Tough cookies

So this journey took an unexpected turn when my lovely friend, Laura, left this world unexpectedly. You can read about her HERE. She was battling cervical cancer like a real badass when suddenly the cancer just went out of control. A little while in the hospital, docs trying hard to stop it or slow it down. But it was her time. She knew it. Posted on Facebook shortly before that she guessed her number had been called. That she loves us all to the moon and back. And then she was gone. I still can’t believe it. The very toughest of cookies.  

But it is true. And somehow our lives must move forward. Granted, I feel like sitting down on the path and crossing my arms like a small child denied some lovely thing. No. I’m not going. It’s simply too difficult. And it’s certainly not fair. But…I must.

There is simply no way but forward.

This thought occurred to me recently as they popped the needle into Mort the Port to take some blood and, as they do every three weeks, make sure I didn’t go ahead and get myself knocked up between three weeks ago and now. (What do they think is going ON in my house?? I must look very, verrray sexy to them.)

Or maybe Kevin does.

So, I can’t just sit down and languish until the vultures come for me. There is no way but forward. This thought keeps coming into my head. Maybe it’s just a sensible notion. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit nudging me along. Maybe Laura sent me that wisp of a thought that swirled its way through the clouds and rainbows, as she left this world, making its way toward me as she came into God’s glorious presence. Whatever brought it to me, it’s true. Forward is the way.

People tell me they admire my strength.  That I’m a proverbial Tough Cookie.  Am I?  I’m never quite sure how to take that because 1. I’m leaning real hard on God right now.  2. I’m not exactly doing this alone – I’m so crazy blessed to have the best army of food-makers, child-watchers, juice-deliverers, jewelry-senders, scarf-givers, flower-bringers and prayer warriors in all the land! 3. I do feel angry, sad and a sense of disbelief at times.  (I just choose to usher those emotions out the door after a short but meaningful visit.). Now, on the other hand, I’m also motivated, persistent and stubborn as a grumpy mule.  

So when someone says that to me, I am filled with conflicting emotions and corresponding potential responses:  “Thanks!  No I’m not.  I’m actually very sad and tired today.  Me?  Strong?  Thanks for noticing.  You’re nuts.  I’m strong because of people like you helping me.  I am strong aren’t I?  I’m not strong – just a little crazy.  I’m a total badass.  I’m as strong as a newborn kitten.  I’m a fraud!  Its all God – I’m nothing without Him. I am pretty awesome, huh?  I can’t believe I have this many people fooled.  Bring it on, Cancer!  I should really be wearing actual red Wonder Woman boots.  It’s because of all the prayers.  I’m hungry – maybe you’d like to help me be strong by making me a vegan-paleo-gluten free-organic-nonGMO sandwich?”

Chemo sucks.  (How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.) Friends leaving this world too soon is the worst – There is a Laura shaped space in my heart that will always feel empty.  Cancer is a mean, nasty, violent thing.  But there is no way but forward.  There is no way to be but strong.  Not because anyone can do it alone or because we’re looking to impress anyone.  I’m not talking about ACTING strong.  I’m saying let’s BE strong.  Strong is admitting you’re weak and need help.  Strong is going to work even though you don’t feel quite right – because you are ok with looking less than your best.  Strong is also staying home because Lord knows the world goes on without us.  Strong is striving hard but knowing when to let someone else carry you for a bit.  Strong is laughing at the absurdity of it all.  Strong is knowing, 1. without God, we’re totally screwed and 2. that it takes a lifetime to begin to grasp His infinite goodness.  Strong is having perspective that is not limited to today’s pain and tomorrow’s fears.  Rather fix your eyes on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary; what is unseen is eternal.

Forward is the way.  Strong is the way.  God is the way.  

Good grief

Grief feels pretty bad.


It can feel like anxiety, depression, shock, outrage, emptiness and more.  When someone we love dies, we’re going on an emotional ride, like it or not.  You can shut your eyes and pretend like you’re not hurdling through the air at high speeds against your will…but if you’ve ever been to Cedar Point, you know how well that kind of denial works.  Most of the emotions are unpleasant.  Like really tough. Parts of you that you didn’t even know existed hurt.  Time seems to pass slowly.  The pain springs up in unexpected and awkward ways.  Hot, stinging tears fill your eyes while you’re just trying to pay for your milk and eggs and (let’s be honest, chocolate.)  Choking back sobs while you’re putting a sweetly clueless child to bed.  Burning the toast because you got lost in a memory that swept you down the river of grief…rendering you pretty useless and frankly not hungry anymore. 

