Reflections and Gratitude

15 Mar

I just finished my sixth chemo. I am up in the middle of the night writing because I am quite sick from the chemo and need something to distract me, so that I don’t throw up again. Quite sadly, when I looked in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth after throwing up, I saw a reflection I did not recognize. I saw a very old man who was quite gaunt, exceedingly pale — almost a gray pallor to his skin — and very thin black and mostly gray hair. While I was tearing up at what I saw in the mirror, the ghost looked back at me with some compassion and nodded his head politely to let me know that yes, this is what I look like with stage four cancer after six rounds of chemo. But this piece is about a less vain reflection and about such enormous gratitude to those who seek me out and work so hard to lift me up and be strong for me when I don’t feel strong.

I want to reflect on the humanity and overwhelming kindness: generosity of heart from so many that I have been able to be in community with while sick. Humanity that seems quite difficult to find in the age of the hypocritical and sociopathic Trump. Since announcing the news of the new cancer, I have been on the receiving end of so much love and so much caring, that I am usually crying tears of joy, with the occasional self-pity big cry of why the fuck me? What if I don’t have what it takes to beat this, as the odds are not good? When I feel defeated and in the pit of despair because of Trump, Pence, Mitch (I have no soul) McConnell, Theresa (I’m so popular) May, Boris (the Klassy version of Trump) Johnson, Jair (closet queen) Bolsonaro and others so full of hate, I have to look to my community of friends and family who help lift me up.

My friends here in Oregon have been so full of love and strength; they combined with all of my family/friends who have traveled from every point in the United States to love on me, have created so much strength for me that when I’m tired I can actually feel myself relaxing and gliding on their cloud of love.

Keeping with the theme of gratitude, I must thank my amazing teach of medical folk at OHSU. This amazing team of people are truly dedicated to helping me stay alive and to help me say Fuck Cancer! There are so many people to thank, so please forgive me if I forget someone: thank you Skye Mayo, Charlie Lopez, my two oncologists and Asher Caldwell my palliative care specialist, and Cheryl my chemo nurse seen in the picture above. Chemo is a horrible, scary journey and on my first chemo Cheryl gave me a huge hug and said thank  you just for coming and starting this. I so needed that, as it’s helping me get through and I’m not even in the middle of the journey yet.

As I have been reflecting on my own journey of life, I am have reaffirmed why I have to be here on earth, at least for a little bit longer. I want my legacy to be that I worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for all people, specifically for people with targeted identities that do not have equal access to resources. I want my legacy to be that I worked tirelessly to eradicate misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and racism. Today, my heart goes out to all of the Muslim community. I am so very sorry for your loss today in New Zealand at the hands of a terrorist. Sadly, the President of the United States has only helped to fuel and to normalize such Islamophobia.

Right now, I am having to focus so hard on healing and beating this cancer. Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover all of the expenses and I am not able to work full-time, try though I might. My husband has set up a GoFundMe account to help us with expenses. If you are so inclined, I thank you in advance for all of your help and support. I also hope you will join me in the fight to make this a better world; that  means we need to learn how to live differently and to make sacrifices to leave a better world for posterity.


29 Responses to “Reflections and Gratitude”

  1. Morgan Brand Management March 15, 2019 at 6:26 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing your very personal journey. You inspire me with you passion for a better world especially during such difficult times.

    I wish you a much healing as you battle cancer! As for the GoFundMe, we are grateful you gave us an opportunity to donate!

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 15, 2019 at 6:29 am #

      Thank you for all of your love and support and for helping financially. Your love and support are what help me and carry me through this journey. All my love, Michael.

  2. bevanyardleigh March 15, 2019 at 7:21 am #

    Thank you for sharing your continuing journey. Please know how much light, hope, and strength you have shared even in this virtual world. Wishing you healing and joy – Bevan

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 15, 2019 at 7:35 am #

      Bevan, thank you for your kindness and for all you do to make the world a better place! Love and peace to you! Michael

  3. Dr. Rex March 15, 2019 at 8:38 am #

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    From a very dear blogger friend … ‘Right now, I am having to focus so hard on healing and beating this cancer. Unfortunately, our insurance does not cover all of the expenses and I am not able to work full-time, try though I might. My husband has set up a GoFundMe account to help us with expenses.’

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 15, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

      Horty, thank you so much for sharing this and for all of your love and support. Love, Michael.

      • Dr. Rex March 15, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

        May it hear much from me … but you are in my mind and thoughts!! 🙏🏽🙏🏽

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 15, 2019 at 2:08 pm #

        Thank you, Dear Heart! ❤

      • Dr. Rex March 15, 2019 at 3:38 pm #


  4. willingandemil March 15, 2019 at 9:53 am #

    Thanks for that post. Your words are incredibly inspiring and your strength makes me feel energized on a bad-attitude Friday. I think, “Look at this guy…I need to get out there and make something of today and be grateful, dammit.” Sending good thoughts up to Oregon for you and Robert.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 15, 2019 at 1:39 pm #

      Thank you so very much for your comment and your good thoughts. Lots of love from Michael and Robert!

  5. katy b. March 16, 2019 at 7:46 am #

    Although I haven’t been keeping up with your journey, Michael, I do think of you every time I see a notification pop up and hope you are going to beat this horrible disease. You and I only know each other virtually, but I consider you a shiny positive example of what humanity could be. Please know I send you caring vibes every time I see your name and applaud your good nature along the way. You are a prince of positivity and peace!

