Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pages 1 and 2

When I was first hit by a truck I was too stunned to fall down.

Angelique quickly went to Chapters to buy me some books on cancer and one book in particular was excellent. It is ‘Cancer – 50 Essential Things to Do’ by Greg Anderson. I used it like a workbook and had a journal to write out the things that either ‘hit me’ or ‘helped me work through something.’

This book was a total God-send to me. I don’t know now whether it was because the book was that great or if it was because it totally engaged my mind and made me think about what the fuck was going on.

Quotes from the book will be in italics.

I start my workbook on February 12, 2006, six days after I am officially diagnosed. I entitled it ‘My Wellness and Recovery Journal!’ When I read that title this morning, I smirked. How naïve and trite.

Do not be intimidated by medical personnel or the process. You are the one in charge.

A fighting spirit does make a difference.

Integrate body, mind, and spirit.

Lifestyle Therapy:

The most fundamental and empowering belief is that cancer does not equate with death.

A spiritually toxic outlook after a cancer diagnosis can make a difficult situation a living hell.

Cancer does not equate with death.
Treatment is effective.
I have a significant role to play.

Survivors eat with awareness. Raise your nutritional IQ.

My mother repeated this to me every day and still does actually telling me that it is to be my mantra ‘Every day, in every way, I am feeling better.’

Discovering the divinity within; experiencing inner peace.

A road map to recovery – the eight strategies: Currently I rate medical treatment as having the highest priority for me. Next I rate creative thinking. Then diet and nutrition. The exercise. Then beliefs and attitudes. Then purpose/play. Spiritual. And social support.

For my road map to wellness and recovery I need to focus on the eight strategies and figure out how to go about them. In order of importance at the present time are:

Medical Treatment
Creative Thinking
Diet and Nutrition
Beliefs and Attitudes
Social Support

*artwork by Rolando Cyril


Noreen said...

I love the picture! The hell of cancer, yet, the comfort in my "boat" through simple things. Positive attitude (most of the time), to be creative with what I have (not focused on what I don't), great support network (family of choice)and grateful for another day!

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I have been blessed!

I hope to see you later today at group.

Love, Noreen

Yoli said...

You are so amazing and such an inspiration my friend.

Sarah said...

I think we all start out at the beginning of serious things without much to work with and end up going - yeah I get it now. I looks like a good solid list hon - how can I help? Love, Sarah

pRiyA said...

i see...so that's how it goes. easier written than done. but aside from the first point, seems to me that the other points are necessary for a healthy productive life.

jacquie said...

i was at mom's last night, and while i was making us tea .. she was on the phone about 2-3 times...trying to get thru to renee she told me as she had not spoken to you yet and needed to get her message to you....
‘Every day, in every way, I am feeling better.'
then i heard her say ' i sure hope she is feeling better today'
together strong

Marion said...

Renee, you are a role model for all of us. Your courage, creativity, beauty and strength are PHENONEMAL. That word bring to mind this poem by Maya Angelou, which I dedicate to you today! (I'm a poetry-nut, I just can't help it.) Blessings!!!

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou

karengberger said...

Thank you for focusing attention on this book; I'm glad that it helped you. Now, others will be aware of its potential for helping them. You continue to inspire and encourage me.

Ingrid Mida said...

Niave and trite - that would be most of what I write in my journal! Thanks for sharing this. Your courage and honesty is an inspiration.

Artistic Accents by Darla said...

You are amazing Renee!
I'm glad this book helped you so much. Stay strong.
You are loved!

Sonia ;) said...

In the beginning its all about ..What is it, where is it, what to do with it...research...questions...

Then what if, what, when it does, and what to do.

Doctor told my Dad..."Dale you have cancer, there is no cure...just sustaining it into remission...You will always have cancer."

I think that was being as honest as you can get.

Lists and research are awesome ways to have some kind of organization, and fight.

