IMs from God?

30 06 2011

This little box of Theo's reflected a mysterious rainbow. Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.

I was crying when I called my sister-in-law Carrie the other day. A couple of months ago, she made me a CD mix to get me through the toughest moments. The very first song is Katy Perry’s Fireworks. Carrie picked that one because she knows the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. And she loves the lyrics.

When I called her the other day, I said, through sniffles and sobs, “What if there’s only a hurricane for me, and no rainbow?”

Without hesitation, she said, “The rainbow is already out there, sweetie. You just can’t see it yet.”



She knew I was referring to these lyrics:

After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed

So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

We talked a lot about that rainbow, the one that will appear after I make it through the hurricane-force winds that blew into my life following my Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis in January.

My fear, I told her, is that after the hurricane, there isn’t going to be a rainbow. Just devastation.

But Carrie won’t hear of this. She doesn’t tell me there’s a rainbow out there because it’s what she thinks I want to hear. She tells me this because she believes it to the very depths of her soul. Never, she says, has she been so certain of something.

This calmed me and after a few minutes, I was able to pull myself back together. I had to. Theo was at summer camp and it was time to go and pick him up.

As I was backing out of our driveway, our neighbor, Dave, walked up to my car. I rolled down the driver-side window, offered him a handful of Cheez-Its. He looked at me and said, “I saw you the other day. You weren’t looking very happy.”

We share a narrow, one-lane road with three other houses, a straight path that leads to the lake like a spoke on a wheel. It’s a private road, which means our mailboxes are at the end, where our street meets the service drive. So, getting the mail means a tenth of a mile trek to the end.

As I was scrolling through the moments when Dave might have observed me, I thought about a day last week when it was dreary and drizzling and I’d made the trek for the mail. The neighborhood was quiet; the kids inside doing puzzles or watching movies on a rainy summer day. A few tears on my cheeks could easily be mistaken for raindrops, should anyone cast a glance out the window.

I was just having a moment. And Dave, who has lived next door for the dozen years since we moved in, reads me well.

“You weren’t looking too happy when I saw you last week,” he said.

I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m afraid…” But I couldn’t finish. I waited a minute, then tried again.

“I’m afraid I’m going to die,” I said, this time staring straight at the steering wheel.

“You’re not going to die,” Dave said. “You’re going to outlive me.

“You have changed the way I think. You don’t realize how much you influence people, how what you say and do changes the way they think. That’s really powerful.”

I thought about that for a minute, trying to figure out what I do or say that makes that big of an impact. Then I took his words and deposited them into my heart.

Earlier in the day, I’d come across this little box filled with shark’s teeth at a gift shop. I thought of Theo and knew it’d be two bucks well spent. I gave it to him when I picked him up at camp. He was ecstatic and for the rest of the day; it was like nothing else existed save this little, tooth-filled clear plastic box.

Then the strangest thing happened. I was making dinner and Theo called me into the family room.

“Look, Mommy,” he said, pointing to the lid of his little box. “There’s a rainbow.”

Indeed there was. The plastic lid of this tiny box was acting as a prism to the light streaming in through the windows, reflecting the colors and shape of a rainbow. What were the chances, on this day, at this moment, in this way? If the conversation with Dave, the observation by Theo, are not Instant Messages from God, then what are they? Dave said my words and actions are powerful, but they pale in comparison to the messages coming from above.

Maybe all the doors closed so God could lead me to the perfect road.

And yes, I do believe there will be a rainbow.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Let’s Talk About You

29 06 2011

A few weeks ago, one of my lifelong best friends called. We chatted about the usual stuff – the kids, the weather, our summer plans. She, of course, also asked me how I’m feeling, how I’m managing my chemotherapy treatments and schedule. Then there was a pause and she said, “I have something to tell you, but I’m not sure if I should.”

I was a bit nervous but still, whatever it was, I wanted to know.

“Yes, of course tell me,” I said. “Please.”

She told me her Dad had been recently diagnosed with cancer and would soon be starting treatment. She’d known for about two weeks, but hadn’t known if she should tell me.

