Monday, April 9, 2012

Starbucks...my salvation?

I haven't been able to write for...what...five months?  Today I came to Starbucks to write a letter of recommendation for my friend who is applying to get into grad school for her MSW.  I was able to get it done rather quickly, in about an hour with minimal distractions.  There were just a couple of phone calls but no Nathan, no Sadie, no cleaning, no TV, no nothin'.

This plan of writing outside my apartment has been percolating in my mind for months.  Amanda told me that this particular Starbucks, the one further from my house, was better to work at.  There's a lot of room,  more tables and a bathroom.  True on all accounts.

January: Nathan's surgery is successful but soon we realize the recuperation is going to be horrendous, much worse than we imagined.  And everyone asks, "So when will he be back to "normal?"  Immediately after surgery, Weiser met with Sharon and me.  He briefed us on how well the surgery went and I asked about the "back to normal" time line as well.  His answer was, "every year it well get better" Um...did he say "EVERY YEAR?"  For some reason I had summer in mind or at least before the fall semester started.  Year? Every year?  My heart sank.  I remember we will never be "normal" again.  Not Nathan, not me. This might have been start of my downward spiral.

The week of the 24th (Nathan's birthday) - Sadie is very, very sick.  By the end of the week, I am sick too but think I chalk it up to allergies.  Yeah, allergies in January.  Who the hell am I kidding?  Some of my Vanderbilt girlfriends are coming into town for my birthday so I guess I really want it to be allergies but I after the weekend I face plant.  On my actual birthday, the 31st, I have a very high fever and have to be rushed to the cancer center.  I am put on IV antibiotics and fluids for four hours.  Volm tells me he is going to "try" to keep me out of the hospital.  Luckily, my fever drops and I am cleared to return home.  I haven't been sleeping because of the hacking cough every night which hasn't let me sleep at all.  I am prescribed a cough suppressant with codeine and my body finally finds the rest it's desperately needed for two weeks.

February:  After having been worn down for the latter part of January, I am starting at less than zero.  Chemo is kicking my ass.  Every weekend I am in bed watching Housewives of Somewhere or Other and I wanna be an American Idiot I mean Idol.  It's the search part of the show so you know what I mean about the idiots.  These pastimes do nothing to elevate my mood but my waistline is ballooning.  My vista springs from an almost constant supine position. My daily apparel changes are from one set of pajamas to another and, yes, clean underwear.  Thankfully, I don't give up on general hygiene.  Bathing and brushing my teeth continue, I even floss.  Shaving my legs isn't exactly a priority but the hair doesn't grow with any urgency and let's face it, there's no need.  Our sick-inflicted celibacy continues.  How long can we go on like this?

We close in on the middle of the month and I am a bona fide basket case.  Valentine's Day.  Everyone is hearts and roses and we are celebrating the anniversary of finding out Nathan has rectal cancer.  Celebrating isn't the right word.  Acknowledging, observing, crying, letting the flood gates open.  My social worker and shrink had warned me that "anniversaries' are often trying times for cancer patients.  I had no idea.  It is also an angry time for me.  With the anniversary, everyone around us is joyful and celebratory saying "wow, isn't it amazing?  A year ago, all this started and now you are both well." WHAT?  And I know what they are referring to and it's all my fault.  It was my naivet√©.  I was caught up in an exuberance.  The Today Show.  The "No Evidence of Disease" (N.E.D.) status. Nathan's surgery and a cherry on top.  None of it was or is that simple.  And it definitely isn't The Today Show's fault.  They were only following my lead.  I was doing cartwheels.  This was the news I'd been wanting to hear for almost a year.  I/we heard what we wanted to hear.  We heard what I/we wanted to hear.  We told everyone what they wanted to hear.  We jumped the gun.  The story was and is far from over...

