I got picked for the *C* team? Grace, Glory and Love is my Response.


Whether to write this blog has been part of a family discussion over the past week. I wasn’t sure how public I wanted to make this personal information because part of this story involves my close family and loved ones. They needed to be okay with it. They are.

I wasn’t sure I was okay with it either..we were absorbing a lot of overwhelming information and emotions as a family.

We still are.

As a kid I never got picked for teams, I wasn’t athletically inclined or very popular for that matter. I wasn’t one of the cool kids. Looking back on that with thanks, imagine my surprise when I got picked for the *C* team.

You see in the span of three days I went from being a fit healthy 53 year old woman with no symptoms or health problems, taking no medication, normal colon screens and perfect blood profile, and x-rays, re-taken several times, even on the day of my surgery– to a cancer patient. BAM! The medical team in shock at what they found.

I had presented the week earlier with stomach pain and nausea, I tested positive and was treated for an intestinal bug which was cleared, I felt better. On Feb 13, mid- day, I became ill with stomach pain and nausea once again, attending emergency.

My body was still speaking. Loudly!

On February 15, with all other tests normal, the surgeon ordered a CT scan revealing I had an obstruction believed to be caused by scar tissue from a previous surgery; my surgery happened that evening. When the surgeon told me he removed a tumor (cancer) from my colon.. more pathology to come, he did biopsies of my liver and stomach, I said I was in disbelief, he said, me too.

Me and my family all felt angry, helpless. We cried and yelled, we were pissed and heartbroken.  My youngest announced that “the Universe could fuck off right about now”. He had lost a close friend just days earlier.

We have also had some awesome laughs…we are choosing joy and love daily. One. Day. At. A. Time.

Initially, I felt guilty, like an epic failure. Like I had in some way ruined all our lives.

There is guilt attached to a cancer diagnosis…oh honey… there sure is. I’m over that.

I’m thankful for almost everything that’s happened in my life, because those experiences, even the more devastating ones, taught me a lot. There are a few lessons I would happily give back, a couple of things I’d really rather not know. But we don’t get to choose those.

You will never see a blog from me or hear me say in some delusional euphoric state that this disease is a gift or a blessing because I have been around it enough to know it is a tenacious ruthless bitch.

But here’s the deal…. so am I, when I have to be.

I do not plan to give it much power. It doesn’t deserve any.

“Why me?” is not a useful question for me, there is nothing productive in ruminating trying to make sense of the why. Seriously, some things will never, ever, ever make sense. Some things will never be okay or the same. Some things you just carry on with. One way or another, I am going to move forward and rise to the occasion because I don’t know how to do anything else.

Awful things happen to people all the time. I don’t believe the universal bullshit stories that we “ cause”  illness, or the religious doctrine of punishment, or that anyone “ deserves” their illness.  I have heard it all in the past two weeks, from the [desperate to say something] “death bed” wishes of “prayer and thoughts” to “everything happening for a reason”.  Some people just don’t know what to say, and that’s okay­– maybe just say that? This kind of unexpected news scares the shit out of people and reminds them of their own morality. I get it!

The ASK…..

Firstly, I don’t feel sorry for myself, so please don’t feel sorry for me.  I don’t find the “you poor thing” sympathy messages helpful and I do not welcome them, so please refrain.   I am not on my death bed or a walking dead woman.  I don’t believe in the “everything happens for a reason” meme.

I don’t constantly think about my diagnosis, some days I have to remind myself of it. Other days I just can’t imagine going through chemotherapy.

It doesn’t really matter. It’s happening.

The question is, what I’m going to do about it.

A friend sent me this…

One thing I can say with certainty is that the human soul and body is resilient. I believe in my body’s ability to heal. We are all a lot stronger than we realize. And most of us, given the choice, are going to choose to live, even when it’s hard.

I am one of those people.

Secondly, I feel extremely fucking lucky, I am young, healthy and full of energy and dreams. I have shit to do.

I know I am cherished, adored and loved deeply. My amazing King and family and true friends have rallied around me with constant positive and productive support. My corporate boss is kind, supportive and exudes grace.  The calls and emails from friends remind me how strong, happy and determined I am. They remind me that I will make this disease my bitch..those close to me know that about me, and that’s reason enough to face this path head on. We don’t get to choose what’s put in front of us, but we get to decide what we’re going to do with it.

I cannot and will not live in a world of resentment and anger. I don’t know how to do that.

Besides, who with any certainty can say their tomorrow is promised, a sure thing. No one.

