Tag Archives: terminal illness

Recommended Reading

Check out my reviews of recent books on death, dying, illness, and grief. So many excellent books!

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July Update

It is already July, and the lilies are blooming! I had hoped to enjoy some chemo-free months this summer, but it seems that is not to be. My disease is progressing quickly again, so I will be starting the second … Continue reading

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June Update

I feel bad that I haven’t posted anything but updates lately (I have several posts waiting for revision when we get a rainy day), but I very much enjoyed the wonderful spring instead of spending time with my laptop. I … Continue reading

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Spring Update

I’m not on my deathbed just yet! Friends are surprised when they see me out and about at a café or art gallery, looking unexpectedly well (despite also looking grotesquely pregnant), so it seems another update is in order. The … Continue reading

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On Imagining

Last October (2017) I was sitting in a café with Roy and took out my journal to write. I didn’t feel like writing. The cafe was too crowded and busy, not a space for that kind of inward focus. So … Continue reading

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April Update

I’ve realised again that some friends are wondering how I am. My sense of time has never been very good, and it’s even stranger now. So I am amazed that it is already three months, a quarter of a year, … Continue reading

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A short video on dying

Dr. Kathryn Mannix, a palliative care doctor, describes how gentle the dying process can be in this short BBC Ideas IMHO video, “Dying is not as bad as you think”.

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My Article in the Huffington Post!

I’m pretty thrilled to have this piece in Huffpost Personal published today! Yesterday, International Women’s Day, was the anniversary of my surgery, but the conversation I recount in the first paragraph of this article happened exactly a year ago today. How’s … Continue reading

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On International Women’s Day

Today, International Women’s Day, is the anniversary of my surgery and diagnosis. I met my surgeon only moments before being wheeled into the operating room. (I had met her colleague once, but he was now away.) She was hugely pregnant … Continue reading

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Audre Lorde on Dying Full of Fire!

This is extraordinary poet Audre Lorde, on how to really live while dying: I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I … Continue reading

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On Technology

I had hoped my phone would outlive me. I hate wasting my time on technology, and I didn’t want to spend any of the precious little time I have left learning how to use a new device. Already last month … Continue reading

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A Preview of Paradise!

I thought I didn’t need a vacation from my sick leave, but I see now how much more deeply I am relaxing and recuperating from the chemo here in gorgeous Costa Rica! And just enjoying! With the crashing of the … Continue reading

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On Travel

When I returned from London in December, I was unwell and sure I would not travel again. Yet here I am on a plane somewhere, perhaps over Florida, on my way to Costa Rica. Last year Roy and I had … Continue reading

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Roy’s Article in the Huffington Post!

I am so thrilled with this! Roy has a beautiful article up for Valentine’s Day in Huffpost: My Girlfriend Is Dying Of Terminal Cancer, But Here’s Why I Still Feel Lucky! I know I am the lucky one to have … Continue reading

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Late December Update

I was admitted to the hospital yesterday (a different hospital due to ongoing communication issues with my gyne-oncology team) to get a jump start on treatment. Giving into my dad’s persistence, I had a consultation with a specialist in my … Continue reading

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On Pain and Perspective

So far today, I have not been overcome by fatigue. Nor have I struggled against pain and discomfort. It’s not quite noon yet, and I’ve been up since eight. So this has been a good morning. I’ve even had enough … Continue reading

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Please Give Blood!

Last year I received several blood transfusions and put out a call for friends and family to donate blood, especially as I no longer can. (Also to please sign their organ donor cards! I have a friend waiting for a … Continue reading

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December Update #2

I got through my last goodbye hug with Nathan at the open door of a taxi in the middle of a busy street in London on Monday morning. It was a hard moment. But I’m glad I didn’t put the … Continue reading

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Roy’s Blog: Poppins

This is Roy’s latest post, Poppins, in full. Poppins I said goodbye to Susan the other day. She was leaving for London for two weeks and I dropped her at the airport. Planning to spend some nights at her son’s apartment, … Continue reading

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On Leaving a Loved One

The other day while knitting, for diversion I picked one of the first movies that popped up in the first fringe netflix category I could find. It was Our Souls at Night starring the aged Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything Repost: Oliver’s Answers

