But I Feel Fine!


Except for the hole in the back of my knee and a leaky incision where my lymph node was extracted, I wouldn’t think anything was wrong with me. I feel great! How can I be sick? How can I have Cancer? How can it be stage 3a?

I went back to see my surgeon on Tuesday and as she was checking and redressing my melanoma golf-ball sized scoop, I asked if there were any results from the surgery a week before.

“We have a lot to talk about,” she said.

My heart sank. I kept my composure as she finished wrapping my leg. She left the room and I had a moment to look in the mirror and tell myself to keep it together. She returned with the paperwork.

She said it was very surprising that there was no melanoma in the surrounding skin behind my knee. I’m pleased about that, but man, that site is fugly! It hasn’t healed yet so we are waiting even longer to proceed with the skin graft.

Then she said that melanoma was present in the sentinel lymph node removed from my thigh, putting me from stage 1 to stage 3a just like that. Huh? Is this really happening to me? I feel fine!

She told me what was to happen next: PET, CT and MRI scans. These will determine if there is more cancer in my body and where. We will also take out more lymph nodes in another surgery that will require a hospital stay. That surgery puts me at risk of lymphedema.

I asked her: “Is this when people cry?”

She told me that there have been great strides made in melanoma research in the past five years, more than in the prior 50 years combined. She said: “THERE’S HOPE!”

I shall cling tenaciously. I have raced in three 70.3 Ironman events on Hawaii Island that were hotter than hell. I have swum in three Waikiki Roughwater Swims and walked back to the start to drive home. I have had my tendon burst and three miscarriages. I think I have the tenacity to get through this, too.

I will face many decisions to proceed or not. Through tearful discussions with my husband, we’ve pretty much determined that each decision will be toward prolonging my life.

I wasn’t expecting that at 56 I’d be having these conversations, and then breaking down at the prospect of not seeing my girls grow up. I don’t know if I’ll be able to observe them from a parallel universe or from a cloud in the sky, but I do know that right here would be best.

I always thought that as a life-long athlete who swam, went on hikes, surfed, rode a bike and managed a half-assed run, that I’ve been adding years to my life bank. I expected to be a Blue Zone girl, who in her 80s-90s could paddle a surfboard and pedal a bike, and maybe achieve some new PRs. Don’t I have another 40 years to be a feisty fun force?

Since melanoma is a sneaky bastard, my medical team is moving things along as quickly as we can. I’m getting the PET tomorrow, the CT on Tuesday.

About two years ago, when my unemployment ran out, no one would hire me, and I had to do cart rodeo at the local big box as a short-term hire (read: piece of meat), my sadness was so deep that I sometimes had wished I were dead. It wasn’t just those things, it was so much more. I’m a sensitive person, I take too much too personally and it isn’t a good way to be. I sought counseling. When I met my therapist, she said that I looked like someone who was beaten down, enveloped in my own sad cloud world. None of these feelings were because of my family. No matter how bad it got for me outside our door, they never let me down. I even felt guilty about how hard they had to work to pull me out of my personal pit. Antidepressants don’t make you glassy eyed and oblivious. They keep you on an even keel. You can still be hurt, you can get irritated at other drivers, you still worry about your bills, and you think people are stupid when they talk loudly or smoke. Antidepressants do not put wings on your back and make your heart unbreakable.

So I want to erase all those times when I wished I were dead. I’ve told the universe that I really didn’t mean it. Imagine if such thoughts were to come true for all of us? What a mess this world would be.

So many of you have reached out in love and offered me your time, your thoughts, your prayers and companionship. Thank you for being such a fine safety net. My husband and my girls will need that, too. They are so very strong for me, but I worry.

My new challenge. Am I pedaling fast enough? Am I pushing a hard enough gear? Triathlon training makes you dig deep and fortifies you to stick to it through the finish line. Maybe this is the race I’ve been training for all this time?

The Curly Peg in a Straight and Square World

It has always been the case, and at this stage in my life, I’ve accepted it better than anyone else in the world — I don’t quite fit here, there, just about everywhere. My husband gets it, so that makes me one of the luckiest and happiest women alive.

Do not marry a man who does not get you.