Under ordinary circumstances – as in prior to my recent breast cancer diagnosis – she would have called me right away. But that I was in the midst of fighting my own battle with this disease had called it into question. She’d even discussed it with her sister, whom I also know well: When should they tell me? I’ve been close to my friend and her family since we met in Kindergarten – 30-some years ago.

I can understand the hesitation, the love and concern, the thought that she didn’t want to add anything more to my already very full plate. But not only do I get tired of talking about me, my diagnosis, my treatments, quite honestly, I want to hear about my friends’ lives, what they’re facing, their challenges as well as their joys. It helps me to feel “normal” at a time when my life is anything but.

Several times since my January diagnosis, friends have kept a lid on something big going on in their lives, be it marital troubles, problems at work, a concern about a child. They’re coming from the right place, with the best of intentions.

But it’s important for them to know that I want to know. I want to be “kept in the loop.” I care deeply.

Friendship is a two-way street, even when one of you is facing a life crisis like a cancer diagnosis. Especially then.

For more of my blog posts, visit The Pink Fund.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Let’s Be In It to End It

27 06 2011

I often hear this question come up in conversation: Is all that money that is being raised for breast cancer really making a difference?

The quantitative answer would require digging into statistics and the like. But from my personal vantage point — which I often liken to standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and looking down — the answer is an emphatic YES!

While being on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis is never the place anyone wants to be, I’ve been told more than once that if I have to have cancer, breast cancer is the one to have. There are more research dollars and treatment options for breast cancer than any other type. And the progress — oh the progress! Treatment options, my doctor often reminds me, change in weeks and months, not years.

I know that the three drugs I’m on didn’t even exist four years ago. Human trials for the experimental drug I’m taking — the PARP inhibitor — began just last year.

In my quiet moments, I’ve often wondered if we’re ever going to Find the Cure. I truly believe that we are, and that we’re not far off. Football star Brian Picolo (Brian’s Song) succumbed to testicular cancer because there simply wasn’t a treatment available in his time that could cure him. What a heartbreak.

Years later, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with Stage 4 testicular cancer — and with the benefit of new, platinum-based chemotherapy drugs, he was cured. I asked one of my doctors about this a few weeks ago and she told me that yes indeed, Stage 4 testicular cancer is now curable.

Stage 4 breast cancer — what I’m battling right now — is not curable. Not yet. But I believe that if it can happen for testicular cancer, it can and will happen for breast cancer. We need to keep the faith, keep moving toward that ultimate goal of a cure. I see it every day, on a very personal level.

The weekend of August 12-14, three of my friends will be taking on the challenge of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Three Day: Marybeth Greene, Jennifer Amprim Wolf and Trish Baden MacDonald. That’s 20 miles a day — 60 miles total. They walk by day and camp out at night, getting in a little shut-eye and reenergizing, rehydrating so they are ready to take on the challenge again the next morning. I’ve not yet been able to participate in the Three Day, but I hope I can someday. I’ve heard it’s rewarding, but also, grueling.

I’ve seen first-hand what these women do in honor and memory of the loved ones who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Daily walking schedules of miles and miles, months and months in advance, to get themselves ready. Special shoes to endure that kind of mileage — not to mention researching the kind of socks that will get them through those three long, often very hot days. A month or so ago, Jennifer and I had a long discussion about socks. Yes, socks. Success in this challenge is indeed in the details.

On top of all that, there’s the fundraising arm of the Three Day. In order to participate in the walk, these breast cancer warriors not only need to begin training many months in advance, but they each need to raise $2,300. While Marybeth has already met her goal, Jennifer and Trish still need financial support. With the walk just six weeks away, we haven’t hit the panic button yet, but we’re not too far off. Jennifer is about half-way to her goal; Trish about 40 percent.

So, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before on my blog. If you’ve been thinking of making a donation toward finding the cure for breast cancer, consider supporting my friends Jennifer Amprim Wolf and Trish Baden MacDonald in the Breast Cancer Three Day. They’re both walking in honor of me, as well as in honor and memory of others who are fighting or have fought this battle.

Many times, people tell me they can’t go anywhere without running into someone who has been touched by breast cancer in one way or another.

We’re all in this together. Let’s be in it to end it.

(To donate on behalf of either Jennifer or Trish, visit their Three Day homepages by clicking on their names above. I’m on my way there now.)

