. I had one of those “I want my mommy...

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From Survivorville to “Scanville”: My road back to reality

From Survivorville to “Scanville”: My road back to reality

I came back from an absolutely exhilarating time at the Survivorville, a women’s cancer conference in Nashville. Not only was the venue beautiful – The Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort – but the women I met were too, inside and out. The two highlights were 1) meeting fellow stage IV survivors/co-survivors who were volunteers and at my breakout session: The Buck Stops Here: The Power of Becoming Your Own Advocate, and 2) reading my story for My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage. I was in awe of the nine other women and two little girls, who shared their stories of struggle, loss, inspiration and hope and how they transformed the life-changing experiences with cancer to a new way of life. For instance, Ariana and Naveya, the two girls...

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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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Surviving guilt: Why taking care of yourself is not a luxury

Surviving guilt: Why taking care of yourself is not a luxury

It seems like there is a stigma in our western world about taking care of ourselves — especially for women. We are pushed to be the best mothers, the best daughters while juggling impressive careers, being/looking sexy for our husbands and having immaculate households. It’s called “having it all,” but really, who’s having the having? We become “human doings” instead of human beings. We are stressed and feel like we’re never enough, trying to meet the expectations of the outer world. And many of us come up empty-handed … and even worse, developing cancer. That was me about seven years ago. In my mind. I  was definitely falling short of the mark on all counts. I was in a job that caused me so much stress, I...

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Not taking the holidays for granted

Not taking the holidays for granted

Yesterday I was wrapping presents for our “Christmaskah” celebration. It felt a little indulgent, sitting by the TV and binge-watching The Tudors on Netflix as I wrapped. But I started thinking about the importance of what I was doing and how fortunate I am to be here to do it. Like many families, I, the mom, do all the shopping for our daughter Chrissy. I admit that I spoil her, but she is not spoiled. She appreciates and thanks us for everything. Part of the reason I do this is because when I grew up, we didn’t really celebrate the holidays. Yes, we were Jewish, but I was lucky to get even one gift for Hannukah. It was never wrapped and never a surprise and was given to be begrudgingly. The holidays were also a downer because when I was eight,...

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