Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Here are some thoughts and facts about my recent days. 

1. Today I finally started radiation. 

Four weeks of radiation five days a week.  It's going to be a challenge, and I might go a bit cuckoo, but I have started. 

2. I sometimes feel guilty.  

It's been a long time since I have written.  I think that I have felt stuck with my thoughts about all of this.  I have been feeling goodish, and so it felt strange to talk about being sick with cancer, because I wasn't sick.  That caused a strange feeling of guilt. I know so many others who are sicker, with more complicated situations, and who am I to complain, and so on and so forth.  

I have been reaching out to some lovely women who have gone through this, and they assure me that any stage of this disease is bad because it is cancer.  It is tough and it changes us.  And so enough with guilt. It doesn't help anyone. It just makes me paralyzed. 

3.  Soup helps.  

Two weeks ago I started a hormone blocker called Tamoxifen which blocks my estrogen.  I will be taking that for ten years.  It has many strange side effects and essentially I have been put into medical menopause - BUT - I can still get pregnant. NO FAIR!  Anyhow, as I have started feeling not so good, the one thing that helps is soup.  Simple, homemade soup. 

4. Radiation is strange. 

 I can't help think about all of the pop culture references to radiation and how it breeds sea monsters, two headed goats and other such creatures.  I also know what real radiation has done to large groups of people in Hiroshima and Chernobyl.  Horrible.  I now have to flip that thought around and make it my friend.  Weird.  Still trying to figure this one out. 

5.  Enough is enough. 

When I met with a therapist, she couldn't believe how much trauma I have been through in the past 6  years.  2 miscarriages, a dad with cancer, a baby in hospital with very serious ailments (max is much better and has a very good belly scar) , a car accident, death of my father and NOW this diagnosis of breast cancer.  Come on, world.  I am a nice person.  After this is all done,  please take a hiatus of crappy happenings for me, okay?  At least one year of greatness with no big crappy traumatic thing. I am only so strong. 

6. People really are kind and generous

I did a GoFundMe campaign over here https://www.gofundme.com/LisaPNBreastCancer.  Thanks to the great help of my friend Lori Yates (also an amazing musician!) who urged me to put it up. I was iffy about doing it, but it has really helped me and my little family feel some relief as we move through this time of treatment and healing.  People who I have known forever donated, and people who I have not seen for years, next to total strangers.  Yeesh.  My heart is full.  

7.  Sometimes cat videos will make you smile. 

There is nothing more to this.  Just that the little things matter. 

8.  Little people make everything better. 

Here is the evidence.  Me and my son Max.  My heart grows ten times bigger every time I see it. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Art Makes Me Stronger

On Friday night I found myself at the Workers Arts and Heritage Center for a concert.  The band was Sandcatchers which was described as "Jewish tradition & Maqam on the Appalachian Trail."  I wasn't sure what to expect, but i knew that it would be good, because everything that Zula presents, a local music organization is of highest quality.  This night was exceptional.  

It was a beautiful warm night, and the concert was in the backyard of the Center, which I had only ever seen through a window, never experienced. It was perfect.  The band, four lovelies musicians nestled under the trees playing such original, honest songs warmed my heart.  The audience consisted mostly of friends and my six year old son and husband.  As I sat listening, I would tilt my head back just so slightly and look at the stars.  It was rather magical indeed.  As Max started to get antsy we went behind the chairs and danced barefoot in the grass.  If felt so good to just move.  Since my surgery in July, I haven't been able to dance the way I used to, as it would cause discomfort and pain.  But on Friday night, with that music, surrounded by those people I was able to dance.  I wasn't jumping up and down, but I moved my body in it's new way and that made me so very happy. 

I have been off of work for two months now, and on Tuesday I will go back to the bookstore and I am getting ready for a craft show in September.  I am healed from the surgery and I am waiting to find out the dates for my treatments which will most probably start in October.  I am trying to get healthy and strong before the treatment knocks the wind out of me.  I am doing the usual things of eating healthier foods, doing more exercise, sleeping well and surrounding myself with positivity and love.  

The other thing I am doing is I am taking in a lot of art.  Be it this concert, or watching films, seeing dance, or reading books, I am letting myself make art a priority and be part of my healing.  Art does something nothing else does.  It relaxes me, it makes me feel and it transcends the daily grind.  It takes me away from my thoughts of sickness and cancer.  It makes me forget about chemotherapy and tamoxifen and radiation and all that. It makes me feel alive. 

Truth be told that making art has become a struggle since I was diagnosed, but I am still showing up at the table and trying to make.  Fingers crossed it will all work out, but in the meantime, I look forward to a few weeks of music, film,  theatre, dance and visual art to give me some strength to go into this unknown, scary time of treatment.