Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Biopsy, Living In The Stream Of Life, Enthusiasm, Rest, & The Spark Within

On the way home from Stanford last Wednesday with my friend Beth (oh, by the way, my biopsy went well and the 2 sites are almost healed), she reminded me that too much striving to do what I have been calling, “breathe and meet the moment” might objectify the moment and the whole endeavor could get sabotaged. The moment is not a thing. The moment is fleeting, and is connected to another moment, and another, and another. . . Focusing on a moment is like looking at a photograph of a dance and thinking you know the dance. Being present in the moment is a dynamic and constantly changing process. It’s not a goal or a destination.

This idea will be interwoven into the Continuum exploration in Beth’s January class. If you are interested in Continuum or exploring the fluidity of the body, the fluidity of our perception of time, and living and moving in the stream of life, check out Beth’s website and schedule for her monthly class:

In the midst of all the many and varied things I’m feeling these days, I have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm about writing and some other projects I’m brewing. My friend Carole (Jungian analyst and Continuum Teacher) tells me that the root of the word “enthusiasm” is “enthos,” which means, “God is in you.” I love this exploration of the deeper meaning of this word. What an empowering concept!

I often ponder the significance of the waves I feel of fatigue, pain, and disease, that are inevitably followed by enthusiasm. I can feel awful one minute and inspired the next. Sometimes I feel both simultaneously! If I surrender, and allow myself to rest when I am tired and hurting, I always end up ready to get out of bed and write or cook or go outside and enjoy the day. Enthusiasm is not external; it is an internally generated milieu.

I struggle with getting judgmental about lying down and resting. Life seems so precious and there's so much I want to do. I have to keep reminding myself to respect the rest phase, which I might have been negligent in doing in my previous life. Now that I am living with cancer, I literally have no choice. There are days when I fall asleep in the middle of a sentence while sitting at the kitchen table. I get to a point almost every day where I would keel over if I didn't lie down. I often remind other people that if all we did was inhale, we’d explode. Life is phasic. We inhale, and then we exhale. Life requires a balance of both. There is no enthusiasm without rest to support it.

Emilie Conrad loves to remind us that “God is not elsewhere.” You might also say that "God is everywhere." As long as I don't separate myself from what I think of as God, I haven't externalized and objectified the Divine Life Force that expresses itself through my enthusiasm. In my study and experience of many religions, I find a common thread in all of them that is consistent. Enthusiasm is the voice of the potency of the life force welling up from within. When rules and rituals are taken literally and imposed as external laws, I suspect a power-play is at work, as opposed to a true spirituality.

I had a spiritual teacher many years ago who would say to me, "I love you, and it has nothing to do with you." No one "makes" you feel anything. What you call a "feeling" is generated from within yourself. If something external has sparked your feelings of love or enthusiasm, remember that the spark is yours. If you celebrate Christmas, feel that spark within you from where the celebration arises. God is not specifically in a tree, or a church, or a present, or a family gathering. God is in you, and that is true whether it's Christmas day or the day after Christmas when everyone has gone home and there's lots of garbage and recycling to deal with. The holiday props and the story we tell about the holiday are just reminders to get us to feel connected and live it from within.

My holiday wish for everyone is that you find something to feel enthusiastic about, and deepen your life from within.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chow Mein, A Good Film, And Laughter On Christmas

So many of you have voiced concerned about how Christmas is going to be for me this year with my “situation.” People who celebrate this holiday have a really hard time imagining that someone else doesn’t have any attachment to it. I don’t. The first Christmas I was involved in was in 1997. I was 41. Christmas has traditionally been a day for me that involves mostly Jews, with a few Buddhists, Hindus (and others not interested in traditional Christmas, especially in New York) eating Chinese or Indian food, going to the movies, going for a long walk, and listening to comedy. For a group of people (Jews) who can tend to be overly serious and burdened with their ancestral history of oppression to spend a day celebrating another religion’s holiday with food and laughter is a healthy expression of life force. Please, I hope no one is offended by this. If there is a God who wants something from us, I hope it’s laughter. Laughing is my favorite form of praying.

If your Christmas is in need of some more humor, check out David Sedaris’ fabulous true story (not suitable for young children) about the year he worked as Crumpet the Elf in Macy’s New York:

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Christmas, and what it truly stands for. I ponder the commercialization and distortion of the holiday by capitalism, and try to find a way to connect with the essence of Divine child energy and the possibility of miracles on this sacred day. Having minimal exposure to the holiday until I was in my 20’s, I come to this day with a fairly innocent sense of wonder and no emotional baggage. I just crave chow mein and a good film!

Friday, December 18, 2009

No News Is Good News

Some of you may be wondering why there’s been no blog entry for days. Don’t worry. No news is good news; I just need a break. I am actually feeling somewhat better. I’m healing well from surgery and in much less pain in my sternum and ribs. Today I had a profound visit from a dear old friend, a great long walk and a nap. It was the first chance I’ve had to indulge in such simple pleasures in weeks, maybe months. I yearn to have days without appointments, paperwork, and misery, to simply care for myself more deeply.

Movement (exercise) and breath are simple, yet profoundly helpful. Since I have no energy to write much more for you to read, go check out this article that explains why getting off your butt decreases anxiety:

I was inspired by the finding that rats (yes, even rats can be inspiring) who exercised, when placed in a stressful, unfamiliar situation, didn’t run for dark corners and hide, like the unexercised rats. They calmly explored the unfamiliar environment. I aspire to be more like these rats!

Enjoy these last few days of increasing darkness. The light begins to return on Monday! Happy Solstice. Have a wonderful weekend, don't stress about holiday stuff that doesn't really matter, and care for yourselves by getting outside and moving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

After The Disability Forms, The Gates Of Hell

It has taken me weeks of working hours each day to complete my disability application forms. I am in awe of those who manage this task when they are injured or more seriously ill than I am. I have no comprehension whatsoever of how a person navigates this process without medical and financial training!

Way too much of my creative energy has gone into writing expense lists and describing why I can't bend over a treatment table, lift other people's bodies, and make judgment calls about other people’s health right now. You might think it would be straight-forward, but they make you jump through hoops, an activity nearly impossible while applying for disability. Documenting my inability to work is about the last thing I want to do before or after a biopsy, but I need to get some financial support flowing. I've given to this insurance company for 22 years, now I am ready to receive.