All I can do is rise up, to push through.  I plan to dig deep and figure it out one day at a time. Trust myself and my body. I am going to fall down and have really bleak days during treatment… I know that whether it’s happening according to some big Universal plan, or it isn’t, I’m going to strengthen and open up to it all– either way, what will be will be.

My initial plan is to blog about this detour, I don’t see this as a journey or a sojourn, it’s one of those really crazy detours that takes you very far off course from  your intended destination. I have no idea what this will look like or the words that will fall onto the page. I promise two things no artificial happiness and no steady diet of doom and gloom. It will be tricky to decide what is share worthy. I trust I will know when the time comes. I am practicing “not knowing” as my inspiration Jen Postiloff calls it.

If any of you beautiful diamonds have your own story, I would love to hear from you. Our stories connect us.  You can post in the reply or email me at thebeautifulreal@gmail.com

One day at a time, because that is all there is.

Positive support and messages of joy are definitely welcome, anything else not so much…oh and by the way– Fuck you cancer!



  • Katherine Maas February 28, 2015, 9:10 am

    Dana, I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you. I’m glad you are getting lots of support and I know you will get through this with the grace and strength you always manifest in everything you do.


    • Dana March 4, 2015, 2:07 am

      Katherine, thank you so much. You are a memorable mentor, and a true inspiration. Your strength and guidance got me through some questionable times.. Love and hugs to you..and a ton of thanks for the support.

  • Peggy Near February 28, 2015, 10:50 am

    Ah, Dana. Letters of the alphabet….there is nothing quite like an emphatic F bomb dropped on the big C to make you feel better. Well that and hiking out to some far from town spot and screaming your damn head off into the wind….no words…just screams. I did both…at 23 with two babies I was whisked into surgery within an hour of having my nine month post delivery exam. The double C’s I called it. Cervical cancer. Survivor …that was 40 years ago. I know you have a ton of love and support…on YOUR team. I may not be a major player…but I’ve always been on team Dana. Just want to say one thing: You got this…and we got you. Oh…and don’t forget to scream bloody blue hell when you need to. And you will always hear an echo from somewhere screaming back: FUCK YOU CANCER!!! <3

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 2:04 am

      Our histories are so similar Peggy, I too had CC at 28, same deal…You my inspirational lady are a Survivor. Thank you for your love and support net. I am picking my running partners for this leg of life wisely. I am setting the tone early…the rest remains to be navigated. AND yes there may be screaming as needed :)

  • Sue Ann Gleason February 28, 2015, 12:47 pm

    Exquisite post, Dana. Thank you for bringing us into your world, your courage, your heart. I have always loved the name you chose for this blog, but today it feels that much more poignant. You embody ‘the beautiful real’. Thank you for that. This line, especially: “One way or another, I am going to move forward and rise to the occasion because I don’t know how to do anything else.” Yes, that is my experience of you. Holding you in deep love and care as you navigate this terrain. Feeling in the presence of healing power and tenacity. Please know that I am here to support you in ways that are true for you.

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 2:00 am

      Sue Ann, you are one of many people who told me the name of my website holds new meaning for them now. Yeah, funny how that works that irony has not been lost on me. I don’t know what I don’t know…becoming a student once again… my trajectory has changed already. Thank you for your love and support..it is cherished. So happy to have such a supportive tribe. xo

  • Susan Seale February 28, 2015, 3:49 pm

    so much love to you, Dana…xoxo

    and your family (((hugs)))

    it isn’t easy to know what is the right thing to say in these moments…what you need to hear…what will uplift and strengthen you… so all i can say is i’ll be here waiting to read the next installment on your detour….your writing makes it real….!!!

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 1:56 am

      Thanks Susan, I think sometimes there is nothing to say…it is so tricky. I have been that person who had no idea, now I know what both people felt like. Silence has a million answers sometimes I am happy to have you in our tribe sister.

  • Cheryl March 1, 2015, 4:28 am

    Dana, WOW! Hugs to you going through this; and yes, make this your bitch! You will be the first to hear that this week has brought me several wake up calls where I have asked myself, “What the fuck am I waiting for?”. I have had this dream that I’ve put on hold for so long and now I am resurrecting it and just doing it.

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 1:53 am

      Ha,Ha good for you Cheryl..I love that! “what the fuck am I waiting for”…great question! I have a post it note on my bathroom mirror that says don’t die hesitating… Anticipating watching you dig into those dreams lady.