57 comments:

  1. You don't know me but I check your blot regularly for updates and think of your family often. Cancer is a dick.

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    1. A friend of mine, "Marla" was diagnosed with cancer (type is ever changing) three years ago and given mere weeks to live. She is thriving today, although she will never be cancer free. She is truly the most optimistic, positive person I know. I asked her how she does it.....her answer shocked me. Another of her friends had a horribleyourgonnadiesoon cancer diagnosis 20 years prior. When she found out about "Marla's" diagnosis she called her and offered this advice. "Fuck it! Fuck caner. Fuck the diagnosis. Fuck the doctors. NOBODY knows what you're spirit and body are capable of except you. You can and WILL beat the living shit out of this." She decided that was going to be her mantra. Every time her doctor told her things were dismal, she said "Fuck you. Maybe you think you can't do anything about cancer, but I sure as hell can!" And she has. You and Nathan can and WILL kick cancer in the ass as well! KF

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  2. Karen Kristofferson SparksApril 9, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    I like the happily ever after ending better than the cliffhanger. Bet you did too. Think about you often friend. XOXO

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  3. I continue to send you and your family thoughts and prayers. If I could send you some more strength I would. No, your story is far from over, but remember, you do not walk this alone. You will never meet many of us, but we are all pulling for you. So, just look up at the stars and know we are all there for you in body and spirit and love!!

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  4. Hey hun. You have no idea how many people,including me, think of your family daily. Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do.

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  5. Thinking of you always, one day at a time, one day at a time!!!! Xxoo

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  6. Cancer anniversaries are hard indeed, and they stir up many kinds of emotions. I think of all of you daily and please know what an inspiration you are to many people and their families. Love you.

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  7. The race is not over, but you CAN kick this cancer's ass. There are so many people you have never met who are rooting for you. Nothing will ever be the same but you will love deeper and fight harder than you ever knew possible. When things are severely sucking, think of all the people in your corner. Keep going.

    Kim K-

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  8. I was so happy to hear anything from you or your family. No news I figure is good news and that you are kicking cancer's butt. I can't begin to imagine all that you have been through but you are still here as well as Nathan and still fighting. Please update us whenever you can. I am holding your family in the light. Keep fighting.

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  9. No, not over yet.. but be SO happy that you get to celebrate anniversaries. A dear friend of mine is sitting at a hospice facility at this moment waiting for her mom to die, 4 months after diagnosis.
    I think about you and Nathan all the time. You have gone through so much. Keep in mind, whatever GOD puts you through, he will pull you through. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. You got through a horrific year and I am certain you will power through anything out in front of you.
    My best to you and your family.

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  10. thanks so much for the honesty -- in Cancerland it can't all be yoplait/10k runs/pink flowers/happy times. So I don't know you or Nathan (or adorable Sadie) but I think of you often (from the hotter than the hinges of hell desert Tucson) and hope that you both regain physical strength and, as Steve Jobs said about cancer (paraphrasing) I'm either the last guy who's going to die from this disease or the first to live with it -- so here's to hoping that the days/moments/seconds get a bit easier/that one day No Evidence of Disease will mean not just cancer free but completely in remission -- that you and Nathan will get past sick induced celibacy and all the tired times and come through the other side for just some normal painfree days are. Peace, Laura

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  11. The fact that you are able to go to Starbucks and write is a testament to your strength & resolve. I will continue to pray for your physical & emotional well-being.

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  12. What ByHisGrace said... exactly what I was thinking. I can only imagine how difficult your days must be, but it's clear you have the courage and the love to see you through it and thrive again, so I'm cheering you on, hoping you see smooth sailing once again as a family.

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  13. Thank you for checking in. As others have said, you have no idea how many total strangers are pulling for you guys. So nice to hear even when it isn't entirely what you want to say! Hang tough!!!

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  14. I'M PRAYING FOR YOU ALL-
    KEEP FINDING THE STRENGTH...
    SAW YOUR STORY ON THE TODAY SHOW-
    CHECKING YOUR BLOG OFTEN-
    THIS REALLY SUCKS FOR YOU ALL- KEEP ON IT!

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  15. It's so good to hear from you no matter what the news is. I've never met you or your family and yet I find myself worrying about you and Nate and Sadie when you don't write for a long time. I wish so many good things for you all.

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  16. I am with Laura - I check your blog out a few times a week to make sure there isn't an update. My husband had cancer and the treatment is worse than the disease sometimes. Thinking of you and all of you are in my prayers. Wish we could do more than just offer words of support.

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  17. There is a lot of good in the phrase "every year it will get better." Acknowledgement that there are YEARS ahead of you! Look at it this way and expect that the worst of it is behind both of you. Like so many others, I think of you all often. Be well and keep writing...