Priorities always change with anyone in life. Different stages in life cause the list to rearrange and move around.

Positivity is a must for anyone in any stage of life and cancer...Heals the body, mind and spirit. Without it ~ the fall is longer and harder.

Your list is realistic and honest...

I just sat down this past weekend and threw out all the workbooks, brochures, research and notes. Was a huge fucking relief, finally to throw it away....I had hung on to it...and didnt know why...I had to do it, when I wanted to. And I sat down cleaning out drawers and said WTF..garbage bag in hand and tossed....Funny how we hang on to things...I think I was hanging on to it all in fear what if I get it...my dad, uncle and grandma all had lung cancer...what if...I need it..

Well shit breast cancer, lung cancer, colon and uterian cancer are rabid in my family...and cataracts, eye floaters, diabetes, HP(which I have) Thyroid cancer(I have Thyroid disease), dimentia...

Finally after meeting Renee, I realize...This shit will happen when it does happen...and I need to live for now, not later after the what if's it happens.

So our lists change with whats happening now.

Thank you Renee for the healing...my Raven friend....

Sonia ;)

studio lolo said...

What a wonderful, hopeful and insightful post. The image is seared in my mind's eye now.

That book will help millions now starting on that hellish journey and they too will find hope and healing.
That's you though, helping people even when you don't know you're doing it.

I love your mantra and your list. And I totally believe cancer shouldn't be equated with death.

Steady on the journey my dear.The road may be bumpy here and there but I believe in my heart you'll get to where you want to be ;)

love you,

Anonymous said...

Hey ya! Nice, introspective post. I think I should put to use your eight strategies in my everyday life. I need to add more play time, although I guess I could consider my writing as 'play'. It's alway fun to put a snide twist of humor in the everyday mundane.

Your writing also made me think of a book I read years ago, and have given copies out repeatedly to friends and colleagues over the years. It's called "Life's Little Instruction Book". It's full of observations that help you stay focused on the things that matter most to us. Some examples are: Learn to make great chili, Teach some kind of class, or Be forgiving of yourself and others.

It's been said before, and I'll repeat it, "cancer schmancer". Seems like you are definitely the one in the driver's seat.

Big hug!

Anonymous said...

Addendum to my previous comment re Life's Little Instruction Book:

"Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference."

Pattee said...

I love the painting ~
I love that cancer does not equate with death.
That in itself empowering.

You are someone that I take time to read your bog posts slowly and savor what you have to say... you've given me so much inspiration. Just your words and thoughts mean so much to me.

Thank you ~

Julie said...

Thanks for the book recommendation and it's great to hear from you again! Hope you had a good mom's day.

lakeviewer said...

You are sober and aware for the fight of your life; and we watch you battle and we watch you talk about it; we admire your courage; we are touched by your honesty; we are made stronger by your strenght to look at the storm in your path and dig in deep with your heels.

This battle is not for the faint and weak; this battle is for heroes of unmeasurable size.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You amaze me, Renee. When I grow up I want to be as strong as you!

soulbrush said...

sonia's post meant a lot to me as my whole family is rife with cancer, heart deaths, diabetes etc etc...no one lived to 60, or died in their beds...i was the first one to reach 60 and now intend to reach 70...fear will ruin us, acceptance is all...you mean so much to so many people renee, this was your purpose.

yoborobo said...

Renee, you are the epitome of a fighting spirit. I know you must get sick of having to fight, and stay positive and all that...and I'm sure you would just love not to have to think about cancer at all. I would love that for you, too. Unfortunately that stupid Undertoad (did you read the World According to Garp?) is all around us. Today I am going to clunk him on the head with my shoe and say, "That one is for Renee, pal!"

Diana Evans said...

you are wonderful Renee and sharing from your own experiences will make all the difference to everyone going through this....bless your heart!!


Sandy said...

