thoughts on living with cancer


Midwest, USA
May 20
At the midpoint of the journey's life I found myself lost in a dark forest with no straight path I could see anywhere. M.L. Rosenthal's translation of Dante's La Commedia Divina Diagnosed with ovarian and bladder cancers, I received an entirely new subject for writing and a challenge to intensify the second half of my life.


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 24, 2012 9:46PM

After Chemo Ends


It was a lovely thing to wake up and know I was not facing chemo again—hopefully never, but at least not any time soon. The carboplatin was easier, but I was queasy the next morning.

My chemo nurse, Linda, and I considered crying when I left. I… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 2, 2012 9:41AM

Getting a B in Chemo


On April 19, 2007, facing my fourth round of chemo I wrote that I went to sleep, wearing one of the three new hats sent to me by a woman I’ve only spoken to on the phone. She’s the receptionist at the company I’m freelancing for, and she has/Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 22, 2012 6:13PM

Springtime in Chemo and Elsewhere


Round 4, 2007

            One of the hidden blessings of chemo is seeing old friends in new ways. Today Marie used part of a vacation day to take me to and from chemo. So far, she’s coordinated meals right after my surgery, come byRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 10, 2012 10:16PM

Saying It Out Loud


            When confronted with human suffering, on any scale, the impulse is to do something. I understand this—I have it myself. Right now, I’m feeling sick enough, however, that I don’t want helpful, doing folk arounRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
APRIL 2, 2012 10:38AM

My Albatross



I am the Ancient Mariner, and this is my blog.

Cancer is my albatross, and I will never be free of it. You might think that the albatross is my Stage III ovarian cancer, often called “deadly,” because five-year survival rates are statistically stuck at… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 22, 2012 8:44PM

Of Side Effects and Spring Hats


            We laugh in the chemo room—you mustn’t imagine us as always somber. We laugh at the nurses when they miss a vein or port. We tell funny stories of our lives before chemo. We laugh at the symptoms we have—annRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 14, 2012 8:16AM

Marching Through Chemo


            Just five years ago, I had cradle cap. At 55. Medically speaking, those itchy sores on my scalp were known as folliculitis—yet another new vocabulary word for my growing lexicon of cancer-related words. Nurses recommend… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 2, 2012 10:49AM

The Banality of Chemo


Well-behaved women, we sit in our recliners, betraying our discomfort only with the occasional grimace as needle pierces vein. We should all be keening in our chairs, moaning, not-so-silently screaming, but we act as if we are ladies being served high tea instead of lab rats being chemically… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 23, 2012 10:13PM

Don’t Scare the Newbie



            The first short Friday of chemo did not begin auspiciously. Linda, the chemo nurse that day, had trouble accessing my vein (each failure hurt) and another patient’s port. Finally another nurse put the needle int… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 13, 2012 7:35PM

My Funny Valentine


“Don’t change a hair for me

Not if you care for me

Stay little valentine stay

Each day is Valentine’s Day.”

Lorenz Hart, lyrics


            I had no plans for Valentine’s Day, 2007, wasn't awar… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 3, 2012 10:48AM

Maiden Voyage of the Space Ship Chemo


I always overpack for a trip, especially if I’m traveling by car. How should I know if I’ll want to wear the blue sweater or the olive jacket in a few days? Will I need a skirt? How about an umbrella? Shouldn’t there be some snacks, just in… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 27, 2012 10:31AM

Chemo makes your eyeballs swell

Chemo makes your eyeballs swell.

It sounds like a school yard taunt, but the man who told me so—in a much more adult fashion—was a doctor.


When I travel somewhere I’ve not been, I’m the one who gets Fodor’s guides and reads up on the place,… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 19, 2012 8:21PM

Put on a Happy Face

At the chemo information session I attended after the port was inserted, I was given a navy blue portfolio folder, its dual pockets stuffed with handy information, including several brochures about losing one’s hair and getting a wig. Three different local businesses offered me $10 off or a fre… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 2, 2012 11:00AM

My Month of Denial


I was taking my time to process the realities of cancer; three-week lags seemed to be about the right speed. That time span was required for an appointment with the gynecologic oncologist, to schedule surgery (because I refused to be in the hospital on Thanksgiving), and to get… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 2, 2011 10:16AM

Getting the Diagnosis

Five years ago this week, I woke up in recovery, afraid to slide my hand under the sheets. My recently acquired gynecologic oncologist had told me that if the large (4 x 4 x 6) mass on my left ovary were cancer, he would put in an abdominal port for chemotherapy… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 9, 2011 11:43AM

How to Spend a Day in Chemotherapy

 Just as every body is different and every body’s cancer is different, every doctor, hospital, and treatment plan is different. But this is the only way I know, based on IV/IP [intravenous/intraperitoneal] chemo for ovarian cancer in 2007. I had five rounds [of a projected six, but… Read full post »