I would like to start a new tradition.  When we lose someone we love we should be issued a t-shirt that says “I am grieving.  Please be nice to me.”  Why?  Because it feels like the entire world is acting like a jagoff to you when you’re grieving.  You get cut off in traffic.  Your boss yells at you.  For some reason the hardest times (and I’ve only had a few) of real, life-altering grief I’ve experienced, I’ve actually, physically found myself at some point in some kind of situation where I’m essentially standing in the rain, cold, drenched and unable to feel anything but totally sorry for myself.  And no one even notices!  In fact someone in a large vehicle drives by splashing muddy splatters everywhere. That’s what the real nitty gritty of grief feels like to me, standing alone, freezing, drenched, dirty and void of hope.  
So the title of this post is good grief.  How can it be good when it’s so bad?  I have a few thoughts.
Grief is good because its usually so intense we can’t help but be real.  Typically, we spend a lot of time managing our reputations, creating ways for people to think we’re cooler, smarter and stronger than we are.  Grief yanks those masks right off and burns them.  Grief is not gentle but it is helpful in this way.  We allow ourselves to be seen more authentically when we grieve.  Of course there’s always the deeply unhealthy attention seeking jackass who has to collapse in a public puddle of sobs when the opportunity for a lot of attention arises.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I mean quiet (or loud…but maybe at least a little private?) moments with people who love you.  Stripped bare of your tough facade, crying and saying things out loud that you know sound a little crazy.  “We were supposed to go to the mall on Tuesday!!!!”  Or “I forgot to give him back his sweater!!!!”  It’s ok.  Let it out.  This lets people love you in a unique and wonderful way.  Frankly I completely hate that part of grief, but I know it’s good for me and my relationships.
Grief stops us in our tracks.  Shows us what little things have been taking up our heart and brain space.  Who cares if my gray hairs are showing or that my car is full of empty yogurt containers and granola bar wrappers?  Don’t sweat the small stuff, you know?
Grief can be a gift.  How?  We look heavenward even if we’re not into that.  God can use grief to draw us near.  When you’re really desperate, really lost…sometimes we’re willing to believe, just a tiny bit, that there is actually something…someone out there who is bigger and better than we ever dreamed.  Don’t be afraid to seek that out just a little…you can always go back to believing we got here randomly and that we’re on our own. That belief will always be available if you don’t find something better.  God says if we seek Him, we’ll find Him.  Ain’t no harm in taking a peek around, right?
Grief can bring up old hurts.  Dealing with grief in a healthy way can help heal those wounds.  Sometimes when a loved one dies people feel like everyone they ever love dies. Those are abandonment issues that, if unaddressed, can lead to some bad life controlling habits like refusing to connect deeply with anyone out of self-preservation or even starting down the path of addiction.  Considering the seriousness of believing that (everyone we love dies) then responding by investigating what led us to believe that, defining reality a little more clearly and willingly releasing that belief and its associated fears can be very freeing.  
Grief creates community.  You know who has really got your six when life falls apart in this way.  Also, I’ve become new friends with people simply based on the fact that we lost a mutual loved one.  
Grief creates opportunity to serve those most impacted.  However much you’re hurting, there is probably someone even more devastated.  Think of your very best talents and resources and how you might offer them in some way.  Food, music, your company, a poem that doesn’t suck, help with legal issues, cleaning, a foot rub, letters, texts and phone calls as are appropriate.  Don’t just force yourself on hurting people.  Pay attention and try to see what the best way to help is, and when.
Grief is the worst.  But it is also an opportunity for growth, learning and love.  Don’t waste your grief.    

Laura taught me…

My friend died last night.  My sweet beautiful friend went rounds against cancer, fighting hard while living gracefully.  As it stole her energy, her comfort and her hair, what it failed to steal was her spirit.  Instead, her soul strengthened through the journey and reached out beyond her inner circle to everyone who knew her, like a rainbow whirlwind, sweeping up others with her love and joy.  

