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Reading The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Painter – Nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom.

blog-1-dec-10-12

I have passed the milestone of five years after the diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer without a recurrence. Within the last fifteen months, both my mother and my father died, my father less than six weeks ago. Another passage.

Tremendous changes that are calling for momentous responses.

I started the book, the Artist’s Rule, in February. I got to the next to the last page in the first chapter, then put it down and didn’t pick it up again until last week, in a completely different stage of my life, where the message meant something entirely different to me than it would have ten months ago.

The message from the first chapter is about New Things. New things that I know nothing about – hidden and unknown to me, created just now, this very moment. Things I haven’t heard about before, so I can’t say, (as I often have throughout my life), yes, I knew that.

I’ve been called to something new that I haven’t done before, to go somewhere (perhaps geographically, perhaps not) I have not been before. I am not called to cling to the past.

new things

The second chapter, which I will spend at least a week with, began by talking about these New Things. It listed some of the things the monk and the artist have in common, including that they “live on the edges and in border spaces.” That’s interesting. In February, I started a new sketch journal and named it “Borders 2012.” And then I got the book.

artists rule sketchbook

Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Hope, Treatment, Recovery

Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: Hope, Treatment, Recovery 
Finally! A book about TNBC written by a woman who’s been through it—Patricia Prijatel, founder and editor of the blog Positives About Negative.
  • One of the first books exclusively for women facing hormone-negative breast cancer
  • Author Patricia Prijatel tells the story of her own diagnosis and treatment and includes her full pathology report with annotations to help readers understand their own
  • Describes the science behind the disease and its treatment in clear, accessible prose
  • Endorsed by Medical Advisory Board: breast surgeon Carl Scott-Conner, MD, PHD; pathologist Renee Ellerbroek, MD; clinical trial coordinator Madlyn Ferraro, RN; and health and fitness specialist Rochelle Kirwan, RD

More about the book from publisher Oxford University Press.

Be sure to follow Patricia’s blog for the latest news and resources on triple-negative breast cancer, including updates from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

 

It has been a long time since I’ve posted anything in the breast cancer journal. My journaling has taken another path – it is not online, and it is not about being a breast cancer survivor. My mother died in August and a lot of what I have been writing about privately describes my journey through grief.

On August 11, 2010, I went to Denver for my check-up with the doctor at the imaging center and my oncologist. The doctor at the imaging center looks at the mammogram and ultrasound results during my visit, so I knew by the time I was on my way home that I was still NED (no evidence of disease). My oncologist wanted me to have another mammogram and a visit with her in six months; after that, my mammogram schedule would be once a year. She reminded me that it was almost five years since my diagnosis, and at the five-year milestone, my risk of recurrence would go down so significantly that it would be about the same as for all other women in my age category.

On my way home from the hospital, I called my family to let my mother, who was out of town for a medical procedure, know that my check-up was good, and Mom was very happy about that. The following day, unexpectedly, my mother died during the procedure.

Now it’s January, and in one week, it will be five months since my mother died, which seems impossible. And a month after that, it will be time for my six-month checkup, the last one before my anniversary, and a month later, it will be March, five years from my diagnosis, and the milestone that has been my goal: stay cancer free for five years.

In the meantime, I am not feeling well – I am so tired, I am not sleeping well, I have headaches, I was not eating right. For a while, I didn’t have much of an appetite. When I did, rather than going back to my  low-fat diet, I began eating comfort food. This week, I brought home bags of fresh green vegetables and am determined to start eating right again. I fluctuate between feeling relief of getting to that five-year mark and the nagging stress of not feeling well and needing one more round of tests before the anniversary to make sure I am still okay.

Things that go through my head, that I try to dismiss:  Why am I so tired – as tired as I was when I had cancer? Because my cancer is back, or because I am grieving and not sleeping well?  What about my headaches? When reading, why do I see “red bed and butter” instead of “rye bread and butter”? Why am I having trouble with my speech? Because I’m getting aphasia, or because I didn’t rest well? Why am I so forgetful? Are these real and lasting memory problems, or is it just stress?

Those are things I wouldn’t admit to my friends, but somehow am okay with posting on the internet where other survivors can read them, because I know you understand what I’m talking about.

Underneath all of this, I somehow feel settled about things. Although I hate it when people say my mother “is in a better place,” I believe that my mother is okay and that she will always be present to me in ways that are more palpable than memory, because she is my mother, and she will not abandon me (a wonderful thing a friend said to me). I believe that I am probably still cancer free and will get through my checkup okay and that the lumps under my arm are from something else and will go away. And if they aren’t gone in two weeks, I will make an appointment to have them checked, as I do with other things that don’t go away. I believe that grief is a non-linear, inescapable process, part of being a human being, and I vow to try to learn from my children, who have lost their fathers, how to live with it with dignity.

And I believe that even if I don’t remain cancer-free, we are all playing our part in the unrelenting and majestic evolution of the cosmos, and I believe in what some people call the communion of saints or souls, and some people call the cosmic consciousness, and, as my sister says, “I believe in the seen and the unseen.” And I hope to learn courage from others who have gone before me.

Source

This article describes  how military researchers  developed what they are calling a cutting-edge cancer vaccine they say is slashing breast cancer recurrence rates and giving some survivors a better shot at a cancer-free future.

This story discusses the effect of ace inhibitors and beta blockers in breast cancer survivors.

Many visitors to this site have arrived here from Google searches asking whether Elizabeth Edwards had triple-negative breast cancer.  I’m copying information here from the Positives About Negative blog.
“Several readers have come to this site by Googling questions on whether Elizabeth Edwards has triple-negative breast cancer. She does not. Hers is responsive to both estrogen and progesterone. In its archives, WebMD has an interview in which Edwards talked about her cancer, its diagnosis, and her treatment.”

Elizabeth Edwards, RIP

“I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined…..Live daily with hope and the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world.” -Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards Dies of Cancer http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20101207/elizabeth-edwards-dies-of-cancer

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