Flying Sheik

In the early fall of 2011, Bob and I drove down to Tampa to pick up our new dog – who raced three whole maiden races (winning one) – and we call now Sheiky.  Bob flew home, and (the late, greyt) Myke Stewart and I drove back with Sheiky.  I had plans for him.  We would be constant companions.  He would go everywhere with me.  He would even learn to do stairs – something my previous greyhounds had never learned.

Image may contain: one or more people, dog, child and outdoor

Myke went back to Florida, and fall turned to winter.  I had a cold…or cough…or something that I just couldn’t shake.  Multiple visits to my long-time fancy doctor resulted in assorted antibiotic prescriptions, but no firm diagnosis nor cure.

By spring, not only was I really sick, but I also decided a change in doctors was in order.  On my first visit, he took my history, listened to my chest and my cough, and directly admitted me to the hospital for pneumonia treatment.  I was in and out a couple of times before a pulmonologist did his favorite test, and came back with a diagnosis of untreatable lung cancer.  I was sent home to die.

All I could do was lay on the couch, while Sheiky snuggled with me.  The fascinating thing was that his paws were almost always in the same place on my chest.  Later CT scans showed that he kept his paws on the places of the largest tumors in my lungs and chest.  Almost like a healing minister, laying hands on a supplicant.  Actually…exactly like that.

Image may contain: 1 person

A few weeks later, the pulmonologist called to say biopsies had disproved the lung cancer diagnosis, and that I actually had a rare but treatable form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  What followed was a long period of chemo, PETscans, remission, remission failure…rinse…repeat.  A stem cell transplant.

Sheiky and I spent a lot of quality couch time together.  Actually, the only time he was stand-offish was when I came home from 5 weeks in the transplant center.  The meds that they used to keep the stem cells fit for transplant made them smell like tomato soup.  That’s what I smelled like when I came home, and it freaked him out.  But only for a couple of days.  Then, we were back on the couch together.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

I worked myself up to walking a 5k in April of 2016.  It was a lot of work, and I was afraid I would embarrass myself…but I finished.  The.  Very.  Next.  Morning.  I saw the unmistakable sign that I had breast cancer.  Thinking back then, I realized that Sheiky had been doing the same “laying on of paws” that he had done with the lymphoma.  And I realized that he was my Cancer Whisperer.

No automatic alt text available.

In early February, We took Sheiky to the vet, to have some swelling checked.  The diagnosis was lymphoma.  We spent a lot of time talking about options.  I asked about chemotherapy, and discovered the regimen for dogs was the same as the regimen I had received, the first time I had lymphoma – CHOP.  It was brutal, and there was no possible way I could do that to him.  We chose palliative care, and knew we would have about two months.


I began writing this post in late March. We have had some quality time.  Sheiky took two trips with us in a new trailer, and he enjoyed them.  He has had more enticements to eat than is probably healthy – but what’s it going to do, kill him????

Today it is May 3 – my birthday.  Sheiky has told us it’s time.  Selfishly, I can’t bear to send him to the Rainbow Bridge on my birthday.  We have an appointment for tomorrow at noon.  We are in the last few hours of Flying Sheik.

My heart is broken.  Godspeed, Sheiky.




More about me

I like this:

Image result for pierogi

and this:

Image result for steve yzerman with the cup

and this:

Thumbnail View 6: Dolce Vita Tay Ankle Boots

and this:

No automatic alt text available.

