Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So it is nearing Christmas

After we put out a few presents, Monty moved them with his nose
to make his place under our Christmas tree.

Well, 2010 has been a very trying year. I can't say I've enjoyed it very much, but I've definitely learned much about myself and others, who is or isn't on my side, what really makes me happy, and that I'm done with snow. I've learned about PET CT scans and a little about a rare cancer called PEComa. I've learned that I recovered physically well from surgery and that there is a lot of love in my life. It has been a year about reassessing my life and honoring what makes me tick.

As I clean my house, wash curtains, bake cookies and stollen, get ready for holiday visitors, there is much to be thankful for. I've spent a lot of the blog this year talking about being thankful, I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but I am. I'm healthy. I'm here. I'm powerful and unique. I have a lot to say and share. You are kind enough to read my blatherings!

2011 will be a break-out year for me. That I know. Many projects are in the works, my creative juices are running rampant, I continue to challenge myself. As long as I continue to practice yoga everyday, life seems to go smoothly. Whenever I stop, I become recalcitrant and unpleasant, so which way is better for me?! I will share my doings as they come and go, but be assured it won't be a typical, run of the mill experience, because I just can't seem to function like "normal" people. My mom always told me I would do one thing in life which has been an albatross for me, I am happiest when I'm doing many different projects at once, such is my creative nature and I must honor that.

Late in 2010, we brought Monty the cairn into our home after losing our beloved Max in October. While Monty and Max are very different, they teach/taught me much about what is really important in life. Monty is a happy soul, so excited to go out for a walk, eat a meal, hang out with us. He doesn't know an enemy, except, perhaps squirrels! He wags his tail at us and looks up at me with big eyes, life is a joyous experience for him. And so should it be for all of us, we have so brief a time here on this earth, why not fill it with happiness, because if we are happy, we share it with the world. That simple.

This year, I've spent a lot of time being "in the moment." I don't have on the radio in the house as much as I used to, I walk the dog with my ears free from a phone or music so I can share the experience with my dog, I'm keeping my ears open. My hearing is so acute and there is much to be heard, and I need to listen, so actively listening has gone beyond listening to music, I'm listening right now. That brings me great joy because I am present. It is a meditation and fills me again, with gratitude.

I wish all of you a holiday season of gratitude and joy, because they go hand in hand. Let's hear it for true friends and fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Observation and Thanks

Hans Peter Dettmar, the Hans-meister, November 2010, Baltimore Harbor

Well, I met with my GYN/oncologist yesterday and here's the plan - observation. I'll see him every three months, for the next two years I'll have a CT scan every 6 months, and then for the following five years I'll have a CT scan every year. After that, I'll be considered non-risk. Since the tumor was small (under an inch in diameter), and was totally removed, the prognosis is good. Thank you, see you in three months.

Is that all? After this crazy, over-the-top emotional year I was expecting more confusion and drama. Not to be. We have a plan in place, stop the drama. Sloan Kettering is a non-factor, really. The fact is that the expert at Johns Hopkins had never seen a PEComa nor has anyone at Sloan Kettering. They don't have any new information at this time. So I'm on a new path with this doctor, and since his office is a 6 minute drive from my house, even better.

I came home from the appointment and sat in a chair, the same one in which I called my parents to tell them the news in July. It was 3pm, it was quiet, and I suddenly didn't know how to feel. My husband told me to fix myself a stiff drink, but I didn't, I just sat. So much of my angst from the last year has been lifted, unfortunately angst has been a defining factor in my life for a year. I find myself crying for no reason, I think the release of the emotions I've been quietly carrying are going to come out, and they should. NO ONE should ever have to experience the confusion and mixed messages I've been given since April, just an awful roller coaster ride. Being in survival mode is not fun, trying to make through a day, an hour, a minute, a breath.