Steve and I dropped by the post office after completing my forms to send them registered mail, and then we headed north for the Stanford Cancer Center. After my visit there, we strolled on over to The Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. For those of you who’ve never been there, it is an amazingly great place. I’ll begin with praise for the food. The museum café serves delicious, primarily organic food, with lots of healthful options. It’s a fabulous diversion from a day in the medical complex, especially when sitting outside and pondering Rodin. The lawn and courtyard around the museum building are dotted with his sculptures.

When my step-sons Ben and Luke were young (around 5 and 7) we would take them to the Rodin sculpture garden, where they could play and eat and have some “stealth” art and emotional education. We’d have them pose and imitate the sculptures and then ask them how they felt. They totally got it. They learned how their bodies held and conveyed feelings and emotions. They could see it and feel it, and then they could run around and eat something yummy. We didn’t even have to go inside the museum; there was so much outside to see and experience. For them as little kids, this was a perfect day at a museum. It was for me too.

But this visit to the museum was not part of a so-called “perfect day.” Ben and Luke were not with us, and I have metastatic breast cancer. All I can do is weep as I touch the back of Rodin’s “Fallen Caryatid,” a sculpture of a woman crouching, carrying a boulder on her shoulder. All the photos of this sculpture view it from the front, but it is the back that conveys the deepest message for me.

If you can visit the museum sculpture garden, look for her and touch her back, especially the left side of her mid-lower thoracic spine. You might get a sense of how I feel. I have felt like her for years and years. I always attributed my physical sense of burden to the effects of bending forward over a treatment table all day, or to the effects of my residual adolescent scoliosis (read pages 150-154 of my book for this story.) I recognize something in the way she braces herself.

Like the women who were taken captives and enslaved by the ancient Greeks after whom this sculpture is named, I feel like I am burdened with holding up the roof of the temple with my back. I don’t know if this feeling is part of the cause of my cancer or the effect of it. Does it really matter how or why I have found myself living with cancer?

I can’t remember feeling this way that day on the beach when I was 6-years-old (see p. 11 of my book), but I can picture myself at 12, around the time of my first menstrual period, and I can recall the compressed sensation in my spine. Did this begin with estrogen, or was the oppressive sensation of teenage angst independent of my hormones? As my estrogen levels fade away over the next week or two perhaps I’ll have a clue.

Across from where my friend “The Caryatid” sits, is “The Gates of Hell” Rodin’s magnum opus. Rodin incorporated a tiny version of my friend into this massive sculpture, and positioned her at the top left corner of the Gates. At the center of The Gates is the well-known figure of “The Thinker.” The Thinker sits atop a rock, leaning forward with his chin resting on the back of his right fist. He leans with his right elbow bent and perched on his left knee. His muscular body is literally twisted and looks tortured and compressed by his thought process. Steve has always appreciated this image as a reminder that “thinking” is the entry point to hell.

Today my body feels rigid and unchanging, like these sculptures, a physical representation of life, but slightly out of time phase. I find it nearly physically impossible to be fully present when my body screams from the past. It is the nature of the stuff our bodies are made of to be impressed by the past. Our tissues and cells and spaces adapt to our lives. We are like the wake left in the water after a boat passes through, or an echo that persists after what made the sound is gone. We are a "residue" of some larger process. What we see and hear and touch and feel and smell is already a few steps removed from the process that formed it. How can we be engaged, embodied, and present when faced with the challenge of what we carry from the past?

I laugh about how cerebral I can be about all of this suffering and wonder if having insight about how I got this way will help me find a way out. I sit with Steve at “The Gates of Hell” trying not to think about our lives. Breathe and meet the moment is really all I definitively know how to do. How my life is unfolding seems unknowable while immersed in the incoherence of cancer, but breath and presence are simple and coherent, the only medicine that matters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

I want you all to know I'm doing fabulously. The procedure went very well. I got home at about 4 pm today and I feel (relatively) great. I just have a slightly sore belly and feel a bit loopy from the anesthesia and medications.

I have photos of my ovaries, taken through the scope right before he snipped them - a sort of nerdy remembrance of body parts past. I thanked my ovaries and prepared for sending them on their way, along with anything they might carry away with them that I don't want or need. Now I don't have to worry about ovarian cancer!

I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight and may tomorrrow bring the beginning of the unfolding of the next phase of my life.

Thanks for being there and checking in on how I'm doing. Take care of yourselves.

I'm Off To See The Wizard

I'm off to see the wizard of the laparoscope. I am having my estrogen-generating ovaries removed at 9 am this morning (here in Santa Cruz at Sutter). If all goes well, I'll be home by dinnertime. There's no place like home.

We will try to post a short note tomorrow morning, just to let you know I made it through the ordeal ok.

Thanks so much for all your notes and heartfelt wishes. I couldn't feel more supported and loved.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My "Mainstream" Plan

I can’t make this entry poetic or clever. I’m too tired. But I know so many of you want to know how my Stanford consult went. So here’s the news:

I met with a fabulous woman physician who has devoted her life to being at the growing edge (sorry for the bad pun) of breast cancer treatment. She is quite optimistic about my situation. Here are some of the reasons she is:

Although cancer has spread to my bones, it’s the "nearby" bones (sternum, ribs, clavicle), which is better than if it had spread to my spine or my femur. The fact that I have it only in bone, and not in my liver or brain or lungs is great news. It is easier to treat, and tends to be more responsive to treatment. Estrogen-sensitive cancers that spread to bone tend to not spread elsewhere, especially once they are being treated by estrogen blockade.

The fact that my tumors are very estrogen sensitive gives her the hope that they will respond to blocking all the estrogen we can from my system. This is how we will do that:
On Wednesday, December 9th I am having my ovaries removed. This may sound drastic, but it will save me from years of taking medications to suppress them. I am not attached to any organs that might kill me; Take them away! It’s a fairly simple procedure, done through a scope, and I might not even need to stay overnight. Recovery should be fairly easy. The main effect of this surgery is sudden onset menopause. Let’s hope my experience is graceful in its unfolding.

After the ovaries are gone, the next source of estrogen is the adrenals. Our adrenal glands make a lot of hormones and love to convert some of them from one form to another. To suppress that source, I will take a pill once a day called an “aromatase inhibitor.” There are a few different ones, and I’ll probably cycle through all of them over time. I’m starting with Arimidex.