Laura gave people hope.  She continually inspired and astonished people as she marched on, full of grace and joy, down this path that I can tell you is rocky, intimidating, dark and full of danger.  When I found out a month ago that I have cancer, Laura paused on the path.  And she came back for me.  “It’s this way,” she said, smiling.  “It’s not so bad.  Lets walk together.  I’ll help you,” reaching for my hand and giving me some of her bracelets to wear for encouragement.  And she showed me that I could do it.  
I was willing to do it with her.  Now I’m standing here without her.  Ive got these bracelets, but she’s gone.  Another moment where I look heavenward, toward the God I love and trust and say “Are you freaking kidding me?!”
But The Lord, He is to be trusted.  His ways are not our ways.  He hasn’t said much to me on this topic but He’s clear that He has Laura and He’s got me.  His plans are “too wonderful for us to know.”  
So I have to do this without her now.  My heart is completely broken that she is gone.  I can’t even imagine how her family feels.  It feels like the brightest spot in the world just went out.  How can she be gone just like that?  But she is.  And we must look around and take inventory of what beauty she has left us.
What Laura taught me:
There are never too many bracelets. 
You can fight cancer with all you’ve got while accepting that your path is your path.  
Rainbows are awesome and not just for LGBT support. 🙂
One should change one’s hair color and style frequently.  Why not??
Accept gifts graciously.
Give generously.
It’s possible to be kind and thoughtful even when you have cancer.
Hot baths are awesome.
Bald is beautiful.
Cancer is not something to be feared.  Neither is death.
Eastern cultures have much to offer us.  Tea!  Yoga!  
You can make a fun day out of a trip to the chemo bar.
Gifts are a great way to show a sick person love.
Dr. Who is a good time investment.
You can be positive and loving at all times.
Take photos of everything – especially yourself.  Cancer = permission to selfie it up!  Use filters when chemo washes your complexion out.  
Rest.  Enjoy it. 
Be silly whenever possible.  Dress up as your oncologist for Halloween.  
When you can’t go to the party because you’re sick, have your own.  Dress up even if its just for yourself and your dog.
Go to a spa whenever possible.  Treat yourself and let other treat you to luxurious things.
Let people help.  Let them rub your feet.  
When in doubt make someone a gift.  Loom it up!
Fuzzy socks.
Thank people often and express appreciation whenever possible.  
You can be truly grateful in the midst of deeply challenging circumstances.
Family is your staunchest force of allies but some select, special friends belong in that group, too.
I’m better because I’ve known Laura.  I’m stronger and less afraid.  She will always be in my heart.  I know she is in heaven, with God.  She trusted His plan.  Heaven is a little more colorful today.  

Milestones on the Cancer Journey

So I had major abdominal surgery six weeks ago. It’s the thing that launched this crazy situation we’re in. We thought the surgery was The Thing to worry about getting through. Little did we know that was a cheerful, sunny walk in the park that led to the scary, poorly lit, ivy covered, rusty gate marked CANCER that we had to walk through. I have this tendency to wave my hand dismissively at that surgery. The surgeon who performed it did an excellent job and while his bedside manner made me want to hide under the covers, he removed not only the mass that caused this mess, by not screwing anything up, he also removed many obstacles for me. The connection could have leaked. I could have ended up with a colostomy bag (eeeeewwwwww.) There could have been a massive infection. All kinds of things could have gone wrong which could have jeopardized my life or delayed treating the cancer for six months.

I have been pain free from my surgery for about three weeks. I had a very fast recovery which I attribute to largely to God answering about one million people’s prayers and a little bit of my sheer, mule-like will. See, the doc not so politely noted that I am not a particularly thin person and lingered on the notion several times that due to that, it would probably take me a very long time to recover. To which I thought “Awww,that’s so cute how you don’t know who you’re dealing with, here.” And I basically said “Hey, you do the surgery right and then get out of my way.” Jagoff.

So, naturally, I was zooming up and down the hallways by the second day post-op, sweating and muttering swear words under my breath like a crazy person, with that stupid IV tower clunking along, just to spite him. I walked three times as far each day as they suggested I try to and they released me from the hospital 3 days earlier than expected. Take that, Doc. Also, I registered for a 5K that will take place a couple of days after my final chemo treatment. I will be there. I will finish. Even if I have to crawl.

