Recurrence

I thought of a lot of fancy ways to say this. But the truth is, I don’t have the heart for it right now. Leukemia, as featured in The Emperor of All Maladies, is a fierce and wily foe. It doesn’t want to lose. They tell you that there is a strong possibility of cancer coming back from the get go. I always knew that. And like most of us, I just hoped for the best. But I wasn’t on the lucky side of statistics. And the leukemia has come back.img_3807

December was a month of infections. One after the other. That, in itself, is a symptom of leukemia. But then I started having other symptoms. Crashing blood pressure, fevers and racing pulse limited my movements and scared the daylights out of me. On top of that, my blood reflected something wrong, platelets falling, lymphocytes rising. The doctor and I had a talk that went too far down the possibility of recurrence to have any kind of peace of mind. A flow cytometry showed more disturbing signs. This test goes deeper into the cells and it is a primary indicator of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It didn’t SAY I had leukemia again, but all the signs pointed that way. So, on a clear frosty Friday in early January, Steve and I drove to Bellingham and I got a bone marrow biopsy. On Monday, the doctor delivered the news. My bone marrow was full of cancer cells.

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The following week was pure chaos. I had no oncologist. I had to reach out to the Long Term Follow-up Team that has overseen my healthcare from afar at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). I also turned to my previous oncologists, Roland Walters and Dr. Jennie Crews. They gave me the name of a new, ALL specialist at SCCA, Dr. Ryan Cassiday. That’s all I had at the beginning. There was a lot of howling at the monolith. The big institution of SCCA is like a huge tanker on the water, very slow to turn. In the meantime, the records between Long Term FollowUp, PeaceHealth and SCCA were on some strange journey of their own, mostly lost in space. You are the sick person wearing holes in the living room floor, trying to get information and provoke action, and trying to hold it together. They are the institution, dedicated to keeping their doctors safe from the likes of you until it is your turn. To be sure, I understand. Somewhat.

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So, on January 13, Steve and I finally met with Dr. Cassiday and learned what it is in front of us. There is no way to make it pretty. There will be heavy chemo and hospitalizations. There will not be another transplant (I wouldn’t survive it). I may be able to go home in between hospitalizations after my blood counts recover. It will harder than the last time because my body has already gone through this once. There is likely to be collateral damage to my organs.

So, if you can stand it and want to know, I will keep trying to write, in between chemo sickness. I go to the hospital on Monday.

When you get cancer, the modern culture wants to know why. Was it the fruit you devoured in an age when pesticides were common and organic unheard of? Was it your work? Firefighting, as I did in the early seventies? Was it the experimental farm that used pesticides where I worked for two years in Fairbanks? Or was it consuming red meat? Perhaps was it something I did or thought or felt or failed to do? (the most uncompassionate thought, in my opinion).

imageOr perhaps it was because I too mad about Trump? The election of Trump WAS one of the saddest days of my life.  The dark forces that have ridden in on the coattails of Trump are antithetical to everything I hold near and dear. But I don’t believe you get sick from bad thoughts — or no baby or child would ever have an illness, and many a worrier or angry person would never live to old. That’s not how karma or health works. The concept of “don’t worry, be happy” seems created to keep people from being outraged enough to leave their comfortable lives and undertake activism.

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I AM sad at an elemental level about this beautiful earth and the assaults upon it. I have been since I was a child born with a deep love for all things Nature. I was always a spiritual person too, one with a deep God hunger, and this fact now sustains me. So, while the sorrow for the world lives beside me, so does the love of beauty and delight in the intricacies of the natural world. One might have led to disease … or not. But the other nourishes and upholds me.

Everything I know and believe about the becoming a Grandmother means we step forward to speak out for the Future and all of our grandchildren and all of life. I want to do this and I want to know Audrey to know everyday that her grandmother loved her enough to fight for her world.

Stay tuned. I welcome prayers. I welcome your messages but please forgive me in advance if I don’t immediately respond. I may have my hands full. I am deeply grateful for your love and concern.

