Ask and you shall receive

Thank you for your belief that I can walk this path to healing. Your belief helps always, and especially when I am not quite sure even what I am doing.

On beautiful days, I feel so lucky to be able to get out and about. This weekend, Julian wanted to bike around Fresh Pond so Kenobi (our dog) and I joined him. I walked while Kenobi scampered here and there and Julian biked ahead of me.

We were part of the usual flow of folks running, biking and walking in both directions of the 2¼ mile loop. Some people were with their friends, their dogs, or both. Many were chatting together.

As I noticed the beauty of the calm water and the dense summer green trees against the blue sky, I thought of God and Jesus and said / prayed, “Things feel like they are headed in a good direction but sure would like to know that you are with me.”

Less than a minute later, with the question still fresh in my mind, I passed a woman walking alone. As I caught up to her, I heard her say, “He is with you. It can feel like you are suffering a long time. But God will be there longer than the suffering. He is with you always.”

I almost stopped in my tracks. It was like my question was answered immediately and literally. It even sounded like she was talking to me.

So, I turned to respond. She seemed to be about my age, with a relatively fit build and wavy grey shoulder-length hair. Her ear buds were in and connected to her cellphone, and she continued her conversation, oblivious to my presence. Obviously, those words were not intentionally directed at me.

Still, this felt like more than simple coincidence.

In my experience living in the Boston area, especially in Cambridge, I cannot remember overhearing someone talking so literally about God and life outside a church context. It just isn’t done in my world, much less in answer to a request that I just made in my heart (not even out loud!). So I filed that under happy amazement and took her words as a message for me, too.

In the meantime, Julian turned around and biked back to me. This is our usual pattern. We stop and chat for a few moments, then he bikes ahead again. The three of us (including Kenobi) repeat this pattern over and over for the duration of our walk.

Because of these stops, the woman passed me, then I passed her, then she passed me, etc. I continued to eavesdrop on her conversation when I could. Though it was interesting, no more comments felt specifically directed to me.

At one point, I wanted the chance to tell her that she was not only probably helping her friend, but helping me as well. However, I didn’t want to interrupt her conversation. Joking around in my head, I asked for an opportunity.

And then, sure enough, I received an opportunity. The very next time I passed her, she hung up from her call. I saw her pushing buttons on her iPhone so I interrupted her before she could dial again.

I told her how her words impacted me. She told me that she always feels like it is rude to talk on a cellphone at Fresh Pond and she gets annoyed when others do it, but her brother was having a hard time and this was the only time she had to talk with him. So perfect!

We talked a bit more, then I thanked her for being a messenger. As I walked ahead, a butterfly appeared next to me, danced beside me for quite a few steps, flew in front of me, and then gracefully went on its way.

I am continuously amazed by the power that surrounds us and that is within us, and how strong and expansive that power can be, and how we are all so connected, heart and soul, in ways that we cannot see. I am thrilled to be reminded of this, and grateful that these kinds of events occur in life. Not only are they fun, but they make it easy for me to believe in God.

Thank you for sharing your self and your love so generously. Thank you for being open and connected and letting God and higher powers work through you to help those you touch, both directly and indirectly.

I hope happy coincidences cross your path and that you see the butterflies dance.


Awe, wonder and life

During my doctor appointment on Friday, I described to him some of the wonderful, amazing things that I have been experiencing. I didn’t need him to agree, just listen.

Doctors like to help, and, meaning to be helpful, he brushed each one off with the best logical explanation he could offer. But his explanations were based on the way he sees the world. None of them sounded right or resonated with me and my view of life.

I decided to stop sharing stories with him. I knew that if I continued sharing, his point of view could pull me down and away from awe and wonder and life.

Still, I was affected by his point of view. Was I really seeing things clearly?

Then I saw this video today, a four-minute clip where Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. tells a story from her residency at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York, when she witnessed a patient with Osteogenic Sarcoma recover without a satisfactory medical explanation. It helped her to have new eyes, and watching this video restored my sight as well.

I am blessed to be sharing and living in this awe-some, wonder-filled world with you.


You get what you need

“It will be fine,” said my aunt.

“Everything is in Divine Order,” shared my friend, Al (quoting HIS aunt, Gloria).

Thank you for your prayers, positive thoughts and supportive messages.

I drove to Dana Farber this morning in a dark rain, the kind that feels like it will last all day.

The doctor said that the scans showed no new disease but some growth of the current “minimal disease.” My CEA (tumor marker) is at 170. My last CEA was something like 70; normal is 2.5 and below.

Basically, we are watching three tumors. The one between my liver and diaphragm is stable. Yay! The two in my pelvis – one on my right and one on my left – are showing growth.

After discussing several treatment options with respect to our summer vacation plans, we decided to schedule another scan followed by some chemo appointments for August. I could call if I changed my mind and wanted to start chemo right away.

By the time I finished my appointment, the rain stopped completely and the sun started to break through the clouds.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to go for a row with Lisa. When I arrived at the boathouse, she introduced me to Sara Hall, the author of the book I’ve been reading (Drawn to the Rhythm). Sara started rowing in her 40’s and, in three years, went from novice to World Masters Champion in the women’s single shell. On the dock, I got to watch the women’s quad, who are headed to Henley tomorrow. Both meetings infused me with the sense of endless possibilities, no matter where you begin.