So many people have been supportive, some wonderful words shared, my cousin telling me she lit candles at every church while in Europe this summer for me, people putting me on prayer lists, my sister offering to come stay with me if I needed treatment, my parents with their medical constancy, my brother calling my parents every night to see how he could help, friends making me laugh to keep perspective, my pets, but most of all, my husband. It sounds a cliche, but he is truly my best friend and is ALWAYS there for me, always. He never once panicked (at least on the outside!) and helped make my life continue on with a sense of normalcy, even during those dark days of July. Thank God for the Tour de France this year, my yearly July obsession, that gave me plenty more to focus on than all the information overload I was getting, and Hans and I watched the Tour every day for three weeks. Hans Dettmar, you are a great man, a great husband, you make me laugh, and most importantly, you love me. There is no greater blessing in life than to be loved and to love fully in return.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Health/tumor/Sloan Kettering update

So, I've been waiting around for nearly 4 months to hear the results from the tumor panel at Sloan Kettering and no word. A few weeks ago, I met with my physician and said, "hey, I haven't heard anything, what should I do?" She said she'd make some calls. I called her office with the information and didn't hear anything, so I called her last Friday and she hadn't received my information. Do you see where this could be going? At any rate, she called me today and said she called the office of Dr. Sabbatini at Sloan Kettering in New York, and his assistant said they never received my lab work. Now my doctor is trying to find out where my lab work is. I'm seeing my GYN/oncologist on Tuesday, I wanted to have all this ready for him then, but it looks like more uncertainty is in my future on this topic.

What does this tell me? Well, it says that there was no follow-thru on my behalf from my surgeon/GYN, but is it fair to blame her? Her specialty is difficult pregnancies and female health, she sounded so relieved when she called me and left a message back at the end of July that everything was being shipped off to an expert, cancer is not her specialty. Did I drop the ball by not calling and checking on the information? I had seen my new GYN/oncologist once a few days before that, he said to come back in 2 weeks, but once I heard that a tumor panel was happening, I waited to hear the results before meeting with him again.

This whole situation reminds me how so many of us think things will be clearly defined and follow a clear process. I was raised to think that way, both of my parents are very logical, linear thinkers, and there is no deviation. Everything is an equation that is solved. Once I have closure, I move on. However, so much of my life hasn't been like that at all and I spent years trying to force that square-peg thinking into my round-peg reality. This hits me over and over again, so obviously there is a karmic life lesson for me!

So am I upset? Well, it is unsettling, but my physician said, "you're not dying, and this is for me to worry about and fix, not you." Thank you, Dr. Jennifer Gorrelick, you are saying the right thing. It just seems par for the course with this health journey, no one has answers, everyone is flummoxed, there is no clarity. I have to provide my own clarity, that is my responsibility. I eat healthily, I do yoga, take mile long walks, and ride an exercise bike for half an hour, I sleep well, and I am surrounded by love and love in return. I'm trying to fill my life with projects that fascinate me and turn me on. We have a lively and loving new 7 1/2 year old cairn terrier named Monty who makes me laugh. My husband and I are going to see the new Harry Potter movie tonight.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am thankful for many things this year. Last year at this time, I was overwhelmed and my inner self kept saying "get this out, have the surgery now, do it NOW!" It was pretty constant. I didn't know it was cancer. Those are not the same messages I'm receiving now, right now there is a lot of peace as my body is becoming whole again. I always used to say, "yeah, thanks for my health," but now I am truly grateful. I wish you all that grace. Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's Hans taking Monty for a walk

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The way to live my life

A friend of mine just posted this as her facebook status and it really touched my heart. I try to live my life like this with my whole being every day, great advice for us. Can you imagine if everyone practiced this in their lives? Think what the world could be like!

When I look at ugliness, I see beauty. When there is noise, I hear a robin's song instead. In the winter of my sorrow, I remember the summer of my joy. In the nighttime of my loneliness, I breathe the day of my thanksgiving. But when the sadness spreads its blanket and that is what I see, I take my eyes to some high place until I find a reflection of what lies deep inside of me.-Navajo saying

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Max's last video

It has been over a month since Max died. Life has gone on, we are busy with our projects and doings, but boy, is our house empty. Last week I contacted a local cairn rescue group as well as a few breeder/handlers, I'll be meeting a retired cairn show dog this week, we'll see. I think Hans and are drawn to the rescues, though, the ones who need love and are a bit scrappy. The great thing about cairns is that they come in many colors, and I think we would feel better with a cairn who wasn't black and silver like Max. As our friends have said, some little cairn is about to hit the jackpot with us, we can't wait to meet him or her.

