Tag Archives: grief

Update

I know my cancer diagnosis has bumfoozled the heck out of me. One of the things that’s been so confusing is figuring out the connection between the fairly crappy survival rate (20-25% for five years) and the actual cause of death for patients with my diagnosis. Because the cancer grows slowly, and I will have CT scans every 90 days for a year or so, it’s unlikely that the neuroendocrine cancer itself will kill me. It’s likely to be liver failure, a blood clot, or something else. But regardless, I keep asking the docs if it’s really gonna be just five years, and the answer is yes, over and over. Damn.

If the docs who did the first cancer surgery had known more about NET cancer, or pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, they would have tested the tumor cells to see which endocrines are being produced by my cancer; it’s frequently complications with the overproduction of these chemicals that is the cause of death for patients like me. But the docs didn’t check, and I won’t be able to find out until I grow another tumor. This story is about a woman whose neuroendocrine cancer involved the overproduction of serotonin: http://walkingwithjane.org/…/…/25/net-cancer-what-kills-you/

I hope to spend a little more time with my oncologist in June. I have never yet had a doctor sit down with me and explain the type of cancer I have. I have had several doctors scold me for looking up information on the internet, though. Go figure. My pain management doc recently explained to me that oncologists sometimes limit the information they give to newly-diagnosed patients so the patients don’t get overwhelmed. hmm.

I have been begging for information for months, after years of begging for help. I’m discovering that many, many women are going through this too.

Cancer sucks. Our healthcare system kinda sucks too.

An unanswered NET cancer question I’ve been writing about NET cancer for nearly 25 months. But yesterday someone asked in a search that brought them here, “How does neuroendocrine cance…
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Love Wins

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Michael and me at Dragon*Con in September.

Every year, my parish family compiles a book of Lenten Meditations. We’re each asked to read and reflect on the day’s assigned scriptures from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel. This year, I chose to write about the epistle: 1 Cor. 13:1-13. Here’s what I wrote:

Choosing between the readings assigned this year was tough. I want to share with you that the voice of God from the burning bush was actually the voice of Charlton Heston, Moses’ own voice, as portrayed in the classic “The Ten Commandments.” I’d like to talk about how I struggle with belief, like the boy’s father from the Gospel reading, and how his cry “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” resonates for me. But that would be too easy.

Instead, here’s a confession: every time I hear those verses from Corinthians, for almost thirty years now, I gnash my teeth or cringe or crumble a little around the edges. I can’t love people like that. I can’t be always kind or eternally patient; I get angry without cause. I hold grudges. This winter, by God’s grace, I keep reading. I’ve spent so long being angry at St. Paul for pegging me as less than perfect, I’ve missed the rest of the story.

Every time I hear those verses from Corinthians, I crumble a little around the edges. I can’t love people like that.

What has come to me, softly, gently, is that God is describing Her feelings for me. God is telling me I can know everything, endure all hardship, even move mountains, but it means nothing until I know in my heart and my head just how perfectly I am loved. Love is the key.

A friend of mine was photographed last year holding a sign saying simply “Love Wins.” When I saw those words, my heart expanded three sizes or more, just like the Grinch. (I’ve already confessed my commonalities with that mad, sad green creature.) Forgive me, deep thinkers and theologians. That’s my spiritual core in two words: Love wins.

If it’s human love, it will be flawed. No matter how desperately I might strive for it, I can never be anything other than human in this life. I hurt people; people hurt me. I can work to love myself better, I can try to be a more loving sister, daughter, friend, mother, but I will fail, at times spectacularly, just like everyone else.

But leaning into God’s love, I’m discovering a love that never fails. One which “…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” At precisely the right time in my life, in the winter of 2016, I have shed a little more resentment, looked deeper into my fears, glimpsed, dimly, that which I have yearned for all my life. I am fully known, and perfectly loved. Love wins.

Home-Made Balm

So, here’s another procrastination:

Home-Made Balm

Dear Anna, I was driving home with the baby tonight

(keeping him up later than I should)

singing songs my mama used to sing

draping them over him like worn cotton sheets

appeasement he accepted

with only the smallest of whimpers.

 

And I suddenly wanted

those old melodies to travel through space to you

a soothing, tender layer of sound

wrapping around your heart,

your mind

(whatever part of you needs solace)

 

Somehow, I knew those soft strains were traveling to you

and I became greedy to share

all the little comforts of my ordinary life with you:

The fact that my girl’s grown an inch in a month

the breathtaking curve of the baby’s cheek,

plump and perfect like a peach

the feel of the dirt in my hands

and the firm green wholeness of the iris I’m transplanting

 

Dear Anna, I send you this home-made balm with love.

Sweet dreams, bright soul.