Hi Renee,

Just checking in to let you know that I think of you often. I love this post and I particularly love the poem by Maya Angelou that is dedicated to you by Marion. I cannot picture a more perfect representation of the beautiful woman I had the honour of meeting in person over a month ago.

I find it interesting that you ranked social/friends last. I wonder if it's because you are so obviously surrounded by people who care that it's been able to be dropped to that low on the list and I think that's a true testament to the type of woman you are.

I am glad to call you friend.

soulbrush said...

tee hee i have been told that maggie looks like me...yay! hope so! (my dil doesn't think so!)

Marie S said...

I am forever better knowing you!!!
Thank you so much for sharing your feelings, process, love, words, and life.

Angela Recada said...

Everyone else has said so beautifully what I want to say to you, especially Lakeviewer. I think of you daily, dear Renee, and send you my prayers and love.
Cancer SUCKS!

deepazartz said...

Dear Renee

You always amaze and inspire me with ur write-ups and pics!
You are one Strong woman!!
You have tht positive spirit and you just keep it up.

God Bless You:)

Deborah said...

Love,love,love, butterflies, puppies and kittens, baby bunnies, gentle raindrops, flower buds opening, and rainbows. Sending you all things soft and fuzzy. Oh yes, and a whip. Never know when you might need one. **blows kisses** Deborah

Deborah said...

Renee! You won my little drawing for the "sticky situation" fair and square. Picked your name out of the cup! I really did like your outcome tho. email your address!

Michelle said...

If I got my mum that book she'd probably throw it at me :)


Manon Doyle said...

Such a hopeful post Renee! You inspire each one of us.
The mind, body and spirit.... yes, yes..... you are right....the fighting spirit make all the difference!

Ces said...

You are different, very different. Sometimes I forget that you have cancer. It seems you live a fuller life compared to those who have no diagnosis of any kind. When they gave you that cancer diagnosis, they should have also given you another one “ALIVE!!!” Yes truly alive with exclamation marks. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Your inspiration is far reaching. Your defiance is admirable. You are unapologetic. I love every bit of you including the annoying liberal socialist claptrap - it’s the same way you think my conservative ideology. Then I remember the cancer diagnosis and it stings me. I hate that it makes you ill and saps away your energy. When you are sad, I am sad. When you are in pain, I cannot smile. I know when you are not feeling well. Your spirit sends a call out to me all the way down here. I can feel it. Sometimes I wonder if I am prying. I do not want to feel entitled and I do not want to meddle but I revolt with the rules of decorum and propriety. You are a part of my life even though you did not plan it that way. I opened a door in my heart for you. I do not expect you to get up and greet me when I enter the room, I do not expect you to change your pajamas, sometimes I don’t expect you to wake up from your nap, just know that my spirit visits you everyday and sometimes I run my fingers through your hair…really Renee, for heaven’s sakes, you can shampoo your hair once in a while!!! I can almost mix the oils with my paints, in fact I think I did this weekend, your spirit moves my hands. You and Bella are the Urania and Calliope, the Euterpe and Therpsicore, the Melpomeme and Thalia of my awakening. It is no wonder why my art is more vibrant and livelier; you share a lot. I know that my feelings are not antimitotic but nevertheless I hope they help maintain your smile and laughter cells. Such small consolation for you after giving me a lot.

Keep on! I am your number 1 fan and cheerleader!!!

Karin said...

It's so powerful to find that touchstone that speaks to us and equips us to step through the gateway of a new realm. Getting a cancer diagnosis is one hell of a "new realm", and this book seems like very empowering tool.
Your words are a wonderful declaration of intent, now signed, sealed and witnessed by all of your dedicated friends, family and visitors here.
Here's to your "road map to wellness". love, Karin

Raluca C said...

you are such an amazing person!
all my admiration and the best of wishes are sent in your direction!

LaWatha said...

Writing the name of that book down and saving it for future reference.

Naive and trite... lol... aren't we all?

Once again your thoughtful post has helped me put things in perspective.

