A Breast Cancer Year

In February 2016 I was diagnosed with locally advanced stage II breast cancer. As we gathered ourselves to meet that challenge, my spouse fell on an icy driveway, shattering her shoulder. She required major surgery on the same day as I began chemotherapy. Together - two abreast - we navigated a year of treatment and recovery. This blog collects my writing through our experience. As of June 2020, we are both recovered and thriving - grateful for each new day and the people and resources in our lives.  

Over the months of treatment, I have been writing regular emails to our extended community of friends, family and colleagues. These are collected in The Letters. I have also been writing about meeting and managing various breast cancer treatments. These reflections on treatment and my tactics/tips are gathered in On Treatment. In the Sustenance section, I share ideas for care of the self and soul, and give examples of how our community of friends, family and colleagues surrounded us in their care. I also include some Resources. The Index page lists all of the blog postings and provides an additional way of navigating the blog. To learn more about who we are, go to About Us.

"What a staggering tangle of self and mutual care the two of you have been through and come through."

"What a wonderful writer you are - sassy, funny, pragmatic, indomitable, ‎and wise."

"You are a most faithful and a most informative correspondent."

January 22, 2017

The title is daunting, but the zest to live fully and with wonder is inspiring:

Poem: When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver

Read at http://amity.nfshost.com/files/deathcomes.pdf 

Hear Mary Oliver read at: http://www.ttbook.org/series/death/when-death-comes-mary-oliver

Source: M...

October 11, 2016

[A letter to a mentor, Sr Pauline O'Regan, in New Zealand] 

I was reading over the weekend about ‘unlocking meaning in life’. The key elements it seems are 1) belonging; 2) purpose; 3) storytelling; and 4) transcendence or a sense of awe. On storytelling, a profess...

October 9, 2016

At the ending of the day,

in the darkness of the night

I seek an inner assurance of your presence.

My body is still

and my soul is silent

as I listen for the renewing springs of your Spirit

deep within the ground of my being

and in earth’s quietness around me.

Guide me to the...

October 8, 2016

In the gift of this new day

In the gift of this present moment

In the gift of time and eternity intertwined

Let me be thankful

Let me be attentive

Let me be open to what has never happened before

In the gift of this new day

In the gift of this present moment

In the gift of tim...

July 31, 2016

This poem calls us to the present; to savouring life.

The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

...I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass...

Read at: https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

Hear Mary Oliver read this won...

June 20, 2016

God help us
To rise up from our struggle.
Like a tree rises up from the soil
Our roots reaching down to our trouble,
Our rich, dark dirt of existence.
Finding nourishment deeply
And holding us firmly.
Always connected.
Growing upwards and into the sun.

M. Leunig, The Pr...

May 9, 2016

God help us to live slowly:
To move simply:
To look softly:
To allow emptiness:
To let the heart create for us.

M. Leunig, The Prayer Tree (Sydney: Dove/Harper Collins, 1998)

Source: http://www.leunig.com.au/works/prayers

March 11, 2016

Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate.

Go through the gate and head straight out towards the horizon.

Keep going towards the horizon.

Sit down and have a rest every now and again,

But keep on going, just keep on with it.

Keep on going as far as you can.


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About Us

On January 22, 2016 I went for a mammogram, to confirm that a lump in my right breast was a cyst. It was. And it saved my life. Because I was overdue for my breast screening, imaging was also done on my left breast  The mammogram and ultrasound came back “highly suspicious” for breast cancer...

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