About Me

My photo

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin & a best friend. I am a poet, a lawyer & a survivor. I've learned that God will give you a second chance.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When Bumblebees Sleep

Early morning.
The temperature is cool.
There is dew on the grass.
There they are.
Tucked underneath the raspberry leaves.

They are asleep. It is too early.
Even for them.
I try not to wake them
As I pick my morning breakfast.
They do not move.

Even as I lift the canes.
They huddle together. Waiting.
For the warmth of the sun.
I find comfort in these friends.
Unexpected companions in my quiet.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Finding Joy

Used with permission from David Loose

I cried when I learned there was nothing more the doctors could do.
There were no tears when I heard of your death.
Grief is like that.
It is the living in the hard places.
The desperate wish that things would be different.

You asked if you could call me.
My heart sank when you told me the news.
There were tears when I told my husband.
The grief started then.
All those months ago.

There is always hope.
But I knew differently.
I never want to be that person.
The one who insisted “you’ve got this beat.”
Because life is not like that.

Life is messy.
It caught me off guard.
And hurts in the deepest part of my soul.
Until I remember more of the good times together
Than the past few, painful months.

That is when I find joy.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

You are into your eighth decade now. You walk a bit slower. You are involved in fewer activities. Your pace. Your pace has slowed. As a result, you need a little more help. Some things are not as easy as they used to be. There are aches and pains that limit your mobility and make it difficult to do routine tasks. Time moves faster and it’s difficult to keep up. To stay on track.

However, none of these things diminish who you are. As I reflect on my time with you I am comforted by how truly blessed I am that you are my mother. My brother is the lucky one. He has three more years with you than I do. And my sister is the privileged one. She gets to spend time with you every week. But when I think of all the gifts you have given us over these 50 plus years there is not enough paper to capture them all.

First, and foremost, you gave us life. Thinking of our childhood, you taught us to play. To imagine. We didn’t play “cowboys and Indians.” We played “Indians.” We ran around outside in bare feet. We swam in rivers, the ocean, the ponds. We danced in the rain, and marveled at thunder storms. We collected strays and had our very own “Gentleman’s Farm” with various animals and a garden. Summer evenings were spent popping snap dragons and collecting fireflies. Winters included building snow forts and drinking hot chocolate.

We grew up. I’m sure our teenage years were a challenge. Yet you let us explore. There was music. And drama. And books. We traveled. We tested our boundaries always knowing there was a safe haven at home where you and daddy would catch us when we fell.

Do you know how much we love you?

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

My Story

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? 
-  Micah 6:8

Some of you know my story because you were there with me. Some because you came along later and heard me tell it. Some may just be reading about it for the first time. It’s not an unknown story. Many have a similar one. But I feel that my story is one of a miracle that must be shared. And it is a story that continues today, more than 10 years later.

It started in 2007 with a routine physical that referred me to an ultrasound that led me to a surgeon. It was the surgeon who first used the words “breast cancer.” As I lay on the examining table, being prepped for the first of several biopsies, I was surrounded by nurses and technicians who explained what would occur. They were nice, and spoke in calm, routine voices. A medical assistant stood by the table and held my hand. She talked to me as if we were friends. Knowing where I worked, she asked about mutual acquaintances.

I was surrounded by caring strangers, yet I felt disconnected. However, I had a sense of peace and comfort. The words from Psalm 46:10 were brought to mind: “Be still and know that I am God.” And somehow, I knew that everything was going to be alright.

I had surgery in November, followed by four rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy. I then underwent radiation treatment. It was during chemotherapy that I took the California bar exam and participated in my law school graduation. Having completed that major milestone I could not imagine what would come after I finished my treatments, but I knew I had a purpose.

Romans 8:28 speaks directly to what I know is God’s work for my life: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” At the time I hoped that I would pass the bar exam on my first attempt (I did pass the bar exam the second time I took it) and go on to big things in both my career and this story about a woman who had survived breast cancer.

However, while I was undergoing radiation treatments my mother called to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the privilege of helping her navigate all that meant for her. While our cancers were very different, the trials of understanding the diagnosis and undergoing treatment are daunting. I am happy to report that we are both 10 years cancer-free.

But my story did not end there. In 2013 I became involved with transporting a friend’s mother to cancer treatment. She had a recurrence of breast cancer that had metastasized. Linda became part of my life when I helped take to her Boston for radiation treatments for the tumors on her brain. She became my friend, and we became companions as I routinely took her into Boston for chemotherapy in 2014. She passed away in March, 2015. Her death was a heartbreak like I’ve never experienced before. And yes, I would do it all again.

After Linda’s death I wondered what God would put in front of me. I call it “my next yes.” My experiences in the past three years have taken me in directions I never would have imagined. Upon reflection I realize that God has allowed me to continue to care for others who are dealing with cancer. I will admit that my heart breaks a bit each time a friend reaches out and asks, “Can I call you?” My answer is always yes. Yes you can.

You see, my story isn’t over. It did not end the day I finished treatment. Nor did it end when I reached my 10-year mark and I graduated from oncology. God’s story for my life is more than I could ever have imagined. My story is one of “yes.”  

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Someone Else's Story

When you tell a story about someone else, it is also about you, as the storyteller.” – Stephen Denning, Squirrel, Inc.

I haven’t written in a while.

Well. That’s not true. I’ve written. I just haven’t published.

My time has been limited. My heart has been full.

There have been moments of grief, and moments of anger. But there has also been joy and grace. Oh, so much grace.

