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."

October 31, 2016

One friend in a distant city has faithfully, every week during all my treatments and between times, sent me a different card. Inside she has written just a few lines about what she was doing that week or a thought or two. Nothing too long or deep. It was a highlight of...

October 17, 2016

Surgery is mostly about what comes after. However, there are a few tips to share about preparing for surgery: 1) If the surgeon will  

be taking lymph nodes, request a single incision for both breast surgery and accessing the lymph nodes; 2) request a nerve blockin...

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...

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...

September 15, 2016

My saying here is that 'I may have finished chemo, but chemo hadn't finished with me'. Over the six-months, various after effects and side effects began to catch up with me, even with my good preparation. I think it would be a rare person who escapes chemotherapy unsca...

September 10, 2016

Confronting mortality (and navigating a path to wellness) certainly provides an opportunity (spur) to think about the meaning of life and how to live it well.

We were blessed to receive (ecumenical) prayers and poems. Julian of Norwich and her encouragement, was often m...

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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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