Yesterday, I had my first IV infusion of Zometa, a drug used to inhibit the activity of the bone cells called “osteoclasts” that are responsible for breaking down bone. Osteoclasts are involved in allowing metastatic tumors to grown in bones. We’re not sure how often I will take it, but I was willing to do the first dose and see how I respond. My concern is that inhibiting osteoclast activity for too long might decrease the remodeling process in my healing bones. For those of you who have read my Chapter 6, “The Mutability of Mesoderm,” especially the section on “Bone Health, Aging, and Degeneration” you know what I mean. I am certain I can find the balance between getting the cells that are breaking my bones down to quiet down, and the ones that need to remodel and rebuild my affected bones to gear up.

Traditional chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy are not in the cards for the short term. I might end up needing one of those approaches in the future (weeks, months, years, we just don't know yet,) but not now. Yay! Because I have such estrogen sensitive tumors, we hope just eliminating the estrogen will do the biggest part of the trick. I will go this “less is better” route as long as it works (6 weeks, 3 months, 5 years; we don’t know.) We’ll be constantly reevaluating.

The general sentiment is that many women with breast cancer are over-treated. Out of the fear of not-knowing we usually drop the atom bomb to kill a mosquito. In some cases, where we know the cancer is aggressive or not amenable to treatment, it might be necessary, but not in my case. The cancer may have spread, but it is considered to be a responsive type. Let’s hope it is.

In addition to this mainstream treatment, I am doing everything I can to alter my estrogen metabolism, promote an anti-inflammatory state, and stimulate my immune system. It has taken a few weeks, but I am no longer joking about Julia Child, butter, cheese, and ice cream. I got that I have to eliminate (nearly) all the animal fat from my diet. I didn’t make a “decision.” I have just been naturally drawn to do it since Thanksgiving ended. I’m using the book, Life Over Cancer by Neil Block, MD as one of my guides, and consulting with a nutritionist who is one of his researchers and contributors to the book. Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou, PhD was reviewed in the NY Times last week, and I am also finding it interesting.

I take my craving for seaweed very seriously, and I’ve eaten some every day for months now. However, when I have a craving for Haagen Dazs, I just breathe and meet the moment, remembering that my metabolism doesn’t need that right now.

I still need to go back to Stanford for biopsies of both breasts. The last biopsy didn't get the tumor. We don’t need the biopsy information now to plan treatment, but if we wait too long, we won’t be able to find any tumor to biopsy, and months or years down the road if we need the information to make other treatment choices, we won’t have access to it. But this can wait until I recover from surgery.

I am researching many other interesting options. Thank you all who have sent me recommendations. I am perusing them all.

Today Steve and I are off to see my first Osteopathic teacher, Stan Schiowitz, who is 87 and here visiting from New York. He is one of the most beloved people in my life. Any of you who have benefited from my Osteopathic view of the world have him to thank for setting the stage for my education and career to unfold. He provided me unique opportunities while I was a student (as he still does) and encouraged me to dive deeper into what fascinated me. He was also the first teacher to put his hands on top of mine and show me how to feel. All of you who have been touched by me, have been touched by him.

I have so many half-written blog entries, but I have had so little time at home to do anything but shuffle papers, fill out forms, make appointments, and plan my new way of eating. During the days after my surgery next week, I am hopeful that I will have an out-pouring of writing energy. Stay tuned for lots more…

In the meantime, do something good for your bones today. Here are a few unconventional ideas. Change your relationship to gravity: hang sideways off a chair and lean on your hand or forearm (Continuum folks know what I mean by this), or bear weight in a new way, like lying on your side on the floor pretending to ride a sideways bicycle. Bounce on a big gym ball. Take some Vitamin D with your calcium and magnesium. Ask someone to hug you and squeeze you really hard while you squeeze them back; I am convinced that few things are better for your bones!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Quite Hot Off The Press

For those of you who have tried to buy my book and found it is sold out, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that it has been sent off for a second printing. The bad news is that the conservative estimate is that it will take 4-6 weeks. Thank you all for creating a deluge of orders that sold out the book! I still have a few left in my office. Please call ahead if you plan to stop by to buy a book.

Plan ahead for Ground Hog Day, and give the gift of my book to help awaken your friends, loved ones, and Punxsutawney Phil on February 2. I'll be doing my yearly watching of the film. Please join me.

RESTING My Attention, Not PAYING Attention

I know many of you are eagerly awaiting my next entry, but I do this as a creative labor of love, and I can’t push myself anymore. I desperately need more rest. I have six partially written entries and they will be coming in the next few days. Stay tuned. . .

But first, the news:
My second biopsy, done last Wednesday was more than a piece of cake, but less than a whole cake. Steve was with me while they did it, and the surgeon did a great job. I was sore for a few days, but I am healing well. The results are pending and are primarily of an “academic” nature for the mainstream oncologists to determine the most precise approach to treatment (hormone receptors, tumor markers, etc.) There won’t be any interesting news to report on the results of the pathology report for you all. All this information goes to Stanford, where I have my big consult on Wednesday morning.

I spent the past 2 ½ days in a meditation retreat in Marin, with my old Woodstock friends Jeff Roth and Joanna Katz. They co-led it with their teachers Sylvia Boorstein and Norman Fischer. I experienced a profound synthesis of my Buddhist and Jewish “parts,” which have always felt awkward together and longed to feel integrated into one whole big picture. I also had some of the deepest rest I’ve had in weeks. I love their way of suggesting we REST our attention in our breath, rather than “pay” attention, or work in any way at anything. If you are interested in knowing more, here is a link to their website:

My friend and fellow Continuum teacher, Beth, sent out a flyer announcing her series of monthly Continuum classes that will begin in January at the Subud Center. For those of you looking for a local class, check it out at:
She included this poem by Rilke in her flyer. I think you’ll know why when you read it.

"Poem For The Season"

Quiet friend, who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell, As you ring

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you
Say to the silent Earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving and My Omnivorous Dilemma

I love coming up with the titles for these blog entries. I imagine it is a bit like naming paint colors, which is my fantasy of a perfect, fun, low-stress job. Looking at a painted wall or a few paragraphs and choosing a few clever words to encapsulate meaning or essence is my idea of a good time right now. My body is somewhat limited, but my ceaselessly amusing mind cranks on.