Some of this post is about the will to accomplish that which seems difficult, overcoming obstacles and basically telling a guy with 12 years of post-secondary education who would go on to essentially save your life, to shove it. But it’s also about milestones.

Successful surgery. Awesome.

Getting discharged early. Great.

First “solid” food. Yum.

Returning to work to be with my crew.

Mort the Port is installed.

Starting treatment.

But the best thing, by far, happened yesterday. It’s been six weeks since I was allowed to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. That is, well, most things. Including a 40 pound preschooler. She’s been patient and understanding that she can’t torpedo down the hallway and launch her adorable self at me. She’s been gentle and careful. Until this moment…

Cancer is funny.

Oh, calm down. Yes, yes, we know. Cancer is terrible. Trrrrblll. It steals, kills and destroys. I could make a very long list of how cancer is very unfunny. Sad. Scary. Depressing. But! Also…funny.

First, there’s the silliness that happens when I come out of surgeries and procedures. My first procedure, I came to talking about chicken tenders and an octopus. My big surgery, I spent the hour or two post-op groggily but loudly and insistently explaining to any of the medical staff who would listen (and those who chose not to) in the recovery room that I was ready to be moved up to my hospital room. A surgeon would hurry by and I would be like “Sir! Sir, I’m ready to go to my room. Excuse me! Hey! I’m all set here.” And when they seemed like they were going to take the guy next to me first, I started saying loudly “I need a transport here. Right here. I’m next. Transport. Can you transport me? How about you?” Obnoxious.

I find my scars to be funny. I have a big scar on my belly button and one on my upper chest area. It’s a good thing I ain’t no super model. Because it looks like a blind, drunken monkey stitched me up. Here is the one on/in/near my belly button. Are they kidding me?! You can’t even tell what’s going on here, can you? This is my belly button now. Awesome.

People say weird things when they find out you have cancer. Of course some people say incredible, wonderful, encouraging things. And people assume a lot of things. That I’m already bald. That I’m not working. That I’m going to die. That I can’t have more kids.

I have funny conversations with people. Especially about how I’m now going to maybe possibly be vegan/paleo/vegetarian/dairy-free/all organic or whatever.

Hospital stuff is funny. Like these legs things.

And this thing. That looks like a throw back from wilder days.

And this. Because it’s fun to freak out the nurses when you’re asleep.

Thankful for Cancer


Thankful FOR cancer? Yup. I know, it’s crazy. Let me explain.

Do I enjoy having cancer? No. I am praying like crazy every day that all of the cancer cells are gone and they never come back. I am kind of mad that I have cancer. I mean, it’s totally not, like, fair. Not that anyone deserves it. No one does. Or maybe we all do, depending on how deep you want to get from a theological perspective. But I definitely hate it that I have cancer. I hate it that my life has been so totally disrupted. I mean, I’m busy. Not just busy getting my nails done or something, but busy raising a daughter to be a (hopefully) really great person. Busy raising the operating budget of a large nonprofit organization that helps homeless people. Busy kicking everyone in my league’s butt at Fantasy Football. You know…important things. I do not like feeling tired. I am nervous I will lose my hair (but maybe just the hair that enjoys to appear on my upper lip? Please, Lord!) I hate it that I have to be so “all about me.” I like to help other people with their problems. It’s unnatural for me to be the recipient. I hate all of this medicine I take. I am tired of doc appointments. My hands and feet don’t feel normal. So…don’t get me wrong. Cancer blows.

But I’m still thankful. I mean, what good does sitting around crying and worrying about it do? Bitterness is dangerous. It chokes everything around it. Have you met someone you would describe as bitter – embittered by some bad thing they feel happened to them? Do you want to hang out with them? Me neither. Some emotions like fear and sorrow are legit, of course. It would be inauthentic to pretend they don’t exist. But, in my opinion, they ought to be acknowledged, invited to stay for a short while and then politely asked to leave so there is room for better emotions like hope and peace and confidence. The long and short of it is this: God is working together all things for my good and His glory. Sometimes it takes a little effort to bring our minds back to that truth. But what a solid place to live from!

