Things Worse than Death


Sometimes I feel like there’s worse things than death. Given all the treatments and the life that slowly erodes itself right under my feet, until the very next time I look down. As always I find less and less ground to hold me up.

Whenever I grieve for friends, a part of me grieves for myself. The dead enlist a fear in all of us with MBC that we could be next. The fear sits side by side with the resilience that got us the few more years, months, weeks and days until the oncologist finally says there’s nothing more we can do as happened to my friend Julia Barnicle.

Lessons from Lockdown : available on Amazon

We had plans for a podcast that would have the writers in the two anthologies “Lessons from Lockdown.” Within her this can never be what we’d hoped. I’d even sent her a rough outline, the possible platforms and even a logo. I shall consider in her honor keeping the light alive she lit in her life cut short by metastatic breast cancer. My tears flow into a rising river of all the tears that came before and all those to inevitably come.

From the books editor and one of its contributors, Julia herself asked, “what if life were meant to be easy?” “Could ease be found and maintained during a global health crisis?” She answers her own questions with the grace in which she led her life: “by letting go of expectations about how life ‘should be’ it is possible to find ease in the most uncertain of times.” May you have found ease, beautiful Julia. I hope that we can all find the grace in our own hearts the way you handled yourself. You the polyglot, introvert, wife, friend, author and exemplar of true beauty not found often. As we survive in a world that could enact such cruelty as is MBC, may we live not die each day until breath no longer fills us and we join the energy in the space that only gives us freedom from our bodies, so badly beaten but without beating our spirits.

Saying her name every day keeps her alive in my heart. Although we never met face to face but planned to as soon as it became safe to travel my grief compared to other friends who have died from cancer, from aids, from suicide. As Frank Ostaseski in his book, The Five Invitations, invites us to this sage advice:

“Don’t wait.”

You can find the book on Amazon I highly recommend listening to it read in the authors voice The Five Invitations available here.

My grief of myself of my life one day full of plans and the next full of scans. It’s no life I’d wish on anyone should I ever even think someone deserves this horrid existence we all make the best of yet we shoulder alone – very few understand what it means to walk in the garden with death holding tightly to your hand. If I ever did, may the spirits strike me down.

My mother used to say, “never spit up to god.” I’ve lived by that advice because gravity will pull that saliva right back down onto your face not gently like rain. But viscous and vicious like the mouths that speak, or minds that think, such vile words.

I haven’t been doing as well as I would, had I not moved away from my support systems. Especially away from the oncologist who listened to me and worked with me to save my life twice.

And I’ll return to him beginning July. He knows there’s an urgency – we will see what my scan comes back with on July first. I’m trying to not think about it between now and then.

2 comments on “Things Worse than Death”

  1. I think I must get this book. Yes, life has been a series of ups and downs since I was diagnosed stage 4 cancer 2.5 years ago. And then with Covid it all became a bit to much at times however I do still live my life day by day and enjoy whatever I can and when ever I can. I also have scans mid July. Wishing you some good news on yours !!! Your Truckee friend.

    1. Sue, I was in truckee for dinner just a week ago today. My stupid Chemo brain was like – I know I need to get in touch with someone!
      I hope perhaps we can get together for late lunch maybe during the week sometime soon. You’re always welcome out here – I hadn’t realized how close together we are. If you ever need a hand or want some company for an oncology visit or for your scan let me know. I sincerely would be honored to be there for you. As important as it is for me to write and document my experiences is as important as it is for me to be in service and friendship as a trained patient advocate!

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