This little video is the last one I took of Max, a month before he died. He was old and gray, deaf and pretty much blind, but he was happy on the bed most of the day and the love was always there. Even though I need a kleenex to watch it, it reminds me of the true love Max and I shared. He was such a good boy. This just shows you how wonderful rescues are, Max came to us at age 6 and was with us almost 11 years, and we all loved every minute we had together.

Max's last video

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Max, the star of "A Cairn and a sandwich"

I've started going through pictures and videos of Max. I got a new digital camera in early 2005 which took little videos, too, so as I go back in time to 2005, there is Max running around, smiling, sniffing, clear-eyed, and responsive. I'd forgotten that about him as he became a senior. He also has much more black fur around his face. Aging or not, he remained a sweetheart, and as I said in the previous entry, he had opinions. This little dog would crack us up, he made his opinions very clear! I found this series of photos that just make me laugh out loud, Max is sweet and hilarious at the same time. These were taken on a lovely afternoon picnic by the Potomac River, April 17, 2005. And yes, he did get some of the sandwich!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm so sad. We lost our beloved cairn terrier, Max, sometimes known as Maxel "the good," early Sunday morning. To say we adored him really doesn't begin to cover it. Back in 1999 about this time of year, we rescued Max from the shelter. For several months prior, my husband Hans and I had been making the rounds of various shelters and not finding terriers, I remember actually crying after going to the Fairfax animal shelter and looking at 50 dogs, I said, "we'll NEVER find a terrier." My husband said, "hey, let's go to our local shelter, even though we were there 2 days ago." I didn't want to go, but I did. As we walked down the aisle, suddenly there was someone new. Small, black and silver, and barking loudly, as in, "yo, I'm down here, do NOT pass me by!" I didn't want to see him in the meeting room, I said, "he's very barky." But again, Hans won out and we went into the room with a black and silver cairn terrier. I knelt down, Max walked right up to me and put his paw on my knee. Well, that was it, he picked us, and the rest is history.

He was the perfect dog for us, we adored him and he adored us. He alerted us to UPS trucks driving by, mail delivery, and kids walking down the street with his loud bark. He cuddled between us on the bed at night. He liked to sit curled up with me on the sofa when I watched tv, he "helped" with many of my crochet projects. He loved Hans, particularly when they'd run together, Max got the biggest smile on his face. Max curled up next to me when I was sick, I always called it "helping," he took his job seriously this past spring while I recovered from surgery. He liked to keep us in his sight, he loved "his people." He hated going to the vet, he'd start shivering violently as we'd put him in his doggy seatbelt in the car, we had to drag him in the vet's door, just an amazing show he put on! Whenever his grooming or his vet visit was done, he bee-lined for the door, no shivering, just ready to get out of there. He hated rain and getting his feet wet. He'd bark if a cat walked by the coffee table, to alert us, we nicknamed him "Officer O'Malley." He loved to eat, he loved treats, he loved bacon, he loved liverwurst and headcheese (courtesy of our lovely German landlady who adored him and would babysit him), he loved cheese. He could be very protective of his food, if one of our cats strayed near him, he'd bark and launch at it, but rarely was it serious.

As he aged, he slowed down. He had arthritis and took medication that worked well for him, he lost a lot of hearing and much of his eyesight. He became a bit needy. He fell down the stairs 2 years ago, which was horrifying, so we began to carry him up the stairs and later down them as well, the little "prince on a pillow." His walks became very short, a pee, a little sniff, then turned like a magnetic needle back to the house. He slept A LOT. He spent most of his time on our bed, sleeping, curled up in a ball. He couldn't jump up on furniture anymore, we had to lift him onto the bed. The fur on his face became white. He was out of it sometimes, not quite sure where he was, but he'd calm down when I talked to him and pet him. I told him everyday how much I loved him and how special he was, always. He was such a good, true little soul.