I love this:

Image result for lady justice

with the help of her:

Image result for ruth bader ginsburg

and especially, him:

I wish I could spend much more time with her:

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, hat and stripes

I want to finish this, this year:

Image may contain: indoor

I want to spend a long weekend here:

Hotel Walloon Lake Winter

and two weeks here:

Image result for pyramids of giza

with a side trip here:

Image result for petra

I am a huge supporter of:

No automatic alt text available.

as well as:

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Logo

And I can, because of him:

Image may contain: 2 people

I’m counting on strong women like these:

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

and her:

I like:

Image may contain: outdoor and nature


Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

And I love:

Image may contain: people sitting, dog and indoor

Now for a cheat sheet:

Pierogi, Sever Yzerman with the Stanley Cup, pink velvet shoes from Anthropologie, a Cosmopolitan

Lady Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, PRESIDENT Barack Obama


Son Bob’s unfinished quilt

Walloon Hotel (Walloon Lake, MI), the pyramids at Giza, Petra

DKMS (international blood donor registry), Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (big sponsors of blood cancer research), Dr. Hanna (my oncologist)

Clair and Sophie, Malala

A random goat – I love them all, Sophie reading to Bella, Sheiky


Here we go again?

Recently my body has been telling me things that my doctors won’t believe.  And it gets more and more frustrating that they put their complete trust in their tests, while ignoring what my actual body is telling them, through conversations with me that are short and perfunctory, disbelieved and ignored.

I want to scream!

It calls to mind an incident with my son when he was a toddler.  I don’t remember the offense, but I do remember yelling and not listening to him.  A diatribe, not a give-and-take conversation.  Finally I asked why he had done…whatever…and his tearful, frantic response was “I’m trying to tell you”.  To this day, when I clearly hear his sweet voice in my memory…my tears flow.  (I love you, Bob!)

I am currently waiting for a return call from the nurse at my breast surgeon’s office, to tell her of new physical developments and see if other tests should be added to my scheduled diagnostic mammogram on Friday.  I have no confidence that I will receive this call prior to the appointment.

Please read the following article, from NPR.  I wish my doctor would.  Everything she says as a patient is true.  If the body is treated, but the spirit is ignored, healing can never be complete.

{Note:  I have just spent a half an hour on chat with a tech for WordPress, trying to paste more than just a link.  Since the tech sees no reason why I would need to do that…and WP does not seem to have the capacity, anyway…I will try to copy and paste a few paragraphs, followed by the url.  Wish me luck.}

“Brush With Death Leads Doctor To Focus On Patient Perspective

The searing abdominal pain came on suddenly while Dr. Rana Awdish was having dinner with a friend. Soon she was lying in the back seat of the car racing to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where Awdish was completing a fellowship in critical care.

On that night nearly a decade ago, a benign tumor in Awdish’s liver burst, causing a cascade of medical catastrophes that almost killed her. She nearly bled to death. She was seven months pregnant at the time, and the baby did not survive. She had a stroke and, over the days and weeks to come, suffered multiple organ failures. She required several surgeries and months of rehabilitation to learn to walk and speak again.

Helpless, lying on a gurney in the hospital’s labor and delivery area that first night, Awdish willed the medical staff to see her as a person rather than an interesting case of what she termed “Abdominal Pain and Fetal Demise.” But their medical training to remain clinically detached worked against her. Later, in the intensive care unit, she overheard her case being discussed by the surgical resident during morning rounds.

I had a hospitalist literally stamp his feet at me, when I got tired of his inability to listen and told him I was going home.
I know that there are people who are getting tired of me still talking about health issues after 5+ years.  My body is working ( or so I will say, unless Friday’s test(s) prove otherwise), so I should be acting well.  But my spirit has been disbelieved, and I continue to suffer the consequences.

New Year

My smaller glass can’t contain both complacent happiness and purpose at the same time.

January 1, 2018

One of the things about being twice-diagnosed as terminal is the almost automatic change in perspective.  How can it not change?  There is now a “use-by date” on life, as opposed to some mysterious date way out in the future.  And even if medicine, or drugs, or holistic treatments such as turmeric or cannabis oil retract the terminal tag…it is impossible to un-see  the end.

I have been uncomfortable with wishing anyone “Happy New Year”, because, frankly, happiness is not first on the list of things I wish for anyone.  It might not even be in the top ten.