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Is Breast Cancer Inevitable for Women with the BRCA1 Gene?

21 06 2011

genetic breast cancer, brca 1, brca 2, chromosome 17, triple negative

Editor’s Note: This Blog post, written by Amy Rauch Neilson, is reprinted with permission from the GE Healthymagination site. It appeared there originally on June 21, 2011 at 12:00 p.m.

Is a breast cancer diagnosis inevitable?

For women who are carriers of the BRCA 1 (breast cancer) gene, it is so close to an absolute certainty that to learn you are positive for the mutation is nearly as terrifying as a breast cancer diagnosis itself.

The BRCA 1 gene, discovered in the mid-1990s on Chromosome 17, like its sister, BRCA 2, is a tough opponent. Women who carry either mutation have up to an 85 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an increased risk – up to 60 percent, depending on the mutation — of ovarian cancer.

Reading the statistics is one thing. But the reality hits home when it happens in your family. Over and over again. As it has in mine.

My grandmother died in 1948 at the age of 46 of what her doctors described as a “female cancer.” My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973, at the age of 34, and battled metastases for 19 years before succumbing to cancer in 1992. My sister Julie – a two-time survivor — was first diagnosed in 1985 at age 26.

The gene mutation is more prevalent than many people realize. According to FORCE, a national non-profit foundation for individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, experts estimate that, in the general population, one in every 300 to 500 people harbors a BRCA mutation.

The discovery of the gene mutation and subsequent testing available to women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer has armed our generation with a powerful tool: Prevention.

Women with this gene can significantly reduce their chances of a cancer diagnosis by ridding themselves of the body parts where this gene mutation fires up – breast and ovarian tissue. That’s what I decided to do. I was in the midst of being tested for the gene in early 2006 when I discovered a lump the size of a blueberry in my left breast. Even though my tumor was a Stage 1 and I could have opted for what is known as “breast-conserving” surgery – a lumpectomy – when I learned I was positive for the BRCA 1 gene, I instead chose the more radical double-mastectomy.

But even that, sometimes, isn’t enough.

On January 9, 2011, I discovered a hard lump the size of a shooter marble wedged between my left breast implant and my reconstructed “fake” left nipple. Three days later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer once again. This was not a recurrence, but a new primary. Even worse, subsequent testing showed that this time, I am a Stage 4, as the breast cancer has spread through my lymph nodes and into my lungs.

Even though my decision to undergo a double-mastectomy had significantly reduced my chances of a second breast cancer, my gene mutation had indeed refired in the few healthy breast cells that the surgeons had left behind. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Existing data suggest that preventive mastectomy may significantly reduce (by about 90 percent) the chance of developing breast cancer in moderate- and high-risk women… Because it is impossible for a surgeon to remove all breast tissue, breast cancer can still develop in the small amount of remaining tissue.”

So often we think of medical science as a modern-day Superhero – able to fix any obstacle we face, no matter how harrowing.

I am currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment with two drugs that didn’t even exist when I was diagnosed with my first breast cancer in 2006. And I was fortunate to be selected to participate in a clinical trial which offers hope for breast cancer patients like myself who are diagnosed with the particularly hard-to-treat triple negative breast cancer.

But we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, prevention through self-breast exams and risk-reduction surgeries is still key.

Amy’s Bio, which appeared on the GE Healthymagination site: Guest blogger Amy Rauch Neilson is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance and investing. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Better Investing Magazine,,, The Detroit News, Efinancialcareers .com, Pages Magazine, and USA Today, among others. She is putting the finishing touches on her memoir, No Safe Place, about the four generations of women in her family who have been identified as carriers of the BRCA 1 gene. Her blog,, has subscribers from 17 countries and all 50 states.

Will There Ever Be a Time Again…

18 06 2011

When every day will seem normal again, and not life-or-death? When my biggest decision will be water park or sprinkler park with my son on a hot summer’s day? Free of days when I must choose to get treatment and give myself shots that will cause severe bone pain, which is far better than the other choice — no treatment at all and the unthinkable consequences that would follow?

