Monday, April 25, 2011


Today is my grandmother's 104th birthday. She was 50 when I was born, and died the day before I turned 40-this post is in memory of her

I'm in between the first half and second half of chemo infusions, 6 weeks behind (almost) and six more weeks ahead before I'm finished with it. There is a befuddlement to my concentration of words, and thoughts, as if the chemo erases new hair cells emerging along with synaptic cell fibers in my brain, [???], indeed 'they' do talk about a side-effect called chemo-brain, and here is the nitty-gritty link that describes it unflatteringly for any of you more than acutely interested. 
Take heart any of you out there with chemo-induced mental impairments, the causes for diminished thought capacity are common enough for non-chemo populations, that all would be served to at least look the list over with its common-sensical causes that might best be avoided by everyone, in/out or never to be in chemo-land. 

  • Stress
  • Low blood counts
  • Sleep problems
  • Infection
  • Depression
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Hormone changes or hormone treatments
  • Anxiety or other emotional distress

Take care of yourselves people, life, remember is fragile and short, get some rest, eat better, drink ONLY one, OR LESS glasses of wine per day, yadda-yada-ya… but do it, SLOW DOWN. Use your dominate hand less, i.e., put the dishes away; pet your dog/cat; answer the phone; brush your teeth with your less dominate hand, or try making the bed, getting dressed, butter your toast with one hand—and for God's sake, drink MORE WATER!

It's interesting, the word 'bemused' means both bewilderment, and thoughtful, or held deeply in thought…not really opposites but certainly bemusing to consider the word at all. BEMUSED as opposed to amazed, which can also mean bewilderment, but more usually amazed means wonder. I digress, and thankfully have chemo-brain as an excuse. A weak one but …

I feel upon the cusp of a returning to strength, and yet this time next week, I'll by all accounts, feel weaker and further removed from life than heretofore experienced, that is the drain of the cytoxan and taxotere seeping into the cell walls of my bone marrow. What penance? and what faith? is necessary at this point? 

It is routine, and maybe just human to view illness as punishment, but my teacher offers, 'nothing to blame', for is there actually 'something'? that can be at blame when looking at things from the view of no-self? But this gets way into the higher principles and teachings on dharma and not appropriate here, still i want to relate the cusp of where a profound faith is now in order, the understanding of faith from buddhist perspective being that I have complete confidence that the Buddha in fact attained enlightenment, and by his teachings, and my practice of his instruction,  therefore, I will also.  Here is where it gets really really difficult, for as any one living in Colorado, or who has ever attempted a summit trail, the last few steps to the very top are the most treacherous, difficult and easily lost, and require the most inner faith and determination. As for my own enlightenment, it is rather like Martin Luther King's speech: "I have seen the promised-land, I may not get there WITH you, but together we as a people will get to the promised-land."

Here's the catch, all 22 of them, no one "gets" enlightened, the IDEA of enlightenment is the only thing that gets enlightened, at best one can find the nothing there is to find, and be enlightened by that simple uncontested moment, no thing to "get". Look around at the view it looks just like your living-room, only you can see through it, it looks just like cancer only you can see through it, it looks just like your kids, your spouse, your job, or good book, only you can see through it. You wouldn't believe it, you couldn't have found the faith, which is TRUST/CONFIDENCE to see through and through unless you went all the way to the top unless you climbed those last few snow-slick sheer icy steps unless you sat for just that long- (how many years?) in the cave of your own heart looking and looking, and now you see all the way through it————no thing to see, nada, ALL of it cusp and no cusp

and now what? Smile, be exceedingly glad, nothing can harm the one who sees through it ALL. beloved, becalmed, we live on this planet, at this time, in this moment, with these lives, precious and transparent, like no thing before and no thing since. We know — no thing and yet all is clear, kindness, seen in this light, is all the enlightenment we'll ever need, it's all we'll ever get. Nothing ever looks quite the same as when seen through kind "seeing-through-it-all' eyes. 

Remember, as with Rilke's long poem: perhaps we are here just to learn to say one word in such a way as the thing itself has never existed so completely as in the word itself. [?]

We don't and we can't know for sure, But one thing that seems obvious, the folks who are being kind and helpful toward others seem to be the happiest, seem to be the most secure, on top, those busy even in the smallest ways truly helping someone else, being kind, the simple kindnesses, sometimes attributed to manners, and the biggest kindness, Mother Teresa size kindness, any kindness will do that is where you can see the light- IN LIGHT MEANT / (means) WE ARE SEEN THROUGH and we can SEE through, the LIGHT OF OUR OWN KINDNESSES, and you see it first from within, … Bemused, betwixt, BE KIND. 
—moving forward gently up the slope with……… faith.


Adam Parfrey said...

Hi Elizabeth,

You're taking this situation so well and beautifully. We can all learn from it. I'm thinking that you can convince the problem cells to remove themselves.

All my love,


Kathleen Meredith Cole said...

Dementia happens, but it doesn't always just happen. We can't see our beautiful, fragile, complex brain ... can't see the harm we do. People will do all sorts of things to ourselves, not considering long-term consequences and brain health. It's a subject to consider.

Elizabeth, you're telling us things ... telling us not to take any aspect of our health and vitality for granted. Your glass is half full. Your health and vitality will resume, and you have gained invaluable insights. Thanks for sharing!

elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elizabeth said...

these two comments move me to add my intention to this blog: May I be of help, may I see this karma working through my life as a tool for assisting others. May I help all my friends, family, beings seen and unseen, known and barely known, near , far and all around, all beings, may this experience and reporting of such things bring a peacefulness, a resting assurance, a fearlessness, and an awareness of compassion for all others, and may this effort of communication (all the postings and READINGS) be dedicated to the enlightenment of ALL others before me … soha