Many of you have voiced concern that several of my blog titles contain foods that it might be best to avoid right now: chopped steak, enchiladas, and cake. Any conversation about the effects of diet on my health these days leads to the inevitably fascinating answer to the question, “What are you eating for Thanksgiving this year?” Those of you who know me and Steve and our history of Thanksgiving dinners understand why this is such an intriguing question. For the rest of you, here’s the story:

Steve and I were married in July of 1997. Within the first few months of being a part of a divorced family with my step-children going back-and-forth between our home and their mother’s, I realized we had to face the Thanksgiving Double Turkey Dilemma. Every friend I had as a child who had divorced parents complained about having to do the Thanksgiving turkey dinner deal twice. The first one is always special, but then doing it all over again with the other parent on the weekend was a complete drag. I wanted Ben and Luke to be saved from this emotional culinary burden. Our Thanksgivings would always be exciting, whether we had it on the actual Thursday of the holiday or on the weekend. (Every other year our 2 households alternate.) We decided to never have turkey.

Our first Thanksgiving together we made Cornish Hens, one for each of us. Luke was 4 and Ben was 6, and they thought it was cool that they each had their own “baby turkey.” At that time in their lives, having their own miniature bird seemed like a very grown-up deal, as opposed to being given a piece of something cut off a big bird. Ben, who is now 17 recently informed me that in retrospect, he thinks the idea of giving a small child a “baby turkey” is somewhat gross, but nonetheless amusing.

The next year we had quail, pheasant, and a goose. We named the dinner, “Three Game Feast,” and tried for several years to live up to the name. Goose became the undeniable favorite for all of us, so that remained the centerpiece of each year’s meal. We would just add 2 other birds to the menu each year. Over the years, we have had squab, guinea hen, partridge, ostrich, emu, and 2 kinds of duck (Muskovy and Peking). I tried to find woodcock, but it is illegal to buy a wild bird that was hunted in another state, and not being prepared to become a felon to perpetuate our humorous family tradition, I was forced to accept the fact that we had eaten every variety of legalized fowl.

We branched out and started having anything for Thanksgiving dinner that made us sound cool for having tried it: reindeer (sorry, but yes, we had Rudolph for Thanksgiving), kangaroo ribs, alligator, crocodile, turtle, frog, llama, elk, venison, antelope, rabbit, rattlesnake, yak, and wild boar. Brown bear was available one year, but we all agreed that was going too far; we just couldn’t eat a bear. As this year approached we realized that after twelve Thanksgivings together we might have reached the edge of the food experimentation frontier.

Although it was commonplace on regular days of the year for us to have turkey, chicken, or duck, we had never eaten them in their incarnation as “Tur-duck-hen.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this odd bird combo, it is a turkey, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a duck, and further filled with wild rice mushroom stuffing. The 2 inner birds have no skin, and have somehow been filleted to have no bones. The whole thing weighed over 18 pounds and was wrapped with string to hold it together. It took 9 hours to roast it! This being Ben’s last year at home before going off to college, we realized it would feel like coming back to a beloved tradition to have Three Game Feast, only this time with the three-birds-in–one.

I put aside my growing aversion to animal fat and we made a turduckhen for the displaced Thanksgiving we celebrated last weekend. I had a small piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, but I did not, however, indulge in any chopped steak, enchiladas, or cake.

I have read a gazillion treatises on the nutritional treatment and support of cancer. They range in nature from science to pseudo-science to religion. There are hundreds of opposing protocols that claim they are the most effective. If there was one way that was clearly the best, it would be obvious, and everyone would follow, but there’s not. Every person with or without cancer has unique body chemistry and each cancer has a distinct character. At this point I am guiding my diet by “gut feeling.” I am simply not drawn to most of the animal fat I used to love (ice cream and cheese being my biggest indulgences.) I have never been much of a red meat or pork fan. I eat those things only a few times a year, and have done so for at least 30 years, with the exception of the one year I battled heavy menstrual bleeding and split a local organically raised cow with my friend Christie.

I have always eaten a fairly high fiber diet, but I am finding ways to eat even more lately. I am discovering ways of preparing broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage in ways I never imagined. These are the three vegetables proven to help the body metabolize estrogen into less harmful substances. Living in Santa Cruz makes eating organically easy. When I have a craving for seaweed and miso, or wild salmon, I go for it. I try to ignore the cravings for ice cream or coffee or a glass of wine. I drink filtered water. I don’t eat anything grilled or char-broiled. I don’t eat things stored in plastic. I have always gravitated towards unprepared whole foods. I don’t believe diet caused my cancer, and it feels right to just clean up my act a bit. Any ways I can improve my digestion, absorption, and elimination feel helpful. I am sure I will try lots of different ways of eating over the months and years to come. While I’m open to nutritional counseling, right now my dietary choices feel good. I will keep an open mind, while I guard what goes into my mouth, and now that Thanksgiving is over for my family, it will be lot easier.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"The Cancer Brouhaha" & Gratitude (Not Necessarily Connected)

It's shocking when someone you know is diagnosed with cancer. It's even more frightful when that person is one of the healthiest people you know. What could be more distressing than a cancer diagnosis in someone who is considered an expert in sensing and perceiving the structure and function of the body? How does a person cope with learning that one of the people on whom they rely for reassurance about their health has gotten cancer themselves?

There is no way to make sense of this situation, so let's not waste precious life energy thinking we can figure this out or draw any conclusions. 

I find it helpful to accept a few things about life:
Life is not fair. It doesn't always make sense.
Cause and effect is not only not obvious; it frequently doesn't exist.
There is no such thing as life without problems.
No one is perfect or immune from misfortune.
Assigning blame does not help.
There's no cosmic meaning inherent in being given a "life lesson" like cancer.
The only meaning I care about is the one I create. (This is not the same as "positive thinking." I'll say more about this in a future entry.)
At this point, why or how I got this cancer is unknowable.
What really matters is how I meet it now that it's here.

You might ask, "What do I do to care for myself in light of all this confusing cancer information?"