Will there every come a time again when it’ll be second nature to be able to do the things that make us human, that make us feel normal, like get frustrated when someone cuts us off in traffic or worry about something a client said? To wonder how I’m going to squeeze in stopping for a gallon of milk or how we’ll scrape together the cash for something we really need?

I am not even sure sometimes that I know or even recall, after just a few months of enduring the terror of and treatment for a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, what normal is, but I do know that I want it back.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Let’s Party in Pink — Tomorrow!

15 06 2011

Howell's Annual Pink Party is TOMORROW! Photo (from the 2010 celebration) courtesy of Becky Cwiek.

Tomorrow’s the night. The Big Event in Howell, Michigan: The Pink Party!

It’s just a 45 minute or so ride for me. I’ll be picking up my bff Kristi Rugh Kahl on the way. (How, she wonders, does she always get roped into these things? Ah, the duties of long-term friendship).

We’ll be shopping the downtown, which is open for Pink Party attendees and many shops and restaurants are offering free food (free food always gets ’em), and discounts on purchases.

Well, if you’re in the area or can make it to Howell, you’re in for a very good time. The party goes from 5 – 10 p.m.

Plus, I’ll be addressing the crowd at about 7:15, following the Queen’s Parade. And Lord only knows what I might say if you give me a microphone and a captive audience!

Some info on the event:

The Pink Party is an after hours, town wide ticketed event for retail shops to help raise funds for a great cause, invigorate a small downtown and strengthen our sense of community. 100% of ticket price will be donated to the Susan G. Komen fund and the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition. Tickets can be purchased in advanced for $25 at participating businesses.

Your ticket includes:

• A generous discount at participating retail stores

• Food and Wine Tasting

• Pink Flamingo Silent Auction

• Bras for a Cause Auction

• Massage Stations (My personal favorite!)

• Queen of the Night Awards for Most Creative Pink Outfit

• Festive Party-like atmosphere throughout town

• Event Laminate

• Art exhibit

• Roaming entertainment

• Belly dancing

And no, I’m not belly dancing, either! Maybe next year…

If you do make it out there, please find me and say hi! I’ll also be handing out free It’s In the Genes bracelets, while supplies last…

Copyright 2010, Amy Rauch Neilson

Status: Chemo Bound

14 06 2011

On my way to chemo today for the beginning of Round 7. It sounds like a boxing match and really, it is one.

My bff Jennifer Voisin Murray is picking me up. We go all the way back to junior high.

We are stopping for breakfast on the way. Hey, if I gotta do this, I might as well enjoy my friend and eat a ham and cheese omelette on the way!

Theo wanted me to take him to school this morning. I explained that I couldn’t; that Jennifer was picking me up as I had to go to the doctor’s today to get medicine. He said, “But I want to be with you tonight.” He knows that chemo often means I am down for the count for the rest of the day, often in the guest bedroom because I feel so horrible.

That’s a chemo translation from the world of a five-year-old.

I promised him that we will be together this evening, and I will make good on that promise.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Status Update: Second Opinion Today

9 06 2011

Well, Don and I are off to the University of Michigan Breast Care Center this afternoon for a second opinion on my diagnosis and treatment. Long story of how we ended up there instead of at MD Anderson right now. But it’s a good story. I’ll share it later.

I’m nervous. I’m hoping for a doctor with a great bedside manner who has lots of encouraging information to share.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Thank God Don is by my side.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

My Book: Chapter One

8 06 2011

I am lucky enough to be represented by a top-notch literary agent, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, LLC. With her guidance, I’m telling my story, the story of my family, the generations of women affected by the breast cancer gene. I wrote the first draft a couple of years ago, after I’d finished treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer. Jessica and I then had a pow-wow and went over the areas I needed to rework. I’ve just about completed what Jessica needs to “shop” my book to a publisher. I’ll be turning in the new chapters and proposal on Friday. In the meantime, Jessica has granted me permission to share just one chapter with my blog audience. Something you should know before you begin reading: I am calling it a “Suspense Memoir.” And if this genre didn’t exist before, it does now.

Chapter One
I woke up face down on the ground, covered in something green and slimy. There was a clump of it in my hair, hanging down onto my forehead, another wrapped tightly around the fingers of my right hand, a third clinging to my right knee. I remember thinking that it felt like the bowl of icy, unpeeled grapes I’d once plunged my hand into at a makeshift haunted house.

