Monday, April 11, 2011


I haven't finished Part 3 on the Komen Breast Cancer Issues Conference 
nearly a month ago.  Or told you about my incredible weekend in Seattle, 
April 1-4th, at the Edible Book Festival and Freehold's Engaged Theatre project 
at the Washington Correction Center for Women.  They were both 
absolutely remarkable, inspiring events, the result of two remarkable, inspiring
 women's quest to share their unique visions with the community. 
Kudos to Janet Fryberger and to Robin Lynn Smith. 
What a wild, wonderful ride through the breadth and depth 
of the creative impulse.  If it weren't totally lame
 to say you guys both totally rock, that is totally what I would say!   
And I totally mean it from the bottom of my lumpy lil' heart.

Now.  About that Bump...  Well, maybe it is just a hiccup.

The facts are these:  I am not feeling as terrific as I have been.  I've become aware of a bit of a hitch in my git-a-long.  Mostly this:  I get sore and achey in my joints--primarily my right knee, where I've had some trauma in the past, and my neck and shoulders.  It gets better with yoga, acupuncture, and hot baths, but it keeps coming back.  It is becoming chronic and that is new.  Plus I have days when I just hit a wall in terms of energy.  I'll be going great guns (well, at least for me, in recent times) and then run out of gas-- BAM!-- nap-time.  And I've had a bit of a sore throat off and on which has made me wonder if this could be some low-grade bug.  Plus (as I may have complained before) as soon as I stopped losing weight-- and I mean the nano-second-- I started gaining weight.  Like crazy.  I kinda assumed it was one of those blessings from the Gordon gene-pool, but... maybe not.

I made an appointment to talk to my Oncology Nurse Practitioner.  She suspects these might all be side effects from Arirmidex, but thought my oncologist might another bone scan (my last one was in Oct) to rule out further metastasis.  My naturopath in Seattle also suspects Arimidex as the culprit. (She added fish oil capsules and something called Wobenzyme to my list of daily supplements.) I spoke to Dr T (oncologist) over the phone, and he maintains that these symptoms are NOT common side effects of Arimidex.

Well, they might not be statistically common (i.e., occurring in more then 10% of patients) but they ARE listed as side effects online (courtesy of the National Institute for Health)---  even on the website of the company who makes the drug.  And as any patient or Dr should know, statistics mean nothing when it comes to your own experience:  If you are one of the 10% experiencing side effects, being told they are statistically insignificant does nothing but make you feel-- uh, I guess a good word might be-- insignificant yourself.

So:  Dr T says we stay the course with Arimidex.  It does have the best record for long-term benefit with limited side effects of any aromatase inhibitor.  The naturopath hopes we can address the side effects with further supplements.  Acupuncture can help with joint pain and tiredness-- but I need to commit to one or two weekly sessions for at least a month to get on top of it. The Nurse Practitioner thinks I might want to consider switching to a new hormone drug, maybe one with some steroid component to combat the side effects of having every drop of estrogen squeezed out of my system.  I hate the crap shoot of trying out a new drug-- especially when I had high hopes of staying with the current routine (minus the new side effects, of course) for up to 20 years.

Either option-- further bone metastasis or unforgiving and unrelenting side effects from current drug-- is not good news.  And that bums me out.  I had no idea how normal feeling good had become for me until I thought it might be going away again. It scares me.  I have tried not to take my recent streak of health for granted, but the idea of losing it, that was a real gut check.  As if I'd made some bargain that I was willing to live with Stage Four cancer as long as it didn't actually physically hurt or limit me too much.  Of course that was a deal that could not be kept.  And who did I think was on the other end of that agreement anyway?   Cancer does not keep bargains.  And I do not believe one can make a deal with the universe.

I hate, hate, hate the notion that "cancer is a teacher,"  not because it isn't true (I think it is true, actually) but because it is so easily co-opted.  It becomes another way to blame the victim--as if, well, we didn't need to learn this lesson, but clearly you did, and if you would just learn it already, you would be whole again, just like us...  which belies the larger truth that we are all mortal, our lives are all temporary, and if there is a universal lesson in a cancer diagnosis, that might be it in a nutshell.

I wasn't really thinking of it that way, anyway.  I was just trying to do my best with what came my way day by day.  But anything becomes routine after a while.  And when any routine changes unpleasantly, we usually react like it is an affront.  It is not personal.  It is just what is.  But what is can be hard to accept.  It can be hard to be willing to accept.  Another new reality.  Let go or be dragged.  I can forgive myself for being dragged a bit by this one.  For stumbling to find my feet again and say yes to this life --whatever it entails.

So there you have it.  The latest bump in the road.  It can make me sad.  It certainly shakes me up: Oh, right, I have CANCER, I nearly forgot...  But here's what practice has taught me:  The obstacle is the path.  The only way around it is through it.  Step by step.  If I can keep my mind in the present moment, in what I can do here and now, there is always enough courage for the next breath.  You've got to let the one after that take care of itself.  Easier said than done, my friends.  Keep me in your prayers...

May all beings know happiness and the root of happiness.  
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.  
May they never be separated from the supreme joy that is beyond all sorrow. 
May the abide in equanimity free from attachment and aversion.


  1. su bumpa es mi bumpa, baby! Lovin you! xoj

  2. Hello bodhisattva, aspiring and inspiring. From the Raven Maven site, this is Tina, sister of Terry upon whose blog you commented. I send you warm greetings and blessings and love and who-knows-what-else, not for the journey you are on, nor your sharing it here, nor anything else so great and important, but for the tears you brought to my eyes when I saw your note/comment on my Raven Maven blog of Two Sisters. To know that you are in the world, living your life and thinking great thoughts and fighting your battles.... well, I feel as if you are beside me, each leaning in a little to balance and hold the other up. Silly, I suppose, for one simple comment, but isn't that life itself: silly and simple. And that is the most important thing: to remember the silly and the simple are the most serious and the most complex of all.

  3. Wow, thank you friends, both near and dear and new and far. I do love it when people write back to me here, it completes the circle somehow, and I am grateful to be heard. Thank you.