As they say on NPR, "But first the news..."
For all of you who had an outpouring of concern over my falling asleep in parking lots, Steve is home until Dec 1st and is taking unbelievably good care of me. He is going with me to all my appointments, cooking (he's a better cook than I am), cleaning, redecorating the house, treating me, and making me laugh so much and so hard I have to beg him to let me rest. He's the love of my life and he does magic with cruciferous vegetables.

My second bone scan shows nothing new. Great news! The rest of my bones are clear. All my tumor markers are showing great potential for response to estrogen-blocking treatment. In the meantime, I am doing everything I can in the alternative treatment realm to minimize my own estrogen via nutrition, supplements, and other endeavors, which I'm not interested in discussing right now.

I still haven't started any "mainstream" treatment because they (my local oncologist and the one at Stanford) are attempting to be as precise as possible in what they recommend.

Anyone who follows the news knows that one of the most hotly debated issues right now is that many people, particularly women with breast cancer, have been massively overtreated. I don't want this to happen to me, and thankfully, neither do my oncologists. We all agree that rushing into a treatment plan is not a good way to go. We're taking our time to gather all the information we can before starting any allopathic treatment regimen.

The more information they have about my tumor/s, the more specific they can be in their recommendations. Everything they've suggested so far is based on my sternum biopsy results. Now I am waiting to have both breasts biopsied. BUT, since what I have can't be seen on a mammogram or an ultrasound, I have to have the biopsy guided by another MRI. They are debating who should do it and where the best place is to have it done. I hope to have it done next week sometime at either Dominican or Stanford.

Returning to that important question, "What do I do to care for myself in light of all this confusing cancer information?" I am reminded of a story...

I was 22 in 1978 when Greg Louganis won his gold medals in diving at the Seoul Olympics. I remember a TV commentator interviewing him and asking if he was a great diver because he had no fear when he dived off that 10 meter platform. Louganis explained that he was as afraid as the next guy, but he was courageous, and did not let his fear get in the way of doing his best. I was so inspired by this. I couldn't make my fears go away, but I could learn to co-exist with them and cultivate courage. I have tried to do my best, even when I'm afraid. You can do this too. Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes, breathe, and ponder this before you read on...

Fear is helpful when you are driving with a friend who's had too much to drink and you need to make a choice about what to do. Fear informs us when we're bicycling downhill too fast. Fear is a valuable instinct. But if we constantly overreact to perceived threats, rather than be selective and attend to what we really need to be informed about, we will end up doing 1 of 2 things; we will either play dead or run until we drop. In most people, this manifests as variations on being depressed, or being a control freak. Which do you tend to do?

The most powerful fears are the ones of which we are unaware. Our unconscious guides us, (or drags us around) and shapes our lives. It's the topic of my friend and fellow Continuum teacher Carole's book, not this blog to discuss the power of the unconscious. (Those of you who know her, help encourage her to write more and finish her book.) I can only comment on the fears we know about. And right now, everyone I talk to is afraid of cancer. What can you do?

It's helpful to sort out the things you can and cannot change, as they say in The Serenity prayer, "...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." You can change what you eat, how you breathe, how you care for yourself. You can't change the plastic residue that flows in our waters, the air pollution, the DDT you breathed as a child when they drove down your street and sprayed for mosquito control, but you can change how charged you feel about these things and not allow them to hurt you more than they already have. You can't change your genes, but maybe you can explore getting them to not express themselves. It all boils down to meeting the moment and attending to what you can. Let go of the rest and don't let what you can't handle suck the life energy out of what precious time you have left.

Forgive me for grossly oversimplifying. I know it's more complex than this.

For those of you who are interested, here are links to some of the recent New York Times articles about the current controversies in cancer prevention, mainstream medical screening and treatment that I found interesting:

I have about 6 half-written blog entries, but first, we're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend in my home. My favorite holiday! It's all about gratitude, fabulous food, no religion to have an emotional reaction to, and in my family, we listen to "Alice's Restaurant," play a very long complex game of Settler's of Catan (the best board game ever made, a brilliant and totally fun game from Germany). For the bah-hum-bug in me about X-giving commemorating the slaughter of the Native Americans, I read or listen to Sarah Vowell's stories about her own family coming from Oklahoma to New York City to share the holiday ("Pilgrim's Progress" is the story I love), and her stories about the first Thanksgiving. Check her out; She's a brilliant quirky historical comedian, a thoroughly unique blend. Hearing her voice directly is quite amusing. Click here to listen to clips of her reading her own stories ("Trail of Tears" is the story on this link) from one of my favorite radio shows, This American Life.

Gratitude is proven to be good for your health. For you physiology fans like me, it increases heart rate variability, a very good thing to do. Find something, anything, for which to be grateful and celebrate Thanksgiving with me this weekend. If I could hand it to you on a prescription pad, I would write, "Do this as often as needed. Unlimited refills."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Not What You Do, It's The Consciousness With Which You Do It

Many of you are wondering why I disappeared from this blog for a few days. I desperately need a rest. I fell asleep in my car in a doctor's office parking lot yesterday and someone called the police. I haven't had enough time between appointments to care for myself, and caring for myself comes before blogging. I'll post a big update soon, but for now, ponder these thoughts:

I share with you what is most creative in my desire to express myself and live fully, but I don't need to look good and sweet and spiritually evolved all the time. I haven't shared what I call the "bad weather" moments, the times when I agree with my friend Laverne, that if this is a "journey" I'd fire my tour guide and go somewhere else. I understand "the gift" of cancer, but I'd like to go to Macy's and return it for something else.

I am so "whelmed" (Shouldn't that be a word? I'm trying to avoid melodrama.) with procedures, appointments, emails, and phone calls. I spend all my days right now running to and making appointments. I don't know how really sick and medically uneducated people do this! I have at least 2 more weeks of this pace before I can really drop down and find my new rhythm.

Here's the brief summary of what I've found so far:
I have an uncommon form of breast cancer. I have always been "an outlier" and I continue to be so, even in the form of cancer I get!  I have several tumors in both breasts, my sternum, and ribs. All my organs are totally clear. I, along with Steve and 6 other doctors can't feel the tumors or see them on mammogram or ultrasound, but they finally showed on the breast MRI I had done at Stanford last week. It looks like a lot of consulting and some of my treatment will happen up there.

It looks like I will probably be doing several weeks or months of hormone-blocking treatment, and not traditional "puke-and-lose-your-hair chemo" (at least not yet). I will combine this with a wide variety of non-mainstream treatments.