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36 comments on “Recurrence

  1. Re: Recurrence – You & Steve were in my thoughts, so I just sent you a card…before I read this. All I can do is send love from afar, & I do, I do.

  2. Shann, I cannot explain how deeply sorrowful I feel about this news. You certainly will be in my prayers every dayl.
    This truly has and is a sad winter, beginning with the election outcome and continuing on with all the childish rhetoric.
    I want you to know how much I admire you and am pulling for you all the way!
    May God bless you.
    Love you, Shirley Zyph

  3. Oh Shann,

    Steve stopped by the EMS building the other day, looking for some information Christina Sesby needed.

    He relayed your news. I haven’t stopped praying for you and your family. Eric and I both send you our best wishes.

    Let us know if you need anything. Really. Anything.

    Big love,

    Weyshawn

    ________________________________

  4. Hi beautiful lady. You are a star in the dark of my past, a light in which I remember a recalcitrant slant six engine, Jerry Cable, plants on the experimental farm, and being handed a baby to hold on the stairs in marks house. I never forgot that. I know we all were afraid of another occurrence of this. OK. It’s here. A challenge of capacity to love, to send energy any way we can. Of course any thing you can think of that I can do for you or Steve is yours.
    Ralph

  5. Oh, Shann, another battle looms. You are an amazing warrior and Audrey will absorb that add you nurture her in your arms. Hugs for you and for Steve. Margaret

  6. Oh Shann, I am so saddened by this news. I have always admired how candidly you have shared with all of us throughout the good times and the bad. Thank you for that. Hope, that’s what we all need now. Hope.

  7. Damn! I am so sad to read this, dear lady. My heart is heavy with this news. My love and support go out to you and your family. What darling photos of your new granddaughter, Audrey. Such pure joy! Thanks for keeping me in the loop. You always have a place to stay in Bellingham if you are ever over here again for appointments. Sending you love and light. Hugs, Meredith

  8. Shann, I am sorry. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you and your family. I send you my love, my prayers for your recovery and release from this. You are strong and beautiful. Be good to yourself in all ways. May your inner light shine strong and clear through all the days to come. May you find peace in the midst of the storm. May you be held fast by love. Nansee

  9. Shann, so so sorry to hear this news. I remember your poem of the sounds of the birds in the fireplace at Seabeck, I remember the feeling of connecting with you during that time. May you have ease of well being, may you be free from suffering, may that which arises deepen into wisdom and understanding. Prayers and thoughts to you during this time. Love-Lynn

  10. Dear Shann, We have such deep respect and love for you. Know we will be holding you in our hearts and in the light. Love to you and your dear family, Polly, Steve, and Laurel

  11. Oh Shann, I have followed your brave, compassionately brave postings with hope for you and so greatly admired your eloquence of expression. My heart, thoughts, and prayers continue to follow you along this challenging path of your journey. Godspeed.

  12. Oh dear friend, this is a lovely post. I see your brave heart in each line, I hear your feet taking each step forward as you take on this beast – the medical chaos, fatigue, nausea, homesickness, time away from your “nature” and your sweet family, your island, your creatures. I love your fierceness and commitment to health and healing. The unknown is the unpainted canvas yet your belief in the goodness of nature, spirit, love and science is there holding you up, keeping the art and color of life alive. I’m here with you dear warrior woman. I’m focusing on your healing, your strong healthy cells, your BIG smile. Love you, Lisa

    Lisa Lawrence lisasanjuans@gmail.com

    On Sun, Jan 15, 2017 at 7:16 PM, Do It Yourself Life wrote:

    > Shann Weston posted: “I thought of a lot of fancy ways to say this. But > the truth is, I don’t have the heart for it right now. Leukemia, as > featured in The Emperor of All Maladies, is a fierce and wily foe. It > doesn’t want to lose. They tell you that there is a strong possibil” >

  13. Shann, Sending you heartfelt wishes for moments of serenity in the midst of the big C battle you’re so courageously embracing. May the memory of Audrey’s touch and sparkle carry you through. Love to you and the family.