Image may contain: text

As it turns out, the Rabbi got tripped up by the numbers.  2018 is actually the nineteenth year of the century.  Be that as it may, the rest of this quote resonates with me.  She speaks of a life with purpose, not happiness.  Thus my earlier grocery-store quote of a use-by date.  Happiness may come.  But more likely it will be exhaustion from what is required to live life with empathy and purpose, resilience and compassion.

And purpose can show up when it is least expected.

I believe I have earlier mentioned the appeal to me of being a lab rat when I had my stem cell transplant.  None of the doctors expected me to survive it.  But they pre-treated me with a type of drug that had never been used before in preparation for the transplant.  Whatever happened to me, others would benefit from the knowledge gained.  As a side benefit…I survived.  I cannot say I have always been happy about that.  Recovery from a sct is horrific…grueling…and seemingly never-ending.  I am four-plus years into recovery.  More new knowledge for the doctors.  More exhaustion for me.

I would be happy to be living a comfortable life of retirement with Bob.  Not going to happen.  Comfortable becomes less and less likely, for a variety of reasons.

I would be happy to spend my days with my granddaughter, Sophie, like my mother did with my children.  But geography and our finances make that impossible.

I would be happy to have my family and friends not having to roll their eyes when I go on a political rant.  But I will fight to my dying breath for Sophie’s rights when she is a woman, to be secure.

I’m not saying that it is immoral to seek happiness.  I do believe that pursuit must be kept in better balance than it is currently, in a culture of reality television, plastic surgery, and unbridled greed.  <cue eye rolls>


Image may contain: text

My smaller glass can’t contain both complacent happiness and purpose at the same time.

My wish for all is that you find a life of satisfaction, and it fills your smaller glass to overflowing.  And if there is some happiness – good for you!



On my 8th birthday, I put all the pieces together and figured out that my father was an alcoholic.  He was more than an alcoholic.  He was a falling-down drunk.  But I was 8, and such distinctions were beyond me.

This will surprise some, but my salvation at the time was that I was a Catholic school kid.  To this day, no one in my family admits to knowing what was going on.  The religious sisters sensed something, but never asked for specifics from their obviously distraught student.  His drinking was a secret that must be kept at all cost – and the cost to me was enormous.  But there was daily Mass.  There was something about the music – both pre- and post Vatican II.  The candles.  The incense.  The regularity of the liturgy and the liturgical seasons.  These were constants in a life of chaos.  For that hour, I was safe and succored.

Fast forward.

When I entered a doctoral program in an ecumenical seminary – one of two Roman Catholic women students – the head of the seminary was the retired head of the World Council of Churches.  He led us through our first week, and was a big fan of meditation from a psychological perspective, as well as brain function.  The benefits of moving from an alpha state to a beta state.  Try as I might, the beta state was elusive to me most of the time.  A few moments, here and there.  Rarely.

I was working in parishes as a pastoral minister during and after those studies.  I used to bring in a priest from India, to do adult education sessions on meditation.  He was well-known in the Detroit Archdiocese, and good at what he did with the topic.  For everyone but me.  Meditation was just not going to happen.  No beta state.  No letting go of the brain chatter.

Years later.  Once.  While as campus minister at Catholic high school.  In total despair and desperation during the senior retreat, I took the pyx (small container for a consecrated host) and knelt during one of the most frustrating sessions.  Four hours later, the leader of the session tapped me on the shoulder and brought me back to an alpha state.  I have no idea where my mind had been, but it certainly wasn’t in a room full of bitchy teenage girls, taking our their cattyness on each other.


This comes up now, because of recent Me Too revelations.  I did not experience sexual harassment in the workplace of the church.  The one kiss was from a pastor/boss.  On the cheek.  In public.  My response was “I don’t know whether to never wash my cheek, or get a tetanus shot”.  Also in public.  Those gathered laughed.  The priest was confused.

