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 30, 2018

Still (just) in time to wish you a Happy New Year!

May 2018 be filled with love, good health, ample laughter and abundant happiness – and also all the resilience, patience, and kindness you need as the year unfolds with its unknown share of surprises and challenges. Win...

February 26, 2017

A weekend of rain one day and cold, brilliant sun the next; of snow washing away one day and glistening the next. Heralding the (soon to be) end of winter. [1] Symbolic of our good, forward-looking week.

On Thursday, I saw my radio-oncologist for my post-radiation check...

January 31, 2017

[Guest post] We received the following note from a dear friend when I finished radiation. She sums up the dual nature of our year.

Dear Angie and Brettel,

Each one of you, individually and together, have completed a journey that, at the beginning a year ago, especially a...

January 29, 2017

Radiation treatments have come (December 15th) and gone (January 23rd). At the outset of each of my 25 sessions, I’d spoken a mantra welcoming the beams into my body and inviting them to clean up any lingering or potentially persnickety cells. On the final day of radia...

December 14, 2016

My oblique subject line isn’t some obscure text code, but rather a summary of the themes of the last 6 weeks: sun, sea, sand and

saga together with rest, recovery, rehabilitation and, yes, pending radiation).

Another “s” might be snow – given that it is currently coming...

November 3, 2016

Today we had my post-op examination with the surgeon. Surgery was five weeks ago.

First, incision and range of motion: all good. Residual swelling will go down in due course. Rx: continued physio exercise; swimming now okay again. Golf a required part of ongoing rehabil...

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 2, 2016

Several days on the other side of my surgery. My first observation on it all is that surgery is certainly quicker than chemotherapy! I’m also feeling a tremendous sense of relief to have it done.

I’m pleased to let you know that I’m doing well. Buoyed by goodwill and go...

September 30, 2016

Brettel is home and her surgery went very well! She is such a trooper, just amazing. After an early arrival (6:45 am at the hospital, and after being bumped for a bit from her 8:15 OR spot) she was finally given a 'nerve block' then went under a full general anesthetic...

September 19, 2016

Just a short update to let you know that my surgery has been rescheduled to September 29th – bumped from this coming Tuesday (September 20th) by ‘a more urgent case’.

I admit to mixed feelings about this change. I’m glad my surgery isn’t considered urgent, yet a bit mif...

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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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