Category: Cancer

Those who grieve can also smile

I’ve been thinking a lot about grief lately. From bombings and school shootings to the relentless beat of people around me dying, it is a season of loss. If grief were a color—somewhere between black and white—then I would be seeing the world in grayscale. We tend to be gapers at other people’s tragedies. We... Read more »

How could I forget you?

You say, “Don’t forget me.” It takes me by surprise. I suck in my breath and try to keep myself calm. The last thing you need is to comfort me. The truth is you don’t need anything. Your vision is tunneling so that you can only see your family, and they love you with ice... Read more »

The last ones standing: the price of life and love

Today, as I walk my dog through the neighborhood, I see the world through a lens of loss. The next door neighbor lost her husband about 9 months ago. The neighbor down the street lost her son a year ago December and then her husband the following January. It is only a bit below freezing... Read more »
Advertisement:

Let's take blood in the urine seriously

I love beets, but they have caused me some alarm over the past few years. When I eat them, I’m all in. I buy three or four, roast them and eat them for lunch and dinner, with goat cheese, in salads, just in their unadorned glory. After a day or so of eating my body... Read more »

Being a witness to one wild and precious life: in memory of Beth Caldwell

Being a witness to one wild and precious life: in memory of Beth Caldwell
My go to in times of grief is poetry. “Tell me,” Mary Oliver wrote, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” We get just this one life, this one here and now, this one body and this one mind. Sometimes what we planned to do with our lives... Read more »

Eight gifts for people with cancer

Eight gifts for people with cancer
People with cancer, whether they’re in treatment, in remission, or in limbo are different now than before their diagnosis, both psychologically and physically. Some folks talk about cancer as a one-year experience from diagnosis through treatment and into remission. It’s “one and done.” Those folks have been lucky. Many are not so lucky because they struggle... Read more »
Advertisement:

Being known helps to navigate the cancer experience

Being known helps to navigate the cancer experience
I wrote a few weeks ago about the words, “fellowship of knowing.” They resonate deeply with me, and so did the person who spoke them. Dawn Williams, LCSW, an oncology social worker with the DuPage Medical Group, was a keynote speaker at a cancer conference sponsored by the Cancer Support Center in September. The only... Read more »

Words work better in the fellowship of knowing

A friend of mine with Stage 4 cancer told me, near the end of her life, “I hate it when people call me courageous.” I’d never known anyone with cancer and to me she seemed courageous because she was living her life with purpose, refusing to let her diagnosis paralyze her. She was so authentically... Read more »

Living with cancer: financial toxicity and the cost of treatment

Living with cancer: financial toxicity and the cost of treatment
Another bill from a radiologist came in the mail today. My state of Illinois insurance is just now getting around to paying bills from 2015, and the clinics are going to keep sending me bills until the State catches up. Still, they always take my breath away. I wonder how people without insurance cope. The... Read more »
Advertisement:

How you can avoid medical errors

How you can avoid medical errors
Johns Hopkins estimates that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. My mom died as a result of a “laparoscopic cholecystectomy.” Removing the gall bladder before 1988 required a large incision, a multiple day hospital stay, and a six-week recovery. The scope form of the surgery, introduced in 1988, was... Read more »