The river carried post-rainstorm detritus and the current was quick. The sun was now shining in all its glory and the surface of the water was calm with very few rowers.

I set off and rowed directly into the next dock. With a little help, I got on the right course and the rest of the row was beautiful and smooth and amazing and soul-filled.

The beginning of summer vacation, with everything truly fine and in Divine Order. Thank you for your prayers, helping to bring all this about. I hope that you can feel the fine Divine Order happening in your life, or at least trust that it is revealing itself.


The power of words

Invitation to prayer! I have a CT scan today (Wednesday) and get the results on Friday.

Though overall I really feel great, waiting to see “what the doctor says” can produce anxiety.

I find it easy to want the doctors to tell me where this is all going, as if they are driving this bus. The more I see them, the stronger my relationship with them and the more their opinion counts. Their attitude can influence my state of mind, and a negative tone can bring me into a negative place. I know that that influences my healing.

I forget that sometimes, it is simply their point of view. I forget that the world contains many people and many points of view. Heck, even my family contains many people. Every time I am with my family, I realize that they are probably one of the best parts of me and feel simply amazed to be born into that group.

So last weekend, we went to Pittsburgh for a family graduation party.

Especially at parties, I try to avoid too much talk about my health. It is boring to me, there isn’t a lot to say that they don’t already know, and they have lots of interesting things going on in their lives that I really want to hear about. Plus, we had lost one family member the day before. To cancer. Discussing my own cancer was beside the point, not to mention a real downer of a conversation topic at a celebration.

But then, talking with one of my aunts, I blurted out that I had a CT scan this week. I could feel some worry in my voice and immediately cringed because I didn’t want to go there. But I couldn’t back up.

Thankfully, she saved me.

“It will be fine,” she said. Her tone was definite, not dismissive. She didn’t minimize the possibility of worry. She basically acknowledged it and then kept the conversation from going in a direction that neither of us wanted. It was as if we were on a conversational highway, where she acknowledged the exit and noted confidently that it wasn’t for us.

In that one sentence, along with her tone and body language, she not only saved the conversation, she shared her belief, solid and strong and one that I could rely on. It will be fine.

That was a few days ago, and I continue to lean into the strength she shared. That makes me realize that, while the energy and opinions of doctors can influence how we heal, we have the potential to influence each other as well, with our words, our attitudes and our beliefs.

Thank you for sharing your strength and your belief, with me and with those around you who are healing. It is powerful medicine that works from the inside out.


Standing in awe

As you know, I am incredibly grateful for all your prayers, healing thoughts and positive vibrations. I know that I tell you every time that I write, and you should know that I will continue to tell you.

Your prayers and intentions for my healing have an impact that leaves me awed.

My recent mammogram is officially normal. Yes!

In recent weeks, I developed this funky skin tag on my right eyelid. It felt annoying and uncomfortable, not to mention, unattractive, though feeling attractive should be the least of my worries.

A few weeks later, I showed the growth on my eyelid to my husband, an amazing doctor who can offer an ointment, treatment or a diagnosis for just about anything. He simply said, “Yep” in a tone that means, I see it and there really isn’t anything to be done.

So, I shifted to feel grateful for this little blip, tacked my prayers onto your healing prayers and, I kid you not, it was gone by the next morning. Gone.

In other health news, the bleeding returned. Even though I reached some high of gratitude with it in the past, reaching that high all over again looked like another mountain to climb.

In the meantime, I went rowing. The day was sunny and warm but slightly windy and I took out a skinnier boat than usual. After a slow start, I felt like I was doing pretty well and finding my rhythm. Then I began to get a bit full of myself and….I caught a crab.

Catching a crab is when your oar gets stuck in the water. In my case, it was because I feathered (turned) the blade before pulling it out of the water. It was probably also because I was stroking my ego instead of focusing on my stroke.

Rowing on the Charles, June 2013

Looking almost Ivy League!

Just then, the handle of the oar stuck into my abdomen, pulling me backwards in the boat and holding me there, while my other oar flailed uselessly in midair. The boat tipped and I had a long minute of panic before I regained my center and my humility.

Enter Kathy of

Kathy wrote some incredibly nice things about my approach to gratitude. Her writing left me feeling giddy, generally wonderful, and like we should all say nice things about each other on a regular basis.

Inspired by her post, I revisited the bleeding and again aimed to reach that high point of gratitude. In the midst, I suddenly remembered that all this gratitude started with one small step. In my really rough times, a friend challenged me to be grateful for at least three things when I woke every morning. She encouraged me to say those gratitudes out loud. And later, she challenged me to take five full minutes to list what I am grateful for.

In my first tries, those were a long five minutes. But I stuck with it.

Over time and without my realizing it, being grateful throughout the day became as automatic as breathing and came from the same depths of my soul as love. Like love, though, it isn’t always easy to maintain, but small steps can still move us.

Because I once reached an amazing space of gratitude, I believe that it is indeed possible to experience that. Because the growth on my eyelid went away, I believe it is indeed possible that the growths in my body can go away as well (and they may have already left). And because I do sometimes have a rowing stroke that feels amazing, I believe it is possible to have a few of those in a row.

Thank you for believing in all this with me. Your prayers and the energy of your belief in these possibilities help to make them all a reality, and I stand in awe.

Much love,