I am thankful to be thinking about the things I am thinking about, in terms of who God is, who we are and how we are to approach life. See previous blog entries for a lot of thoughts about that. I am thankful that it is possible to have HOPE every day. I am thankful I am not sicker. I can drive and walk and work. THANKFUL for that.

I am thankful that this has pushed me to think seriously about what I eat and what products I use. I have learned a lot. I have also confused myself and stressed myself out quite a bit. But I’m learning new things.

I am thankful that cancer has brought a few familiar faces back into my life. We all let friendships fade for any number of reasons. But serious illness snaps us all to attention and reminds us how much we love some of the best people we’ve had the blessing to know.

I am so thankful for the kind things people have done for me. Seriously! So much niceness! So much thoughtful generosity. Just this week:

-meals delivered to or prepared at my house by people who are encouraging my new, developing eating habits.

-someone saved me a parking spot with their car. like “here, I’ll give you this one so you don’t have to walk in the cold.”

-home-roasted coffee beans, delivered to my desk

-lovely visits over lunch at favorite restaurants

-treats dropped off with sweet notes

-offers of child care

-wine deliveries

-a text that meant the world to me

-people sharing my blog with others – I can’t believe anyone but my mom reads this, so that is pretty cool.

Being thankful for something that on the surface is very bad.  It’s the stuff Scripture is made of.  The last shall be first, the first shall be last.  Weakness leads to real stregnth.  To receive, we must give.  Jesus won it all by the humble act of losing everything.  Rejoice in ALL circumstances.  (Not just the ones that involve cake and ice cream or healthy babies or a sale at Anthropologie.)

I am thankful for the perspective that comes from a diagnosis like this that points to toward valuing each moment and each day a little more. Seeing more clearly, noticing things I haven’t before. Directing my thoughts toward things that are worthy of my brainspace. “Did I make it count, today?” I ask myself. Was today as rad as it could have been? Did I love as fully as I can? Did I let go of the things not meant for me, and cling to the big, wonderful things? Did I trust God more today than yesterday? Did I yield my own will to His? Did I look for the opportunities set before me? I may have many more days on this earth. But if I have one or 100 or 20,000…I’m living like I mean it, yo. That is something to be thankful for.


So they are saying that 10,000 people died in the typhoon that hit the Philippines.  Can you even fathom that?  It’s a half full hockey area, roughly.  When I read numbers like that in the same sentence as the word “died” I kind of automatically shut down and decide to think about something else. My brain finds it difficult to compute.  My heart doesn’t have the capacity for the level of grief that such a situation requires.  My spirit rages at the seeming injustice.  I look heavenward and give God the stink eye.  