I don’t know how or why that memory came to me at that moment. But there it was – the bowl, the young girl dressed like a Ghoul, a hood shrouding her face, the sounds of zombies and their screaming victims turned up so loud they hissed through the overtaxed speakers from the back of the garage. I remember how the little Ghoul grabbed my left hand and forced it into the bowl, then leaned in to me and whispered, “Gen-u-whiine Eye of Newt.”

I lay there, my nose in the soil, taking in shallow breaths, afraid to turn my head to the left or right. There was dirt on my lips and on my tongue. I could feel the grit on my teeth. I lay that way for what felt like a moment, but could easily have been an hour. Maybe longer. It was a dark, starless night, a night with no point of reference, no use, no care for time.

I was clamped by fear. Held in place like a chunk of wood in a vice, that big, old, clunky tool that sat on the edge of my Dad’s greasy basement workbench. The one that’d hold a piece of lumber to be sanded or metal to be bent. When I was a little girl, I used to test it, swinging the arm round and round to see just how tight it could get, stopping only when the arm quit mid-cycle, couldn’t budge any further.

I tried to suck in a breath. I waited. And I listened. The earth was cool and damp. The air was still. The acrid scent of decaying leaves entered my nostrils, that, along with the pungent smell of manure.

I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate. No sound. Not a Barn Owl or the buzz of a mosquito homing in on tender skin, the promise of a good meal on a humid mid-summer’s night.

I knew then that it was too quiet. There was a void. A blackness. Like time had ceased, the very life sucked out of it.

I turned my head to one side and dared to open my eyes. I reached out and began to cautiously pat the ground around me. I felt something strong, thick coming up from the earth. I followed it, running my hand up as far as I could reach, maybe a foot, maybe two. I touched another. Then another. The next one was bent, broken, lying on the ground. I moved my fingers up the strong stem to the silky, stringy top. It felt like the tassle on a graduation cap.

Corn. I was in a cornfield.

Oh my God! Not again!

My heart began pumping so hard my chest hurt and for a moment, I felt disoriented. I brushed the soggy leaves from my forehead and reached down to pull them from my right knee. Beneath them, my skin was warm and wet; sticky. Blood. I’d been bleeding. I must have fallen. Had I been running?

That’s when I heard them. Helicopter blades, slicing through the preternaturally quiet night sky like the sails of a large ship, whipping in a violent storm at sea.

Then suddenly, I was bathed in an intense white light. A spotlight. And I knew.
The enemy was in pursuit.

I squinted. The helicopter made a pass, the blades whipping up a breeze that stirred and rattled the corn husks as they rippled and swayed. Had I been spotted? Then the sound of the blades faded as the helicopter moved off into the distance.

I dragged myself into the row of corn and lay there, my legs wrapped around the stalks, face down in the dirt, my arms above my head, scarcely breathing, trying desperately to blend in. I felt the sting of a half-dozen mosquitoes dining on my arms, my legs, my neck. I willed myself not to move.

I remembered this cornfield. I remembered it all too well. The enemy had found me here once before, five Harvest moons ago.

But how? How had it found me a second time, after all these years? After all I’d done to evade it? To disguise myself? To vanquish what it was really after?

The first time, it’d taken body parts in trade for my very survival, and I’d gladly given them up. I’d fought back with all I had. It’d been taken from my body, examined, then destroyed. I’d hit it with the most toxic, targeted chemicals known. Its weakness. Its Kryptonite. There wasn’t supposed to be a second time.

I heard the copter circling back, the spotlight illuminating a wide swath in the dark of the night. It passed over me once again.

I dared look down to examine myself. I was clad in a ripped, muddied, white tank top. My chest wall, covered only in a thin, tight layer of skin, showed through. My artificial nipples made indentations in the thin, damp cotton. I was wearing a pair of boxer shorts so thread-bare that the material was nearly transparent. I’d seen them once before. Only once. Last time.

