Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'm Still Here

Two weeks after the end of radiation and chemotherapy, and I'm already stamping my impatient existential foot.

I want to feel better so badly.  But how long this takes is not up to me.

I'm starting to notice small - very small - improvements here and there.  A little more strength, a little less tired.  I have to remember when I have a good day that it doesn't mean that I'll have nothing but better days from here on out.  Because the next day I can backslide again.

The doctors have been right about everything else, and they were right about how frustrating this stage of the process is, too.

There are still hurdles to overcome in the future, although I try not to dwell too much on anything that isn't directly in front of me.  The lump is still there, which could mean a number of things, but hopefully means that it is "rubble" from the tumor imploding in on itself after all the radiation.

To find out if it's rubble or if it's more, I will likely have surgery in about a month to remove the lump.  After everything else I have been through, I'm hoping the surgery won't feel like too big a deal.  But it's one more obstacle between me and DONE.

I am not going to talk about what happens if they find cancer in the lump after they remove it.  I have to work hard to keep the awfulizing at bay.  Why is it so much easier to be certain of the worst outcome?   Faith doesn't come easily to me these days.  I wish the truth were different, but I have to work at faith.  When I feel it settle over me like a gossamer cloak, I wish I didn't have to struggle so hard to find it.

But I'm not going to stop trying.

I am pouring myself back into my jewelry; it's one of the only places I turn that brain of mine off for a while.  I made myself a pretty little copper bangle, stamped with lyrics to a Jeffrey Steele song that I love (modified somewhat for space requirements) to help me remember that it is through the darker parts in life that we grow, that we find grace and peace:
"there is a door to light and grace/keys are in the darkest place"

If you like this bangle and want to customize one for yourself (or a friend), you can find it in my Etsy shop by clicking here.

I'm so grateful for the ability to create, to watch my hands mold wire or metal and create something from nothing.

Other than making jewelry, I wait.  I wait for consultations with surgeons.  I wait for the energy to return so I can go out and experience the world for a bit.  I wait for the pain to subside, for the good days to outnumber the bad ones.

And they will.  Soon, I hope. They will.


  1. I love you. Another thing I've found helpful lately comes from a yoga teacher who reminds us to engage all our muscles by "plugging in." It also reminds me to plug in to this very moment which is all we have.


  2. I'm with you on this: "Why is it so much easier to be certain of the worst outcome?"

    I have to work hard at faith also. I think a lot of people do.

  3. Gillian in WalesMarch 1, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I have been thinking of you every day, checking back here every day, knowing that you said you would be resting and that the three weeks were going to be long, so not expecting a post but somehow checking back to remind me to lift you to God.

    You *are* getting better. You have made jewellery. I don't think you could have done that a few weeks ago.

    And, yes, there will come a time when it is 'Done.' But then it will be behind you, as will all the knowledge and certainty of how you can NOT do it in your own strength. You lack of physical strength is oh so hard, but if we can only remember it is only when we can acknowledge our own weakness that we can truly know HIS strength.

    He has you. And he has plans for you. And that is all that we get to know, generally. Rest, rest, rest, dearest Ellie. Breathe in and out. And you WILL get through it. Promise!

  4. Thinking of you, Ellie. So glad to "see" you here and so, so thrilled to see some beautiful fruits of your work.

    Pulling for you. Always.

  5. Hang in there - I know that you're going to start getting better days soon, i can just feel it. I'm so glad you can still access your faith - even if it takes a little extra work - i love that you can be honest about that. thank you. Lots of love.

  6. So glad you updated - I've been hoping you were beginning to feel a little better. The bangle is lovely.

  7. Here's hoping for "rubble" in your future.

  8. Hang in there, Ellie, you are creating light from darkness with your blog and jewelry. I am going to order that bracelet for a friend fighting her own battle with cancer ... so thank you for bringing the light to someone else. Stay strong!

  9. You are always in my thoughts & prayers.. Love you dearly.

  10. A friend of mine in recovery often says, "Well... it worked today." It's working for you today, dear lady. Sometimes all faith is ... is resting, ceasing from trying to figure it all out, and enjoying the moment in gratitude. Keeping you in prayer... so very glad you are getting the occasional glimpse of light through the cocoon.

  11. As a recovering addict who left organized religion in my early teens, faith has always been the hardest part of the journey. Over time, I've found that faith is that little voice inside that soothes and calms. Keeping you in my heart as you face the waiting.

  12. You continue to blow me away with your grace and wisdom. Thank you for sharing this journey. You are such a warrior!! Love your jewelry too.

    Faith is challenging. It's seeing what is invisible. You have faith though, in spades and you are sharing it with all of us.

  13. Ellie - having read every comment and every post, it is very clear that when you struggle with faith, others are holding your place for you, praying for you, and faithfully lifting you up. You are in my prayers. God remains faithful even when we feel we've completely lost touch. Even in your darkest doubts and your darkest fears...He will not let go of you.

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  15. Glad to hear you are feeling a tad better most days and that you are able to get back to your jewelry a bit. That has to feel good :) The bracelet is gorgeous, I must have a look at your other offerings too.

    One day at a time and all that, another battle you are CONQUERING!

  16. Like Gillian above, I've checked here each day hoping for news but also hoping you are using all your energy to rest well and heal. Your jewelry is lovely and it's good to have something to get lost in during times when your mind can't rest. My heart goes out to you. It's hard not to ask myself how I would handle this if in your shoes and of course I don't know but I do know that I admire your honesty and would hope to have the courage like you to take life one day at a time. I send love your way. Joanne

  17. Ellie! I'm so grateful you're done with those awful treatments, but I understand how you must be so frustrated and ready to feel better. Even when I just have a run-of-the-mill virus or cold, I feel depressed for a couple of days, just wanting to feel "normal" again. I can't imagine feeling like that on so much grander a scale.

    You have been so courageous through this fight. I'm praying that God sends you blessings of peace, love, gentleness, and serenity. Oh and MORE PROGRESS! It's maddening when progress is so damned slow.

    And I'm naming your neck lump Barney. Barney Rubble.

    I love you! xoxo

  18. Thinking of you Ellie and wishing you all the strength and joy in the world. Keep going. You can do it.

  19. So good to hear your voice and hear strength in it, for I do hear strength in your words. I, too, always go to the darkest place and have to work myself out of it. Stay in the light, Ellie, for you are one of the brightest voices I read. Thank you.
    Lee Ann

  20. Best wishes, Ellie.

  21. Very cool bangle. The quote reminds me a little of a line from a Leonard Cohen song: "there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."

    For's a few verses:

    The birds they sang at the break of day
    "Start again", I seemed to hear them say
    Don't dwell on what has passed away
    Or what is yet to be

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That's how the light gets in.

  22. Glad to read your treatments are over and you see improvements. Certainly one day at a time and one step forward two steps back sometimes. We are almost six weeks post treatments which is hard to believe. Trying to discover and create our new normal and grieve over what once was. Nice to see you're back to making your creations! Agree with the faith comment. Easy to dwell on the why us. Why now. Read the other day never to question where God is or why ... Because a teacher is always quiet during a test. Keep up the good work! K&S (BFAC)

  23. Waiting with you, friend, and am so glad that you're pouring your beautiful energy into creating. It seems so very fitting. xo

  24. I'm a fellow survivor of the C-word. The waiting is the absolute worst! I hated that part more than anything else. I wasn't fond of the vomiting either, but the procedure....wait....check up....wait...wait...Agh! I share your pain. Thank God you have jewelry! Do whatever you can to keep your fingers moving and your mind quiet.