I appreciate the outpouring of information on treatment options that many of you have sent. I read it all and keep it in a file. I am constantly researching and sorting out what "feels resonant." I strongly feel like the most important part of the treatment is not what you do, but the consciousness with which you engage it.

I had a patient many years ago who ran off for a final fling in Paris upon getting a lung cancer diagnosis. She had such a great time, and she returned with huge credit card bills after 3 weeks because she thought she would die and get to blow off her debts. When she went to start her treatment, they discovered her tumor was gone. She claims that shopping in Paris and eating French cheese cured her. Now, I am not drawn to eating cheese, in fact I have developed an aversion to animal fat, but I get that the method is not always the cure. I have treated patients with cancer who have done every combination and permutation of chemo, surgery, radiation, diets, vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies, photon devices, infra-red saunas, Peruvian shamans, John of God, psychic healers, chi gung, acupuncture, hands-on healing, prayer, meditation, with and without bad new-age music, and it is clear to me that there is no right treatment approach except the one that is resonant with each of us.

I'm looking forward to some spacious, resonant time to drop down to a lower frequency and get a better sense of what I need. Please don't call or email over this coming weekend. We are celebrating Thanksgiving early, on Saturday and Sunday, and I want it to be spacious and without so many distractions.

Aside from the severe pain in my chest, the rest of me feels great. I have good energy and my emotions are like the weather, constantly changing and passing through. I'll be back at Henfling's on Rt 9 in Ben Lomond tonight (Wed 11-18) from 9-10 pm to hear Luke's band play again. You have to be 21 to get in, even though the band is 15! 

George Carlin once said,
"I'm in the moment, on the edge,
over the top, but under the radar."

I need to slow down; we all need to.  Join me in the commitment to do so starting right now. Do 3 things today to slow yourself down and attend to your breath, even if you only do them for a moment while in the bathroom. The intent and the breath will move that slower wave through you and everyone and everything around you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If You Want To Offer Help, Buy My Book

I have been receiving such an overwhelming outpouring of heartfelt wishes, gifts, and other offers of help. I am incredibly grateful for your sentiments... and there are only so many rides, dinners, and "things" that I need right now.

One thing you can do to help support me right now is buy my book. You could actually buy 10 copies and give them to all your friends and loved ones. They make great stocking stuffers, if you have large stockings. If you live locally, wait until after Dec 1st and stop by the office to buy it/them directly from me. (This would be the most helpful way to buy it.) If you can't wait, buy it anywhere you can - your local bookstore, amazon. Click here or on the picture of my book on the right-side column if you want to buy books now.

Please excuse the lack of a substantial update. I am exhausted from running around to appointments and tests. I am swamped with phone calls, emails, with forms to fill out, and with working on documenting my disability application. I have barely had a day where I can lie down and pull the covers over my head for a while in the daytime. I reached an emotional low point yesterday, but unfortunately I was driving home from Stanford and had to be somewhere for another appointment in 30 minutes. My will power can only propel me so much longer. Thank goodness it is Saturday and I get to stay home with my guys.

A lot of new information (breast MRI formal report, pathology report on biopsy showing hormonal markers, etc) is coming together and by Monday morning I should have a treatment plan.

I will have the "Continuum Experiment" ready for all of you sometime this weekend. This is the one thing I have been able to "do" in the midst of all the other diagnostic madness. I lie in bed, breathe, sound, and move. In a few days I will post a version here for all of you who have limited or no experience with Continuum Movement, and I will be emailing the 70-some-odd Continuum Teachers worldwide with more detailed instructions.

In the meantime, read Chapter 2, "The Dynamics of Attention" as a companion to this video clip. Here is something to make you ponder the quality of the field of your attention and the effect that has on your life:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Am Not A Number, I Am A Free (Wo)man

Yesterday was filled with paradoxical news and occurrences. A paradox is a situation in which there are 2 statements or propositions that seem self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth.

The bad news: My sternum biopsy shows adenocarcinoma of the breast.
The good news: It seems to be a kind that is relatively easy to treat (it's hormone sensitive - but more tests are pending).

The bad news: I have to have chemotherapy.
The good news: It will probably be the type of chemo that is aimed at inhibiting estrogen, rather than the more traditional, "kill it, and everything along with it" approach.

The bad news: Breast cancer has spread to my bones.
The good news: All my tests show no spread anywhere else, and no enlarged lymph nodes.

The bad news: It is quite rare to have cancer that has already spread with a "normal" mammogram and breast ultrasound, like I have.
The good news: My brother says I will be "like catnip" for Stanford. Doctors love to be faced with something they don't see often.

The bad news: I am going to have to leave Santa Cruz County to have specialists evaluate and offer treatment options.
The good news: Stanford is only 75 minutes away, and there's an Andy Goldsworthy sculpture at the Cantor Art Museum on Stanford's campus. (Check it out:

The bad news: A tremendous number of curious doctors are poking and prodding and examining me.
The good news: I don't have any tattoos that I am ashamed of.

The bad news: I spent the day running between doctors' offices and labs.
The good news: I spent the evening at Henflings, where my 15-yr old step son played his first gig with his band. They were incredible! What a night of mixed emotions!

I have to resist the temptation to run home and search for what is called "The 5-year survival" rates for different cancers, because, "I am not a number, I am a free (wo)man." (If you recognize this quote, look for a new remake of The Prisoner. You can read about it:

Most people misunderstand statistics and take them personally. A rare disease is not rare to the person who has it. A good or a bad prognosis does not exist in a vacuum. We are free to make choices about an infinite variety of things that can influence the quality of our lives. I am doing my best to make the statistics irrelevant.

"Be seeing you."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cause, Effect, And Coherence

My biopsy results are not back yet. I don't know if the lab is busy or if my biopsy was sent out to another lab for a second opinion. Hopefully, I will get a result today, or get an explanation of why a result is yet to come. Labs don't like to send a result if they aren't sure, so I have to trust that the little piece of me that they are examining is being seriously considered and scrutinized before informing me of something so important. Another lesson in patience! How many reminders do we all need to just breathe and meet the moment?

