Friday, August 21, 2015

Do You Know Rebecca Rinquist?

Amazing discovery: Rebecca Rinquist, embroiderer extraordinaire. Such visions and delights: Check out these pictures from her book. Oh, can I learn this?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Satisfy My Soul

I wonder what other people eat when no one's around, when they're not blogging about it at some fancy restaurant, or touting how well their diet is going. Just normal food. What's your go-to, or your late-night glory, or misery? People often ask what I eat; and mostly they assume I'm still on the wagon when it comes to butter, dairy, bacon meat, coffee, all the "bad" stuff I'd sworn off at a time. All of that has changed, my friends. I eat everything.

I try not to be exclusionary anyway. There was a time when I became almost unhealthy about the precise thing that I was trying to be most healthy about: food. Me, of all people, unhealthy about food. From bacon blog to green juice overnight. I gave it up, just like that. I needed to then. It made sense. And then I got a bit obsessed, guilt-ridden, almost afraid of eating certain things, that this gummy worm could potentially spark some cancer apocalypse in my body. And, I ain't gonna lie, I still have those thoughts when I eat sugar specifically, and I rarely, if ever, eat the stuff. But that doesn't mean I can get all cuckoo about it, and I will sure as hell eat a chocolate bread pudding if the time is right. I needed to find that safe, healthy place, between my personal food history, which does include bacon, by the way, and food as a way of life, which for me, has to look a little healthier, and a lot cleaner.

To make things complicated, after my oophorectomy last fall, the immediacy of menopause that followed, and the cascade of hormonal changes had massive effects; I have underrated what this really does to our bodies in a complex way. Night sweats are only the beginning. In actuality, my palate literally changed overnight, and I lost my appetite until only just recently. My old standbys that I could always rely on to satiate me, satisfy my soul, the essence of comfort food, was lost. How incredibly sad. Had my tongue lost her magic? I had to find a way back to loving food.

I was losing weight, which was normal by all accounts in light of what my body had been through. But I'm already such a tiny little person. I felt frail, fragile, bony, and old. That soft place that was my body is so long gone. How can I learn to nurture this body with food and enjoy it at the same time?

Simple yet decadent, organic butter on toasted Italian bread.
I started with coffee, which felt luxurious, began pouring organic extra-virgin olive oil and slathering organic butter on most things. Found an amazing low-sugar without fake sugar strawberry jam. Indulged in delicious bakery breads. I went back to the cheese, back to the things I loved, and started eating again but with a big dose of consciousness. I still love a fresh green juice, beautiful ripe vegetables steal my heart, and I love bacon, too. And can't they live in harmony, the green and the brown and all the colors? Yes, yes, yes!

At the end of the day, our food intuition is as important as any kind. Trust yourself and listen to your body. If mine happens to tell me on a special day to eat steak and get drunk on wine, you better believe I'm gonna listen.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Friday, June 19, 2015

The Last Surgery and Minipause

I had an oophorectomy on September 22, the "last surgery" as it has loomed in my psyche for, like, ever. The surgery itself, not the date, and the date I struggled with. When it would be, when it would come, when it would be the right time, when it would feel right. And the problem was, it never felt right. There did come a time when it felt more right than not, but it was never really in the way I wanted or expected. It was difficult in an unexpected way. With my mastectomy, there was no decision; it's just what had to be, and then what was.

I put it off; I needed more information. I felt guilty for making some power play against God, stealing from the world, from Him, and me and our family, any chance of letting a life come to be by the will of God alone.

Was it right, the surgery I mean, morally? The philosophy of it was utterly ridiculous, insurmountable, for weeks. I finally was able to accept that this can be God's will, too. Science. The study of nature, the gift of what God created us to be and think, to heal one another, but this seemed so unnatural. All of it, really.

To have a baby in the midst of cancer has been an escape for me in a way. Knowing that's out of the equation, just me and my own life, and death, and the lives outside of me now. It's "what's next?," unknown and elusive, magnified.

