Gathering in

Long story short, more than a decade ago I had surgery that involved relieving pressure on several cranial nerves by a blood vessel.  As a result of this procedure, I lost hearing in one ear, except for a constant whooshing sound.

Hearing loss is devastating for some people.  For me it is sensorially overwhelming and physically fatiguing in a room full of conversation, and frustrating to strain to hear something I want to hear, but like most disabilities, you learn to cope with it.  Luckily, I’m an introvert, so I relish the quiet and isolation hearing loss brings, especially since my cancer diagnosis.

I’ve learned to gather in, get inside my head, meditate, piece things together or take them apart, stay mindful of the moment, discover or marvel at something I might have missed if I were busy hearing and talking.  It helps me transcend the constant turmoil of cancer.

I’ve been mulling over a post about this gathering in that comes with my hearing loss, but I couldn’t find words that made any sense, so I laid the idea aside.   Then yesterday, while catching up on blog reading, I came across a beautiful piece by one of my favorite writers, Jan Wilberg at Red’s Wrap.  This last paragraph of her post called “Old Pony” (about her hearing loss) captures what I could not.

There is talking going on but I’m not part of it. I marvel at the oldest pony’s white eyelashes and the wrinkles on his horse nose. Deep wrinkles like what you would see on a person, what you would see on me. I think about this while the others are talking, little pieces of their words slipping in under the wind. I think only about the old pony’s precious, soft nose and wanting to smooth his wrinkles with my hand.

Thank you, Jan.


Cancer teaches many lessons.  The main one being don’t sweat the small stuff.

This juicy must-read about what happens when you sweat the small stuff in affluent suburbia came by way of Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.  (By the way, Kevin is a fellow citizen of CancerWorld.)

On one level, it’s infuriating and very sad and makes me wonder why people with so much would waste their lives on something so insignificant, to ruin the lives of another family — for what?  It also underscores the all too often failure of civil justice. I have to admit, though, it’s pure soapy goodness to read.

Another lesson from cancer:  Dance while you can.  So move it.

Two Things

  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Dancing

Sorry, lot full


Yesterday I drove to Houston and MD Anderson. I had no appointments, just picked up a prescription.

The parking lot at the Main Building was full.  So was Valet Parking.  They put those orange traffic cones across the entrance when Valet Parking is full. This always makes me sad.  It usually means too many people are inside the building finding out they have cancer.

The Main Building lobby was crowded.  Lots of people, some of them clutching new patient packets, looking at maps, asking for directions.

Wondering if they’ll ever find their lives again.

Two Things

  • New note pads  – Do you smoothe out that first sheet with your hand?
  • Ceiling fans  – on the low, lazy setting



Just stop saying it

** Linnea Olson at Outliving Lung Cancer wrote an interesting post called Just Not a Just World.  This is a comment on her post, but because my comment is so long, I’m publishing it here.  (That, and it finally lets me scratch “write blog post” off my list.) **

As a fellow LC patient/client/mutant/whatever we call ourselves, I follow your blog and have learned enough about you through your blog to know that what you write is thoughtful and heartfelt. Your intelligence, indomitable spirit and optimism shine through and are surely an inspiration to many who read your story.

However, with this post, you’ve scraped up against what has lately become a raw nerve with me since I got handed this bag of snakes and shoved down a road called cancer.  And that is this let-me-make-sure-you-know-I-never-smoked clause that appears in almost everything I’ve read by a “never-smoker” with lung cancer.

I applaud your intent in this post. Really, I do. And I get where you’re going, but your message would have rung truer with me had you not found it necessary to mention that “never ever touched a cigarette.”

I don’t care whether you smoked or not.  Your insistence that I know you never smoked feels more like a thinly veiled device to establish your superiority over someone who did smoke and has lung cancer rather than as an illustration of the arbitrary nature of life, which was the theme of your post (shit happens).

Had you analogized, “I’ve never been exposed to radon, so why me?” to support your theme, it would have been just as effective.

Whenever a writer or speaker decries the stigma around smoking and lung cancer, but feels compelled to let you know that he or she never smoked, I’m fairly certain that person still has a way to go to  rid his or her own psyche of the stigma.  It lingers. Subliminally.

But it’s time to make a conscious effort to change, to be more aware of what we write and say in the context of smoking and lung cancer.  Anti-smoking campaigns have done an excellent job of raising awareness, but they’ve lasered and locked on lung cancer as the single, inevitable, awful, your fault consequence of smoking.  Self-inflicted. Therefore, unworthy of support.

Maybe it behooves us all, especially those who write or speak publicly about lung cancer, to recondition ourselves by  (1) omitting mention of anyone’s smoking status in our compositions and conversations, and (2) informing and reinforcing  readers and listeners about the many other cancers and fatal diseases are associated with smoking.

You are an important voice in the LC blogging community, Linnea. Your words matter.


Two Things

  • bird baths
  • birds

It’s clear to me

In addition to “chemo curls,” which I probably shouldn’t admit I’m starting to enjoy because now I look like every other old woman with a bad hairdo,   another fine parting gift chemotherapy gives you is cataracts. If not new ones, the rapid advancement of existing ones.

I had lens replacement surgery on my left eye this morning.  Took ten minutes.

AS the kids say, O.M.G.

We’re going to have to move now because now I can see every speck of dirt in every worn corner of this old house.

Also, the wrinkles on my face. Where did those come from?  Must be the new lens adjusting.  It will clear up I’m sure.

Also, I think there’s any extra cat or two living here I didn’t see before.

Beats all, this modern medicine.

Thanks, cancer!

To the moon, Alice…

I’m not an effusive person, but I did (kinda) jump up and (kinda) shout “Yes!” during last night’s State of the Union address when President Obama announced Vice President Biden, who recently lost his son Beau to cancer, would be “mission control” in a Moonshot for Cancer.

So, yea/yay for  MY PEEPS (And your peeps, too, whereever you get treatment.)

Also, I found this interesting.  It was linked in the Forbes article.

A quick little post

… before my dog absconds with the package of cream cheese I left out on the counter.

I don’t have anything to say on this Christmas Eve that’s insightful or inspirational, except eat whatever you want (as long as it doesn’t kill you) and Be Here Now.

I love following your blogs and getting email notifications of new posts. I’ve fallen behind on reading this month what with grandkids out of school for the holidays, Christmas and medical appointments (speaking of medical appointments at medical places, these** are fun to look at)  but I look forward to catching up soon.

I’m so fortunate to be here this Christmas. And so grateful that I have the opportunity to thank all of you whose blogs I follow for sharing your lives with me through your beautiful writing, your wisdom, your courage and your humor.  I feel like I’ve made so many new friends.

Peace and light and joy today, tomorrow and all of your days for you and those you love.

I’m holding all of you in my heart — especially my new LC blogger community.

Now, go eat stuff you don’t need and blog the recipes.

Happy Festivus!

** You thought I was going to show you pictures of my scans, didn’t you?  Silly.  No, they are Christmas wreaths that line the skyway from the main building at MD Anderson to the Mays building.  It’s a pretty fair walk if you don’t take the shuttle, so the wreaths make the walk worth it.

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