There are certain "local" situations in the aspect of the world that can be viewed "mechanically" in which the idea of cause and effect is useful and workable. If I eat too many calories and don't exercise I will gain weight. If I don't put gas in my car it won't run. I can attribute a cause to these dysfunctions and with an understanding of the effect, I can respond and adapt.

But most areas in our lives have so many variables we cannot know all the things we would need to know to draw an accurate conclusion. Even if we can know the influences, there may be too many to track at one time. We tend to oversimplify and want to attribute a cause to things, so we can have the illusion of controlling the effect.

I remember a popular road sign from my childhood, "Speed Kills." I think it was meant as a public safety reminder. If people would drive not exceeding the speed limit, the road would be safer, and the accidents that happen would tend to be less lethal.

I have come to believe this road sign also applies to the pace of our lives. In my lifetime, speed and efficiency have come to be equated with each other. Faster cars, faster computers, fast food, instant results guaranteed! You wouldn't be reading this without my high-speed internet connection. But speed is unknown to biological systems. If we are to partake in non-biological speeds, we need time to rest, recover, and re-synchronize with the slowness of our biological coherence.

I can feel the way I have "braced" myself to live in this world, to strap myself into a metal box and go 65 miles per hour, to adhere to a schedule, to fly to Europe and teach a class for 4 days and fly home, to fetch wood, carry water, and check my email. It's not normal for us to maintain this fast a pace without more rest. Humans are the only mammals that don't regularly nap!

All of this bracing to push on with life leads to aspects of ourselves becoming "incoherent." It's as if the body is an orchestra, and one musician starts playing cacophonous jazz, oblivious to the effect on the symphony. The conductor and the other musicians can try to stop this incoherent rebel, but if they can't, they might just put a box around him to muffle his noise and protect the music. I feel like this is what my body has done. Part of me has gone out of control and has been walled off with hopes for survival. Now I have to see if there's a way to invite the incoherent musician back and join the harmonious whole, or get it to leave.

Some of what I will choose in the next few weeks will be based on information that is in that realm of cause and effect. Some of what I do will be my best attempt to slow down and create an environment for health. "Breathe and meet the moment" continues to be my best strategy for recognizing when and how I can respond and have an impact on my situation, and when I have to accept, adapt, and let go.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Like Being Pregnant and Nesting

I made a seriously conscious choice in my 20s to not have children. It didn't seem like I was meant to play that role in my life. I have never doubted or regretted this decision, and now I feel particularly assured that this has been a good choice.

I have 2 step-sons, ages 15 and 17. I was 16 when I found out my mother had cancer. I was standing at a pay phone outside my college dorm, and I felt the world drop out from under my feet. I had worked so hard to get into college as an early admission student. I couldn't wait to be out in the world on my own, and 3 weeks after I got there, I was cut loose and set adrift into the world with the knowledge that I was more on my own than I ever imagined. I am glad to be home with my step-sons and have them witnessing me enter this phase of life. I can assure them that the world is not "dropping" anywhere, and that they are not "on their own." I can teach them something about connection, adaptation, and coping with the unexpected.

Steve loves to tease me about the "theoretical daughter" we would have, had I gotten pregnant when we first got together. He calls her "Rose", and she would be 12 if she had been born. Until today I have always tolerated his teasing, but secretly wished he would stop. Last night I dreamed that Rose called me from a pay phone. As soon as I answered the phone, she was gone. Now I am wondering where she is and how she is doing.

I've never had the opportunity to feel the "nesting instinct" that my pregnant friends and patients have described to me, but since last Thursday, much of my energy has gone into wildly cleaning, organizing, and fixing up my home to be more comfortable for the times coming soon when I begin the ordeal of treatment. I think this must be the closest thing I'll ever feel to being pregnant and nesting.

Steve and his boys, my friends, family, colleagues, and all of you reading this blog have been so helpful in providing me with an urge to express my creativity and an outlet for connection... and so has Rose.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Continuum Enthusiasts, Stayed Tuned For A Dive Experiment From Bonnie and Emilie

Emilie Conrad and I have been doing our own "experiment" and want to share it with all of you who are Continuum Movement practitioners. Please give us a few days and we will be outlining a dive that we can all do together to share the potent coherent field of health.

"Being confronted with the impossible makes us ask unexpected questions."
Emilie Conrad

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Used To Think I Never Made Mistakes, But I Was Mistaken, And Thanks To Lou Reed

Please don't hesitate to report typos or nonsense sentences. I do a lot of my writing in the wee small hours of the morning when my creativity is high, but my editing capabilities quite low. I have corrected many of the errors in the previous entries. It appeals to my sense of order.

My friend, also named Bonnie sent me a fabulous quote from Lou Reed, one of my all time rock-and-roll favorites, "Life is like Sanskrit read to a pony."  Doesn't that concept just make your brain quiver? I love it.

For all you Woodstockers reading this, I think it was about 1989 after the fiasco with the beloved Galen B working as our office manager (pre-Cheryl). She did a comedy show the night after Carol and I fired her that included a piece about working for us and being driven crazy by the new age music in the waiting room. Shortly thereafter, I was at Sunflower Natural Foods shopping and I Ieft the cassette tape cover of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll Animal" sitting on my front seat. A patient (who had no respect for boundaries) peeped in my car out of curiosity and saw it. The following week I got several strange comments from people who were "shocked" that I didn't float around town listening to tranquil new agey musak all the time. Get over it! I listen to everything.

The Whole Enchilada, The Whole Megilla, Or Whatever You Want To Call The Whole Story

(This is a big entry. They will generally be much shorter, so please don't feel overwhelmed like I do with my growing stack of unread New Yorkers. My fellow New Yorker readers know exactly what I mean.)

Many of you are curious about the details of what has presented itself to me, so here is a summary of how things have unfolded:

On August 14th, 2009 I came home from work feeling particularly hunched over. Steve and I were going out to see Julie and Julia (one of the most delightful films ever made) and I wanted to spend the few spare minutes I had moving, stretching, and arching backwards. This is something I do many times a day and is part of every longer "workout" I do, but this time I thought I had done too much without a sufficient warm-up. Part way through the film my chest began to ache. I assumed I had strained a rib or a pectoral muscle, but I was mistaken. It was just a coincidence that it began to hurt that evening.

