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I published a book!

Lost and Found in Lymphomaland is not the memoir I wanted to write. But sometimes we don’t get to pick our topics, they pick us.

Back in salty water

Remember the Beachcombers? The show Canadians of a certain age have all heard of and never watched. Well that’s where I am, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Just up the road from Gibsons, in Roberts Creek. I’m watching huge cruise ships heading up to Alaska, and tiny tug boats pulling massive log flotillas back towards Vancouver. I have a thing for salt water. I’m reintroducing caffeine into my diet because a recent American study says that not only is coffee NOT bad for you, but it might actually be good.

In memoriam: Lisa Bonchek Adams

The world is so much emptier without Lisa Bonchek Adams in it. She died of breast cancer this past Friday March 6th and I am just one of thousands who feel the loss deeply.

Diggers gotta dig. It's personal

There’s not a globally agreed upon definition of back on the horse. Well perhaps among the horsey set, but not in my circles. You could get back on it just once. But the expression implies more than that and sets up an expectation of things to come. Weekly things to come. I imagine friends, “friends” and strangers eagerly scanning the net and facebook pages over toast and coffee, or other delicious items they have photographed and shared, wondering what the hell I did over the last week and when they might expect to know.

Back on the horse

I miss your blogging…$&&@@

That’s the text I got on Valentine’s day from my friend Tom. As intended, it triggered action. Well first it triggered guilt, because guilt’s my favorite useless emotion, and now I’ve moved on to action. As in lying-on-my-bed-typing action.

Another New Year

In all its wisdom - and we know its wisdom to be vast because stuff you googled in private, like "Converse running shoes" or "chocolate fountains", shows up there for days after -  Facebook kindly generated “iconic” personal images to represent each of our 2014.

Hail Jochebed

Forgive me readers for I have sinned. 

Give Me Sleep

Someone was outside raking leaves at 6:00 am this morning. On the continuum of noise, raking leaves is not as loud as say, blowing them, or a car alarm, or an electric saw, or hammering, but when sleep has become a huge issue, anything can be a problem. And those leaves are dry and noisy. In the middle of the day maybe my brain could package that sound as classic fall, but at 6:00 am all I can come up with is thoughtless fucker.

My Remembrance Day

There’s something about this day. This hard day. This crazy beautiful day. November 11th. The trees still brilliant red and yellow. (Way to go Japanese Maples – you get the gold medal.) People out running in tank tops and shorts and poppies.

I didn’t get the 18 degrees memo so I peeled off layers as I ran, grateful for every stunning mild blue moment. I stopped at the light at Bathurst and Dupont and smiled at a woman walking her dog.

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday was Halloween. It was cold and rainy and lots of kids came by. Not that I would know how many kids have ever come by before. I’ve always halloweened elsewhere. Before I had kids, I’d turn off the lights and hide in the basement – a total party pooper.

I ran out for candy in the afternoon. Since my porch light is broken and I “forgot” to get a pumpkin, I lit a bunch of candles in my front window. Very Shabbat meets Hannukah, meets haunted house.

Thank you giving

Oh. Right. Blog.

It’s not that I got bummed out and completely off track that I haven’t posted in the last couple of weeks, it’s that I got on track, or on a path towards a track. And for that I am so grateful.

Full Catastrophe Living

Week 2 of mindfulness meditation.

I think it’s working.

I didn’t watch any “TV” shows during the day this week. (Now that I have a number of unnamed sources for small screen activity, I’m simply going to refer to anything I watch in my home as TV, regardless of where it comes from.) Ok, I did jump on my mini trampoline with Mindy Kaling. But that was exercise.

Do You Mind?

I’m on the mindfulness train. The Mindfulness Meditation Express. Got on last Monday. I’m not allowed to talk specifically about the class but I can talk around it. And I can talk about me.

It's a bumpy life

This weekend was my first maintenance chemo. Shabbas chemo. That would never happen at Mt Sinai. When we arrived the place was locked because who does chemo on Saturday? Even the staff hadn’t thought to open the doors to serve their weekend cocktail brunch.

What's trending?

The mud of last week, the thick clay-like, impossible without muscle power, desire, and the loudest sucking sounds, like harvesting gooey ducks, to pull out of, has been diluted. Now it’s just muddy water that won’t exactly wash anything clean, but leaves room to maneuver, and feels (momentarily) refreshing by comparison.

I seem to have a situation

I have never spent so much time with my hand on my forehead as I have over the past four days – some combination of fever-checking and despair. 

I really really need to go now

Today makes a week. At 2:30 pm it will be 7 days since I arrived in emerg at Mt. Sinai. I woke up this morning feeling like I’m getting a cold.  Fondling my forehead has become a tic. I’m scared.

Last night was the first night that really sucked. It started with my cousin Ari getting stuck in the Sabbath elevator for half an hour on her way to visit. Really God? The Sabbath elevator? 

By the book

It’s Tuesday at Mt Sinai hospital. I’ve been here since last Thursday. I feel grateful that every morning until today (dark, mood-fitting rain), I’ve opened the blinds to bright sunshine, and that it took this long to get a nurse that really pisses me off.