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  18. Your entry was so honestly written. I am two years from my bi-lateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation. The chemo has damaged me from top to bottom. Recovery, or whatever they call it, is certainly not what it is cracked up to be. But I am so glad to be alive. I know you are too. What a blessing being able to do some house work now and then, and to sit at a different Starbucks, and to be with Nate and Sadie. We gotta get joy from the small things. Praying for ya'.

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  19. I check your blog regularly as well for updates on you and Nathan. The strength in your words, when you speak about Nathan or Sadie, your family and friends. So many people are praying for all of you - Maybe it is more like that little engine that could (says the mom of a 3 year old) - you chug your way up the mountain, I think I can, I think I can - and then after what seems like a long journey, you make it to the top - I knew I could, I knew I could.

    Stephanie

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  20. Holy shit! You are in Starbuck's writing this?? Good For You! Hear that Cancer, Elisa is in Starbuck's writing to all of us so Fuck off. You can't take her down no matter how hard you try. Elisa and Nathan are true testaments to the spirit. I think about your family always and each day look for an update, good, bad, or indifferent. Just to see you let us know what's going on is a blessing. Keep fighting, keep writing. You and your family are always in my prayers.

    :) Chrisie

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  21. I second what Anonymous wrote at 7:24 a.m. April 10. Your mind is a very powerful tool. Our thoughts are with you and your family always. They say there is strength in numbers - I do believe you have numbers...

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  22. Good morning,
    Day 41 since my diagnosis of anal cancer. Day 11 of chemo and radiation. The side effects are beginning to slowly kick in and I am doing all I can to be proactive. I do gain my strength from you and your family - your blog and the honesty you express through your words. I understand the pressure to keep everyone updated and I understand the effort it takes to do just that. THANK YOU for just the littlest word from your heart. It keeps me going as well as many others. Being able to support you from afar is a blessing to so many of us who are strangers. I pray for pain free healing for Nathan and you and myself. I will beat this just as you and Nathan will.

    Much love and support,
    Lisa in League City, Texas

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  23. I have been a supporter from afar. Our family too has had it's struggle...your story, I'm not going to lie, started as a "holy sh%t, things can always be scarier." I so admire your honesty. In August what was the "end" to our family challenge - the death of my 4 year old - to so many, was just another step in this whole process. It to was my fault, I recognized early on in my caringbridge blog that people needed me to help them understand. I wrote only the positive emotions...great for therapy, not so great when you really need to reach out and say how bad it sucks and how even the "successes" are so emotionally draining. Our family continues sending out positive vibes and throwing in a few of our own curse words to the universe on your behalf. Your strenghth is admirable, but hey, like you have a choice. ; )

    Brandy in KCK

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  24. Linda P. Chattanooga, TennesseeApril 10, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    My husband has survived rectal cancer (19 yrs. ago), lung cancer (2 yrs. ago) and a staff infection that the doctor told me he had less than a 5% chance of beating (6 yrs. ago). He is alive and kicking today and 72 years old. You CAN beat it!!! Nothing is hopeless!!

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  25. You have such a way with words and your wit is beyond amazing. I pray for you and Nathan daily. Thank you for updating all of us on your blog. Your such an inspiration!

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  26. It's not naive to celebrate the good times, babe. We all celebrated with you and will keep celebrating. Love you.

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  27. Hang in there...every day is a gift. I think about you all the time. CANCER SUCKs but you are a tough one and it has no chance! We live with a diagnosis too, my husband has lymphoma...its a new normal and i think about it very day. You two are inspirational....XOXOX

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  28. Elisa, thank you so much for your honesty. I follow several blogs because my mom died of cancer and I have a little girl with a birth defect--and that has been very hard on us. Reading people's blogs helps me know I am not alone and that shit happens to other people. I get very sick of reading the blogs that say "it's all in God's hands and Thank you Jesus, etc. etc. etc." Always trying to put a positive spin on something that is not so positive, and quoting scripture when all we really want to know is how is the person doing. Sure there are positive moments and I want to celebrate those, but your absolute honestly is so refreshing to me. I find myself having to read through the lines on those other blogs to really know how the person is doing. I don't have to do that with your blog. It's OK to celebrate the NED prematurely. We all want to celebrate something. And we understand that it's not all gone away. I do pray for you and think of you and Nathan all the time. xoxoxo

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  29. I don't pretend to know how you are feeling or even dealing with this dark cloud that has taken over your lives the past year but I do know that I will continue to pray for your family. I have always considred myself a Christian but until recently I have never actually read the Bible like I should. I started reading it over & over in many scriptures it tells you to ask God & be specific about what you ask for & he will give it to you. Don't give up, ask Jesus for what you want & need & I will also ask for your healing too. Your in my thoughts & Prayers.