Here are Oliver’s answers to the questions a class of college students in a course called Death and Dying had for him about his mom being near death. I was so proud of his courage, generosity, and thoughtfulness in writing … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #10: Staying Positive

This is the last question from the college class, and it’s an important one. How do you stay positive? Don’t you ever think this is unfair, or ask why me? I do believe that our attitudes are, to a considerable … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #7: Bucket List

(This “ask me anything” answer is in response to a class of young college students’ questions.) Do you have a bucket list? No! I’ve always disliked not only the term, but the whole idea. The only things I really wanted … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #6: Speaking Up

Do you speak up for yourself more?                      I actually do speak up for myself a little more than I used to. Since I don’t have much time, I’m less tolerant of people wasting that time with superficial nonsense, insincerity, or … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #5: Regrets

(This “ask me anything” answer is in response to a class of young college students’ questions.) Do you have any regrets? Or, is there anything you would have done differently in your life if you’d known you’d die at this … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #3: Assisted Dying

(This “ask me anything” answer is in response to a class of young college students’ questions.) Would you consider assisted dying? Yes, I would. It is not my plan, however. I hope to die naturally, with pain control and other … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #2: Preparing

(This “ask me anything” answer is in response to a class of young college students’ questions.) How are you preparing yourself? At first I had to “put my affairs in order,” which means writing or updating a will (which should … Continue reading

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Ask Me Anything #1! Initial Reactions

Kelly McKinney, a teacher at John Abbott College in Montreal, recently asked me if I would participate in her Humanities course called Views on Death and Dying. We went with an “ask me anything” format, so the students sent me … Continue reading

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October Update

I haven’t written here in a while, mostly because we had a long bout of fantastically sunny, summery weather, making it impossible to sit in front of my laptop, and then I had a wonderful week in the Baltic visiting … Continue reading

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Roy’s Blog: The eye of the storm

Roy wrote this post that perfectly expresses the strange in-between state we are in with this cancer thing. I was going to write about this time of relative wellness, but he has done it for me with just the right … Continue reading

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On Grief, the Shadow of Joy

I noticed this morning that I had labeled the front of my journal Summer 2016. I don’t write very regularly, so the notebook still isn’t filled, even at the end of Summer 2017. Curious about what I was thinking last … Continue reading

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Roy’s Blog: What to say and not to say

My boyfriend has written a super helpful (and funny!) post about how to respond to someone sharing their bad news about a loved one’s diagnosis on his blog, And sometimes it goes the other way. This is a companion piece … Continue reading

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Guest Post by Oliver

My son Oliver and I recently accepted an invitation to answer some “ask me anything” questions from a class of college students in a course called Death and Dying. Here are Oliver’s answers to the questions they had for him … Continue reading

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Book Recommendation

The Bright Hour is a radiant book. Nina Riggs brings her fine sensibility and craft as a poet to her heart-wrenching yet funny memoir about facing death as a young wife and the mother of two little boys. Structuring her book … Continue reading

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On Giving Gifts

I have written here before about receiving gifts, and of the sweetness of gratitude. I do believe that gratitude is one of the cornerstones of happiness. But lately I’ve been thinking even more of giving gifts, of what I want … Continue reading

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On More Time

(Please note this post was written last August. Sometimes I write things and don’t get around to publishing them. Some of the information here is related to that time only.) Time is a strange thing, and our relationship with it is … Continue reading

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On Pain and Palliative Care

This morning I was reading The Art of Death by Edwidge Danticat. In it she recounts how her own mother refused all pain medication as she was dying of ovarian cancer because she didn’t want to be “gaga” at the … Continue reading

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On Motherhood

I’ve been a mother half my life. Nearly a quarter century, and most of my adulthood. In all that time, I have been trying to figure out how to mother in a way that feels right. Or at least with … Continue reading

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On what to say to someone who has terminal cancer or any other terrible illness

We are all shocked and upset when we hear the bad news of another person’s diagnosis. We want to express a whole bunch of difficult emotions, but there truly aren’t adequate words. Most of us are worried we will say … Continue reading

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On Paths

Something about paths is so poignant to me. Naturally occurring paths, those that happen just because others have taken that way before: they are invitations. A dirt path worn across a vacant lot or cutting a corner, through the woods … Continue reading

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