Archive | April, 2012

Facing another biopsy – not very calmly

16 Apr

April 16, 2012

So, today is my second stereotactic biopsy.

I realize a few things:

  1. I have been underplaying the significance to everyone who asks, saying, “I’m sure I’m fine.  I just want to make sure and then I can celebrate and be about my life.”
  2. I’m incredulous that I had called my doctor/surgeon to ask her some questions about the procedure a few weeks ago and somehow I missed her call when she called back and then I never called her back again! What the hell is up with that???  I just “forgot.”
  3. It was strongly suggested to me that because my last experience with this procedure was a bit traumatic (ie, very painful), that I should get Reiki beforehand  (and after) to help ease my body into a relaxed and healing state.  I didn’t do this.

I am really distressed with myself that I’m not following through on these important things.  It’s like I’m either sabotaging myself or that I’m  telling myself I’m not worthy –  of people’s concern, of having my questions answered, of having my body be at peace.

And because I’ve been underplaying this to everyone – including myself, I’ve been postponing the small anxiety that I feel this morn.  I haven’t let myself feel it.  I’ve been “being macho” and stoic about it. Darn it. I am nervous.  I am.

I probably did all the above because I’ve convinced myself I’m okay.  But the body feels what the body feels.  And mine feels a bit anxious.

Hmmm.  Maybe I need to do some visualizations of happy memories before they start sending that awful drilling needle into my poor breast.  (It’s not a simple needle biopsy.   It’s this scary kind of electrical drill kind of thing.  I can’t read about it again.  It’s pretty scary to read about what they actually do during this procedure.)

I’m thinking that maybe I can still ask my girlfriend if she’ll do some Reiki this morn.  I bet she would.  But there’s one more thing I have to do.  Or should do.  Whatever.

Yesterday I took the time to get some new sports bras.  You are absolutely advised to wear a sports bra after this procedure because 1) the breast needs extra support in order to heal properly, and 2) I imagine the compression helps manage the swelling.

The problem is they didn’t have my size.  There were racks and racks of sports bras there and they didn’t go up to my size.  (I’m not really that huge, am I?  I don’t feel like I’m that out of the ordinary.  Surely there are many other women my size!)  So I went one size under figuring it’s better in this case to be a bit more smushed than unsmushed (unsupported.)

I wore the bra to bed.   (If I go more than two nights without a sports bra on in bed, my breasts feel sore the next day.  Especially my right one.)  It barely contains me.  If I’m the slightest bit swollen, it is not only not going to contain me, it is clearly not going to adequately support me.

That means I should make that stop on the way, too.  (Fortunately there apparently is a Walmart right on the way to the doctor’s office/women’s health center.)

Clearly I should be doing some meditating this morning, but my anxiety is a bit high.  Perhaps I should have taken my friend’s advice and gotten some anti-anxiety medication just this one, since my body is, at some level, aware of its previous trauma.

Sigh….

Perhaps I should just go for a walk and see if I can get more clear-headed and calm. Maybe then the next steps will be clearer.

If you’re reading this, thank you.  You’re very kind to care about me in this way.  I find myself wanting to apologize, but I am conscious enough to realize that that’s inappropriate.

I find it interesting that I shield everyone about my concerns in person, but for some reason I am able to let it all out when I’m writing.

Anyway, thank you for being my allies and my friends.  Thank you for caring about me.

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Healing as a Process

15 Apr

April 10, 2012

 

I will be getting another stereotactic biopsy on Monday.  I’m hoping it’s my last one.  I’m ready to be done with all this cancer drama.  I’m ready to be “just me,” as my friend Art used to always say.  (“How are you?”  I’d say.   “I’m just me,” he’d reply.)

 

Also, it’s been a little over ten months since this saga has begun.  It feels like a good time for reflection.

 

This is what I’ve noticed.  For about eight of the last ten months, I feel like I’ve been pretty worthless on a productivity level.   I like to think of myself as being pretty strong, but it seems clear this health scare threw me for a much greater metaphysical loop than I’d ever have imagined.