  6. Juanita Range March 16, 2019 at 8:09 am #

    My Friend,
    You are courageous, caring, and live with purpose. Your story is a gift to many for many different reasons. Many of us look daily at a reflection that offers us questions, stories, and pondering that generates sad and joyful feelings, judgment and questions, a sense of love and loneliness. Our eyes speak to others and our eyes speak to us….Thank you for sharing reflections from your reflection. Thank you for inspiring people and reminding us that if we slow down enough to look and listen, gratitude can carry us with dignity through seemingly insurmountable challenges.

    I am grateful for the privilege to call you friend, and to stand and push with laughter, compassion, and empathy with you into the tension that creates space for deep reflection and change in this world. You are a gift to many, including me!

    Wishing you an abundance of light, love, peace, joy, and continued compassion for self and others!

    Love ya Big Fella!


    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 17, 2019 at 6:59 am #

      Juanita, I am so grateful for you and your friendship! I’m so grateful for being connected to you now and as I go through this part of my journey. Lots and lots of love, Michael.

  7. Gronda Morin March 17, 2019 at 11:20 am #

    Dear Michael Hulshof-Schmidt,

    I, who have undergone chemo treatments can empathize with this really rough time you’re enduring with as much grace as possible. It stinks.

    Xena of is also undergoing her Hell of cancer treatments.

    We need both your voices in this battle against those who are purposely inflaming the fear, anger, prejudices in too many Americans, like anti-immigration, anti-Muslim and Antisemitism in the US for political expediency. There needs to be that counter echo chamber.

    Meanwhile, I have to warn you, the chemo treatment effects can last for months after the treatments have ended. I had made plans for a trip to Rome after treatments ended, for 3 months later. I had so badly wanted to celebrate while blessing my teenage Grandson. I ended up having to cancel a prepaid / no refund hotel room at a villa in same area where Gina Lollobrigida has her home because I had to be within seconds of a bathroom, or else.

    But I had to admit, it was worth it after several tests over 2 years came back with great results. So hang in there. We’re counting on you.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 17, 2019 at 11:38 am #

      Dear Gronda, it hurts my heart to hear about how you and Xena have struggled so. We are in this together. I love you and am sending so much good energy your way!

      • Michelle Youngblood April 23, 2019 at 6:59 pm #

        Michael, I am forever indebted to you for your friendship and wisdom. Hang in there and PS FUCK CANCER!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt April 24, 2019 at 6:02 am #

        Michelle, I’m so looking forward to seeing you. Let us hope I’m much more mobile than I am now. ❤

  8. Xena March 17, 2019 at 1:24 pm #

    Michael, on the same day you posted this, I was having surgery. I’m still recuperating from it and feel like ca-ca, but your post has given me hope for mankind. I was anticipating a homemaker through the Illinois Department on Aging who would help me with cooking and housework after surgery. Because of that, I turned down the offering of friends and family who have already given so much of their time. But, I was let down by the Department on Aging and for 5 days, received an unbelievable run-a-round coupled with lies that really stressed me out.

    To put it short, I appreciate and understand your gratitude. You are very blessed to have family and friends supporting you. I’ll do what I can to spread the news about your GoFundMe account.

    You have a mission in life, and it’s our callings that give life meaning. Hang in there. You can beat cancer and I believe that you will.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 19, 2019 at 5:57 am #

      Oh Dear Xena, I am so sorry you are going through this and so sorry that the Dept. of Aging let you down! I know I am far away, but is there anything at all I can do to be supportive? Here’s to both of us being fully recovered this year! Lots and lots of love to you!

      • Xena March 19, 2019 at 8:21 pm #

        Michael, what I would like you to do to be supportive, is concentrate on yourself. We must and will overcome cancer. The situation with the “homemaker” changes daily and I can barely keep up with the back and forth myself.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt March 19, 2019 at 9:05 pm #

        Dear Xena, you are truly wonderful! Yes, I have to believe we are both going to beat this fucker, cancer! Sending you so much love and good energy.

  9. katy b. August 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm #

    Michael, I hope you’re not feeling too sick to write. Thinking of you and hoping you are well and just too tired. *fingerscrossed*

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 9, 2019 at 8:29 am #

      Katy, you are too sweet and too wonderful. I am on the mend–just a bit more slowly than I would like. I shall return to writing soon. Much love, Michael.

      • katy b. November 15, 2019 at 1:15 pm #

        I’m so glad to hear from you, Michael! Tears are flowing. Keep fighting the good fight, my man!

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 15, 2019 at 2:20 pm #

        Thank you, Katy! Much love to you!

  10. Greg Christensen June 17, 2020 at 8:25 am #

    Wow. I looked up “social justice” and “discrimination” as weapons for cultural change … and I found anti-gun articles and you. You should read more outside your comfort zone like the older liberals did. Just because you show outward signs of love and compassion does not mean your cause is correct. You are fighting the wrong fight. And it is not based upon scientific proof at all … it is based upon a “religion.” I am a physician with a great heart and a sound intelligent mind. We are in a culture war that you and the activist teachers have brought on. Most don’t even know the real reason they are fighting it. You are being led down a path by political partisanship and activism based upon controversial radical ideas and opposition being termed discrimination, with lawyer backing. Or you are leading it, well aware of what you are doing.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt June 17, 2020 at 8:39 am #

      Wow, Greg! You clearly have no empathy! As I am in a great deal of pain and just trying to stay alive, I will just say respectfully: Fuck YOU!

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