I work in cancer science; I edit cancer science, and my job can feel so far removed from God. This keeps me up at night. The blessing and miracle of science, a "cure," ultimately. There are my girls to think about, always. My mom, my sister, my friends, people I've never met. There is that.

My surgery was nine months ago, and on the upside, my menopause has been a minipause. I have had hot flashes, and they're annoying but not nearly as crazy as they were when I was getting chemo. My skin, however, seems to have aged a bit overnight. I am having thoughts that I never thought could be, rhymes with "go fox" and "tasers." The thing I was most scared of was not wanting to get my freak on with my husband, but I do, want to anyway, so that's cool. And frankly, no one could really give me a good answer about that when I was asking before surgery. The docs need to get it together on that front. Is there really much difference in 40-year-olds and 60-year-olds when it comes to the flava of love? I kind of doubt it. The jury's out on that one, and it's a jury of 60-year-olds. Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, June 5, 2015

#FacetheFoliage by Justina Blakeney. 
I am in love with this woman, Justina Blakeney, her jungalow, and her gorgeous art made of leaves and flowers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Survivorship vs. Survivorshit

The shortlist of ailments, doctors, meds, and questions, lots without answers.
Survivorship is a weird word, like, if you die from cancer, which people do, lots of people (585,720 in 2014 alone, according to the American Cancer Society), then you're not a survivor, which feels kind of offensive to say about someone who maybe survived for a long time with cancer and died from cancer, and then it has this connotation that they were never a survivor at all. It's to describe those who've beat it, to honor those living with it, and that is commendable, cause let me tell ya, it ain't easy. There are lots of books, lots of "things" that celebrate cancer's aftermath: the amazing shifts in life that occur as a result of not dying from cancer, surviving it. That is so very true, I get that.

I feel blessed, and I also feel bad, guilty complaining about virtually anything after having cancer. Like, I'm alive, so be fucking grateful, end of story. I thank God every day for my body, for His healing, for doctors and nurses and science and medicine, for saving me, for saving my family, for waking up in the morning and realizing, once again over and over, that I am here. 

Most days, I have conversations with God. But, there is another conversation that isn't being had all that much. More so lately, and that's a wonderful thing because it means more people than ever before are surviving with cancer. But, there are consequences to that, and no one, not survivors and not doctors are sure exactly what to do with us. So there are studies, new research trials, scientific meetings, and voices rising up about this very thing, because survivors are saying help us know what to do next and doctors are saying we don't really know what to do next, "just enjoy life," they say. 

It can be hard to enjoy life the way we want to enjoy life when we know all too well that it can be taken away in an instant, and when you're racked with anxiety about recurrence, or numb fingers, weird electrical zapping in your feet at random times, a weak hand grip that makes it impossible to screw off the top of a baby bottle or to open a bottle of medicine or a bag of cheese, stabbing pains below radiated skin that come out of nowhere, a tender-to-the-touch bruise that never goes away, and if God can't take away my fear, then who can? When will it end? Will it ever end? This is the next chapter.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Sweet and Lowdown

This is tricky. I've been grappling with this. Writing again about this, putting my junk out there. But it's always the same reason that brings me back. I want people to know I'm alive, for one thing, that I'm struggling, for another, and also that it gets better, for everyone. Cancer, no cancer, just life.

You can come out of that dark place, and maybe you didn't know it was so dark until you walked into the light. But these are not your best days, I promise. Mostly though, we ALL can be a resource of some kind. This is what I prayed for: God, give me something real to pull to me up. Give me hope, real hope from real people that you've laid in my path with intention. Where are they? I need them. God, please bring them here, to me, to my heart. And they came, and now I think it's my turn, to give something good from all the good given to me.

So here's the lowdown. In March, I'll be four years cancer free, officially. That was when my post-chemo first surgery went down with good news on the other side. No more cancer in my body. And then, what comes next?

This is where the conversation begins, again. Till then, Hallelujah, Amen, and Chase the Sun with this little ditty.