  • George Spies March 1, 2015, 5:20 am

    Hi kiddo, I wish I could have contacted you on a happier note. I have enjoyed your posts and your zest for life. I know that your strength and spirit and the love of your family will help you beat this thing. You come from strong stock. The times I spent with you and your family are some of my fondest memories. You are in my prayers. All my Love.

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 1:50 am

      Hey George, your post made me smile. It’s been far too long. I have the fondest memories of you and Fern..thank you and yes we are a tough bunch. I have NYC on my travel list this year…you just never know, I’ll keep you posted. Thank you for your wishes, and love and hugs to you and Fern.

  • Heather March 1, 2015, 7:57 pm

    Dana, it is hard not to say “I am so sorry” because I know how you feel to some extent – getting diagnosed with a chronic illness (multiple sclerosis) and wondering what the future holds for me. It’s not cancer but it still holds that uncertainty that can feel overwhelming at times. I have chosen a while ago not to give it my full attention. I have better things to do, like love my children or even just make a dinner for my family. I will not wallow in it. You are in my thoughts and my hope for everything to go well.

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 1:44 am

      Heather, oh yes, I think anything that creates the unknown for us is scary and overwhelming. I am definitely a certainty girl..I have a close family member and a friend with MS although I have no idea what it is like to navigate daily, it just know it is not easy. I love your attitude..I feel the same way , I have better things to do than give this any power. Love and hugs to you sister. xo

  • Barbara Michel March 2, 2015, 5:41 am

    I’m not online too much these days, but I’m so glad I caught this post of yours this morning. Of course not “glad” about the news in the post, but glad to see your beautiful fighting spirit in fine form! You amaze and inspire me and I so admire you from afar…and having never met you, I have NO doubt whatsoever about the ass kickin’ that will be happening! I was where you are, 13 yrs ago with an aggressive breast cancer at age 42. I can feel all your emotions, most especially the anger and disbelief. Wish I had your ability to share in writing as you do…I know that will be some powerful medicine for you on this unique detour. You DO, absolutely have more untapped strength than you can ever imagine! I know you are blessed with amazing love and support around you, but I want you to know there’s also someone in Texas holding space for you to get to the other side of this shit storm healed and whole. Sending big love,

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 1:39 am

      Barbara, thanks so much for sharing with me. I do know you are strong and brave, I will bask in the BIG love and support from Texas.. Thank you so much…xo

  • Cathy Sykora March 2, 2015, 8:32 pm

    Dana, I appreciate you being so open with your current situation. Your outlook is amazing and it is wonderful to hear about your support system. I enjoy hearing the fight in you through your words, it truly is inspiring!

  • Maria March 4, 2015, 8:38 am

    I was wondering where you were – I was missing your wisdom and quick wit.

    It is hard to put in words. Just want to give you a hug – thank you for the inspiration and paving the way with courage. Sending you love, Maria xx

    • Dana March 4, 2015, 8:30 pm

      Thank you Maria :)

  • Elizabeth MacLeod March 5, 2015, 6:38 am

    “Not knowing” as your practise. The path of wisdom, it seems to me. The beautiful real . . . I understand this name now in a different way. And I see that it will hold you too as you navigate this path in a way that you didn’t expect. Deep bow.

    There is nothing glorific about this … FuCKiNg CAnCeR… but I have to say, the dignity of this post, and the reverence of your words, the real of your thoughts . . . are the diamond of your story.

    You are in my prayers. Every day my sister. May you walk with gentleness when you need to and fury as it rises, and may the road rise up to meet you at just the right times . . .

    I send you so much love . . . to your family too. xoxoxo blessings upon blessings my friend… I await your next instalment here and will ‘see’ you each day in my prayers.

  • april March 5, 2015, 11:20 am

    “I do not plan to give it much power. It doesn’t deserve any.” you are the epitome of strength and courage, dana, as evidenced by this lovely and heartfelt post. you will have a special place in my thoughts as you maneuver your way through this intimate dance. and yes, fuck you cancer.

  • Michelle March 6, 2015, 4:21 am

    Holy shite. I remember you having the intestinal bug right before I took a two week sabbatical from the Internet. What a difference a few weeks make. Bloody, bloody hell.

    I’m not scared because I know you will heal. I will send you prayers and healing thoughts because I believe in the energy behind that stuff. :-)

    And I will put you in touch with my friend who is an umpteen year survivor of colon cancer. She is beautiful and real like you — inside and out.

    Love you, Dana. xo


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