I love visiting you, Renee- even if it is just through your writings.

Snowbrush said...

So much of this is good for other problems too. The only one that I can't say is that I am getting better every day. Some days, I am not better; I am worse. But I must have hope that the final outcome will be positive.

Lola said...

You allow me to stare while you battle quietly in the fight of your life. I read your posts in admiration, forgetting you have cancer sometimes. You make me laugh. When I remember your battle I get furious. I hate your illness, because it scares you.

I admire your courage, Renee. I've told you this a million times, and I'll never tire of repeating how I am deeply touched by your honesty, and how I grow stronger, inspired by your strenght.

My amazing, audacious and inspiring heroine, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Well I do
so damn much.
you make me smile in a million different ways.
you make me feel calm several times a week.
you give out gifts that I am not even sure you are aware that you are giving.
love me

Anonymous said...

Renee, You are such a special and inspirational lady. I love your spirit and your courage. Take care and be well my friend.

Anonymous said...

I think your title of the journal is perfect - that's exactly the message it sounds like - wellness and recovery. I'm so impressed with how you have been approaching it, and will recommend that book to people I worl with who are dealing with cancer.

Wendy said...

What a tough journey you are on! I think that's a wonderful book to help you focus on the good stuff. I like the pic you chose. Simple and yet it says so much....

Bella Sinclair said...

Darling Renee,

It's going to take more than a truck or cancer diagnosis to knock you down. Let's not kid ourselves; it wasn't because you were too stunned to fall. You have too much life, too much spunk, too much positive energy. You have too much love and goodness left to give yet still. When that truck hit you, you gave it a big ol' dent in the front grill.

When my mother was diagnosed with stomach cancer seven years ago, I was devastated. I was scared out of my wits. One of the first things I did was buy books on facing cancer with humor. I would like to think it helped her (she is cancer free today). I know it helped me. I no longer think a cancer diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. It does not define you unless you let it. You are not Renee, the lady with Stage 4 IBC. You are Renee, my dear loving friend, my Canadian nut who makes me tremble with laughter, who can make me blush and gasp in shock followed by a fit of giggles, who gives me warm advice and sends me gentle hugs that feel like caresses in the wind. You are Renee, a warrior, an inspiration, a generous soul, an angel. That's how I know you.

Medical Treatment? CHECK
Creative Thinking? CHECK
Diet and Nutrition? CHECK
Exercise? CHECK, right?
Beliefs and Attitudes? Oh, CHECK!
Purpose/Play? YES, CHECK!
Spiritual? Amen, CHECK
Social Support? Oh boy, CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!

C'mon, girl. That was only pages 1 and 2. There are so many more pages left to fill.

Prometheus said...

I definently think you have creative thinking down. Your writing style is beautiful and the pieces of art you use are exquisite. Some of your posts show your creative mind is really at work.

I think Beliefs and Attitudes might have somewhat of an effect on all the items on the rest of the list though. But you have a good attitude so that must help a lot!

kj said...

dear renee, i've delayed in commenting today. i've reread your words several times now and most of your comments. there is a univeral love and caring for you just because of the person you are. your spunk and vibrancy transcend the most difficult circumstance. you inspire, entertain, support, give and accept love and more love.

so my feelings about all this? the truth is i think of you every day. i wonder how you are doing, i am aware and worry when you do not release your comments in your normal way, sometimes even at the risk of being presumptuous,i wonder and want to know when things are okay and when they're not. and when you reappear, i breathe a sigh of happy relief. i include you in my conversations with the gods and angels i turn to. i do not know you in in a 'normal' way at all, and yet, like so many others, you're now part of my routine and part of my heart. that's just the way it is. and then i read your comments to me and others and i am blanketed by how very kind, very funny, very thoughtful you are to every single person.

you are special. i don't say or use that word lightly. and renee, as far as i'm concerned, i'm busy actively persistently imagining and chasing those cancer cells away from you and into the woods somewhere where they can happily live without you.

i thought i would leave a two sentence comment. ha! so much for brevity. love to you renee, and thanks so much for everything. thank you so much.