There have been tears of anguish, and diagnoses confirmed long after we knew the truth. Along the way, God has poured out His blessings; reminding us of His goodness and mercy.

There is the comfort in belonging, and the newness of adoption.

You see, my life has been full. Full of living. Full of learning. Full of stories that I have yet to tell because they are also someone else’s stories.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

10 Years

On November 29, 2017 I marked the ten-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery. I know that I have shared before that I think of that day as my cancer-free date. Ten years ago I was healing from a lumpectomy and facing a round of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments. I was also finishing up law school with a graduation date of March 1, 2008. I was reviewing some correspondence to family and friends during that time and thought I’d share a few notes with you.
From November 2007:
“What is most amazing to me is number of people I am sending this to. God has truly blessed me with some tremendous friends. Your love and support is my strength.”
From December 2007:
“I had a call from my surgeon this afternoon. My lymph nodes were clear – no cancer. And she was able to get clean margins. Both of these are excellent news. The diagnosis is officially stage one.”
“We met with the oncologist today. The doctors continue to get good news. As a result of my various pathology reports the recommendation is to still do a series of chemotherapy treatments. However, the treatments will be a total of four treatments, every three weeks (as opposed to eight treatments every other week).”
“My doctor told me I was a remarkable patient because the news is continually better than expected. I know that it is the power of prayer.”
From January 2008:
“Thought I’d share a funny little side effect. I’ve been joking around at work that the chemo has compromised my immune system so my brain isn’t working right. Little did I know that there is a name for it: chemo-brain. Yes, I was reading last night that some chemo patients experience significant short-term memory loss. At least mine is minor enough to not cause too much damage at work.”
From February 2008:
“Wednesday is my third treatment and everything went about the same after treatment #2 as it did after treatment #1. Therefore, I'm pretty confident that I know how things will go. I did buy some hats and am enjoying them. It is kind of fun to pick out a hat to go with today's outfit. I have enough variety to keep it interesting.”
From March 2008:
“Saturday, March 1 was graduation. It was a wonderful and very special ceremony. My classmates are my heroes. We accomplished something truly amazing. We made it through law school and earned our degrees.”
“My update comes as the result of a slight set-back. I was admitted to the hospital Monday night due to a very low white blood count.”
From April 2008:
“I am feeling better. My white blood count is up over 5,000, which is where it should be. My head cold has gone away, though I still have a residual cough. My energy is best in the morning and good in the evenings. I have a “2 p.m. slump” but I think that is normal. I am told that I may begin to feel more fatigue after two or three weeks of radiation treatments. It’s a cumulative effect. However, I’ve been encouraged to do some light exercise; specifically walking (or the treadmill at the gym). Now if we could just get rid of winter.”
“Thank you for taking care of me over these months. Your prayers and love have been my support.”
From May 2008:
“Radiation treatments are routine and there is not much to report.”
“My hair is coming in nicely. I am still self-conscious about the length and the amount of gray so I will keep wearing hats for a while. Now that spring is here (I think) I’ve switched over to my beautiful baseball caps. I have received many complements on my different hats and it is kind of fun to pick out a hat to wear each morning.”
“I hope this finds everyone well. I am thankful for your love, prayers and support. I could not have gotten through this without you.”
November 29, 2008
Dearest Friends & Family –
One year ago, on November 29, I had my surgery for breast cancer. I celebrate today as my one year anniversary of being cancer free. I know I faced other challenges with chemotherapy and radiation over the past winter, by I count those as preventative medicine. I truly believe that I was cancer free as of my surgery. I owe each and every one of you a huge debt of gratitude for your love, prayers and support. I learned that you can get through anything with the love of your friends. I also believe that I received the gift of healing between the time of my diagnosis on November 2 and my surgery. Even my doctors were amazed at my various test results. I know that came from the faith that each one of you carries.
While the past year was filled with challenges and losses, it was also filled with grace, love and many gifts. I am thankful for so many things: my health, passing the bar exam, and my new kitten to name a few. However, love and hope remain the greatest gifts I received. Each one of you expressed your love in a unique way and I treasure each one. I send this with a virtual hug and plan to give you one in person the next time I see you. Please celebrate with me at this time of thanksgiving.
With much love and gratitude, thank you for ten years of life.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bucket List

I want to say “Thank You” to all of you who have supported me over the years. Your encouragement. Your love. Your generosity toward my Avon Walk fundraisers. You may have heard that 2017 was the last year for Avon 39 – The Walk to End Breast Cancer. The email I received indicates that the Avon Foundation will launch a new fundraiser in 2018. I do not know what it is. And I do not know if I’ll participate. Stay tuned.

In April 2011, I participated in my first Avon Walk. A team from law school was formed from in honor and memory of a colleague. During that first walk several of us committed to walking the following year. We did. In Washington, D.C. At some point I made the decision to walk in each of the host cities; a new city each year until I had walked in them all. At the time there were nine walks per year. By the time I walked in Boston there were only seven.

Each year I have walked. Each year I have held a fundraiser. Each year family and friends helped me reach the financial goal necessary for me to participate. Each year was a unique experience. And each year I came closer to fulfilling that item on my bucket list.

This year I walked in my seventh Avon Walk, in city number seven on the list. I was only able to walk the first day due to a knee injury, but I did in fact walk in Santa Barbara. I had accomplished my goal.

I never doubted I would get here; it just seems to have gone so fast.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.