Seriously, what the hell?
One could say the same about cancer.  In fact many people have.  To me.  And I’ve thought it once or twice.  But here is what I’m coming to understand little by little.  God is going to bring about justice one day.  He is going to make right all that is wrong.  He is coming to rescue us.  Sometimes I question this as we all do.  Why not now?  Why not in this way or that?  Why does anyone have to suffer?  Why so much blood spilled?  Why can the bad people…the really bad ones triumph, ever?  Why does the weather get to take out thousands of people?  Why miscarriages?  Why devastating injuries?  Why cancer?  Just fix it.  God can fix it – why doesn’t He?  And quickly before the next terrible thing happens!!
If you think I have easy answers here, go read something else.  I’m just a person who frets and fumbles around like everyone does.  But I do have, for whatever reason, at this particular time, a surprisingly solid amount of hope and trust in God.  And, here’s what I think:  
-We can’t know the full truth, the full extent of the reasons for these things.  So don’t think you can grasp it fully.  I’m pretty sure we can’t.
-We do know that God is good.  One because scripture says so, but also from a logical perspective, we can conclude that if He created us and everything, He is the standard.  The creatED cannot judge the creatOR soundly.  He says He’s good.  He makes the “rules” if you will.  From our limited human perspective we cannot rightly approach the throne of God and say “You there, your plan doesn’t fit the Hallmark movie with the happy ending I imagined myself living so therefore 1. You are bad and maybe even 2. I no longer believe in you.”  That’s dumb, right?  I mean it just doesn’t make sense.  If you don’t want to believe in or follow God because you don’t like how things are going…it’s like saying soccer doesn’t exist because you didn’t win your game.  There are more logical reasons to not believe in God (I would argue that, ultimately, they don’t hold up logically, but if you’re going to quit believing or never start – come to the table with something a little more interesting than “I don’t like how things are going.”  Lame.)
-It’s possible that there is another belief system that is more representative of the absolute truth of the universe/life/etc.  But here’s why I don’t buy them.  They all either have 1. a relative truth like “my truth is x and yours is y and we’re all ok.” or 2. require us to follow particular rules to achieve some ultimately good thing: enlightenment, zen, heaven of some form, your own planet – yup, thats a thing.  On the first point, it does not resonate with me that what is true “for me” is not true “for you.”  We can perceive things differently and we might conclude certain things differently.  But one of us is right, or neither is.  If our views are diametrically opposed, we cannot both be correct.  If there is a group of goldfish, and I say there are 7 and you say there are 9, we can’t both be right – one of us counted wrong.  Or maybe we both did.  But there is a correct answer.  My thought is – lets try to find it and not be jerks to each other in the process.  Secondly, It does not resonate with me that we can earn our way to heaven.  Follow rules and receive X.  You know what people do with rules?  Figure out how to get whoever is charge to believe they are following the rules while bending or breaking them as much as we think we can, undetected.  I.e. it’s ok if you don’t get caught.  Or only do it on the weekends.  We manipulate our way around rules.  We do the bare minimum.  We don’t follow them full-heartedly rejoicing in the glory these wonderful rules bring us.  We plod along begrudgingly, hedging our bets on what we think we can reasonably get away with and then label ourselves a “basically good person” and hope that whoever is in charge…God, Buddha, Oprah…will agree.  You see how that’s kind of crazy, right?  It simply can’t be about rules.  God is smarter than that..  
-So what’s it about then, if not rules?  Well, I say it’s about trusting God.  And that’s about it.  He doesn’t want our thinly veiled good behavior.  He wants our authentic hearts – messy, broken and wounded as they may be – following after Him believing He’s got this figured out better than we do with our terribly limited perspective from our pinpoint on the globe and on the timeline of history.
Look, if The Bible is true, and I do think it is, ( it’s fine if you don’t) it tells us that God’s way of saving us from our selfish, messed up, manipulative selves is to lovingly sacrifice the greatest thing He had to give – His son.  (Are you tempted to quit reading here?  I would be.  I know it may have started to sound cliche and boring there if you’ve spent any time around weird Christians who spout the Jesus died for you stuff without warning.  But give me a chance here.)  
The Jesus died for you part…It’s Him saying “look how much I love you.”  
Do you have kids?  Would you ever send them to the cross for someone else?  Nope.  That’s crazy-level love.  Unfathomable.  Just like we don’t “get” the cancer, the typhoon, the unemployment, the pimple the day of the prom…we don’t get God’s ways. But we can be confident that in all things, He works for the good if those who love Him.  Because He gave His son.
A little preachy today, I know.  You don’t have to buy it.  It’s wrought with questions and “what about…”. It’s taken me about half my life thinking about these things to come to this particular place.  And its not even close to the whole truth.  The Bible says that we now see, but like we’re looking through a glass darkly.  We see some, clouded, but not all.  We squint, fumble for the light switch, ask our neighbor what they see.  We get frustrated and put the glass down.  We shut our eyes and are content to just listen instead thinking we’ll never see it right.  We give up.  But I say, keep squinting.  It’s worth the trouble.  

Cancer, nutrition and enough information to bury a small country…

In my fight against cancer, I have a few weapons. The first is God. It’s ok if you don’t believe that. I do, and I believe He is sovereign over all of this. Moreso than God being a weapon with which to fight, He is the overseer of the whole thing. And the One I can rely on to walk me through the fear and confusion. And that’s a good thing because man, is there a lot of confusion!

The second is my doctor and Western medicine. I’m a fan. Chemo brings dying people back from the brink (sometimes.) PET scans detect cancer early enough to do something about it. Pain killers help people fight through another day. I believe in all the wonders of the modern medical community. I believe God has given us knowledge and information and wisdom that can save lives through scalpels and pills and laser machines.

But I do NOT believe it is the end all, be all. Which brings me to my final weapon.