Oops! Desperate Blogger~ said...

In so many ways I wish I could reach out and hug you. Please consider yourself hugged.

Loni Edwards said...

Beautiful picture, beautiful post. Thanks Renee! You are a true inspiration!


Yvonne Anderson said...

Renee, I have the utmost compassion for you. I believe a book can do us some good but it is the deep thinking that goes on afterward that's the real God-send.

You continue to inspire me...

I feel wrapped up by your posts and like many of the other readers, want to wrap my arms around you ((((Renee)))) xx

Sue said...


YES!...live life to the fullest and each day as if it was your last.

So many of us that are not dealing with cancer on a personal basis, I think live in a bit (or a lot) of fear that we may, at some point have to fight this battle too.

Reading your posts and continually being amazed by your thoughts, your humour and your joie de vivre is nothing short of inspiring. You have also managed, with your daily
writings, to put such a
human slant on this battle that so many face, and in doing so have reduced the
"Big C" in my mind, to a
small one. You have not let cancer define you. It is there, you acknowledge it, you fight it, you hate it and I'm sure anguish over it, but you do not let it take over. You show it that you are boss and that is so enpowering.

I love the quotes from this book that you posted, and as someone above wrote, they can and should be applied to everyone.

I'm so happy to have "met" you and to call you friend. A truly inspiring, awesome one at that!


A Cuban In London said...

What a heartfelt post. Most of the time we interpret words in our own particular way. Occasionally they jump up and talk to us in their own particular voices. This is one of those instances. Many thanks for such a beautiful and yet sad post. And I have always loved that poem by Maya Angelou. It suits you well.

Greetings from London.

Mim said...

Good Morning Renee - wonderful post.

I am trying to think of something profound to say - about cancer and life and being born...

But am just going to say "good morning". It's a beautiful day here, I just went outside and watered my flowers and hope you are enjoying the day today.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Inspiring List Reness which is a useful guide for us all! It is all so easy to overlook one part of our lives which puts everything out of kilter. BTW if you need any advice on diet and nutrition - you had best avoid our recipes - you may also be in danger of chipping more teeth!!

one little acorn said...

Creative thinking is beautiful therapy. And you shine! Another beautiful, sensitive and thoughtful post.
Love to you. xxx

Jeanne said...

I don't know where you are with the rest of your plan, but you seem to have the social support piece nailed!

Tessa said...

I've said it before, Renee, and I say it again - you are courageous, funny, gorgeous and spirited. Above all, you have such inner beauty that it reaches right around the world to us all. A quite exceptional woman - I'm so lucky to have come to know you a little.

Anonymous said...


As a passenger in this journey - I am committed.

Medical Treatment - I will nurse and comfort you.

Creative Thinking - I will cultivate your creative ventures.

Diet and Nutrition - I will nourish your body.

Exercise - I will mobilize you.

Beliefs and Attitudes - I will challenge you.

Purpose/Play - I will explore with you.

Spiritual - I will connect with you.

Social Support - I am with you.

Love Nadia

Shelly said...

Your thoughts need to be published they would not seem naïve nor trite, they would be a lifeline out in that storm where the rains are very heavy and the wind very strong.

You are amazing - I am so glad you are mine.

kathy hare said...

I love you Renee, be strong my friend...

Renee said...

Nadalene I am of you and you are of me.

I have no doubt of your support in any form.

Love Mom oxoxo

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

I agree with Prometheus, Renee. I think Number 1 should be:

Beliefs and Attitudes

But, it's your list, my friend. And, the road map is an excellent thing.

Have a great week!


BT said...

Wow, after your amazing post and the depth of feeling from the comments, I am almost without words, lovely Renee. You are so frank and brave. I love you.