  14. Tears and anger that there are never any guarantees, even for the best of us. I so wanted the miracle to continue. So, on to the next challenge which, I guess is what life has to offer us. I pray for healing and for grace for you and your family. I have been trying to remind myself that even when the sun goes down, it is still there. We just can’t see it from where we are in our little world.

  15. Sending love and prayers to hold you up! This is so unfair!! (a thought that must have come to your mind often!) I can’t imagine how you must feel. Grab every moment with your dear ones, especially little Audrey. She is your legacy.

  16. Oh Shann. You are so loved. Even though we don’t see each other and really talk often, I admire you so much and read your writings religiously. Your courage and openness is such a gift. Hope I see you today at the County Park at noon. Love Nancy

    Sent from my iPodi

  17. Shann. That news hurts. Yes. Prayers. It is a struggle to keep a positive view of the world with so many assaults on it. I’m so sorry you are on the front lines of this one.

  18. I was frozen after your news. Just like the snow that binds our family inside. Slowly, a trickle of tears fell and then more and more. Just like the rain will help melt this snow, our collective tears will open us all deeper and deeper to your challenge. We are symbolically at your side, holding you and your family’s hands. We love all of you very much.

  19. You, Shann are on of the altruistic and solid touch stones of my life. Through you I channel courage, joy, determination, love and focused sense. I am heartbroken and fearful and now my spirit is really saddened by this recurrence, but I am also a fighter as you. I will pray for you and your family everyday and for the nature spirits to heal you. We need you. I need you. Vicki

  20. Prayers for you. Dick’s wonderful oncologist–Dr Raisch is now coming to Peace Health every Monday. He is fabulous–recommended by Dr Higano–Dick’s oncologist since Raisch left to live in Portland. We are lucky to have him back.
    We will keep on praying for you. You have touched so many lives. Blessings, Janet and Dick Wright

  21. Aloha Shann,

    I am always so eager to read your passages because no matter what is happening in your journey– You continue to inspire me to live fully, to stay connected to Mother Earth and all Beauty, to channel Spirit through offering my gifts, to always remember that abundance, gratitude and love are the way. You are real, courageous, honest, open-hearted, full of life and love, a warrior for our Earth, a leader for our children, a grandmother that everyone deserves, and, committed to taking full responsibility for your healing and well-being. You offer a beaming smile of presence and gratitude in each step along the winding river of your journey, reminding me that it is all about how we perceive, how we respond, how we act. I send you all my courage in taking the lead role in this wild dance you are about to begin again. I wish I wasn’t so far away right now but I will sent to you across the Pacific Ocean… the Hawaiian Aloha Spirit, beautiful ocean waves, nurturing sunshine, the song of gentle trade winds…

    An inspiring documentary you may want to watch is “Heart of the Sea”, an hour movie about Rell Sunn, a strong Hawaiian woman surfer given a year to live with breast cancer- who lived life so fully, she carried on for 14 more years doing everything to stay alive, giving so much of her heart to children, families, helping others to heal. You share beautiful qualities with her. I watched it just after receiving your post so I felt that I am meant to pass it along.
    Sending you all my love to your body and heart Shann.
    Aloha pumehana.
    Alice

  22. Dear Shann, Steve, Mariya, and Elena,
    I join your many well-earned friends in focusing on healing energy/prayers for you.
    You have shared such good and beautiful energy; may it help buoy you in your coming times of need. Heather

  23. Oh Shann, I’m so sorry to read this. My heart goes out to you as you ramp up for another difficult time. You and your family are in our thoughts and hearts. Nancy Bruce and Jess

  24. Dear Shann, Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your writings always give me food for thought and I love the precision of your language. I too am sending my best hopes and thoughts. Buena suerte, amiga.

