Sunday, June 24, 2012


Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
                                                                                                          Albert Einstein

What good advice from Albert Einstein.  Not only was he a brilliant scientist and mathematician, he was very wise.  I clearly remember learning to ride a bicycle.  In fact, to this day when I drive down the street where this important milestone in my life happened, I still think about it.  When I was learning to ride, I don’t think I really thought about the fact that if I would keep moving, I could keep my balance and I am sure the physics of riding a bike never entered my mind. After several attempts, I was able to keep my bike moving and stay upright.  On that day I became a proud bike rider.

In a recent post, Metaphor, I told about feeling that I had lost the wind at my back after my multiple myeloma diagnosis, treatment and recovery, remission and the ensuing stage of survivorship. I felt out of balance and I was not moving and I was languishing in the doldrums of life. At the end of the post, I mentioned that I thought was starting to feel a little breeze.  

I am happy to say that the breeze is picking up and I am beginning to sail out of the doldrums.  My participation in the Livestrong Exercise and Thrive program for cancer survivors at the YMCA has been a positive change and it is literally keeping me moving. I have high hopes that this program will help me to achieve balance.  

 In a few days, I will be flying to Denver for a conference of Alpha Delta Kappa International Organization for Women Educators.  This is a big step because I will be going by myself.   I have ventured out without my husband very little since my diagnosis. I did travel to Germany last November without him, but my daughter was with me and I wasn’t alone. However, it did feel like a giant step to be getting on an airplane without him.  For so long, I have felt vulnerable without my husband there to watch over me as he has done throughout this myeloma journey.  When I get to Denver, I will be with friends and I am looking forward to that.  I know this conference will be rejuvenating and it will keep me moving and help me keep my balance.

It is my hope with each new step forward, my balance will get stronger and I will be fully living again with the wind at my back. 

This has nothing to do with my post, but I must share this picture of my dear cat, Lily.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Bridge

Yesterday while I was driving my car, I heard Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and I was pleased as I heard the first few bars because I have always loved the song.  Mostly, it is the musical arrangement and instrumentation that I have liked so well.  I knew  most of the words, but had never really related to them.  As I mentioned in my last post, Metaphor, I think I have mostly had the wind at my back during my life and it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma that a  big storm arose and I entered into “troubled water.”

I found myself, for some reason, intently listening to the lyrics of the song and it brought me to tears.   As the tears streamed down my face, I realized that my hero and husband of many years, Brent, could have written those words.  He has been my Bridge Over Troubled Water throughout this ordeal. The lyrics of the chorus say, “I will lay me down, like a bridge over troubled water…”  and I feel like that is exactly what he has done for me.  

Even the words, “Sail on silver girl,”  relate to my story of living life with the wind at my back.  It may be that Brent is the wind at my back, always encouraging and loving me.
Coincidentally, Paul Simon wrote this song in 1969, the same year we were married.  Little did I know  as I enjoyed this song in the early years of our marriage that the lyrics would someday come true.  I am, indeed, a fortunate woman. We will be celebrating our 43rd anniversary on June 28th.

Happy Anniversary Brent!
I love you . . .

Lyrics to Bridge Over Troubled Water by Paul Simon, 1969

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found 

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down 

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around 

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down 

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
When you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind 

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I come from a long line of sailors.  On my mother's side, my great great great grandfather was a sea captain in the first half of the nineteenth century.  On my father's side, my great grandfather was listed as the only sailor in his company - all the rest being farmers - on his Civil War muster papers from the State of Michigan.  A treasured family heirloom is this photograph of three sailing ships on Lake Michigan. My grandfather had written these words on the back of the picture:

"21st Birthday, July 26, 1902 - On our way to Manistique with 1600 pounds of apples on the Mary L in company with Rambler and Lulu Guy"
My Grandfather

My dad inherited this great love of the sea and it defined  his life.  He spent eight years in the U.S. Navy including WWII. (If the truth be told, he would have made the navy a career if my mother would have been willing to move.  She didn't want her children to be moving frequently and I can appreciate that.)  After the war, he became a commercial salmon fisherman in Washington State and he fished many years in Southeast Alaska.  In his later years, he had a sailboat that he was able to sail by himself until he was 87 years old.  He was never happier than when he was on the water.
My Dad

Though I have this nautical history in my family, I have never had that strong connection to the sea and my only sailing experience was with my dad.  Oddly enough and maybe because of my heritage, I have come to view sailing as a metaphor for my multiple myeloma odyssey. 

Throughout my life, I have had the good fortune to have the wind at my back.  You might say I have sailed through life pretty easily . . . until now. I grew up in a loving home with parents who taught me well and prepared me for a productive, happy life.  I was a good student in school and had lots of friends and I participated in many activities.  I went on to graduate from Western Washington University and had a long and successful career in education.  I married my WONDERFUL husband 43 years ago and we have two great children who we are very proud of.  We lived a good and mostly trouble-free life until January of 2010 when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

When that happened, the gentle wind at my back that had been propelling me through life, became a violent storm. This great fury damaged my "ship" but didn't sink it.  Radiation, chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant repaired the damage, but I no longer sense the wind at my back.  I am in the doldrums, like those latitudes in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where there is no wind and sailing ships can languish for days and weeks.  I, too, have been languishing.  

I have found it difficult to get motivated and excited about moving on with my new life and I am not sure why.  One thing I do know, I am wasting precious time.  This sense of malaise has been dampening my spirit and I want it to end.  I want to feel the wind at my back again.

I wrote the draft for this post over a week ago.  A few days later, I went for a preliminary screening for the Livestrong Exercise and Thrive program at the YMCA and I came away with a renewed spirit.  Was that a hint of the wind at my back I felt?  Yesterday, I made reservations for two Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Organization for Women Educators Regional Conferences and will be going to Denver and Boston this summer.  Is that a breeze I am feeling?  

Maybe the lesson for me is to begin living again, inhabiting my days and making plans for the future.  I am determined to make that happen.  I know there will be setbacks, but I can't let that stop me.  When I really feel the wind at my back, I will know I have succeeded.

Friday, June 8, 2012

New Arsenal of Drugs

Patient Power's Andrew Schorr has a new interview with Paul Richardson, MD, Clinical Director, Jerome Lipper Center for Multiple Myeloma, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  The title of the post is quite encouraging:

"New Arsenal of Drugs Fighting Myeloma"

I found the interview to be informative and exciting and hopeful.  Here is the link: