Saturday, September 26, 2009


I wonder when the floating, euphoric sensation will stop? Right now, I am so very attuned to the joys of my days. Last night some friends came for dinner, and the food was so good (potluck) that it gave me a little thrill; this morning, we walked to C&P and my tea* tasted nothing short of spectacular, and running into friends was a particular treat. Today we are Maisy-sitting (Maisy is a labradoodle puppy) and watching Shep and Maisy tear around the back yard together, full of doggy mischief and fun, makes me giggle.

Tessa has back to back birthday parties to attend today. The first is a "sporty" theme, and she's wearing a little tennis skort and work out top with a sassy pony tail and a pair of running shoes. The afternoon party is a "fancy" theme, and she's wearing a long white princess dress, crown, etc. Ryan is taking Tessa to the first party, and I'm attending the second party. What joy that our lives are filled with friends, celebrations, and fun.

Tomorrow I will get to stand up in front of the congregation and share my joy. I'll bet that I'll cry, and I don't care. And in the afternoon we're going to Tessa's second soccer game, and the grownups will stand on the sidelines and cheer and chat (fortunately, it's a GREAT group of parents - people are just genuinely happy to see their kids trying, and it's not one of those sideline groups that makes people cringe to watch).

I hope that I can keep this feeling a long, long time.

*I'm cutting back on my coffee. A cup or two a day, but not the insane quantities that I had been consuming. I had coffee before we decided to go to C&P, and hence the tea.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The bliss of a normal life

I am still riding high. I actually feel high, without the help of drugs. (My apologies to friends who saw me on "percocet afternoon" - I think for a while there I was talking twice my normal (fast) speed!)

My neck still reminds me that I've had recent surgery, but it is almost a pleasure to feel the small pain, not because I am a masochist but because it reminds me how close I came to losing it all (or so it felt).

Several friends and family members have now confided to me how worried they were, and how intense their emotions have been through this. I have been blessed by tears by many, upon hearing my good news. I am filled with joy and gratitude that there are those who care so much about me, who will me to be well.

And today I'm doing tons of usually tiresome chores. Okay, my chores - laundry, mow lawn, vacuum, etc. - are still tiresome, but today there is a difference. Today I am living in the moment, relishing the small pleasures. A clean floor, a drawer with things lined just so, the books in Tessa's bookcase all lined up beside one another. Look at my life! I have drawers full of useful things, I have a home often filled with laughter and sometimes shared tears (both are important, I think), I have food in my belly, a dog who follows me with love in his eyes.

Tonight a few friends are coming for a potluck. I will sit in my small, ordinary back yard, a glass of wine in hand, and laugh with them, and help with our collection of children, and feel Ryan's arm around my shoulders, and I will know that I am rich. I will know that it is heaven, that I am blessed, and that life is filled with so much joy.

Pain, too. Yes, there is a lot of pain. I know that. But I don't want to lose sight of how much joy there is, too.

Have a wonderful, joy filled weekend, my friends. May you feel joy in the mundane, and find beauty in the small things. Remember that it can all be taken away in a moment, but instead of dwelling in that terror, remind yourself that you are here, now, and that fact alone is beautiful. Visit me in this place...come live with me here, reveling in our lives.

With love,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A normal day

I'm just about to wake Tessa up from her slumbers; Ryan is on a bus somewhere on the way to work. I'm wearing my workout clothes in anticipation of a walk/jog along Alki with Shep. It's Sarah's birthday, and I'm baking a cake today for her.

It is a good, good, good life. Warts and all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My best life

If you got a second (third, fourth, fiftieth) chance at life, what would you do? What would you change? What would you keep?

I have a lot of thinking to do. I have been granted a new chance to be alive, and I could not be more grateful. I will not waste my life, and I will not take it for granted.

MORE benign news!

This day keeps getting better.

Just got off the phone with Dr. Rinn, who just got off the phone with the pathologist. The nodes are so absolutely normal that they are not doing further testing - NO signs of lymphoma.

Benign all the way!

It is time to celebrate. :-)

Initial results: BENIGN!

My lovely onc called.

Initial results are in: BENIGN for breast cancer.

Oh I can not tell you the level of relief....I have been so scared.

We're waiting to hear if there will be further pathology for lymphoma but this is GREAT news and we will take whatever comes after it.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers through all of this.

I'm shaking with relief, giddy and nervous and excited....

Making an effort

The past couple days I haven't done a thing - mostly just laid in bed. Today, I'm attempting to be up and at'em. I'm showered and dressed, Tessa's oatmeal is cooking, and I'm going to try to get through the whole day in a somewhat normal fashion.

I took the clear plastic (Tegaderm?) bandage off my neck, and I'm glad I did. It looks like I was having an allergic reaction to it - I have one blister, and the whole area is red. OUCH. I'm keeping an eye on it, and I'll call the doc today. (A good chance to pester him about results, anyway.)

So, off I go to greet the day. Still hoping, wishing, praying for good results....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Waiting for answers

This morning, Tessa snuggled up to me and said, "Mommy, when are you going to stop having surgeries?"

I still don't know. Please please let me be done, let me be healthy, let me have a long life...


Last night I slept soundly from 10-12, and then I was awake all night, with only minutes of sleep here and there. Why? I have no idea! I am so tired that the fatigue is like a cloak of achiness draped over me - why couldn't I sleep? Tonight I will take an Ambien to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Ryan is getting Tessa ready; Laurie is giving her a ride to school. I'm in bed.

Recovery is not as much fun as being fully recovered.

Edited to add:
Tessa is off to school, Ryan is off to work. I'm going to hunker down all day and just enjoy the stillness. I'm in bed with a cat at my feet and a dog at the floor beside me. It is time to rest. My neck really hurts and is showing some bruising...I'm moving really, really slowly.

Monday, September 21, 2009


My neck hurts. No surprise there, I know.

I still feel hopeful. Physically uncomfortable....but hopeful.

Post surgery update

I am home from the hospital, right on schedule; I've already had lunch. (I was craving won ton soup from Lee's - good healthy comfort food.)

The surgery went well. The surgeon removed two nodes from the right side of my neck, and the frozen section did not appear to be cancerous....but as the surgeon quipped, "the tissue is the issue" and only a full pathology will report actual results. The surgeon said that he is cautiously optimistic.

I'm still on pain meds, but doing okay on that front. I feel far from normal, but I don't feel terrible.

Thanks for your continued love and prayers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I have done my chores.

I have cheered Tessa's soccer team.

I have done my best to be positive.

And now I'm scared. So frightened.


Yesterday was a trip to the Olympus Spa in Lynnwood with girlfriends to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was, indeed, an incredible celebration....but it was also a good way to prepare for tomorrow.

The spa is not like other spas I've been to. This one is a Korean spa, and uses traditional Korean ideas. It is a series of pools and rooms, all in different temperatures, and with different elements. The areas range from swelteringly hot to freezing cold, with everything in between. The rooms have different elements: jade, mud, charcoal, sand, salt - and these elements are supposed to help with different bodily or emotional cares. It is women only, and women walk around either in a light robe provided by the spa, or are naked in the pools.

I wasn't sure how the naked part would be for me. In addition to concerns about belly fat and cellulite and other "normal" thoughts about my body, I have such a tortured body, with the most obvious part being that I do not have nipples. Would I get stared at? Would I get pulled into conversations about breast cancer and how "my grandma died of breast cancer" and such? Would I be told that if I had just eaten more soy or less soy or something that I wouldn't have gotten cancer in the first place?

None of the above. Though the spa is very open, people maintain a sense of privacy. Anyone who caught my eye gave me a slight smile and looked away. Only one woman saw me and then, perhaps unconsciously, flew her own hands up to her breasts, covering them as if to protect them.

My girlfriends stood by my side, proud and strong. And frankly? With them around, I wouldn't mess with me. I know some amazing, powerful, centered, spiritual, articulate, intelligent women, and I would not mess with them. I felt strength with them by my side.

...and then those thoughts went away, and despite it all, I lost all sense of my body, and just threw myself into it. Many of the rooms are silent, and women softly slip in or tiptoe out, but mostly there is just silence. There is a meditation room, and a room with journals to write in, and a reading room, but most of the other rooms are designed just for laying down.

I warmed my body, cooled my body; I soaked my body, I dried it out. I drank gallons of water and tea. I shared the company of my friends, and watched them let some of their cares and worries drift away. I inhaled ancient herbs, and I read a silly magazine.

But I can't describe any of it. All these words don't come even close. The coccoon of the spa, the power of the women in it, just filled me with peacefulness and centeredness. What an incredible gift.

I got one other unexpected gift, thanks to Jenny, one of the friends I met while teaching at BHS. Jenny went into the super-cold pool - the one I'd dipped my toe into and said, "NO WAY!" because it was so cold - and had such a smile as she did it. I offered her some question like "Are you crazy?" and she explained that the heat followed by the cool felt so soothing. Soothing? How do you get to that? She said that she relied on her childbirth teachings, and went towards the cold instead of shrinking from it, and that she embraced it by breathing deeply. Ohhhh - old lessons that I had forgotten. With this reminder, I inhaled, set feet in the pool, and exhaled. I walked in, still breathing deeply, up to my neck. I submerged myself under the waterfall, my body surrounded by the cold water. It was incredible! It was like summoning my center, reminding myself of my own strength, reminding myself how much control I really did have over my body. I was not a victim, I was a powerhouse. For this reminder, I am deeply, deeply grateful. I don't have to remind anyone reading this how fortunate that reminder is this weekend, as I face what is ahead.

(Yes, I'll go back. Wanna come? And really, set aside your body worries. There are women of every size, shape, age, and color. To me, they were all beautiful - from the gaunt to the round, from young to old, from milky white to ebony black, from smooth to wrinkled. I envied each and every one of them those two circles on their chests - brown or pink, large or small, pronounced or hidden - and thought how beautiful health was.)

So today I will try to take that with me into the coming week. I am less concerned about surgery - although let's face it I'm not looking forward to it - and more about results. I've played out every possible scenerio in my head, including some morbid ones that I won't get into. But I am determined to face my life head on, whatever my life gives me. (Thank you, Lisa Prisco, for teaching me about that.)

I will continue freaking out, but I've got some calm mixed in, too. Today I will do chores like change the sheets, stock some groceries, tidy things up....but really, I think I am prepared for tomorrow's surgery.

Thank you for your continued thoughts, wishes, prayers, white light, karma, and love.