Tag Archives: strength

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.

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Cancer During the Trump Era

9 Oct

I was just recently diagnosed with cancer, specifically colon cancer. I am still processing what this means and how it will impact me and my family. A good bit of me says “fuck cancer,” but a large part of me is just simply terrified. As my friends and family are gathering around me to support me, they insist that”I have the strength to beat cancer,” which keeps being echoed. I’m not sure I believe this–and I have serious doubts I can beat cancer during 45’s administration. I need to let everyone know that that the artwork shown at the end of the article was done by some former students, now friends/colleagues of mine–thank you Erin and Nick. I love you both!

In the context of living in the US during 45’s reign of terror, being diagnosed with cancer is making me wonder if perhaps this is my time to go. Being barraged everyday with another assault on human rights by a narcissistic autocrat is quite wearing on one’s emotional (and obviously physical) health. The intense racism, homophobia, misogyny, and classism have been more than just revolting: they speak to the very worst in humans. I must confess, this is not the world I want to live in and the fatigue of 45 is real. I also constantly worry I do not know how to adequately take care of those whom I love and love me. I know people that love me are scared and I struggle with how to care for all of these wonderful amazing people.

While hurricane Maria wreaks havoc on Puerto Rico (an American Territory), 45 has the chutzpah to blame the country and even worse, to blame the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. (How dare you be a strong and smart woman!) On a side note, one should mention that Trump helped to contribute to the debt of Puerto Rico when he abandoned his golf course there and left the people of Puerto Rico with the 33 million dollar debt he created. To further push his racist agenda, 45 thinks he is on a television show again and wants NFL owners to fire the black athletes who kneel in protest of the racism people of color experience daily in the United States. 45’s exact words: “Fire the Son of a Bitch”–my how presidential. It is very difficult for me not to hear this as: Hey, all you white owners, you need to tell all of these black people how lucky they have it to work on the field.

More discouraging news which does not encourage one to fight any type of cancer: Gollum, I mean AG Jeff Session just found a way to allow employers not to cover the cost of birth control for women, but will continue to cover the cost of medication for men to have an erection. This all falls in alignment with what misogynist and homophobe Mike Pence has been promising around Religious Freedom, a.k.a the justification to hate and deny people their civil rights. In an effort to spread more hate and venom, on October 6, Sessions issued a 25 page memo that outlines how all business can now legally discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community under “religious freedom,” meaning Christianity. Who would Jesus Hate? This memo supported by 45 is one of the most significant bills of hate. Of course, the insane Spin Doctor 45 responded to this proposed bill with: “his administration will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.” Wow! I have no words on how to address this twisting of power and the ability to sustain a white supremacist, homophobic, misogynistic power structure. If you are not actively resisting this mishigas, you are NOT an ally to targeted communities. Here is where I will agree with Rex Tillerson: “Trump is a fucking moron.” I have to also agree with GOP Bob Corker referring to the  “Whitehouse as an adult day care center.” Wow! I just agreed with two Republicans.

Yes, as you can see, there is not a great deal of motivation to fight cancer given the overwhelming amount of power that normalizes HATE, normalizes homophobia, normalizes racism, normalizes misogyny, and vilifies any type of journalism that tries to hold 45 and his white robed cabinet accountable. It’s so hard to believe that all of this has happened in just one week, the week since I received my diagnosis.

And yet! And yet I am going to fight in ways that people better be scared of me! I am 50 years old and I don’t believe I have said “Fuck You” to enough people. I have not shown enough active resistance to tyranny. Now is my time. I shall call this cancer “45,” and I shall fight it until I kick its ass and defeat it. My ability to defeat this cancer will signify that communities all over the country can use our power to love each other and embolden targeted communities–we can tap into our shared humanity and refuse to live in fear. “I ain’t dead yet.” Stay tuned!

Closing Black History Month 2014

28 Feb

Black History Month_2014logo_0As with every year, I remain somewhat sad that we still  need to celebrate Black History Month in the United States; but we have overwhelming evidence that racism is sadly alive and well and living in every state. Hopefully, SJFA has celebrated many folks who have been relegated to corners of history and are rarely celebrated.  I have to confess what a pleasure it was to celebrate so many African Americans who have dedicated their lives to civil rights and social justice, including many who continue to do so today.

We have no further to look than the case of the killing of Jordan Davis, a black youth, and Michael Dunn, the white man who killed him. One of my favorite writers, Leonard Pitts, of the Miami Herald does a great job of unpacking this horrific case and how it reflects racism on a national scale.

Sadly, the Paula Deen debacle just gave further proof of the current climate of racism and misogyny and why we desperate need Black History Month. Now Deen has compared herself to Michael Sam — sadly, you read that correctly.

Some of my personal favorites this month were:

Michael Sam–what a lovely portrait of courage and good energy.

Rosetta Tharpe–was another favorite. Sadly, she remains somewhat unknown and yet her contribution to the world and to the world of music was nothing less than profound.

Alice Walker will always be a favorite of mine and I hope everyone will get to know her through her poetry and literature.

I hope you got the chance to learn about some new people and were able to rejoice in names you already recognized.  Chime in and let me know who were some of your favorites and tell me some people you would like me to add to the list.  I suppose one of the “take-aways” from this series is that until we see African Americans being represented in all history books and American culture values Black History, we will continue to have the need for Black History Month.

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