But the lack of support…the lack of credit…wore on me.  The statements.  “…so-and-so thinks you’re too severe”…”I won’t fire you, but you will quit”…”Hey girlie, come here”…”A baby threw up in the entrance – clean it up”…”We don’t need to pay her; her husband is a dentist”.


And then there was cancer.

All my priest friends deserted me.  All my ultra-religious friends deserted me.

And I’m pretty sure God – if there is a god – also deserted me.

But the music, the “smells and bells” – as my Protestant fellow-students teased about – can still reach a place that nothing else can.  My favorite liturgy of the year is the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). and once a year I still miss it.  When life is too much, I still run back to that music – easily obtainable online – for comfort.

Like that 8-year-old kid, who found comfort from chaos in the liturgy.


This wasn’t what I had planned

There will shortly be a blog about ambivalence and meditation.  But this morning’s firing of Matt Lauer made me change my plans.

Are rational men listening?  Are rational men amazed?  And do rational men realize why the mere existence of non-disclosure agreements imposed on victims of harassment should mute any giddy enthusiasm for supposed progress?  “Let it out; let it out now.”

I, for one, am skeptical about lasting progress.  And I want the women in my life, as well as the women who may read this whom I don’t know, to understand that I remain vigilant.  For them.  For my 6-year-old granddaughter.  For myself.

I’m certain that it feels good to finally express what, for many, is a decades-old murder of their soul.  What we need to see now, however, is a cessation of the behavior that caused these killings.  “No one knows me.  No one ever will.  If I don’t say something.  If I just lie still.”

How?  How do we do that in the culture which has an abuser in the White House, completely supported by Evangelical Christians?  Are they not complicit?  And if complicit, how do we change that behavior.

The brief dialog that begins Milck’s song brings up many forms of harassment.  Listen to it again.  Sexual harassment, to be certain, and probably most public right now.  And also the dismissal of contributions of women in the workplace.  I am intimately acquainted with being told to know my place; to shut up and smile.  As a retired pastoral minister in the Roman Catholic Church…well…there is no ceiling more impossible to break through than that of the Sistine Chapel.

And lest I fall into the Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter trap, I will stop here.  Because I want my daughter and my dearest friend – both sexually abused – to know that their “Me, too” is not easily dismissed by being lumped into the category of “bad things that happen to women”.  It is their unique pain, and I stand with them.

“I Can’t Keep Quiet.”

Black Friday, 2017

First cancer diagnosis in July of 2012, so this is the sixth Thanksgiving I should not have seen.  And I have learned a few things:

  • Under no circumstances bring home a Jenny O “freezer to table” turkey breast, no matter how dire the need, and how empty the turkey coolers are in the grocery store.
  • It is impossible to cook a Thanksgiving dinner without getting grease on your clothes.  Dress accordingly.
  • Smart phone cameras are not smart enough to capture the exact moment canned whipped cream is being squirted into the mouth of a greyhound.
  • The Detroit Lions always find a way to make their opposition for this holiday game look like world-beaters.
  • No matter how much everyone around you at dinner is smiling, there are some – possibly many – who are pretending.  There is not enough tryptophan in the meal to overcome their sorrow and emptiness.
  • “Do we have to do Christmas again this year?” never goes away, no matter how grateful to be alive I am supposed to be.

There are other things I have learned, specific to this year:

  • Although she will be 7 in a few weeks, Sophie can still be conned about fairies and their wings.
  • Watching “The Great Wall” for the first time yesterday morning, I am saddened by how the Trump Era has forcibly expanded my definition of racism.
  • I continue to forget to look for Punkin’ Chunkin’ on the tube, on Thanksgiving evening.  (Did they have it this year?)
  • I made a public statement on FaceBook that I would not shop during this long holiday weekend, and am now wondering if my purchase of an audio book last night makes me a hypocrite.
  • Left over Jenny O turkey breast makes crummy sandwiches.

Next year……….Detroit-style coney dogs, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, and Sander’s Bumpy Cake.