The pain has gotten increasingly worse, and I can no longer work, or even lift my favorite mug when it's full. I apologize to all of you who asked how I was doing during these past 12 weeks, because I lied. Every few days my ache got worse, and eventually morphed into a constant searing pain that wrapped around to my upper back, creating that feeling of a burning spear embedded between my shoulder blades. After 9 weeks of doing everything I know how to do, taking every herbal and natural remedy, having Steve treat me, going for acupuncture, I began needing anti-inflammatories to get through my day. I crossed the line between positive thinking (oh, it will go away soon) and denial. I knew it was time for a work-up.

In the past 2 weeks I have had almoat every medical test you can think of. The good news is that they haven't found anything; the bad news is that they haven't found anything. That's why I agreed to have my sternal tumor biopsied. Next week there will be a result, and I have a few more tests you couldn't think of because you have probably never heard of them.

There is an answer, we just don't know it yet. I can live in the mystery and dive deeply into what this means about life, as long as I don't have to show up at work, pretend everything is okay, and take care of others. I need to stay home (yes, we canceled our European teaching trip) and focus on caring for myself. After 23 years in practice without more than 2 weeks off at a time, I think I have some "sick days" coming.

My friends, family, and all of you who have so graciously offered support have been incredibly generous and helpful. I've had dinner delivered after a day of CT scanning, lots of jokes and cartoons emailed, a variety of other lovely comfort items, and an emergency pick-up ride from Dominican after my biopsy yesterday, so that Steve could finish working and know I was being cared for while he finished seeing patients.

Many of you have asked for my permission for you to say prayers on my behalf, or observe some ritual that is part of your faith or spiritual path. To me, all religions and spiritual paths are "containers" for same thing. I generally welcome any thought, prayer, or ritual, as long as it doesn't involve animal or human sacrifice!

Many of you have thanked me for my sense of humor about all of this, and marveled at my ability to joke about anything right now. I experience my emotions like weather; they can at any point in time be judged as "good" or "bad." They keep changing. One minute I'm sad and frightened, the next I'm excited about getting to stay home and write another book. My friend Carole calls this "the life force coming through, and being stronger than the disease."

I am neither positive or negative about my future. I am not helped by imagery of "putting up a good fight" or "beating the odds." I don't expect life to be fair; it isn't. Just because I give a lot of love and caring doesn't guarantee I'll have a cure in return. There is no cosmic score keeping. All I can do is meet the moment and do the best that I can to care for myself. I certainly have the tools and resources and support. One moment I am crying and the next moment brings laughter. Crying too hard hurts my sternum (as does burping, sneezing, coughing, and clearing my throat) so I have to cry without too much chest heaving.

I haven't gotten angry (yet,) but anger is not my most easily accessed emotion. I don't have to like what's happening to accept it and find a way to adapt my life. I don't blame myself. I believe we all breathe the same polluted air (though less of it here in Santa Cruz,) drink the same tainted water, get exposed to pesticides, plastics, and a variety of other carcinogens. For some unknown reason, I have not been able to process whatever caused my system to become "incoherent" and allow this to grow out of control.

My mother died of ovarian cancer at 53, the same age I am now. Hmm... Her mother died of pancreatic cancer. Her father died of colon cancer. Her sister died at 47 of lung cancer. My mother's sister's daughter (my cousin) died of breast cancer at 32. My father's father died of breast cancer. One of my father's sisters died of breast cancer. I am caught in some ancestral glitch, but I believe we can break the patterns we carry from our biological families, even if they are measurable on genetic testing. We all carry genes that can either remain dormant and never express their cancer-causing potential, or they can get activated. If there's an "on/off" switch I'll find it!

If there is a moral to the story told in Julie and Julia, it had something to do with love and the profound dedication to the expression of what brings pleasure in life. Julia Child and her husband Paul both lived into their 90s, regardless of how much butter they ate. My life has similar ingredients: more olive oil than butter, but plenty of love, happiness,  gratitude, and multiple outlets for creative expression. I hope I get a chance to live as long as the Childs to express it all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Biopsy Was A Piece Of Cake

I am home from my sternum biopsy. It went really well. I am surprised about how easy it was and how little discomfort I feel. It was done with a needle about the size of a piece of spaghetti and the doctor guided it by CT scan to make sure he was in the right place.

I was sitting up in the recovery room at Dominican Hospital reading the weekend arts section of the Friday New York Times, one of my favorite sections of the entire week's paper. I brought just the arts section (no news, please) because it has lots of pictures, and I was concerned I might not be focusing my eyes well after anesthesia. One of the nurses questioned me because it looked like I didn't belong there. I explained that I had just had a biopsy and except for that I would be having a very nice morning. The only thing missing was a latte. I said it (half) jokingly, but she went out and got me one! I am most definitely not having a chopped steak moment today.

I should have a result by Monday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Having A "Chopped Steak Moment"

Everything in my life boils down to 2 types of experiences; either I am consciously engaged with the connected oneness of the universe (see the story on page 11 of my book about my experience of cutting my finger on the beach when I was 6 years old) or I am having a "chopped steak moment."

I learned how to read when I was 5 years old. I felt so grown up when I went out to a restaurant with my parents because I could order from the menu. One Sunday when we went out to dinner at Corky's, a Miami Beach cross between a diner and a Jewish deli, I ordered the chopped steak. My reading skills far surpassed my ability to wield a steak knife. I thought I was being clever, discovering an item on the menu that I didn't have to cut myself. I expected to be served a steak chopped up in little pieces, but what the waiter placed in front of me was a large oval hamburger smothered in brown mushroom gravy. I sat at the table crying inconsolably, and muttering, "this isn't what I expected."

Here I am 48 years later, having been diagnosed last week with 1 tumor in my sternum and another in a rib. I am definitely having a "chopped steak moment."

I had hoped to post a more thorough summary of what's going on with me tonight, but I unexpectedly got an appointment tomorrow at 7 am for a bone biopsy. I will let you all know more about what's going on as soon as I know. In the meantime, everything but my chest feels great. So far all my blood tests, x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies haven't shown us what it is or where it comes from. This is good news, but the bad news is that we don't know. We'll know a lot more after tomorrow.

Take good care of yourselves (really think about what that means and do something about it), and I'll be in touch.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Journey & Exploration Begins

Dear friends, family, colleagues, and other well-wishers,

Please check back later in the week for my first entry.

be well,