At 2:45am on Sunday morning, we were awakened to Max having a seizure. It was horrifying, he was screaming, Hans was sobbing and making sure he was safe, I was running around to call the emergency vet. We wrapped Max in towels and drove to the emergency vet in 20 minutes. The vet examined him, called us back to a meeting room. We knew. He wasn't recovering from the seizure. He was 17. We made the decision to put him to sleep, weeping, and we held him for a bit. It wasn't Max anymore, I knew his brain had been damaged. We put him on the table, the vet put in the syringe, and Max went so peacefully. So sweet.

We are devastated, of course I knew my pet would die one day, but I certainly didn't think about it much. Max was very much alive. He had opinions. And he was very loving. He was a major part of our lives for nearly 11 years. Yesterday, I donated his leftover food and treats to the shelter where we rescued him in his honor. The house now is oh, so quiet. The sounds of his little paws on the floor as he made his rounds, his little sleeping noises, the clinking of his ID and rabies tags with his St. Francis of Assisi medal.

Always loved, always loving, forever in our hearts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I'm so inspired right now, I'm working with some incredible people, full of ideas and creativity.

1. Jenny Otto, my yoga teacher and mentor - she has started working using one inch poles with feet work - profound. Her knowledge of the body/muscular/bone structure/nervous system is par none, she knows things no other yoga teacher knows because she has actually participated in autopsies and sees how the body works. She finds challenging ways to use props, to access and change the brain/nervous system habits, she literally blows my mind! Sometimes I really struggle in her classes which alerts me to the fact that I'm misaligned or not being efficient in my own structure. Through her example, I see the power of creation in yoga teaching.

2. Haley Murphy, director for "Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha" with Taking Flight Theater Company - Haley knows what she wants but allows me the freedom to explore and create and find it from myself, I can speak candidly when things work or not, she has no problem with me having input. If I make a choice that she didn't foresee and she likes it, she'll say, "that's better than what I was thinking for that moment." I really feel like I'm co-creating with her, rather than her just telling me what she wants, we are collaborators in this world we are creating.

3. Ksenya Litvak, puppet designer - Ksenya is amazing. Trained in Russia as an artist and puppetmaker, her designs are clever, whimsical, practical, and inspired. She just draws something quickly on a napkin, some vision she sees, and I am thrilled by her ideas. I worked with her for three years in the past with a theatre company, but now I'm in the midst of creating a "Puppetry and Percussion" project, and she is helping me with ideas and creations. We will be working together for a few hours each week, the fun never stops with puppetry!

4. Jill Cahn, yoga teacher and mentor - technically I'm not working with her at the moment, she is on vacation with her husband for a few weeks, but she is always with me. She is my most profound connection with yoga. Her work using/going against gravity is the greatest influence in my practice and on my future yoga teaching. Everything she has ever said to me has been right. How many people can you say that about in your life? I LOVE her.

5. Medeski Martin and Wood - I know, they, too, are always a part of what I'm about. Their music influences me, the creativity with sound and time, their sense of fun and play, their profundity. I continue to listen to a lot of Billy Martin's stuff at the moment, I keep playing with time and rhythm.

6. Garri Bardin - Russian animator. Ksenya turned me on to him, his animations are amazing, inanimate objects coming to life in clever ways, true genius. However, true to Russian form, the endings always grab and break your heart, and it turns in a way that is unexpected. Here's a link to "Marriage"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Suddenly I find I'm an actor again

So I'm in rehearsals for a play right now, "Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha," by Ed Falco. No, you shouldn't know it, it has only been performed once at Virginia Tech a few years ago. It is very intense, all family dynamics, I'm playing Una, the mother of a difficult 15 year old, and suddenly my emotionally damaged mother arrives for the weekend and I'm stuck between the two clashing personalities. It is very dense, lots of emotional landscapes to figure out, there are some very funny moments as well. It is exciting to be in a play where I get to set a precedent, I adore the director and am really enjoying working with the other actors.