Because. Because the rest of the world doesn’t. I’m OK with it. I’m at peace with it. I do not need the world to get me. I do not need to fit into anyone’s mold. I do not fit in a cube nor a corporate mold. I question authority and sometimes in the past I’ve actually suspected my bosses to be as dumb as boxes of rocks. Sucking up embarrasses me and it embarrasses me to witness sucking up  by others. The people being sucked up to? How do they live with themselves?

So there’s that thing called Hell. It’s either here on earth or somewhere after you die. Mine is here. Thanks. Because when I die it won’t be there. Love that.

This week I tried my best to complete an article but it required massive sucking up and as you might know by now, by this paragraph, by knowing me in real life or virtually, that I am not one for kissing ass. It felt absolutely liberating to walk away. Anything that requires me to be something or experience something that I cannot embrace is just not worth it. Rediculous. Principles, people. Have principles.

Your zone is golden and I need a secret password to enter?

Did it ever occur to you that it doesn’t matter?

Be yourself. I’m living proof that you’ll survive. It’s a bumpy life, but it’s living.

Invigorating Insecurity

Since I’m still a young, vibrant, and daring risk taker, and because I have a fantastic support system, I’m finally giving myself a chance to relax into this mode of self fulfillment. It is the hardest thing for me to do. I have never put myself first without letting it be accompanied by guilt and embarrassment. In fact, it’s pretty embarrassing to assert the ME before the WE even today. It is something I am letting wash over me.

I enjoy the puzzle of life and the search for peace. My pleasures come from my family, my marriage, my quest to be a triathlete, my writing, and the turtle I swim over when out in the ocean. I’ve enjoyed jobs I’ve had, and I’ve also suffered at work. Now that I’m a writer in the wild, I’m letting myself work in the yard while I write in my head. I plant seeds and I pull weeds, I get things done while not missing the metaphor for the work I am also doing within my heart and soul.

A few months ago I was asked to read and review “I Believe: When What You Believe Matters!” by Eldon Taylor. It’s a Hay House publication, with which a lot of people who are into the search for fulfillment are familiar. I have read “The Secret” and its subsequent life manuals and I feel as though I still have this thorn of disbelief that I need to work out of my system.

I get skeptical. Why can’t we all conclude that people who write and sell life guides are successful because so many people are willing to pay for their words? How many of us think, I’d like to get into that life coaching racket and make heaps of money selling my book and hypnosis CDs on QVC and eBay? How many of us say hell no I ain’t walkin’ on hot coals?

But then you get to the point where you figure, why the heck not? It’s true that when you’re feeling good, the goodness grows. When you help someone out, you feel a lot better yourself. When you smile at somebody who is down in the dumps, that smile might turn their whole world around.

This morning I was down in the dumps. A tourist taking pictures of the beautiful Hawaii scenery smiled at me and I let it cheer me right up. I thought to myself, I should smile back, and it was kind of hard to do, I was all stiff in the face like the Tin Man, but I managed and I was so grateful for that one little greeting from a stranger. Such a simple act, so easy to return. Why can’t we all be like that?

“I Believe:…”, if you’re ready for it, will help you examine your inner navel. It is easy to remain in a funk. Just like exercise, it’s hard to take that first step to change thoughts that have been  embedded into your self talk for your entire life. I’ve made a commitment to like me and appreciate the ups and downs of life. There is value in every experience, and that means there is value in leaving an unsatisfying job, popping an Achille’s tendon, or missing an email. Each of these things has happened to me. I know these things add value in my life. I’m never quite sure where they will take me or what the outcome will be, but I have to give up and let the results wash over me like wavelets as they recede into the ocean and all you hear is the sand singing as salty sea foam bubbles pop. Be quiet, listen, wonder.

More often than not I let myself recede into the gulf of gloom, and it takes a lot of effort to tell myself to snap out of it. That’s why I’m trying a different tack. Taylor’s “I Believe…” has anecdotes and his take on how best to live. Sometimes we need parables to get through the day. It helps us connect with people who have struggled and have succeeded.

I think a lot of life coaches and modern philosophers aren’t really inventing anything when they market to the insecure. They cite Buddha, Jesus, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Mohammed, and Gandhi. They are giving us directions that have existed forever on how to navigate through life.

This Just In: Developing Story


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading The Secret. A few years ago I watched the movie and a few months ago I felt like everything was going wrong so I decided to get all quantum physical … Continue reading