Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Day in CancerLand

So, you are in CancerLand on Valentine’s Day?

Yep, that sucks. It’s awful. I know; I’ve been there.

But you do not have to surrender to 5FU and all her crazy chemo cousins. 

You can have Valentine’s Day and romance and cancer. Here’s how:

Remember how Valentine’s Day worked before cancer.

Shed one tear remembering that and then laugh. Find something to laugh about. Call up your true love and reminisce together. Make a joke.

Make a Valentine. If you can get out, buy a pretty one. If you can’t get out (friggin’ 5FU) then make one: paper doilies, red Sharpie, tear a story form the newspaper, write on a playing card (yes you can ruin a deck of cards by taking out the King or Queen of hearts).

Drop your expectations. Like a hot potato—drop them. This is Valentine’s Day in a new country: CancerLand.

Think about love, and email love and text that love. There is so much love in CancerLand and with your partner, state it clearly. You have seen and felt love so grand and so different than people who have never visited CancerLand. Claim and celebrate that love. Explicitly.

People around you may be afraid to ask, “What are you guys doing for Valentine’s Day?” like they are asking other couples. Shame on them—announce what you are doing. Stare down their fear.

Things to keep: affection, conversation, chocolate, cards, flowers, bad poetry, good poetry, and romantic comedies (TV listing are crammed with romantic movies tonight.)

Things to lose: expectations and projections

Things to negotiate: a good meal, gifts and sex. (be creative and open-minded with that last one.)

Refuse to surrender: your relationship, your coupledom, your happiness.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Best Books About Caregiving--Fiction and Memoir

There are lots of books to tell you how to be a caregiver—books for spouses, siblings and adult children.

There are specialized books for caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or cancer or Parkinson's Disease etc. But sometimes you want or need more than a how-to book, and more than the facts—you want to know about the feelings, and to know how someone else felt when they were where you are. And for that we have to go to literature.

I teach a class on the Literature of Caregiving, and I have found that these are those are the kinds of books that caregivers crave and relate to. These are the books that often answer the questions that no one knew that they needed to ask.

So, here are some of my favorite books about caregiving. You’ll have some surprises I’m sure, but caregiving is nothing new to humankind, and great works of literature touch all situations and all of the feelings that make us human.
Caregiving Memoirs:
Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy
Cancer Vixen, Marisa Acocella Marchetto (It’s a graphic novel)
Midstream, Le Anne Schreiber
Landscape Without Gravity, Barbara Lazear Ascher
Truth and Beauty, Anne Patchett
The Story of My Father, Sue Miller
Low Down: Jazz, Junk and Fairy Tales. AJ Albany
The Broken Chord, Michael Dorris
Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott
Three Dog Life, Abigail Thomas
The Best Day/The Worst Day: Life with Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall
The Two Kinds of Decay, Sarah Manguso
Caregiving Fiction:
We are All Welcome Here, Elizabeth Berg
A Patchwork Planet, Anne Tyler
Celestial Navigation, Anne Tyler
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
King Lear, William Shakespeare

Add a few of these to your Winter reading. On the couch, in bed, and in your caregiving tote for doctor's offices and waiting rooms. You’ll be in good hands, and good company.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sex and Cancer Cancer Today Magazine

Many of you know that I started this blog--and advocating for more education around sex and cancer--because of my experience being shut out and shut down by medical folks when John was diagnosed with Colon Cancer at the beginning of our relationship.

Because it's my gift --and my bent in life--I went to my computer and started writing. I also shared the story of our romance --the good and the bad--and wrote a lot about relationships in general.

But it was that shame around sex and cancer that got me started and it keeps me keeps me going.

I am delighted and honored that Cancer Today Magazine found the blog, and interviewed me for their recent article on Sex and Cancer.

I'll put the link right here:

Please consider sharing this.

There are still too many couples impacted by the silence and the lack of helpful information, and still way too many medical professionals who don't ask and who have nothing to say when asked.

I thank all of you for following this blog, and sharing my updates, and for continuing to make it safe for Love in the Time of Cancer.