Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Sunny Sunday

Today was a perfect summer day. It is hard to believe it is July in Philadelphia. Not an ounce of humidity, low '80's, a light breeze and an incredible sky. Okay does this sound hokey or what! I guess that's what sick people do - they look at the weather and ooh and ahh on good days.

My dear friend Ann sent me a card with an article about an experimental group therapy program aimed at helping cancer patients find meaning in the face of mortality. This program was developed by a psychiatrist at Sloan Kettering, who tested its effectiveness on more than 300 patients since 2000. The program is based on the writings of an Austrian psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz because of his belief that people can endure any suffering if they know their life has meaning. Dr. Breitbart (the developer) stated that "We help cancer patients understand that they are not dead yet (I love this line), and that the months or years remaining can be time of extraordinary growth."

How timely this article was for me. I have had this feeling that I am walking around in a daze, kind of like the walking dead. I am afraid to think too positively, and have actually thought about cleaning out my closets and what items I should give to Lauren, and when! I really don't want Thierry to have to worry about cleaning out my closets - been there, done that! It is such an awful thing to have to do. Is it therapeutic for those you have left behind to sort through your stuff and reminisce? (feel free to give me your opinion on this subject) And then the decisions to make; what to keep, what to get rid of - and who do you give it to. Ugh! I'd much rather do it myself than leave it to someone else. After Doug passed, I thought this was such a chore, and agonized over it.

Anyway, I digress. I think one of the reasons I started this blog was because I began to think what will my legacy be (especially since I haven't even started the family cookbook)? How will I spend my days, being morbid, dull, acting like a zombie? Good grief I would hate to go out that way. So I had been thinking that I needed an attitude adjustment. This article laid out a path: finding ways to continue to do the things you enjoy; focusing on historical sources of meaning (reflecting on your family, when you grew up, etc.); encountering life's limitations; living with cancer. I had hoped to contact the Wellness Center - and will be sure to ask if they have a positive, focused program such as this. I guess the bottom line is - it's okay to look out the window and note what an absolutely beautiful day it is!

About three times a day (morning, mid-day and at bedtime) I take time out to meditate. Currently I am using Andrew Weil's Self Healing with Guided Imagery. If nothing else, it calms me, helps me sleep, and helps me remain positive - and gives me some hope that I can help my body heal. If anyone has any other ideas on guided imagery, I'd love to hear about them.

I also saw Phyllis (Jean's friend) for healing touch. I went on Friday which was a very bad day for me. I had my first melt-down, and was not having much luck with the oncologist's office. I have begun to notice that when I am agitated or tense, it feels like there is a fist in my chest, and I experience discomfort in my side (which I am actually feeling more each day). After my session with Phyllis I truly was much calmer and able to manage through the anxiety. Thierry and I went to dinner and a movie - and had a nice evening. By Saturday I felt pretty normal, and was able to spend a wonderful afternoon with Lauren, and later with Mike and my parents.

The next big hurdle is getting my treatment started. I spoke with a friend today about the Avastin, and she believes I should actively fight the insurance company. So, I have sent a note to my oncologist informing her that I have been advised to write to the state Attorney General, and also asked when we would start on "some" treatment program. I also have contacted Fox Chase to find out what I need to do to get a consult with them. Hopefully tomorrow we will get all the documents together and get them faxed over to FC.

It all takes some thought, some planning, and action, one step at a time, one day at a time... and today was a good day!


laurenbruce01 said...

I don't think you need to think about cleaning out your things right now or when. You need to focus on you and the things you have not yet done, like the family cookbook or the next drawing class, or whatever you want to do! Like the good Austrian said, "you are not dead yet." Let's get a chemo treatment in this week with or without the Avastin. If you need help with any of it, Attorney General or Sloan, let me know. I want to help, it makes me feel like I am useful. I think you may feel a little better that you are doing something to fight the cancer. I love you very much!

Jean said...

Aside from the attorney general, write to Arlen Specter. His office is a well-oiled machine that helped me when I was fighting the insurance company. Try both of the state senators. If you haven't read Moyers' Healing and the Mind, I think Juan returned my copy and it is in the kitchen book shelves. There is an article there on support groups and their benefit also. I am greatly in favor of them. Mine lasted 5 years. Love you.

annod2 said...

Yes, let's all work on the family cookbook starting with the wonderful scallops and salmon you and Lauren cooked for dinner today. I love our family dinners. They are the glue that holds us all together. When have we laughed so much and learned so much! And we get to enjoy watching Dad's garden grow and flourish. We are all flowers from his garden and the love that surrounds us during those family times is special to me. I love you.

Anonymous said...


I have the Moyer's book. I bought it in 1998. I'll bring it with me to lunch tomorrow.

Luv ya! ann