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Joys on the Journey

— This is the presentation I gave at tonight's Celebrate Today dinner, Memorial Hospital's quarterly celebration for cancer survivors — Four years ago, I was at this dinner for the first time with my sister. It was Volunteer Appreciation Night, and my sister, Clara Fromme, volunteers at the cancer center and I was her guest. In April of the following year, 2015, I was here again, this time as a newly diagnosed cancer patient. Between my first time here and the next, Clara had

Through It All, the Humor

In 2015 I spent this week of March in an Indianapolis hospital, where I underwent a biopsy that revealed I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Physically, that was one of the most painful weeks of my life. (I say “one of” only because weeks preceding and following it were equally agonizing.) Some time after my admission, my nurse apologized for not being able to start pain medication before a doctor saw me. “I know this is super-suck, and I’m sorry,” she said. She later pursued replaci

Cancer repercussions contribute to anger

What makes you angry? Financial concerns? Illness? Mass shootings? You are not alone. Are you angrier today than you were a year ago? If so, you’re not alone there, either. According to a recent survey done by Esquire magazine and NBC News, half of all Americans are angrier today than they were a year ago. I am among them. I spent February through August of last year dealing with cancer. Naively, I thought that when the cancer was declared in remission, my life would resume n

At Year's End

Cancer came and went this year, but some repercussions linger. Recent images dictate that I see a neurosurgeon and an orthopedist. At the end of 2015 I find myself: A little less carefree A little more withdrawn A little less energetic A little more reflective A little less confident A little more empathetic A little less secure A little more determined A little less naive A little more grateful #cancer

A Sense of Humor

I don't like to complain. I try not to bear grudges. I know that lots of people have it worse than I do. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I know that if I think too much about my health and current work status it is a quick sink into depression, so I try to keep a sense of humor about it all. Given that, here are my two observations of the day: 1. I am working on a brochure about my Life Stories work. I want to include a photo of me with the "about the instructor" blurb. I decid

Thank You

Thank You to: Those who cleaned my litterbox. Those who mowed my grass and trimmed my weeds. Those who brought me meals. Those who brought me ice cream and smoothies. Those who gave me flowers. The person who shaved my head. Those who did my grocery shopping and laundry when I didn't have the energy. Those who called me on the phone. Those who took me to the hospital, and those who visited me there. Those who sat by my bedside, especially on bad days. Those who helped me plod

Dealing with Insurance

As it happened, when I was transferred from Jasper to an Indianapolis hospital in March, I was transferred to a hospital outside of my insurance network. I was at the Indianapolis hospital for six days before someone in "care management" visited my room to inform me that I was out-of-network and likely would receive high medical bills. The following day, I was dismissed. Not long afterward, the denied insurance claims and subsequent bills started. In the ensuing months, I've

Some Ugly Truths

I had my fifth chemotherapy treatment Wednesday. Every three weeks, I receive regular chemo and then, because of the location of my tumor, I receive intrathecal chemo, in my spinal cord. So maybe it's more accurate to say I had my ninth and 10th chemo treatments Wednesday. A friend asked me yesterday how I am feeling. I decided to expand on my usual one-word answer of "Okay." My energy is starting to wane, I'm losing urinary control and my taste buds are starting to shut down

A New Perspective

In January 1996, I took three days off from my job as a reporter for the South Bend Tribune to interview my father about his life. It was my first foray into what today is my work with Life Stories. During those days on the farm where I grew up, I learned about my father's life growing up in that same place. I also learned just how sick he was at that time. He was dealing with three kinds of cancer (lung cancer, skin cancer and leukemia) and, I know in retrospect, had been pa

I am not my hair

I am not my hair. I am not my hair. I am not my hair. ... Which is a good thing because my hair was cut and discarded yesterday. With or without a cap on, I tried to avoid mirrors for the rest of the day — but I caught my shadow a few times last night: on my white walls, in the window, on the TV screen. Definitely a bald shadow. I'm trying to look at it as one more milestone on the trip, one more milestone I'm making it through. #cancer

Together again

After weeks of separation, the thumb and little finger of my left hand were able to touch each other last week on their own accord, without my using the other hand to put them into contact with each other. My gratitude to physical therapists. (And can typing be far behind?) #cancer

The column I didn't anticipate writing: I have cancer

Much has happened in my life since I last wrote a post here two months ago. More quickly than you might relize I left the “a” out of “realize,” I went from noncancer patient to cancer patient. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Stage 4. It is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which a kind of white blood cell called lymphocytes alters the usual blood cell makeup. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, it usually starts in lymph nodes in the neck or abdomen, it commonly affects midd

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