 

I truly did not have much energy for doing much of anything.  I certainly didn’t have energy for work.  Or for being responsible.  Or for doing things for other people.  If I put on my judgmental hat, I would have all kinds of rather nasty, disapproving things to say about myself.  But if I put on my wings and look at myself from a place of greater compassion, I realize I was a bit more fragile than I thought I was.  And whether it was completely conscious or not, I ended up giving myself plenty of time to truly process things.

 

I’d written a blog post a couple weeks ago in which I was wallowing in my shame about this non-productive time in my life.  I ended up not publishing it, and have to say I’m glad.  Because since that time, I’ve had a couple instances of reassurance that I wasn’t just a total slug, that important work was going on.

 

First, I had a session with a friend who is highly intuitive.  (She has a great gift and she offered me a session as part of an exchange.  I took care of her house and her wonderful dog. Along with some money, she gave me a reading. Yay!)  One of the things she told me was that I’d done a lot of work in the last two years and that the next two years would be good ones as a result.

 

I’d done a lot of work?  I can’t tell you how happy my spirit was to hear that!  I had been bashing myself quite a bit, flagellating myself for not getting myself more together. (My eyes are flooding with tears as I type this.)  I was so embarrassed about how little paying work I’d been doing.   I hadn’t had a lot of work, and I hadn’t had the energy to go look for it.  Nor had I any idea what I really wanted to do.  Except, that is, those things that I love to do – all those things which were not yet bringing me much money.  (ie, writing, art, teaching.)   To receive the acknowledgment that I had indeed been “doing work” was a huge, huge gift for me.

 

I’m sure when she said “work,” she was referring to emotional/spiritual work.  This kind of work is very hard to do in the workaday world.  The soul requires time and space to do this kind of work. And this culture doesn’t really look kindly upon people taking time off for soul-searching. Not that I was consciously “taking time off.”  I was simply in a one-day-at-a-time mode. I just didn’t have the usual reserves of energy, nor the usual font of ideas and inspiration for anything more far-reaching than the next day or two.

 

The second thing that happened was a dear friend of mine said that I’d been a catalyst for a really big change and growth process in her life.  She said that I had had a major impact on her just by being me, just by being a loving presence.

 

This was also so affirming for me.  I had asked her, several months ago, for a favor.  I had offered some services in exchange for this favor.  What I discovered was, though these services were and are appreciated, it was apparently my presence which had been most valuable. What this told me was that Spirit was at work, whether I realized it or not.  There was grace happening in the midst of struggle and in the midst of this not-so-honored-by-society fallow time.

 

Once these two events of affirmation happened, I began to lighten up.  I began to trust that I was being of service in the world – even without trying so hard.  I began to realize that even such mundane things as making posts on Facebook and giving hugs at church were benefiting the world in a small way.  Maybe I didn’t have to do the “big” things – like midwife people into the afterlife with hospice work, or bring in a large paycheck.  Maybe it was okay to just “be me.”  Maybe I wasn’t such a slacker after all.

 

And with that realization, I can – right this minute, feel my heart opening.  I feel a greater connection to Spirit. I imagine the angels cheering as I realize I am okay the way I am; that I don’t have to be more, better.

 

I also notice that in the past month or two, my energy has been returning. I’m not talking about physical energy.  I’m talking about the energy to be more present to other people.  I’m talking about the energy to be more responsible for something larger than myself.   I’m talking about the energy to be of service in the world again.

 

Just as cancer generally takes quite a while to grow, perhaps our spirit takes a while to heal.  Perhaps it’s a process that can’t be rushed.  Like grieving or childbirth, it unfolds in its own time, and no amount of rushing will make it go faster.

 

Maybe I’m okay just the way I am.  Cancer or not.  Money or not.  Busy or not.  Maybe it’s all okay.  It’s all just a process – life is a process; healing is a process.  I am healing in process.  But I think… I think it just may be possible that this chapter in my life is coming to a close.

 

And if not, well that’s okay, too.  In ten months, no doubt I’ll have another realization or two.

 

Blessings to each of you.  Thank you for reading this.

The Positivity of Gwyn

6 Apr

April 5, 2012

This blog post is dedicated to my friend, Gwyn.

While I complained today about not getting as much done as I should have, Gwyn was in too much pain to do much of anything.  She’s in pain because just four months ago she found out that the excruciating pain in her back was not from a slipped disc or a pulled muscle, but cancer that had, completely unbeknownst to her, traveled from a breast to her spine – and actually caused it to fracture.