The growing (and holy moly is it confusing, inconsistent, conflicting and overwhelming) body of knowledge around nutrition, lifestyle and a more holistic view on the body and its systems. I am all for this. I am game for making big changes in what I eat and don’t eat, what products I use, what activities and technology I engage in, my sleep patterns, consumption of medications, exposure to potentially dangerous materials, etc. I am very willing to attack this beast with all available to me.


Everything is in conflict with everything else. Paleo. Vegetarian. Vegan. Macrobiotic. Fasting. Supplements. No supplements. Vitamin D3. Vitamin B6. Dairy free. Organic only. Wheat free. Gluten free. Sugar free. No artificial sweeteners. No packaged/prepared foods. Not too much fruit. No fruit. No grains at all. No corn. Nothing genetically modified. No salt. No cheese. No red meat. Lots of red meat, but only if it’s lean and grass fed and grass finished. No cows, but goat products are ok. A little honey. No honey. Lots of honey. Potatoes. Only certain potatoes. Any vegetable. No tomatoes. Bottled water. Never bottled water. Only reverse-osmosis filtered water. Lemon water. No citrus. No pasta. Only rice pasta. Lots of beans. No legumes whatsoever.

This is the point where I begin to feel like the world is spinning. I can’t sort it all out. Who is right? Who can I trust? What if it’s different for everyone? How will I know? As a friend recently commented…I eat a bite of dairy and I’m like “great, I’m screwed.”

So on one hand, I want to say “Eh, I trust God, so whatever.” But no. I mean, I do. REALLY, I do. But I feel some responsibility to figure this out. To some extent. And when I get better, the fundraiser in me is going to turn into a dragon and out of sheer outrage is going to find the money to fund the research around this stuff so we can KNOW what we are supposed to eat!!!

Back to fighting traffic

In Pittsburgh and the surrounding vicinity, there are many neighborhoods to choose from.  My family recently moved from the South Hills to an area east of the city.  There are many good things about this location, but the biggest baddest thing is fighting the traffic at the Squirrel Hill tunnels every morning and evening.  Many writers before me have waxed philosophical about the lack of explanation of the origin of this nearly always present traffic – there is never an accident, roadblock or lane closure.  Just a strange phenomenon of people slowing down, quite abruptly, as if the tunnel has in some way startled them, as if there are not actual signs not only alerting us to their presence but actually instructing us to maintain our speed.  The part that really get me is that this happens each day during rush hour.  We must assume that the vast majority of these travelers embark on this westward journey regularly.  And still the tunnel scares them, and still they slow, and make us all late.

What does this have to do with cancer?  Not much, except that I am finding it stresses me out less.  When you get such a diagnosis, things become clear that were once less defined.  Being late is bad, but not, like catastrophically bad.  Sitting in traffic stinks, but compared to injections, blood draws, nausea and endless copays – meh.  Turn up the tunes and be glad you’re not in a CT scan machine, I say.  
Additionally, I’m in this traffic (no, not RIGHT now…) because I am going to work.  I am going to work because I feel good enough to work.  I get to make the choice to go to work or not.  I could be a lot sicker.  
So, instead, I’ll be grateful to drive a little slower through the hills and valleys of this beautiful place where we live and appreciate the fall foliage.  Unless you cut me off, ya jagoff! 

Chemo, my frenemy

Chemo is a funny thing.  It’s making me feel way worse than cancer has, and yet we have to assume it’s helping me.  It is difficult to willingly allow someone to put poison in your body.  One of my poisons is made of platinum.  I know, I’m fancy.  But that’s a metal.  And it’s in my blood.  That’s weird.

So far, chemo has made me tired, achy, irritable and nauseous.  It makes my hands and feet feel weird.  And I can’t drink or touch anything cold.  Most of the day, today, I was horizontal.  And it sucked.  My tummy is wonky.  I just don’t feel like myself.  So I did a lot of this.

But that wasn’t really working for me.  So I rallied.  And off we went.
We even rode a mini train.
I’m not saying that getting out and about is the right move every time.  It’s probably not.  But I felt I wanted to test my limits.  I wanted to see how much of this el-crappo feeling was real physical stuff and what was me just letting the cancer and chemo get me down.  It’s definitely some of both.  But it turns out, today, I had a little more gas in the tank than I felt like I did. So now I’m home and in need of rest.  Time to recharge the super powers!