On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 - Go away!

I'm typically upbeat, not given to depression, but today it hit me massively.  It's been a difficult holiday season and none of us had our usually zip and zing.

But yesterday was particularly upsetting.  An acquaintance called me, someone I hadn't seen nor talked to recently.  She said she had been lying awake the previous night and thought of me, found my telephone number in the morning and made the call.  She has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer and given a six-month prognosis, something she hopes to outlive.

I was devastated.  We chatted for a long while about her health and treatment and then turned to brighter times.  I reminded her of one of our happiest moments together.  Three years ago she and I were in a nearby community college class featuring mixed media.  We learned some beginning skills in collage, printmaking, animation and bookbinding.

I really enjoyed the bookbinding because I fill up so many sketchbooks in a year that I'm always looking for the perfect one - and binding your own is really the only way to have exactly the size and paper you prefer.  To complete the project for that unit we only had to make two simple books - one in Japanese stab binding and one using the coptic stitch.

There were about a dozen students in the class - the youngest being 18-somethings straight out of high school all the way through middle age, past me and on to my friend who was then 79.  The following week some of us brought in our completed books, but several students hadn't even begun the project yet.  Mine were imperfect, clearly a novice learning the stitches but in need of significant practice.  My friend brought in TEN books, each perfect, each lovely, each a treasure simply as a newly bound book.  We were in awe, her enthusiasm put us to shame, her crafting was exquisite and left the instructor with big, joyful smiles.

So now she's 82 - which seems young for someone as lively as she is - and I am truly saddened by her diagnosis.  My whole day was drab - there was a slow gray afternoon shower after a gloomy morning, never any sun, and I felt such incredible grief just learning this news.

I've never felt so powerless.


  1. It's sad to hear such news. But, I bet she drew some comfort by talking to you!

  2. Wow, Barbara. That's a lot, on top of a lot. A hug probably couldn't do much, but I wish I could give you one. Here's hoping that 2012 brings some sunshine, both literal & metaphorical.

  3. Thank you both. It's New Year's Eve as I'm responding to you - and I'm ready for a new year!


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