Friday, January 7, 2011



The PET scan has been postponed until tomorrow. I'm not sure why, though even without that procedure, Mom had radiation, chemotherapy, an echo cardiogram, surgery to implant the portacath and a brain scan. We don't have any of the results yet, though the whispers are that the echo at least was fine. Due to having the portacath inserted, Mom couldn't eat during the day-the surgery was later this afternoon, so she went all day with no food. Though it sounds like she more than made up for it; when I spoke with her this evening, all she was talking about was the amazing food she'd been eating. Soup, muffins, salmon, cookies and above all, some strudel drink (huh? no idea) she was totally crushing on. She was a little stoned from the anesthesia and just so cute.

Between raving about different succulents, she kept telling me what an amazing experience all of this has been. That's a direct quote: "It's been an amazing experience." Who says that? Who in their right mind, after enduring two surgeries in two weeks, the complete loss of independence, loss of vision, baldness, daily uncomfortable radiation, tummy unrest...who says it's been amazing? Of course she's not saying that cancer has been great, but she wholeheartedly sees beyond the physical discomfort and is mesmerized by all of the people who have flooded out of the woodwork to hold her up. The only times I have seen her cry were 1) when she was presented with the healing quilt and 2) when I said goodbye. And it wasn't really crying, it was just a few tears from being so overwhelmed with love that they couldn't be contained.

A dear friend wrote her a letter today, expressing the awe he felt when thinking about her. I agreed and wrote back: "I have been so in awe of her-of her fierceness, of her willingness to allow what is, what life has become; and let go of what she can't hold. I am in awe of her hope. I don't have it. I would have mourned everything she's lost by now and she authentically is embracing what she has left." It's such a beautiful way to view life. It's such a gift to know and love someone who feels that way. Every bad diagnosis I've gotten in my life (and there have been 3 and they don't come anywhere close to this) has led me to tears. I came out of the sorrow to rise up with fists, but I go to that place of pity. When I first heard her diagnosis, I was so angry that it was her instead of me-I'm the fighter, the one with high pain tolerance. I'm the one who toughs everything out. I was worried that she wouldn't fight. I had no idea. She fights so gracefully that you don't even realize it's fighting. She is so focused on all of the positive things this has brought that the negatives fall by the wayside.

When I teach yoga, I ask the class to set an intention for their practice; it can be physical, emotional, personal or community oriented. Sometimes I'll set the intention for them. Yesterday we (I) decided to bring yoga to the radiation oncology department and set an intention for both Mom and the technicians: to bring back her eyesight. I explained to them that I was a little bit hippie and that sometimes we do this and they were all totally on board. And Mom was, too. Since then, she keeps talking about setting intentions and how she continues to do so. It makes the treatments more bearable. It helps her focus on something she really wants, on a goal to achieve, on a positive note. "Amazing experience." Indeed.


  1. Aynsley:

    Today's update confirms for those of us who grew up with your Mom that she hasn't changed at all over the years. She was always a fighter - and she always has fought "quietly" and with grace. In fact, I NEVER wanted to be on the wrong side of one of her fights after seeing what happened to those who were......we know she will continue to fight!!! She's an amazing lady!

    One comment that I have to relay to YOU: I talked to Marci yesterday and I told her that if YOU are in a job that does not involve writing, I think you should quit your job IMMEDIATELY and start writing. You have a gift - your updates are nothing short of amazing! You have allowed all of us who care about your Mom and your family to "share" the experience - not a simple task given the circumstances...........and do you know what Marci told me??......she told me to mind my own business because you're clearly successfull at all you do.......

    We hope the PET scan goes well today and that the results from all the tests are positive - and that today is a good one.

    Enjoy Gary and that beautiful weather in New York.......

    Love, Me

  2. Hi Aynsley -
    Does Flynne have a CD or MP3 player available to her in her room? Also, is she able to access email from her account?
    Please let me know. I like what you did in your yoga class. I am going to go that direction in class today.

  3. Aynsley.
    I don’t know Mark, but I so agree with his comment, your frank, obviously painful and detailed writing is nothing short of amazing. (on the other hand, listen to Marci and keep your day job, there’s absolutely no money in writing).
    Since we can’t physically be where mom and dad are, your blog is allowing us peek over their shoulders to see what is happening on a daily basis. (without annoying dad for updates)

    When you talk with Mom give her our love and a long distance hug.
    You Bobby, Ross & Flynne are all in our thoughts during what has become this daily Amazing Experience.
    All our love,
    Evon and peter

  4. Aynsley,

    I have always known your mom is an amazing woman. Her courage and attitude during this journey show how truly special she is.


  5. Hey Aynsley! I believe that strudel drink your mother was talking about was mine (simply an orange mango strawberry smoothie with no milk, and protein/fiber from Starbucks). Had no idea it was such a big hit! I'm glad I could play some part of the enjoyment of her day. And I am so elated to hear the news from the PET scan! Flynne has been such an inspiration. I had know idea she was such a graceful fighter. What a wonderful lesson! The Kirshenbaum Clan as a whole has amazed me! Keep it up! Things can only get better from here with all this positive thinking going on! Much Love and Support,

    Jessica B.