I had a dream and it woke me up early this morning. I was sitting in a room without windows but there were somehow shadows. The shadows were getting longer. And then I woke up.
Analogies have been percolating for me all day on this dream. Since diagnosis, I’ve been walking around, keeping me head up. But there is a general shadow, or pall, in my day to day. There are times that I briefly forget though—shiny glittery moments where I can deeply laugh, get engaged in solving a problem at work, or do simple things like shave my legs (Mike is thinking, “yeah, right. When’s the last time you shaved your legs???” Maybe I just Eureka-ed the only beneficial side effect of chemo here!). But, cancer is sneaky, lurking in the shadows and bringing me back to reality. It has really long shadows some days.
So here’s to acknowledging that there are shadows. And there will be shadows.
But, today is a beautiful sunny day and I’m thankful to be here.
Now with the heavy stuff out of the way….
Some of you have asked how you can be involved and support us both here and across the miles. Just knowing that you’re out there sending healing thoughts our way is enough. That you’re reading this, posting comments, and staying in touch in a variety of ways is even better.
For those who still want to do more, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. On one hand, by sharing ideas, I don’t want you to feel as though you have to do anything more. But on the other hand, I know the feeling of helplessness in times like this. Someone told me that I can give you a gift by being specific on what we or others might need.
Here are some ideas – again, no pressure. Take or leave.
Making a donation in my or any other breast cancer fighter’s honor. If you have money to burn, this might be for you. I’m lucky to have a support network, but there are some women who are not so fortunate. The Breast Cancer Emergency Fund and the Shanti Project are well-respected and highly effective organizations delivering support to low income women with breast cancer, so they have the ability to get the best care—care, broadly defined and including providing meals and covering utility bills for example—here in the Bay Area.
- Snail mail. Texting and email are all wonderful. But nothing beats a handwritten card. Mike jokes that I’m single-handedly keeping the USPS alive anyway, so join me in that if you want. You can find our address here in this very encrypted way to share it (safety first!).
- New music. Let’s use this opportunity to bring back the 8th grade, or college, or just last year for some of us, mix tape. I’m going to be spending a lot of hours in various 1970s-era sterile-looking chairs. New music or any music for that matter will be so helpful to keep me comfortable and distracted—reggae, hip hop, acoustic, indie, classical. The only thing I don’t do is super alternative or big hair bands. The latter is likely because my brother Nathan is such a huge fan of them.
- Book recommendations. Anything to keep my mind occupied is great. As any good taxpayer (and mostly because it’s a family trait, thanks, Mom), I use the public library, so recommendations are more than enough!
- Food, even across the miles. I went back and forth on this one because it feels the most indulgent of all these ideas. This business Square Meals has been recommended by several local cancer survivors for wholesome meals delivered, with the option of gift certificates to eliminate coordination. If you’re like both of my grandmothers, sometimes food is a cure-all and that’s all you know to do to make someone feel better (yes, I could so go for GG’s mashed potatoes and pork chops or Nana’s tortellini soup right now).
- And if you’re local, my amazing friends here are setting up an online scheduler for meals and sundry items like a walking partner or chemo company. I’ve compiled many of your email addresses if we’ve talked about this. If we haven’t, please email if you want to be part of the site.
Again, just because these are listed, please don’t feel the need to do any of them. Just that you’re reading this is enough, like I said.
A few closing thoughts for the day…before I got diagnosed, I had trips for fun and work booked to northern British Columbia, Dublin, Copenhagen, Greenland, Iceland, and upstate New York. I was supposed to be enjoying the Dublin pubs right now actually. While I’m a little nervous United Airlines is going to deep six my fancy-pants status, I’m more bummed to miss out on the fun, learning, and enrichment in being with friends and colleagues in these fantastic places. So for all those readers still heading to those destinations: safe travels, Sláinte, and/or farvel og sikkert. Enjoy the Guinness, get down the muktuk with water, and skip the hardfiskur. I’ll go in the future and do the same cancer free.
And go Irish! And congratulations to Liz and Brian on their beautiful baby boy, Elliott!!!!