Friday, January 23, 2009

Brown Belt Girl

from left: Sensei Eric, Sensei Orren (my first instructor), ME, Master Black (sans uniform -- he changed before I asked for a photo), and Sensei Doug (my current instructor)

I keep hearing the Van Morrison song in my head. ("Brown Eyed Girl") I have a brown eyed girl -- my daughter. I have a brown eyed son, too. And now I have a brown belt.

Three years ago I had no idea that today I would be a third-degree brown belt in karate. Three years ago I was early in the fight for my life. I was recovering from neurosurgery and taking daily chemotherapy and going in for radiation treatments five days a week. I was also preparing for the worst and hoping for the best in a grim situation.

During this evening's belt test Master Black talked about preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. He said and quoted so many blog-worthy things, I wished I could have had a pen and paper with me. And his wisdom came from experience, because he is a real survivor.

One of my favorites was "I do not fear today, because I have seen yesterday."

He also taught us about perseverence. About listening and being aware of our surroundings. About not panicking. He taught us to believe and to visualize what we want to achieve. He put us through a grueling yet inspiring three hour test. I kept thinking that my body was hating the experience, but "I" wasn't my body. "I" was savoring every minute of the experience, so grateful for what I was capable of doing.

I tearfully accepted my brown belt and the congratulations of Master Black and my instructors past and present. I kept marveling, because this was not expected of me three years ago.

It wasn't expected. But it was possible. And I believed it enough to give it my best shot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As some of you know, Blogger uses a word verification process for those who wish to post comments, to keep spam machines out.

A friend of mine looked at the comment page, and noticed the verification word was "BLESSONS". It's a nonsense word, of course, but my friend called it to my attention and noted the fitting blend of the words "blessings" and "lessons". This friend is also a cancer survivor, and she is quick to recognize the "blessons" of adversity.

Let that be a blesson to anyone riding the rollercoaster of life!

Come What May, and Love It

If you like the title, you'll love the rest of it. I can't take credit for it, and I couldn't add anything but "amen" to it, but I'll share it with you:

Come What May, And Love It

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The drumroll continues...

I knew something was up today when my doctor came in and went right into the neuro test without telling me how my MRI looked. (Usually she starts off with the good news.)

Today's MRI showed a couple of areas that warrant further review. It could be nothing, or it could be slight growth. Some views look identical to the previous scan, and some look subtly different. We decided to look again in six weeks, this time with perfusion. So the drumroll continues.

My doctor said that even if this is something, it is small. If needed, the probable course of action would be to start some more Avastin infusions at less frequent intervals than before. And probably more frequent monitoring. She really tried to be as reassuring as possible.

Despite this uncomfortable news I still felt calm and supported by much prayer and faith. There were a few tears as I called family and friends who were waiting to hear how things went. But I felt a sense that I am still in good and loving hands, and that all is well, no matter how this plays out. And I think this is a reminder not to get too complacent. I've had good MRI scans for two years now, and while that has been a great blessing, I'm sure this latest twist in the story will reveal itself to be a great blessing, too.

Monday, January 12, 2009


My mom called today and noted that when children turn three, parents usually stop counting their ages in months. She wanted to know if I was still going to count my survival birthdays in months. It was her way of reminding me that today is the twelfth, which means that I have completed another month of survival!

I'm celebrating in the morning with a trip through the MRI tube after a nice three-month hiatus. The drum roll has already started, and will continue until about noon tomorrow. But I'll be keeping my nerves steady like I normally do -- by floating on the faith and prayers of so many. (Thank you!!)

Meanwhile, to answer Mom's question: Yes, I will still keep track of my survival birthdays in monthly increments, and I hope it continues long enough to become really ridiculous. We still notice the days when our children get a month older. My husband and I have been married for more than twenty years, and we still celebrate our "month-a-versary" on the 20th of each month. We always try to see who is faster at calculating how many months we've been married. (Even though it got tougher after our 13th anniversary, because Schoolhouse Rock only taught us our multiplication tables through the twelves.)

I value my family and my life. I'm happy to celebrate both as frequently and as long as I can!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Catching Up

Finally adding some video from the Messiah concert:

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion:

He Shall Feed His Flock:

Throwing down the gauntlet with Jared (the video picks up in the middle of the song):

My New Year's Resolution

People ask me if I have a new year's resolution.

It's the same one I had last year and the year before: LIVE.

And if I can lose 30 pounds and finally get my house organized and finish writing my second book and earn my black belt and pay off our mortgage and see my son get baptized and confirmed and help my daughter learn to read, that would be cool, too.