The chopper blades hovered overhead, loud and unyielding. The corn stalks stirred frantically, violently in the windstorm. Together, they sounded like a thousand metal marbles rolling down a playground slide. The enemy was closing in. I pushed my nose even further into the dirt, holding my long blonde hair tightly to my head. I held my breath. I lay perfectly still. No use. The spotlight, the enemy locked in on me.

It must be the boxer shorts. I tried to pull them down, get them off, fling them far into the field. But I couldn’t even manage to wriggle them to my knees. They clung to my skin like they’d been painted on.

On the front, they were a seemingly innocent blue and white plaid. But the back. I knew what was on the back.

A bulls eye.

The chopper was circling, looking for a place to land among the cornstalks. The spotlight blinded me; the roar of the engine deafening as it closed in, ready to make its vertical descent.

It had found me. Again.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Grab a Hold and Yank Yourself Up by Those Bootstraps

7 06 2011

Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.

Yesterday was bittersweet. I feel like — know I should — be so happy and grateful. I had an extensive appointment with my oncologist and she confirmed what Don and I already suspected — the tumor in my breast is much smaller and softer. The chemo, she says, is working. What better news could a Stage 4 breast cancer patient hope to hear?

And yet, there was more. First of all, my oncologist was surprised to find that I already knew about the deal between Clovis and Pfizer (See Could the Future Be Now?) to manufacture an oral version of a PARP inhibitor. She herself had just heard the news at an oncology conference over the weekend. At that same conference, she learned of the upcoming Second Generation of PARP Inhibitors, among many other promising breast cancer treatments and therapies, that she is very excited about. Second Generation PARP Inhibitors already on the move when the First Generation has barely been introduced. So much hope for my future, for the future of other breast cancer patients.

I am grateful and happy. I’m ecstatic, actually.


But my counts were down — my platelets low. This postpones chemo for a week. No chemo this week; we’ll try again next week.

Why does that feel so frustrating, in light of the other, very good news I heard?

I’ve been contemplating that and what I’ve come up with is this: It’s challenging to feel out of control in your life, no matter how little or how much control you actually have. I have already been feeling so out of control since my Jan. 12, 2011 diagnosis. I go where I have to go, do what I have to do where and when I have to do it. My whole life, as well as my family’s life, revolves around it. So, it makes sense that the little control I do have — such as when I’ll be having my chemo treatments — is something I tend to cling to.

My “very little control” comes in the form of getting myself mentally ready to start a new round of chemo. It also comes in the organization of my calendar of chemo drivers and getting my son’s Summer Camp schedule nailed down. I’ve already submitted two calendars to his summer camp, and now with this new pothole in the road, I’m going to have to sit down and figure it all out again, submit #3 with the hopes that it truly will be his schedule for the summer — and that the camp owners aren’t going to get frustrated at my constant change of plans.

Yesterday, I felt frustrated at my body. Nothing I do will make it happen — my platelets rise — any faster. It takes time. I have to wait. I’m not very good at waiting. I never have been. Oh, the lessons God must be trying to teach me on this path and the frustrations He must have, dealing with a blockhead like me.

So, even if the very little control I seem to have these days comes in the form of a rock-solid chemo schedule — two weeks on, one week off, repeat — at least it’s some sort of control. Even if it comes in the form of getting my chemo driver and summer day camp schedule down in ink, at least it’s something I can be sure of. Or so I thought.

All of this reminded me of those times when we find ourselves in those unsavory parts of our lives, circumstances we don’t want to be in, for whatever reason, but circumstances that we are in due to choices we’ve made. What causes us to sink into those valleys — and stay — for extended periods?

Comfort, I think. The known — even when it’s miserable — somehow can be so much more comfortable and reassuring than venturing out into the unknown, even when we’ve got a pretty good shot at making our circumstances and our lives better. I think we’ve all been there. I know I have. There are times when you really have to yank on those bootstraps to pull yourself up and over.

So, even in these difficult times of a long-term chemotherapy regimen and limited choices, there is a small dose of comfort in the routine, that there is a routine, and that though there may be 50,212 other things I’d rather be doing than going through yet another infusion, at least it’s a known, something that feels like a bit of control at a time when my life feels like a planet spinning off its axis.

But the reality is, things are not static. They are constantly in flux.

I guess that’s just something I’m going to keep on having to try to get used to.

I need to go find those boots.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

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