what if

When I first saw the Poetic Asides prompt today, asking us to write a poem in which we imagine the world without us, I thought, no way,  I’m not going there. Some of the poetry I’ve been writing lately has been pretty intense, and I had an intense morning volunteering at a Komen event where I heard many moving stories of cancer diagnoses, and loss. But then I decided to go for the light touch, and wrote this poem; I am and will always be fervently grateful to my parents for not just giving me life, but for being the best parents they could possibly be. Imagine a world without me? Impossible!

what if

if my mom
hadn’t met my dad
i’d be the child
that they never had

or if they had kids
but stopped at three
my life as i know it
simply wouldn’t be

so all in all
i just have to say
i’m glad they had me
and i’m here today

September Recap

Okay, so the weekly book reviews this summer didn’t quite pan out. The best laid plans always have a way of sounding better on paper than in reality. And having regular days for regular posts didn’t work so great either. I guess I just blog when I have something to say! But my new idea, is once a month to do a regular post of my kukai submissions/results and another of my writing accomplishments for the month. That much I think I can do. Here’s a list of my September writing accomplishments, in a nutshell:

  • Submitted three haiku to the September/October Sketchbook “fall trees” haiku thread.
  • Submitted to the September “leaves falling” Shiki Kukai (still awaiting results).
  • Took 1st place in the 17th Caribbean Kigo Kukai with my “bluebird” haiku.
  • Had a short essay appear the Oregonian special Komen section and on OregonLive, along with a (even briefer) quote on OregonLive.
  • Had a tanka  entitled “love” appear in the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo anthology.
  • Won 2nd place in the Write On! Online Summer Challenge with my fiction story “Love at 30,000 Feet”.
  • Had a post “Without Pay” appear in the summer 2010 Oregon Humanities magazine.
  • Had a poem “End of Year Blues” be selected for the Top Ten list in the Poetic Asides monotetra challenge.
  • Was selected as WOW! Women on Writing Facebook Fan of the Week. (Bio and accompanying photos to appear this Sunday.)
  • And put plenty more writings into the pipeline, including submitting to a haiku contest, a query contest, a haiku journal, a hint fiction contest and  an essay contest.

All in all, a good month for writing!

Know Your Facts

Today was Day 1 of the Health Expo for the Portland Race for the Cure.

I volunteered at the Komen booth. People spun a wheel and answered one of 8 questions about breast cancer facts to win prizes. How well do you know your breast cancer facts? Take this quiz and find out. Then click on the link at the bottom for the answers.

  1. What are the two best steps to take for early detection?
  2. What should you do if you find a lump?
  3. True or false: 85% of breast cancer cases are NOT hereditary.
  4. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the earliest stages is 98%?
  5. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the latest stages is 26%?

Okay, and I must be seriously tired from my long day, because I’m drawing a blank on the last 3 questions. If I think of them, I’ll add them later. 🙂

Here’s a link to the answers.

Aha, I discovered today at the Health Expo, that there were actually only 6 questions in all, which means I only forgot one. That makes me feel much better!

6. True or false: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Getting My Life Back

Each year, in conjunction with the Komen Race for the Cure, The Oregonian asks a question and invites breast cancer survivors to answer the question. A sampling of responses appear in the special Komen pullout section of the paper the week before the Race. For the third year in a row, my response was published. This means a lot to me, because as I’ve had some time (four years to be exact) to put my cancer experience in perspective, my hope is that my words will help others, especially those who are newly diagnosed.

The question this year: “How did you get your life back?”

My response can be read on page 10 of the Komen special section of today’s Oregonian and also on OregonLive.

The 2009 question: “Be it as a patient, or a survivor, or as a family member or friend of a patient or a survivor, what have you learned about yourself, about others, about life, from breast cancer?”

Click on this link, and scroll down to read my response.

In 2009, I also wrote a My Turn essay that appeared both in The Oregonian, and online at OregonLive.

And finally, the 2008 prompt: “Let us know why you do the Komen race.”

My response:

“I participated in my first Komen Race for the Cure in the fall of 2004 to honor my oldest sister, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer weeks earlier. Since then, my middle sister and I have joined the ranks of breast cancer survivors as well.

I walk not only for ‘The Three Sisters,’ as we like to call ourselves, but for all who face life courageously after a cancer diagnosis.

Looking around at the sea of pink that surrounds me at the event, and hearing the cheers as I cross the finish line reminds me that I am not a victim but a fighter and a contender in my battle against cancer.”

2010 Race for the Cure

Hard to believe that we’re already almost halfway through September. And with September comes the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Yesterday I was invited to talk with the Lake Oswego chapter of the National Charity League, on behalf of Komen. And as I stood on the stage, in my pink survivor T-shirt, it occurred to me that four years ago, I never could have imagined that I would be addressing a crowd of maybe 300 mothers and their teenage daughters and talking to them about  breast cancer. In fact, four years ago, it was hard to see past the current day. I promised myself that once I got through treatment, and back on my feet again, I would help educate other women about their risk of breast cancer. And yesterday I was finally able to do just that.

I will be volunteering at the (free) health expo this Friday and Saturday at the Oregon Convention Center (Hours: 10 am – 7 pm Friday, and 10 am – 4 pm Saturday), as well as walking the Race for the Cure on Sunday. Hope to see many of you there!

I am also fundraising again this year. Please consider supporting Komen by making a donation on my behalf. Every bit helps!

Triple Good News

Last week’s Komen Lunch for the Cure that I attended raised $132,000!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, containing my cancer writing group story The Ten Best Things, is now available on Amazon(http://bit.ly/34wABN) , at Powells.com(http://bit.ly/4xsrpz) and presumably also at your favorite bookstore. I was excited to receive my contributor copies last week!

My streak of good luck seems to be holding. My story, The Eyes Have It, took first place in the Write On! Online October Challenge. (http://bit.ly/2fJCZE) What made this an extra special win for me, was that I was writing outside my comfort zone, trying my hand at fiction instead of non-fiction.

Lunch for the Cure

I just returned from hearing Debra Jarvis speak at the Komen Lunch for the Cure. Although initially taken aback by her irreverent sense of humor on an anything but funny topic, I realized that underneath her cancer jokes, she is as deeply serious and inspirational as any other cancer survivor I’ve heard speak. Being able to speak both from the point of view of a chaplain for oncology patients for many years, and as a breast cancer survivor herself, lent extra credibility to her talk, and inspired me to write a companion haiku to this morning’s Malignant Cells.

And Then
After the cancer
Life resumes and strength returns
A bit at a time.

PAD Day 5

The prompt today was to write a growth poem. I skipped the obvious: the growth of a child, plant, relationship or investment. Instead, and probably because I am attending the Komen Lunch for the Cure later today, I thought of cancer cells, the one time that growth does not equate with happiness.


Malignant Cells
Like a dark stealth jet
You slipped under my radar
And grew to a mass.

My Day 3 haiku, Accentuate the Positive, would also work for this prompt.

Check out my “2009 Nov. PAD” page for a list of all the prompts and my haiku responses for the 2009 Poetic Asides PAD Chapbook Challenge.

More on Poetic Asides: http://bit.ly/ZLdCD