You're waiting for the "BUT......"

My issue is really me. At one point in my life, I really wanted to be an actor, I auditioned a lot, I tried, I didn't get cast much. For the past two years, I've devoted myself to music and yoga, last year I spent in an intensive yoga teacher training program, I figured I'd get back into acting at some point, but there was no hurry. Besides, women in their 40s really don't get cast much, there aren't a lot of parts. Well, the joke is on me, because I've gotten hired more since I stopped "being an actor" and I've had some great roles. I can only laugh! I also think I'm a better actor now because I stopped caring, I'm just in the moment being as true as I possibly can.

I started going through my difficult phase in learning a role and lines the other day, I have a lot of lines. And I have to learn them. As Una, I yell at times, I have a breakdown, I am berated, I'm well-meaning. I always forget how difficult it is for me to traverse these places, I go there because I've experienced them, and even though I've moved on and healed in my life, my cells and self are reminded of those feelings. It actually makes me sick for a day. That's when I think, "What the HELL am I doing? Why am I going here? Why did I audition for this part?? What was I thinking???" Then, after a day, I unfreeze and get on with the program. I listen and speak my lines with my ipod (that's how it is as an auditory learner) on all my commutes and doing things around the house. I never go through the wringer like this doing music or puppetry.

So why do I put myself through this? Good question. I was cast and I'm a professional, but it isn't easy for me. I'm not really an actor, but I'm playing one. My goals as an actor are the same as they are for living - be as true and honest as I can be in the moment.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sloan Kettering UN-update

Shell of the radiolarian aulastrum triceros

I got a message yesterday from my GYN with an update. Dr. Sabbatini at Sloan Kettering is still going over my case with the tumor panel, it has been about 3 weeks. No decisions have been made yet. I've been getting on with my summer and having some great experiences, but there is a teeny-tiny part of me that would like closure on this topic. I think it is telling that experts are taking a long time to make recommendations on my case, maybe they don't know how to proceed, either. I knew I was in for something unusual when the specialist at Johns Hopkins didn't really know what to do and shrugged his shoulders.

What do I think? Well, if I listen to my body I hear that the cancer is long gone, thank you very much, and I feel good. I'm even trying inversions in my yoga practice and some exciting breakthroughs are happening. My body is actually thanking me, it doesn't have to expend all that energy on dealing with the severe endometriosis and freakin' cancer. Energy suddenly has a free path to flow through my whole body, not stop and make bypasses along the way. My yoga practices have been so joyous and freeing lately, it makes me realize how dysfunctional my body had become.

Once I hear from my GYN with the verdict from Sloan Kettering, thus begins another onslaught of doctor visits. I have to then meet with my GYN/oncologist as well as my own physician. I'm hoping with all my heart that chemo and radiation are not recommended by anyone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Everything has been so dire the past month, constant worries about my health, emotional state, doctors, emails, was I doing all I could do? If I didn't do something right at this very minute would there be consequences down the road? And suddenly this week, all is quiet, I feel like I'm on vacation. So this is my life? I forgot how easy and calm my world is and I like it. As dramatic as I can be, I like my daily life to be simple and sweet, filled with loved ones and peace. I smile as I clean the bathroom, make soup, ride my exercise bike, practice yoga, wander around my home. I savor fresh fruit, enjoy friends, curl up on the bed with my pets, and laugh. So rarely in life do we find contentment, and here it is handed to me quietly on a plate.

