Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's all about control

A woman whose blog I read is being treated for a recurrence of cancer. Of course it brought back all my fears. She mentions people telling her she should be strong or have a positive attitude.

I am so tired of hearing this. A positive attitude does not affect cancer outcomes.

But, we so want it too. If we are suffering from cancer (and aren't irredeemably mean and nasty like me), we want it to be so. We want to have some control.

If we are not suffering right now, we so want it to be true. We want to save our mother, sister, brother, father, son, daughter, friend. I think even more we want to tell ourselves that it can't happen to me. Or if it does, it won't kill me. I have a good attitude.

The other thing that drives me crazy is that we can save ourselves from cancer by making life style choices. Well, yes, we reduce our risks by not smoking. But not smoking does not mean that we won't get lung cancer. You might have never smoked or been around smokers and lung cancer may strike. On a broad scale, there are things people can do, but it won't save individuals. Exercise, eating right, herbal remedies.

Yes, I'm still angry. I'm angry about the stuff I read, particularly by people who have never had cancer. I'm sure people are well meaning, but it really doesn't help.

We want to be in control of our lives. But we are not. As my son reminds me, it is probably more likely that I will be killed by a crazy Memphis driver than die from cancer.

And so, I want to be present every moment. I want to live every moment. I want to enjoy what I have been given. I want to love those around me. (And there's a very long list of places I want to go.) I want to do what I can to be healthy, knowing that ultimately it is not in my control.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five Things to Like (or not) about summer

Songbird asks about summer. Five things to like or not.

Summer in Memphis is different from summer in Cleveland. Summer in Cleveland is something to look forward to. Sun and warmth after months of clouds and cold, cold, cold. Summer in Memphis is something to dread. Heat and humidity and more heat and humidity. Four to five months of temperatures and humidity too high to do anything after 7:30 in the morning. And this is the first year since I've moved to Memphis that I've spent the entire summer here.

1. Summer vacation. I'm not taking one this year. Summer was the great release from school when I was a child. Time to do anything or nothing. We never traveled much, though my dad for a few years went to a medical meeting in Morehead City. We'd rent a house in Atlantic City near the ocean. Summer meant camp. I'd go to Camp Grier for a week. Camp Grier was our Presbytery's camp in the mountains. Even though I lived fairly near to Montreat, the great Presbyterian Center in the NC mountains, because of the camp, we almost never went there. I think I went there twice as a child. I'd get to spend time with relatives in the mountains. One aunt had a house in Blowing Rock and another lived in Sparta.

2. Lots of sunshine. Cleveland winters were mostly gray. I think we could go 100 or more days with NO sunshine. So summer sunshine was something to treasure. Lots of time to be outside.

3. Respite from garden chores. In Cleveland, Mother's Day was the beginning of the time to put in annuals. I'd spend weekend days from April through May trying to get the gardens around the house shaped up. By the time summer finally arrived, all I needed to do was occasional weeding and then, enjoy the gardens.

Can't think of anything else.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I want to be

I want to be Annie Dillard
or Mary Oliver
turning day into deep awe
looking at ordinary things
and finding God

I want deep thoughts
in place of linear, surface
I want density, volume, depth

I want to share awe, love, meaning, life
The magenta hydrangea
The green fern dappled in morning sun
The blue jay wary--a blue jay wary?
stepping into the pool of water

To craft wonder into words

Friday, June 18, 2010

Survivor's guilt

I have it. I got a good report from my CA-125 test (a marker for ovarian cancer). But a friend I know only through blogging has melanoma metastasized to her blood and bones. She young, just finished seminary. Another friend has cancer that spread to four of the nearest lymph glands. She'll be doing chemo then radiation.

Overall survival rates for 5 years is 44.2 percent (stats from 2002). But, it has a 93 percent rate for those cancers that are localized, which mine was. To be so unlucky, I was really lucky.

It's so hard for me to process this. I can't imagine that I have had cancer. It seems so unreal. So not me. But I know the anxiety. And I worry about friends who are much too young with much worse prognoses than mine.

Cancer is so random and so unfair.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I went canoeing yesterday on a small lake in Arkansas. While I was on the lake, I noticed a tree trunk. There was nothing very special about the tree trunk (the rest of the tree was attached, but the limbs and leaves were lost in the sprawl of other trees). It was stunning. Simply stunning. The gray bark, the slightly sinuous turn of the tree. Just a tree.

I am fortunate to be alive. To simply be alive. I am doubly blessed for being born in this place and time where I have the time and ability to spend a morning in a canoe on a lake. Many in our world struggle each day to find enough food, enough water to live. Girls trying to get an education are poisoned or have acid thrown in their faces. Mothers watch helplessly as their children die of malnutrition, of diarrhea. Girls going for water are raped. I don't face any of that, and I have the time and means to just sit in a canoe and enjoy God's world.

I was listening to Speaking of Faith. Ellen Davis was speaking of the centrality of land in the Hebrew Bible. We do not respect the land or farmers. We have let greed overwhelm all. Food is grown by corporations who do not care for the land. Coal is mined by corporations who do not care for the beauty of the mountaintop nor the sacredness of the lives of their workers. Oil is produced by corporations who care not for the fish or the coral reefs or their own workers.

It is not the corporations. They are run by people who satisfy the desires of each of us for cheaper goods: cheap food, cheap oil so that we can drive big, expensive cars and sit in air conditioned comfort in the heat and humidity of summer.

I wish the world were different. I'm not sure I wish it enough to change. (Shall I set my airconditioner up a couple of degrees? Shall I walk to the store, half a mile away instead of driving? Shall I send a contribution to a charity in Pakistan to educate women or in Dafur to save women? Shall I stay home next Saturday instead of using a tank of gas to drive to a lake in Arkansas? Shall I make more drastic changes? Not fly half way across the world?)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Five Work Out Edition

As I sit here, looking at the temperature outside (77 degrees, 90 % humidity), the work out edition of Friday Five beckons.

From Mompriest at RevGalBlogPals

1. Do you work out physically, spiritually, or psychologically? (I'll let you define what that might mean to you)
My goal is to work out 6 days a week. This week I'll hit four or five (going canoeing on Saturday, so don't know whether that will count, skipped yesterday). My goal is to run three days a week, bike three days a week and swim a couple of times, plus weights, stretching and Pilates. I try to journal every day and do centering prayer. No, I don't have enough time to work.

2. Are you more inclined to join a gym, or a book club?
Yes. Actually, I am a member of both.

3. Are you more inclined to read self-help books like Gail Sheehy's "Passages" or spiritual books like Richard Rohr or Theresa of Avila? And if so, what is your favorite?
I've pretty much stopped reading self help books. I read exercise books (Running until you're 100 is the last). I'm reading Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird (recommended by Robin at Metanoia) and will be teaching a class on centering prayer beginning in about 10 days. I have no favorite. My real favorites are mysteries, particularly those with female protagonists. I loved the first and third of Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first.

4. Are you a loyal fan of a sports team? Or do you join the bandwagon when the local team is winning? And, if so, which one?
Yes. My college team and the Cleveland Cavs.

5. Or do you lean more toward having a favorite theologian/Spiritual writer or self help author and if so, who? And, why.
I really don't. I read wide and far. I suppose if one it would be Thich Nhat Hanh.
Bonus: What was the last play-off series you watched and did your team win?
The NCAA Basketball March Madness. Yes, my team won. Go Duke!

OK Now it's time to take the garbage and recycling out and then run.