APL

The Deep End of Shallow

Posted on April 11, 2015. Filed under: APL, Cancer, Just fun! | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Today is my three year anniversary of when I received a call from my doctor telling me I had leukemia and gently nudging me țo drop everything and go to the hospital. I did. Twenty-eight days later, I was released with 18 more months of treatment. That’s behind me now, but I don’t get to celebrate remission for another two years. However, three years is enough time to reflect and squeeze meaning out of the event. After all, isn’t a cancer diagnosis supposed to grant you greater meaning? While I have shifted my focus to creating more art and poetry, as well as publishing my book, I see other changes.

In my case, cancer invited me to discover my shallow side. How so? Well, I am a Buddhist who believes in life after death. In fact, if you know me, you know I am a connoisseur of ghost stories. And while I fantasize a myriad of afterlife delights, such as astral travel or telepathic communication,  there maybe some things a spirit cannot do. Being disembodied could make it difficult to savor a scrumptious bite of chocolate cake or sip a margarita wearing diamonds.

20150325_114431Consequently, I want to grab the best of the shallow with gusto. I want to polish my nails, buy more pretty clothes than I need and order the expensive dessert. This is new for me. I like to think I have tried to try to make the world a better place. Maybe it’s the influence of my Catholic upbringing that focused on dutiful social values; perhaps the 1960s when we turned our backs on materialism;or maybe just my Aquarian humanitarianism. Either way, if I was paid for all the volunteer hours I’ve logged in my life, I would be quite rich. So I surprise myself when I plan a last-minute getaway, pick up a fun shirt at full price that I could do without–and only because I just like it! Once in awhile, I get a manicure.

I wonder if the awareness of death’s inevitability force us to explore the parts of us that lie dormant? It reminds me of the book, Alive, about the Chilean soccer players who crashed in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. The two leaders of the groups were very opposite. One was a Christian and followed the rules. The other was a “bad boy” with an attitude. Together, they eventually found their way to civilization and saved the remaining group. The effect on the leaders was ironic. The rule follower became an atheist because he felt his prayers went unanswered. The “bad boy” became a Christian because he thought there was no way he would have gotten off the mountains without help from beyond.

The change in me is more measured. I believe most of what I always have–which is probably the result of prior struggles–and my social conscience is not mute. But now I make time for pleasures; things I would have dismissed as unnecessary years ago. Maybe it’s called balance.

Cheers.

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2nd Act Continues…

Posted on February 9, 2015. Filed under: APL, Cancer, Just fun!, Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd, leukemia, Poems, Poetry, survivorship | Tags: , , , |

group on stage1e

The Cast of 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage

 

Yesterday was wonderful! I took the stage at the Athenaeum Theater with 11 other women who have had their own run-ins with cancer. The cast and I, with host Roz Varon from ABC7 shared our stories of how our lives have been redirected by cancer. Hopefully, we inspired others to ride their own waves of change.

My story is about FINALLY publishing my poems and adding the paintings to the collection that became Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd. I have so much gratitude for all the dear friends and family who attended the show. Special thanks to Judy Pearson and Karen Shayne of Women Survivors Alliance for providing an inspiring platform that demonstrates such positive ways of meeting challenges. Next year, the organization will produce another show in Chicago, and I’m very proud to be chosen for the inaugural 2nd Act.

You Haven’t Heard the Last of Me! 

Today, I’m updating my website, Facebook and social media with upcoming shows because I still have about 100 books to sell. So I am booking readings, driving around with books in my trunk and carrying my “I take credit cards” phone thingy in my purse. If you know of anyone who wants me to read, just reply and we’ll nail a date.

I’ve had some wonderful, and unexpected feedback from my book. The best part comes when people tell me how reading a poem really made them feel better; how a poem made them smile, be surprised or simply a bit of the warm fuzzies. That’s what makes me happy about painting and writing. Adding a little bit of peace and beauty to the world that, too often is anything but peaceful and beautiful. Peace, folks.

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Weighty Issues

Posted on April 19, 2014. Filed under: APL, Cancer, diet, leukemia, survivorship, weight loss |

My last post was about losing weight. They say this is difficult as we age, but I tend to do things out of order, so maybe I will have better luck. As of this week, I’ve lost about 12 pounds since the beginning of February. Not bad. And, I don’t feel like I’m suffering. I still eat chocolate, but portion control is king. The girl in the refrigerator still works and she’s expanded her influence to other behaviors, like procrastination, exercise avoidance, etc.

However, I have hit an energy plateau. I feel very fatigued. I’m in bed by midnight-ish, which is good for me, but I’m usually not awake until about 9 or  dressed by 10:30–unless I have to be somewhere.

I don’t get tired. I get leukemia–NOT.

For awhile, I was concerned about recurrence, but I’m lacking the stupendous bruises and extended bloody noses. I have a blood check scheduled for mid May, but it will probably by fine. Google searches only turn up studies on recurrence, not long-term symptoms. For some answers, Scott and I attended a seminar on what to do after cancer at the Cancer Wellness Center. The facilitator discussed recurrence and suggested talking to the doctors when symptoms arise. I asked, “What does one do when they tell you that you should be feeling fine?” Others in the group let out a few, “Yeah, what do you do then?” No good answers followed. The result: I dragged myself around feeling like a failure at recovery for a few days.

Hence, Facebook. I’m in a group of APL survivors. It’s small—not because few survive, but because this form of leukemia is rare. I posted my woes and received enough responses to know I’m not alone. Most group members are younger because younger people know how to join a Facebook group and APL is a younger person’s disease. One member said she’s finally starting to feel better 1-1/2 years after treatment ended. Another is now experiencing chronic fatigue. I’m only 5 months out so now I’m cutting myself a break. Many others mentioned having the sleepies. Meanwhile, I’m taking more naps and trying to increase my energy with exercise. Yuck, exercise. Well, maybe I’ll lose a few more pounds.

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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