For those who don’t know, cancer that spreads from one part of the body to another part is considered Stage IV cancer.  Can you imagine blithely walking through your days, then going to the doctor to inquire about back pain, and then discovering you have Stage IV cancer?

But the amazing thing is, in spite of the pain, the zillions of doctor appointments, the side effects of the treatments, the drain of all these visits and treatments on their finances, Gwyn is remarkably positive most of the time.  Or perhaps she would rather I say:  in addition to the days where she’s in pain and emotional distress, she has many days where she is extremely positive.

Some days, Gwyn has energy.   Some days, Gwyn is creative.  Some days, Gwyn writes in her blog for us, inspiring us to learn the lessons from the situations we’re given.  Many days, Gwyn has a positive attitude.

As you all know from reading this blog in the past, I waded through a huge amount of fear for a diagnosis of very early stage cancer.  Gwyn is wading through a much scarier diagnosis.  I don’t know what Gwyn’s “official” prognosis is (and I don’t like prognoses anyway,) but like her, I am holding out hope that with a good combination of allopathic and natural treatments, plus a much fine-tuned kick-ass diet and a hugely positive attitude, Gwyn is going to come through this and she is going to wow the pants off us with the things she will do with her life – now and in the next post-cancer phase. .

I’m dedicating this post to Gwyn for two reasons.

  1. She humbles me and inspires me and helps me keep my situation in perspective.
  2. She and her husband have been through not just a physical and emotional ringer, but also have a fair amount of stress triggered by their financial situation.  They are insured, and yet each and every single doctor visit, consultation, x-ray, MRI, prescription, radiation treatment, etc. comes with a co-pay.   The co-pays are taking their toll.  There is no money left for the “good stuff.”  This includes, among other things, herbs and supplements and alternative/adjunct methods of healing, not to mention ordinary living expenses and even some “fun money.” Because Lord knows if ever there were a time it would be helpful to have some discretionary funds for fun, this would certainly be it!  Therefore, a few of us are throwing Gwyn a fundraiser – a gala concert/art show/feast/fundraiser.

5/9/12  Folks, we had to postpone this fundraiser because Gwyn has been facing such severe pain in the last couple of weeks that it was decided she should get spinal fusion surgery.  Originally scheduled for 5/16, Gwyn had to call last week and plead for mercy.  Pain due to her deteriorated spine had become unbearable.  As a result, she had surgery THIS MORNING, May 9th.  

We are sending Gwyn lots of love and healing energy.  May this surgery go beautifully well.  May she be relieved of her pain and may her cancer disappear.

If she recuperates as well as we all hope and pray she will, we hope to have the fundraiser in September.  Meanwhile, I hope you will consider this Non-Event Fundraiser.  Feel free to send Gwyn money anyway! She still needs it even though she is unable to be present physically for a concert.

Please see more details below.  Thank you!


Gwyn has been a fine artist for many years.  (This artistic gene was also evident in her mother, Lillian Michael.)  In recent years Gwyn has married two loves – art and photography – to create some beautiful work, often inspired by nature.  And now, Gwyn is creating fascinating and potent work utilizing the scans, MRI’s, x-rays, and other images obtained during the course of her treatment.  I have never seen work like this.  I truly can see some of these images in a huge gallery in New York, but you will see them first, at Pebble Hill Church, during the merry month of May.

If you don’t live in the Bucks County area of Pennsylvania, or even if you do, there are other ways to see Gwyn’s art.  (And don’t forget to buy some!  Even without a scary cancer diagnosis, artists need our support to continue to offer their gifts to the world!)

  1. Check out her blog:  http://www.arthopetruth.com
  2. Check out her website:   http://gwynmichael.com

As Gwyn’s friend, and as a human being who cares about this particular human being and her struggles and joys, I am asking you to please support her.  Buy some art.  Send a donation.   Share her blog and website and this post with your friends.  Send good positive healing energy and prayers.  Friend her on Facebook.

We all need friends.  And there are times in our lives when we need them more than others.  This is a time when Gwyn needs us.

PS   If you can send Gwyn even a small amount, her address is Gwyn Michael, 2233 Bethel Rd., Lansdale, PA 19446.  Bless you!!!