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  30. I haven't had cancer, nor has anyone in my immediate family, so I don't know if this would work at all, but it's worth a try. Maybe you guys can all take those anniversaries back. Instead of being about cancer, make them about....giant stacks of pancakes. Like REALLY big, hysterically huge stacks of pancakes. Make them movie marathon days, start new flower seed days, buying new shoes days, taking a drive days, ANYTHING!!! You all have every right to be incredibly pissed, but perhaps if you change the association a bit it won't make you as angry down the road. Like I said, not sure if it would work at all...but I like being in charge and this seems like a way to do it. Anywho...sending healthy, happy and positive thoughts to you and yours!

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  31. Thanks goodness for StarBucks! It's great to get a update so go for coffee whenever you can.

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  32. Oh am I glad to hear from you!! I check your blog daily to see what is going on with your wonderful family. I know it's very hard to hear the things that you have heard recently, but you are ALIVE!!! My uncle died 2 yrs ago of Colo rectal cancer after only finding out in Feb, he had surgery & chemo & passed away that June. I pray for your family everyday. There are a lot of people out here celebrating with you & rooting for your family. Stay strong Bond family!! xoxoxo!!!!

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  33. I think, like everyone has said, we're all behind you, whether it's to celebrate with you or to try and boost your spirits when things suck. I would venture to guess that more people than not were thrilled with your news at Christmas but still aware enough to know that your fight is never going to be over.

    It's not too dissimilar from someone getting a diagnosis of diabetes or any other chronic disease; it's something you will have to work with and fight the rest of your life, but it's not always going to be as heavy a burden as it is right now. You will regain control over more of your life and your "new" normal will evolve as things get better.

    This isn't going to be a sprint; it's a long distance marathon, so buy some decent sneakers...

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  34. Elisa, just know that we are here for you, Nathan & Sadie. Even if it's virtually, you have my (and I'm certain, the rest of the virtual concerned strangers who feel we're your new friends) support. I'm so glad you were able to post and can only imagine the roller coaster ride you're on. Please stay strong!!! Sending healing hugs and vibes to you all.

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  35. I don't know you or your family but i check in every week to check to see how you are doing. i pray that you both will get better for you little girl. God never gives you more than you can handle. SO I SAY YOU MUST BE ABLE TO HANDLE A WHOLE LOT AND THE END HAS TO BE NEAR.
    LOVE YOUR FAMILY,
    STEPHANIE (cherryville, NC.)

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  36. After reading what i wrote it does not sound like i want it to. I want the pain and suffering that you both have endured to be over and you will be healthy and live a long and healthy life.
    sorry for the misunderstanding.
    Stephanie

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  37. Bad days, good days, we're here for you. Maybe think of us well-wishers as your own little army of soldiers kicking the bejeebers out of the cancer. One battle at a time. Wishing you Patience, Strength, and Hope.

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  38. I don't know if you are a hunger games reader but you are like Katniss - the heroine who never asked for it but was just put in a shitty situation and did what she had to to survive and for her family. You didn't ask for this but you are an inspiration. Stay strong - from yet another stranger (Brooklyn born) who keeps your family in my thoughts.

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  39. So glad to hear from you! Just keep on keeping on. :)

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  40. I'm one of many who thinks of you and your family all the time and I try to send some healing energy across the ether to you. I recognized so much of what you wrote in this post. The jubilant elation when given a speck of good news and the eventual realization that things are quite so easy as you had wished ... dreamed. And yes, if someone had said YEARS (plural) to me when I was dragged onto this path, I would have choked, too. But years it is and ... three years later ... I can say I'm starting to see the light. It's amazing what a person can endure. We're as strong as we have to be and you will continue to be, too, I know. But heck, it's ultimately a rollercoaster and the "downs" are a part of it. May you have more ups than downs. And I note that it's interesting what we will call an "up" sometimes.