Most people aren't aware that yoga isn't only a physical workout or asana, but only a part of 8 steps towards self-realization called the 8 limbs of yoga. These were written by Patanjali who lived somewhere between 500 and 200 BC. He was a great sage and compiled an amazing amount of information, creating an instruction guide to the art and science of living and evolving. He wrote in a clear and concise way, his writings are known as the sutras. There are many, many translations and interpretations, I own several. Sanskrit is a language filled with immense levels and meanings, our language cannot even begin to translate the depth of it, often English translations seem brusque and somewhat pedantic because our language is not built on the power of sound. In Sanskrit, they are beautiful, both to read and to hear.

The 8 limbs of yoga are:
1. Yama - the practice of universal moral principles
2. Niyama - the practice of personal disciplines
3. Asana - the practice of physical postures
4. Pranayama - the practice of breath control
5. Pratyahara - the practice of withdrawal of the senses
6. Dharana - the practice of focused attention
7. Dhyana - the practice of meditation
8. Samadhi - self-realization. Enlightenment.

One of the Niyamas is Santosha - contentment. What is contentment? We all seem to want for things, people, situations, our society is not content at all. In fact, it is ruled by discontent. We are surrounded by metro riders, by people driving their cars on the beltway, by people in line in the grocery store, even members of our own families - no one is content, people venting their exasperation and annoyance, and that is an accepted way of communicating. I used to watch this all the time when I managed the front desk of the Embassy Suites Hotel in DC, many customers were never satisfied with anything and I heard about it - whether their laundry hadn't been delivered, they had to have another towel, they didn't like their room rate, they didn't like their room, the elevator wasn't fast enough, they didn't like the bellman, they didn't like the parking garage, I could go on and on here - I was innundated with it every night I worked. I realized that people like to complain, it validates who they believe they are, their desperate need to be right and for others to be wrong. What is at play here? Why are people so discontent? Why did people have a need to make me feel badly? I became a master of resolving these issues quickly and kindly, and the complainers didn't like that, they didn't want resolution, they wanted to keep complaining. That fascinated me. They'd actually made a choice to be unhappy. They didn't know how or want to change. Whoa. I made a vow to myself right there and then: I didn't want to live my life like that. I didn't want to be living the same broken record in my 70s, stuck in an unhappy personal place.

Life is always changing and we have to change with it. It isn't easy - certainly the last month has been one of the most difficult times in my life - but you ride the ride with all the grace you can muster and pass along some kinds words to those who are nearby.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some good news and the Gayatri Mantra

First off, let me come right out and say thank you to all my friends who've called and emailed me with support and love. I can't tell you how discombobulated I have been feeling over these few weeks, hearing your kind words really helped center me a lot. I needed you at that moment, and there you were. It touches my heart to know that you care and want to share in the journey.

The roller coaster ride has calmed down a bit - I got the results of the PET CTscan I had on Monday and bloodwork - all normal. Phew. The intensity and "need to know NOW!!!!" is subsiding. I am cancer-free. Now, back to our regularly scheduled progamming - helloooooooo summer!

So now what? I had this extremely rare PEComa tumor removed. Where did it come from? How did it form? How does it work? Will it come back in another place? The unknowns go on and on here. Certainly my GYN, my physician, my new GYN oncologist, and the GYN oncologist expert at Johns Hopkins had no idea and had never encountered one before. My files have been sent on to a specialist at Sloan Kettering, he deals with wacky female tumors, and this week they are having a tumor panel about my case. How will they decide to treat me? Do I need to be treated? I'm hoping they decide to monitor me and no chemotherapy is involved, so there is still some angst for me. I'm all about what my husband calls "closure," so the "wait and see" factor is hard for me. I'm not sure when I'll hear the findings and recommendations.

