Let it begin with us

Our country has been deeply divided about genuine issues before. One time it caused a Civil War. Let’s not let it go so far this time.

Regardless of why people voted the way they did, we still have to live together. We all must move past hatred, anger, and fear before the country can heal.

Let it begin with us. 

Share views using words that demonstrate respect for others, even when you don’t feel it. When you disagree, take the high road no matter which road they choose. Seek first to understand before being understood.

Show each person you meet what compassion feels like. You may be surprised how good you feel.

Prayer for a time of transition


I pray for our country in this time, in this delicate time.

I pray we can peacefully agree on ways “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” (credit: US Constitution)

I pray all will hold these truths to be self-evident: that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  (credit: US Declaration of Independence)

I pray our federal and state governments shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (credit: US Bill of Rights)

I pray the rule of law will continue to be upheld as our standard of justice.

I pray hatred and resentment will be replaced by compassion for all and a desire for community.

I pray all people, including those stricken by cancer and other health conditions, will be able to afford good healthcare.

I pray those who came to this country legitimately in search of a better life will not be forced to leave without good reason.

I pray no one will be ridiculed, bullied or threatened because of their disability, ability, appearance, race, gender, creed, religion, ethnicity, or country of origin.

I pray our leaders and citizens will carefully consider the long-term consequences of their actions and words, and will find rational, realistic solutions to the serious and complicated issues facing us.

I pray other nations will see this country as an example of best democratic and diplomatic practices, and a leader worthy of respect and emulation.

I pray one day we can all agree with these sentiments.

Four years on a cancer clinical trial, and still NED–yay for research and hope!

Four years ago today, I took my first dose of crizotinib in a clinical trial for patients who had ROS1-positive lung cancer. My first scan–and every scan thereafter, including this past Monday 10/31– has shown no evidence of disease (NED). Not bad for a metastatic lung cancer patient who previously progressed on two separate lines of combined chemo and radiation.

I’m very grateful for cancer research and the availability of clinical trials. We’ve had more new drugs approved in the past five years than in the previous five decades!

During November, which is Lung Cancer Awareness Month (#LCAM on Twitter), please consider donating to your favorite lung cancer research facility (one option is the Lung Cancer Colorado Fund at the University of Colorado) or a lung cancer advocacy organization that supports research. 

And for a bit of hope, check out the NEW LCAM website, which represents a partnership among 19 lung cancer advocacy organizations led by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

 
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HOPE LIVES! More research. More survivors.

A Natural Remedy for Cancer Scanxiety (Almost)

When basking in the wonders of volcanoes, rainforests, and oceans, I can focus on something other than cancer for a while.

When heading to a cancer center for brain and body scans, not so much.

Still, facing the possibility of progression is easier when I’ve been immersed in nature for a few days.  I suspect most cancer patients might benefit from a “nature break” to combat scanxiety before a scan.

Your Life, Your Choices — A Conversation

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If you live in the South Puget Sound area of Washington State, and are interested in starting a conversation with family members about what’s important to you when you think about the end of life (which comes to all of us, though we know not when), please join us on Sunday, October 9, 2016, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Federal Way, Washington, at 2 PM for a free two-hour workshop.  Ann Hagensen, RN, FABC, (Virginia Mason Medical Center) will be presenting materials based in part on The Conversation Project. She will be joined by Karen Freeman Worstell (transformational grief coach and founder of NarrowBridge Solutions), Pastor Lori Cornell (of Calvary Lutheran Church), and myself.

This is a topic of vital interest to me, and not just because I have metastatic cancer.  I have extensive experience exercising durable power of attorney and navigating communications between family members over estate and end-of-life choices. I know friends who had serious accidents or died unexpectedly without having these conversations with their loved ones, and as a result their family members were completely unprepared for the decisions they faced. Because this is so important to me, I serve as an advocate on regional and statewide initiatives to identify and honor patient goals of care and end-of-life wishes.

I hope you’ll join us!

Cancer Choices: Quality of Life versus Quantity

Life has an odd way of reinforcing its lessons.

Due to my own lung cancer journey, I’ve learned a lot about the uncertainties of cancer diagnostic procedures and treatment. I’ve learned that cancer is sneaky; sometimes it doesn’t announce itself until it is in advanced stages, doesn’t behave as expected, doesn’t present a clear diagnosis with a “best” treatment option. And I’ve learned the value of making treatment choices that allow the patient to do what matters most to them, rather than prolonging life at any cost. For many patients, qualify of life is more important than quantity of days.

Recently, life gave me the opportunity to apply my hard-won wisdom to my beloved 14-year-old cat, General Nuisance.

General is a fluffy, snuggly ball of love. He has been MY cat since … Read more

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Care Partner on Deck

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Today hubby Gerry (my care partner) and I had a good start to our morning: we discussed how cancer affects relationships, then reviewed some time-critical household management chores over breakfast. Afterwards, he went out to paint the deck, and I prepared for some medical appointments and errands. Before I left, I poked my nose out the deck door to let him know I was leaving (carefully keeping both cats inside), then closed the door and departed.

After Gerry was through painting the deck, he was greatly surprised to discover his chemo-brained wife had locked the deck door from the inside (as was her routine) while he was outside (which was not routine).

He was alone on a freshly-painted deck at 11 am, ten to fifteen feet off the ground, knowing that I wouldn’t be home for another seven hours.  He tried to get the attention of some workmen two yards away so they could call me, but they couldn’t hear him over their lawnmower.

Ten minutes of staring at the earth motivated his engineering brain to develop a plan that (he hoped) wouldn’t contribute to our medical bills.  I cringed to hear the route my 77-year-old spouse chose to climb down to safety.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but he successfully dealt with the challenge so he could care for me another day.  This evening as the sun was setting, he graciously re-enacted the moment so I could take a picture.

I’m glad this didn’t result in a care partner role reversal.