a zen story for marie

When is it okay to re-gift? I feel a little guilty passing along a book I’ve already read, but Courage Doesn’t Always Roar (by Maryanne Radmacher) was in a basket of “hope” given me by friends when I was in the middle of chemotherapy in 2010. Though it is technically “used,” its message is as valid  as when I first received it “brand new.” Procrastinator that I am, I’ve had it ready to mail to a friend in Las Vegas ever since we visited her in mid-March when we were there.  If there’s ever a time she’s needed courage, it’s now. So, re-gift guilt set aside, I’m mailing to her today.

Earlier this year Marie was diagnosed with cancer. When we visited her, she was in a good bit of pain, but had just undergone her first treatment. Having gone through that very difficult  period myself in 2010, I had a pretty good idea of all the uncertainty  she was going through. And yes, those other words that go along with it–fear and doubt–probably creeping in. I like to think it helped her a little to see me–a living example that  you can survive the treatment, and God willing cancer. Still, words are never adequate at times like these, so we all sat there together remembering old–and good–times. We were all relieved to see her wonderful wit and smile, and note that her giving loving nature was still quite intact. As we were leaving, we saw the old determined Marie rally enough to locate and tie two red-ribboned Feng Shui Good Luck Buddha Charms to my purse handles (which are still there)–one for me and one for Hubby.

On the long drive home, I made a pact with myself to keep in touch somehow, perhaps in the same ways she’s done over the years–cards on every occasion, with photographs and personal messages tucked inside–because I knew how much those things meant to me, those weekly phone calls, cards, and emails. Then the yard work began, the classes, the days helping out the grandchildren. Time zipped by. None of those reasons were ever good enough to excuse my procrastination, but those reasons plus my unwillingness to pick up the telephone (some sort of weird phone phobia I guess) got in the way. One problem too was the thing that grips any of us when we don’t know quite what to say, or how to say it. I grew up with that axiom the road to hell is paved with good intentions but there it is.

There’s a long road ahead for Marie and all of us who have had to face that long valley of shadows. After two years of followup scans if nothing bad shows up, it’s statistically less likely you’re going to develop a “crossover” cancer influenced by the toxic cancer drugs themselves.  No guarantees, but the doctors breathe a little easier, and the odds are more favorably stacked on your side. So the closer you get to five years, the better. Recently we heard through a mutual friend that Marie has been doing well. But the book about courage still lies on my desk inside a padded manilla envelope, ready for mailing.

So today I had an idea. Suppose I write about it in a blogpost. Sometimes, when I have trouble saying what I’m feeling, it’s easier to tell it in a story. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll send her a story that I like to remember, a ZEN story that I always think about when I’m facing one of those six-month followup scans, when the doubt begins to creep in and I’m afraid my luck–if that’s what it is–may be running out.

A long time ago, there was a Monk being chased by a tiger. He is so frightened and tired, but he can’t stop running or the tiger will surely catch up with him. Soon he sees the edge of a cliff coming up. Just as the tiger is about to close in on him, he  notices a vine trailing over the edge. He quickly crawls over the edge and begins to carefully let himself down the vine, little by little. Just as he’s beginning to feel safe again, he looks down to see how far is left, and sees another tiger waiting for him below. As he looks up again, he notices a mouse gnawing away at the vine. At first he feels such despair, what point is there in going on? Then he spots a luscious looking red strawberry just within arm’s length. It looks so delicious he reaches out,  grabs it and eats it.

I hope this story I pass along to her through this blogpost will remind her that–while there may be terrible things behind and before us, complicated by vexing everyday annoyances like that little mouse, we all need to keep our eyes open for that strawberry. I hope Marie knows that we think of her every day, even though we’re not very good at day to day correspondence.

Yaaay it’s margarita time!!!

Hi all:

It is Hubby again celebrating the good news.

Alice had her post-treatment PET/CT scan this morning and we met with the Oncologist this afternoon.  While we were not expecting any bad news, it was good to hear from the “horses’ mouth” that everything looked fine with the scans and there was no evidence of disease (NED).  What was even better, as far as Alice was concerned, was that the good news was initially delivered by none other than Dr. McG as in DrMcdreamy.  Alice wants me to call him just Dr. G as in “G for Gorgeous”.  If you all remember, he is the good looking 6’8″ doctor with excellent bedside manners and exhibiting extreme competence.  As it turns out, Dr. G was doing his turn as a Fellow in the Oncology clinic working with Alice’s Oncologist (another Dr. G as in Michelle G).  Dr. McG explained to us some of the results of the PET/CT scan and told us that there was nothing to be concerned about.  A little later, we had a short session with both Dr. Gs and we were told to go ahead and re-plan our trip to India  and start to live our life normally.

I had been thinking for a week or so about how we were going to celebrate the good news but had no real plan.  However, having run into Dr. McG the only thing I could think of was to make a big pitcher of margaritas and invite Alice to help me drink it.  So we stopped at a State Liquor Store on the way home from the hospital and bought a bottle of tequila and margarita mix to go with it.  I always thought that nothing  symbolizes  celebration better than a margarita.  Besides, I knew that Alice, who is a non-drinker, liked margarita more than any other alcoholic drink and this was the only way for me to do a “one up on Dr. McG”.  Also, we may not see him any more as the next appointment for Alice is 3 months away.

Here are a couple of pictures of Alice helping me with the margarita.  You can also see that she is not wearing her wig in the pictures and her hair is about half an inch long.  I am trying to convince her that she really does not need her wig any more.  I am sure that she will stop being self conscious in a week or so.


lickin’ all the salt off

no longer a “baldy”

As I expected, we are at a loss.  We had always expected the good news, but now that it is here, we are not sure how to deal with it.  I am sure you all will help us.