Things I Wish I Didn’t Know About Cancer, Part 1

Written in 2018, between the cancers.

How it grows

How long it hides

Who places the best IV lines

The number of decisions necessary to pursue treatment

All the side effects and consequences of treatment

What hormone gutting does

All the doctors and supporting medical staff

How much it takes (and it takes and it takes and it takes)


Ways to prop up a phone for video streaming

Plastic surgery

Any surgery

How long it takes to recover

Words like genomics and oncotype

Of Monsters and Quilts

Early this year, before cancer 2, I had a dialogue with someone dear to me about fear. Her self-talk reminded her to look at Jesus instead of looking at her fear. Brilliant! I had in mind a gnarly monster approaching obliquely from behind while hearing Jesus gently tell me to look in His wonderful face. He would take care of both the monster and me. Little did I know at that moment what a powerfully helpful image and tool that would become the very next month.

There are so many monsters. Some of them are tiny, no big deal. Others threaten to hack and slash everything. Either way, none are welcome. And these particular cancer monsters do deliver on their promise, they certainly make life miserable. That fear, dread, foreboding, was entirely justified. In the many days of waiting between diagnostic and treatment decisions, good news was almost non-existent.  Doctors are still talking about cure, and “not-likely-to-die” is objectively good news. However, the journey through not-likely-to-die is not the same as not-likely-to-suffer, not-likely-to-thrive, not-likely-to-have-other-body-parts-in-need-of-attention, the list continues.

Anyway, after my last surgery (March 6), I experienced . . . Knitter’s Block? Is that even a thing? I’ve used kitting for decades to cope with all kinds of life situations, and I couldn’t pick up my needles. Huh. Deploy Quilting Friend. I was on serious weight restrictions, so she came over promptly when called to dig through my stash, an impressive one, to find fabrics for hand piecing a quilt. I’ve never pieced a quilt that way. Takes a long time. Well, I have nothing but time available and lots of waiting. English Paper Piecing it is. I’m doing nothing fancy with it, just stash busting. But here’s the thing. In collaboration with my posse, there is so much in this quilt that is still an expression of groaning, hope, add your own idea to the mix. I’ll be closing out the piecing soon to prepare for the hand quilting process. I have a frame ready to go and my goal is to have it loaded or prepped in such a way that by the end of July (more surgery) I will transition to that phase of the process. Maybe that will carry me through radiation? Who knows.

Quilt progress at the end of May

Cancer Snapshot

A poem, of sorts


You will get mouth sores.

With mouth sores, drinking and eating are difficult.

Nausea, dehydration will land you in the hospital, where all the germs are kept.

Start today

8 ounces water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda




4 times or more daily.



Jab 4/13/2019

*The prompt was “write about water.”

The day after chemo education

Breast Cancer, Part the Second

HR+, HER2- for those keeping score

In February, my regular post-cancer checkup began a cascade of new “chief complaints.” I am once again a cancer patient, and this time, chemo and radiation are both part of the treatment plan.

Last month I had a lumpectomy which is healing very nicely. It’s really been the easiest surgery I can ever remember having. Happily, the tumor was quite small this time, and all the margins and lymph are clear. However…

There are many appointments to come. Chemo itself will have at least two preliminary appointments (that I know of), then 4 treatments separated by 3 weeks, totaling a 3-month course. Radiation will commence two weeks after chemo is resolved. That will be 5 days a week for six weeks. After all that, they will readdress hormone interventions with Aromatase Inhibitors (maybe it will diminish my sense of smell? Jim is hopeful) and whatever else needs to happen in order to allow those drugs to be used.  It’s complicated but a problem for 5 months from now.

“How can I help?”

I’m glad you asked.

I would like to have many inputs of joy. Please share with me moments of joy in your daily life (even just one time). I would like emails, texts, responses on this blog, cards via snail mail, you name it.  Words or pictures, fun music links you’re enjoying. But let them be from you – not memes. Please remember I am unlikely to respond to some or most of these for what I hope are obvious reasons, but they will be appreciated.  I will try to put out updates periodically on this blog, as I am able and have something to say.

As for more practical/tangible help, we will have to see how things develop.  I have learned that different people react differently to these treatments, so whether I will need help with food or transportation or something else is unknown at this time.

“How can I pray?”

I’m glad you asked.

There are numerous side effects on tap for the remainder of my treatment plan, all of them unpleasant. Of most concern to me right now is neuropathy (nerve pain) in fingers. I am quite dependent on my hands to cope with stress and the world in general.

Fatigue/sleep. I am not sleeping well.

I am sad about my workout routine getting clobbered. It has helped a great deal with pain and stress. Surgery has already interrupted it and will interfere more.


This is a journey I did not want to repeat, let alone repeat with the added complications of chemo and radiation.  But, I am here and so I will soldier on.  Thanks for caring with me and for me.

Photo Op

At noon today,  I was living strong at the Y. Seven other cancer survivors and I get to work with personal trainers on circuit training machines designed for short folks (5 feet, 8 inches and under; I can get under). I have been wearing my breast cancer awareness t-shirt that says “Nope, not today” in really big, can’t miss it, letters. It is rare that I announce the cancer so boldly, and my enthusiasm for the message has certainly grown over the last year. Thank you to my dear friend who gave me my first cancer swag. My collection is growing.

Today’s gym encounter is going to prompt me to wearing my cred more.  A gentleman who had been on a piece of equipment prior to our group’s entry approached me and asked if another class member was a cancer survivor (rather an obvious guess, let’s be honest). He was trembling severely, and when I replied, “Yes, in fact we all are,” he began to weep. I said “you must have someone you love very much…” and he nodded and whispered that his mother is actively dying.  He asked if he could hug me (of course!) and apologized for being all sweaty. Have I ever hugged a sweaty male not related to me? And he asked if I would be willing to take a selfie with him.  Grateful to have worn makeup today, I smiled big for that photo!

Cancer stakes are high. I have seen scary and amazing things and people before, during and after cancer treatment. While I would still rather be shallow, it is a kindness from God to be able to share moments like these with others who suffer.

May we all look with great hope for that day when, reunited with our loved ones, we will have no need for strength, endurance, medicine, because the chesed (loving-kindness) of God the Father will be all those things for us.