    Remember to laugh. Laugh a lot.

    And F___ Cancer!

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  41. My husband and I are also Vanderbilt sweethearts - we've been married for six years now and have three children. I think of you all often. Your strength as a person shines through, despite your circumstances. You and your family are in my prayers.

    Rachel C. (A&S 2001)

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  42. Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things
    Henry Ward Beecher
    When i am going through one of my "normal" life crisis's, i think of you and your life. Talk about a reality check! Your strength, your honesty, your will are empowering. You and your family are always in my prayers.

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  43. You have every right to celebrate the good moments, and to be angry at the bad ones. My wish for you and your family is that the good exciting moments happen more and more often!! And the bad ones just keep fading away. Yes life will not be the same, but then again, the only constant in life is change. Thank you, you are an inspiration to many people.

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  44. Hi Guys,
    Just wanted to encourage you... I am almost 3 years post-diagnosis of stage 3 rectal cancer. Walked through the whole thing - radiation, surgery, ileostomy, chemo, ileostomy reversal (2 years ago). Yes, it's a long road and a new normal, but I feel great! I am praying for all of you as you continue on your journey.
    Laura
    www.laurashook.com

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  45. I am sorry you guys had a rough winter. I wish for you a happy spring and summer ahead, with lots of warmth and sun and cheerful days.

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  46. I am so grateful that you keep writing. So grateful for your honesty. I think I am one of many readers who, maybe a bit older, would trade in a couple of years to give them to you and your young family. But we can't and you can't and cancer sucks so it must suck big time when its two times over. You have my prayers and my deep good wishes for peace and for your baby and for what this life means.

    Diane C
    Loveinthetimeofcancer.blogspot.com

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  47. Anniversaries of that kind do suck. It's great that everyone is "better" but at the same time you are not even close to ending this war (I hope that doesn't sound like I'm being a downer). You and Nathan are so strong and such inspirations to so many. Please please keep that last part in mind when you are feeling down. I love keeping up with your posts and I think about your family often. Please stay strong you guys!

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  48. Awww, I love it! Writing from Starbucks. Actually that is one of my favorite hiding places! You go girl! I am sorry your anniversary was bitter sweet, but lets just say one bad year gone and believe the new year will bring a better year filled with continued health and happiness.

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  49. I just saw your video explaining your story and I just wanted to say you are both such strong, wonderful people and your daughter is very lucky to have you as parents! Very inspirational story. Keep it up!!

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  50. Elisa, my husband I were diagnosed 3 weeks apart and we have two little girls. When the first of the anniversaries came up, I thought I would pretend that it was 'just another day'. I tried. Go with it. It will suck. (sorry, brutal honesty, but I know exactly what you are taking about).

    I remember thinking if someone said the phrase "new normal" one more time that I would punch them in the face.

    I am so sorry you are living this. Somedays it's hard to believe, then other days you forget for a minute, and it's like you have been on vacation for 60 seconds and you would give anything to get it back.

    I get it.

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  51. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com

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  52. It is hard when you tell people you have had the cancerous parts removed they think it is over and you are well. I know you are not I spent the last year on chemo for breast cancer and it is rough on body and soul. I cannot imagine what you are going thru both of you having cancer while having a ball of energy named Sadie to look after. God Bless all of you and prayers for you.

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  53. I don't know you personally but I have been following your blog off and on. I have/had/? two cancers and understand the post jubilation nosedive. It was hard to explain that I wasn't quite as excited when a colleague was certified cancer free. I mean I was happy but I know her life and body are changed forever.
    Anniversaries are a bitch, somehow for me that first phone call after an ultrasound saying I needed a biopsy, the call that tipped the dominoes of two cancers is a hard one.
    I vividly remember lying on the table getting a needle biopsy with this song playing on the CD player. I disappeared into the song and somehow knew that I was on the brink of something much larger than I could comprehend.
    Oddly enough, this song is now one of the most comforting to me.
    http://youtu.be/y5JicO2bKec
    Melinda

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  54. Thanks for your post,i like your post,look forwarded to reading more, keep posting like this...

    Bonding Treatment

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  55. Even those of us who might not post here or on Facebook have you and your family in our hearts. Sending little love, healing energy in massive doses.

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