  25. Carol & Francie sending you love and encouragement from faraway Thailand…so in awe of your strength of character in facing each setback and sharing with all of us …feeling that however your life choices may or
    may not have affected your present situation, your amazing life has made you who you are, and should never be regretted.. if you feel at all up to visitors, we are driving back from Seatac on the 24th…

  26. Dear Shann,

    It seems the entire community is distressed about your news. As you know, your inspiring words were read at the Women’s March reception. All 1500 !!! of us participating (1/5 our population) applauded fiercely. Several people whom I know have sent messages about you. A sign that was carried said “I am marching for ………., …………, …………. and Shann,” as did I — without a sign.

    Through it all, your writing (“…SCCA is like a huge tanker on the water, very slow to turn. et al”) and your honesty are intact as are your love of Audrey (that final photo of her was stunning), nature, and the spiritual world.

    Yes, we will stay tuned; yes, we send you our prayers; yes, we and the Island wish the very best for you! Alice ========== Alice B. Acheson, Book Marketing/Publishing Consultant P. O. Box 735 Friday Harbor, WA 98250 360/378-2815 http://sites.google.com/site/alicebacheson Do It Yourself Life wrote on 1/15/2017 7:16 PM: > WordPress.com > Shann Weston posted: “I thought of a lot of fancy ways to say this. > But the truth is, I don’t have the heart for it right now. Leukemia, > as featured in The Emperor of All Maladies, is a fierce and wily foe. > It doesn’t want to lose. They tell you that there is a strong possibil” >

  27. “Breath, said the wind.
    How can I breath at a time like this,
    when the air is so full of the smoke
    of burning tress, burning lives?
    Just breath, the wind insisted.
    Easy for you to say, if the weight of
    injustice is not wrapped around your
    throat, cutting off all air.
    I need you to breath.
    I need you to breath.
    Don’t tell me to be calm
    when there are so many reasons
    to be angry, so much cause for despair!
    I didn’t say to be calm, said the wind,
    I said to breath.
    We’re going to need a lot of air
    to make this hurricane together.”

    Lynn Ungar

  28. “Breathe, said the wind.
    How can I breathe at a time like this,
    when the air is so full of the smoke
    of burning tress, burning lives?
    Just breathe, the wind insisted.
    Easy for you to say, if the weight of
    injustice is not wrapped around your
    throat, cutting off all air.
    I need you to breathe.
    I need you to breathe.
    Don’t tell me to be calm
    when there are so many reasons
    to be angry, so much cause for despair!
    I didn’t say to be calm, said the wind,
    I said to breathe.
    We’re going to need a lot of air
    to make this hurricane together.”

    Lynn Ungar

    (posted again with corrections)

  29. Dear Shann, I am so saddened by your news. I was in California when I read your update and I had to sit down. I admire you so much. You are an amazing woman in so many ways and you have raise two amazing daughters. That is a life achievement in itself!! Now you have dear Autumn to enjoy and love. You are so brave and truly a warrior. Why you have another fight ahead of you, I don’t know, so unfair to you and your beautiful family. I know it’s a tough journey but never give up hope. You are surrounded with love and support on our island. You are in my thoughts and heart ❤️. I miss you at the health club. If I can do anything to help just call. Love, Toni

  30. Dear Shann, Thank you for fighting; for not just laying down in front of the beast and allowing it to have it’s way. I so admire your courage, strength and tenacity. You indeed as Lisa wrote, are a Warrior Woman. I too have a strong faith in God, who has a plan much greater than we can imagine. Where we each fit into it, only He knows. If He has given you the will to fight, then He will give me the words to pray – to be a part of the undergirding when you lose your way or cannot speak for yourself. You reside in my heart, though from afar. Much love, Susan

  31. Our love from the east coast. We aren’t big pray-ers here, but when we all sit down for bread breaking once a week, you are in what we feebly say. Blog when you can, it gives us so much to chew on. The Auburn crew

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