Monday, May 10, 2010


A couple of days ago, I received an email from a self-help cancer site. It was well-written, well-intended, but it seemed to be missing something. The article was about restoring joy which often in this post-cancer state can be very challenging.

It suggested that one concentrate and focus on those many positive items we all have in our lives - home, family, friends, the beauty of Nature, music, etc. - and thus, be filled with feelings of joy. At least for me, the joy I feel thinking those thoughts doesn't stick with me for long.

Luckily, I have been bitten with an infectious Indian laughter bug. Being infected with the rare organism, madanus katariasis, results in what is known as the "Hohohaha Syndrome" which can literally move you from motion to emotion. What does this mean in less scientific terms? Hmmmmmm, let me see, how can I explain?

There are many beautiful candles in my home - not only are they fragrant, but several are also embedded with a variety of gorgeous flowers. I can look at them, appreciate them, but only when I light them, do I receive the FULL benefit of their candle beings.

All of my life, I have been surrounded not only with beauty, but also with wonderful friends and family who have added so much to my life; however, my "fire" needed to be lit before my true brilliance and joy could be realized. For me, being infected with the "laughter bug" accomplished that.

It forced me to tell my body to laugh (the motion) which eventually, over a protracted period of time, fired up my inner candle, thus releasing my joy (the emotion). The strange thing about this syndrome is that it infects in a powerful, insidious way. I must tell you, during the entire incubation period, my personal life was a huge mess - there was very little to laugh about, let alone feel happy about; however, as the "bug" kept biting me, I laughed....and laughed....and laughed. The more I laughed, the better I felt and the better I felt, the more I laughed! What a vicious cycle!

The syndrome often leaves me feeling light-hearted, as well as occasionally a bit light-headed. I sleep deeper, have a much more laid-back attitude about life in general, often have an inexplicable desire to laugh out loud for absolutely NO reason and often do so while driving. I feel upbeat most of the time and rarely succumb to severe bouts of depression as was the case prior to contracting this dis-ease.

Now that my inner candle is burning brightly, it allows me to see vividly the beauty all around me. Some days I feel I would like to wrap my arms around the entire world and give it a good squeeze! Amazing what an infection such as this can do to a mind and body.

Got joy? It's never too late to become infected!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A year later.....

and what a year it has been!

My daughter, Sara, set this blog up for me when I first left for California and treatment in September 2008, because she thought it would be therapeutic for me to more or less journal my thoughts, feelings, activities. It was good, but back then, often I was too tired to say much - I was in such a mental fog at the time.

This past weekend she was with me again here in Michigan. As we were talking and I was saying I really had no clear idea of what I should do next with my life, she pushed away from the table and with a little smirk on her face, she looked up at me with those incredibly gorgeous eyes of hers and quietly said, "Mama, I think you need to blog...and somehow, it will come to you." I started to make excuses, but I knew she was right. I need to start somewhere, why not here?

It's been a pretty wild ride since last I wrote. The best laid plans...I was not warned of cardiac issues after chemo and radiation. Well, yes, it was mentioned, but I was told not to worry - it would be at least 10 years before any problems might arise, wrong!

Many weeks during the summer my crazily beating heart exhausted me completely. I dragged myself to my business and then tried to keep myself awake driving home - it was not good. These days my heart has calmed down considerably...or maybe I am just getting used to it.

Then for no good reason, starting mid-December, everything began falling apart. Once again, I lost my old home which I was renovating for a cancer retreat, my old business, then my own personal home, as well as my health insurance all within a three-month period (memo to self, never again try to work with your ex!). Truly, I thought the world was coming to an end. Cardiac irregularities were replaced with panic attacks and sleepless nights - it was a massive dose of "not good".

Beside myself, wondering how I would recover massive amounts of money poured into my old house and business, staring at an $80,000 medical bill, as well as wondering how I could possibly manage financing a new home, did not make the new year look very promising.

One sleepless night, stretching my arms and eyes heavenward, I said aloud, "I have no idea what to do. Please show me the way." And that is when everything began to change. Two days later I walked into this gorgeous home.....and today I am happily settled here. "Not my will, but Yours...."