My Third Eye: One Woman's Vision of the Great Mystery

Via the Paths of Creativity, Cancer, Folly & a Wild LOVE OF LIFE

Jane Underwood

Jane Underwood
San Francisco, California, USA
October 08
The Writing Salon
I'm a mother, writer, photographer (amateur), and owner of The Writing Salon, a school of creative writing for adults, in San Francisco. I'm also a woman living with breast cancer (since Aug. 2005), working to heal myself (and to understand just what that means, REALLY). Since I'm beginning this blog six years after my breast cancer journey began, the first post is a flashback to that fateful day. The rest of this blog will be, I suspect, a kaleidoscopic mix of past and present, as I refer to the first six years of living with breast cancer... but also focus on the present. And the present contains a whole lot more than just breast cancer. So be forewarned: I will frequently digress.


SEPTEMBER 23, 2011 1:26PM

Doctors, Doctors, Who's at the Doctor's?

Rate: 3 Flag

Doctors, doctors, who's at the doctor's? Or just back from the doctor's? Or about to leave for the doctor's? Or for the lab, to get more bloodwork. Or for the MRI or CAT scan room? You know (most likely, if you are my age or beyond). Medical stuff galore, medical stuff coming out your ears, sweeping you up up up and AWAAAAAAY.....! 

This has been my "New Normal" for several years now, much to my surprise, disbelief and resistance. I have somehow, bizarrely really, incorporated it into what I thought was an already way-to0-jam packed and confused life, much in the way that you incorporate your first newborn baby into your daily grind: You make the time. You never could have imagined being able to turn your life upside down this way, in order to make this whole new gigantic chunk of time for baby-tending, but by god you do it. You just do. You astound yourself by waving a magic wand you never knew you had, and pulling a whole new set of time management skills out of your hat. Abracadabra and voila! 

A beautiful angelic new baby can do that to a person. So can cancer. So can any chronic illness/disease. It knocks on the door one day, an overnight bag in hand, moves temporarily into your spare room and then oops, never leaves.

Anyway, yesterday I had another doctor's appointment. It went well. I learned about OGF: opioid growth factor. I learned about several other alternative cancer treatments that my super smart non-conventional doc wanted to discuss with me. I thought I had already compiled a long enough "alternative treatment modalities" to-do list, but he surprised me by adding a few new ones for me to mull over. So now I have to make even more room in my already-stuffed brain; I need a professional organizer to just move into my brain and live there full-time.

Today I have an appointment at the vet's, for Ms. Olivia Bouchet, dear dear terrier muttress extraordinaire. She has a bladder infection but, even worse, they felt a lump on her bladder the last time we were there (six days ago), and there's no way to know what the lump is without doing an ultrasound. They said it could just be a swelling due to the infection. Or a benign cyst or polyp. Or a malignant tumor. So today will be Ultrasound Day for Olivia Bouchet. I am doing my utmost to not freak out about it. I love her beyond anything my words can convey.

Sometimes (often, actually) when I feel this way (worried, rushing, overwhelmed, doctor-ridden) I turn to the solace of my relatively new (four years) photography hobby. It helps me banish the mental conundrums for a while, guides me into another realm of being -- a place of calm, creative focus that thrives without words and often even without thought. I like it there.

My Health/Cancer/Life Tip for Today: Find your place of calm. Go to it every day.

Garden Hose, Water, Tug Toy, Bliss

Ms. Olivia Bouchet

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Good health to you and Ms. Olivia! You're right--spending time at doctors' offices and hospitals and clinics just becomes part of the "new normal." I was blessed to have a doc who said, "We want to fit chemo into your life, not your life into chemo," and made it work.
I love your photos--evocative and mysterious!
It looks like Ms. Olivia Bouchet is as hungry for healing (or a respite from doctors) as you are! Gorgeous photos... great writing.
Hi, Jane,

I see you were diagnosed with breast cancer the same year as I was. It's a slippery slope.
Thanks for reading my post "Will It Never End?" As two survivors, we know it doesn't.

Sandy Powers
Beautiful photos Jane. So how's Ms. Olivia?
You are doing heroic work amidst all that overload and chaos.
Need any fowl models? We work cheap - cracked corn and the occasional handful of Purina Cat Chow. Really.