The Girl in the Plastic Bubble

In case you were wondering where the fuck I am, I’m back from Croatia and having another kind of vacation at Mt Sinai hospital, in a room, by myself, where they keep changing the protection protocols from gowns, masks and gloves, to nothing, and back. For my protection.

Shaking the Cancer Hangover.

I’ve come across the ocean to the island of Brac, Croatia on the Adriatic with my dear friend Kathy.

Am I an ingrate?

I know, I know. You’re thinking: 

First Things First

I DON’T HAVE TO GET RADIATION!!!!!

4-3-2-1

I’m tired of counting down. Feels like my whole cancer life is about counting down.

You can think - but not in colour

While the second opinion was brighter than the first, everything I go through in Lymphomaland opens new windows of insight I’d have been happy to keep closed. It’s getting drafty in here. There’s that always-look-on-the-bright-side saying - Whenever God (or whoever) closes a door, he/she/they opens a window. Why do we think a bunch of open doors and windows is a good thing? Bugs and rodents wander in, kids slip out. It’s like disguising problems as opportunities.

Second opinion

You know the joke about making your second million in business first, because it’s so much easier than your first? Well so it goes with opinions, next time I’m going to get my second opinion first, because that was way better. And why don't they call it a first opinion?

Too Much Week

A week that starts with a really shitty radiation oncologist appointment - hope you weren’t too attached to your hair or your current vagina - followed by a CT scan, and concluding with my regular Dr. B & Dr. J, oncology appointment could, I suppose, have had a happy ending. But it didn’t.

Testing Testing

Why did the chicken cross the road? Maybe it didn’t have cancer. 

New underpants

I put on a new pair of underpants today.

Yesterday I went to the Bay. They were having a big sale on bedding, and I wanted new pillows. But I bought underwear instead. For months, I’ve barely shopped for anything other than food, light bulbs and pavement salt. I haven't been able to focus enough for anything else. When you can’t focus, you go shopping for pillows, end up with underwear, and it really doesn’t matter.

Ring That Bell

I’m told it’s an old school bell. At Princess Margaret Hospital they ring it when someone finishes chemo, at the end of their final treatment.

The sound of an ending

Day 2 of the last round of the 6 chemo treatments:

The combo of chemo and anxiety is a lethal one. Not drop dead lethal. Mini-lethal. Cry-just-because lethal. I was never going to OD with one extra Ondansetron anti-nausea pill, but things can go wrong when you get all worked up.

Sandbagging

I spent the week hiding in a corner of northern England, in the early 20th century.

Worry doesn't pay

My permanent part time job is to worry. I’ve held this position for over 30 years. On my resumé, I describe it as progressively responsible. I’ve moved up to management, and have an ever-growing number of people to be concerned about – two of whom I built myself, with worry in mind. Even people for whom I have no direct accountability have made it onto my roster.

Fear of an ending

I started. I started again. But I still don’t know where to begin. Now it’s ending, and I don’t know how to conclude.

The treatment, at least, is ending. Kind of. There’ll be maintenance chemo for two years.

The thing with cancer, with the cancer I have, I am told, is that it never really ends. People who’ve had it tell me to be prepared for it to come back. And even if it does end, you don’t know for sure that it has ended. The prospect of its return continues to weigh.

Do I need to hear spring blow in?

This was not the plan for today’s observations from Lymphomaland. I wasn’t going to be pissed off. I had worried and anxious lined up. But now, I’ll save those for tomorrow.

When things are really annoying and unfair, they need to be vented immediately. Im-mediately.

LIKE THIS FUCKING LEAF BLOWER across the street. (Writerly aside: how do you handle the conflict between saving the surprise for last, and burying your lead?)

Mess – The Hospital Anthology

I have a piece in this new anthology, published by Tightrope Press.

My Cancer Plate

The first time around, I worried incessantly about the incidental finding on the image of my brain, and what it might turn up: the unexpected dead mouse.

Stepping Away

Note: All you need to know about Proust is the part about time travel - a cookie, a little cake, or a coffee can take you back. Merci Ron Davis for the Proustian intervention.

In the middle of everything – everything being cancer, my kids, my house, a now relatively predictable routine of oncology and therapy appointments, chemo and post-chemoness - a TV location scout comes knocking. It's about a series, she says, that centres on a psychic single mom just out of prison.

Radiation - the full frontal attack

How many months ago was it that I was worried about a little radiation in the form of chest x-rays, CT scans and mammograms? Then how long before that was I anxious about simple x-rays at the dentist?

The sound of my greatest fears meeting my deepest desire

I’ve been terrified of getting cancer for decades. An unreasonable fear. There’s no history in my family. But cancer is familiar. It’s a popular theme that runs rampant through our cultural psyche. Our altruism and fears are cleverly tied up in its coloured ribbons. Until I got it - my own form that has no particular ribbon, I was able to choose when and if I wanted to notice its presence. I don’t get to choose anymore. It’s in my face.

Will Meditation Help?

I keep taking Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living to the bathroom with me. I know it deserves better.
 

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