November 24, 2006

10 things I am thankful for

In no particular order --

1) Waking up each day alive, alert and able
2) Kisses from my husband
3) A daily dose of Vitamin CH (chocolate!)
4) A warm dog snoozing at my feet
5) Afternoon naps
6) Taking tea with a good friend
7) Walking in the sunshine (or in the rain, or on the beach... walking is vastly under-rated until you can't do it)
8) Lifting my voice in song
9) Reaching people around the world with the push of a button
10) Being in a room full of family and friends

Hope your Thanksgiving day was filled with good food, good cheer, and good friends!

November 15, 2006

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my 47th birthday. After my cancer came back, I wasn’t sure I’d get to celebrate too many more birthdays, so each one is more precious than turning 16, 18, or 21, or any other, more usual, milestone dates.

I try to celebrate with family and friends as often as possible. Birthdays are one more opportunity to open a bottle of bubbly, eat some vitamin CH (chocolate) and get together with one another. Sometimes the reason to celebrate is just because it’s Wednesday. Or because the sun is shining. When you’ve got cancer, you find the golden moment whenever it takes place.

I found a translation of the prayer I recite each morning upon arising:
“I am grateful to You, living, enduring Sovereign,
for restoring my soul to me in compassion.
You are faithful beyond measure.”

Each day is something of a miracle. Unlike many women, I look forward to being able to say I’m a day or a year older.

I’m really looking forward (in a couple of years) to turning 50!

November 05, 2006

Out and About

I am typing this from a remote location in New Jersey. Ain't technology wonderful!

I received a scholarship from Living Beyond Breast Cancer to attend their one-day conference on "Moving Toward Wellness: Body, Mind and Soul." They very generously made it possible for me to cross the country to learn more about a timely topic. After all, when one has advanced cancer, trying to live in a framework of wellness can be difficult, if not (on occasion) impossible.

The keynote speaker described some great tools for seeking wellness. Validation, communication, dealing with PWACs (people without a clue -- do you know any?), crisis intervention, and of course the mind-body connection.

I also attended a worksahop on latest medical and complementary approaches for advanced breast cacner, where I learned about two new treatments. SUTENT (SU 11248) has been approved to treat advanced kidney cancer and like so many other chemotherapies, may have good effect on metastatic breast cancer. The other is Avemar, made in Hungary and marketed in the USA under the name Ave. It's made from fermented wheat germ extract and has been studied on oral and colon cancer, but again, it may be also appropriate for breast cancer. These drugs were mentioned by a medical oncologist and the director of a center of integrative medicine. The best of both worlds -- physicians who are open to all possibilities.

The keynote speaker also closed the seminar with some words on fear. Fear of recurrence (well, I guess I got over that one!), fear of dying and death, mortality, vulnerability, and spirituality.

She offered a great tool, one I had not considered before -- writing your own prayer, in words that speak to you, to read aloud every day when you wake up, before you even get out of bed to use the toilet. The sample prayer she shared was simply put, evoked great emotion, and was written by a patient who'd never done any writing before. I will give this one some thought and see what I can come up with.

While back east I am also visiting my family for a couple of days. We have been talking, eating, and generally enjoying each other's company. My dad's mobility continues to improve, and of course since he's been off chemo for several months, he now has a full head of hair again. Mom looks great and is enjoying her work every Sunday at the synagogue. In short, this has been a great trip!