Have you ever had a PET CTscan? I never had. It is more powerful than a CTscan. Before I went through the actual scanner at 11:20, I drank barium at 10:00, and then I was taken to small room with a chair similar to a Lazyboy but with more movement. There I was injected with saline and something radioactive. The lights were lowered, the technician was quick to get out of there and I was told I couldn't read or listen to music, I had to sit in there for an hour, quietly. Dear God. Leaving me alone with my thoughts as I was radioactive, I really couldn't handle that. If I had known ahead of time, I would have been emotionally prepared, but I wasn't. I wept and wept. It was awful. It didn't help that the lowered lights were right in my eyes and didn't encourage rest or peace. I don't know how long I quietly sobbed, it must have been 15 minutes. Then I told myself to buck up and calm down. How to do that? I started thinking about all the medical doings I'd had in my past that were worse, I remembered of all things the time I was being fitted for my Wilmington back brace when I was 15. The brace was a hard plastic shell that went around my entire torso, I used to call it my exo-skeleton, and I had two of them made over three years as I grew 2 inches each year. To get the correct measurement, I lay on a table and had a plastercast made of my torso. As it dried and got hard, I felt the chemical heat being trapped between my body and the cast, an odd feeling. When it was completely dried, a high-speed saw was used to cut me out of it. Believe it or not, the drill was attached to the ceiling above me (like a James Bond movie!), I just didn't look down while it was drilling, but I heard and felt it. Can you believe that the drill broke the first time? All the attendants left the room and I was lying alone on the table, in a full body cast, 15 years old. Eventually it was fixed and I was freed. I wasn't scared, though, I just accepted it. What choice did I have? Maybe Dad was right, I am stoic after all.

As I sat in the darkened room thinking about all the surreal medical experiences I've had, knowing I was currently having another one, I tried to pray. It didn't work at all, I hate praying for myself. Then I remembered that chanting always calms me, so I started chanting the Gayatri Mantra in my head. Immediately, it gave me something to focus on, something profound way beyond me. I covered my eyes with my hand to blot out the light and just chanted over and over. Here is the translation from Sanskrit: Om, I meditate on the radiant and most venerable light of the Divine from which issues forth the triple world - earth, ether, and Cosmos (Heaven). May the Divine light illuminate and guide my intelligence.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's going on?

So where have I been? Obviously, not blogging. A year has flipped by, projects and doings, but I've also had health issues which continue to weigh on my life. I don't want to be someone who is defined by their issues with doctors and tests, so I haven't told many people. I had health concerns in my youth with a heart murmur and then scoliosis as a teen, so I can say whole-heartedly that I've been in a lot of doctor offices and looked at a lot of drop-ceiling tiles as I lay on the table in a paper-towel material robe. And here I am again, looking at ceiling tiles, and listening to scarier terminology from a doctor's mouth. This is not who I am, but this is obviously part of my life's journey.

In a nutshell, I had a routine laporoscopic hysterectomy this past March, all went well, I healed from the surgery. The pathology report came back with an unexpected shocker - cancer was found and my samples were sent to three labs. The cancer was extremely rare, called PEComa, no one had ever encountered it or heard of it, but at this point, don't be too concerned. So I went on with my life. Two weeks ago, I went to see my GYN. A GYN oncologist at Johns Hopkins had announced my cancer as malignant. What do we do now? No one seems to know and this is where the fact of uncertainty takes over. It is fascinating and scary to see how uncertainty affects each of my doctors as they impart their information. Yesterday I saw a new GYN oncologist locally, he called the cancer aggressive and said, "with your history, you need to have everything checked." Your history. Suddenly, I'm in a cancer category. I had bloodwork today, I have a PET CTscan on Monday. While I'm not thrilled with this idea, it will give everyone a baseline and solve the question of whether there is any cancer left in my body. I don't think there is. I did, it was taken out, and now it is gone.

Language is so important here. I speak of the cancer in past tense on purpose. The power of positive thinking.

The hardest part was telling my parents because I kept thinking if I were a parent, this would be one of the worst things you could hear coming from your child. My parents are retired dentists, they go into medical mode, and they were good about it. My father said I've always been very stoic. Really? My husband told me yesterday that I'm one of the strongest people he knows. Huh.

I'm riding a roller coaster of emotions these past weeks, some days I'm centered and fine, other days I'm in tears and frozen. Practicing yoga really helps me feel strong. It sounds so cliche to say I'm taking one day at a time, but I am, sometimes even a minute at a time, one breath at a time.