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If you have cancer.

If you had cancer.

If you know someone with cancer.

If you want to talk about cancer.

We won't pray.  We won't blame gods.  We won't give credit to gods.  

We face the diagnosis and know, it is what it is.  

To the extent that we can, we will define our own course.

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Cancer changes lives.

We have to deal with medical profession.

We have to deal with medications.

We have to deal with new discomfort and pain.

We have to create dignity, where there is indignity.

We have to deal with family members, friends, coworkers, and strangers, in a changed way.

We resolve to go forward with strength, resilience, purpose, pride, and integrity.

We define ourselves. Cancer does not define us.

Discussion Forum

Extra Virgin Olive Oil vs Cancer

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Olive oil: The key to curing cancer?Extra virgin olive oil kills cancer cells within 30 minutes to an hour,…Continue

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Peanut protein spreads cancer

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Peanut component linked to cancer spread... a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and…Continue

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A Personal Cancer Blog

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Comment by Joan Denoo on August 24, 2013 at 6:32pm
Patricia, I have much to learn from you. Especially your spirit. "Never futurize!" Count the pluses! You really do make me laugh.
Comment by Joan Denoo on August 24, 2013 at 2:31pm

Daniel, I laughed when you wondered if my counseler offered prayer. She asked me if I were a believer and I responded that I am not only a non-beliver, I am an anti-theist. Her insight was to ask a very simple question, "What have you lost because you have a life threatening disease, cancer?" I had not thought of losses, however, upon reflection I was so deeply moved, I started to cry. I had no idea that notion had any influence over my emotions. I agree with you, Daniel, life is sweeter, more precious and more in the moment, rather than in the past or the future. I/we have this moment, and we can choose to be present, aware, and in possession of that difficult to pronounce word from Buddhism, "equanimity". It is about noon, I am still in the garden with the ambient temperature of 72 degrees F ... perfect for being with the critters and flowers and aromas. I am not yet driven in by the heat. 'Autumn Joy' sedum have a faint tinge of red/orange and will soon be turning. Phlox 'Davidii' glow in full bloom with not a blossom drop yet. The yellow climber rose presents me with a new blast of color and fragrance, Gold Finch cluster at the feeder and Fat Tail Squirrel sits in the strawberry bed looking at me as he eats a huge, plump berry. I cut back about half the raspberry vines and can clearly see where I stopped. I have a nice chore for another day. Dear friends of Godless in the Garden, it is nice to read your comments, enjoy sharing our lives with each other, and hope each one of you has a splendid weekend. I am in paradise, known as My Back Yard. 

Just one more thought Daniel, before I sign off, your calm may be infectious in the work place where "everyone is always overwhelmed and stressed." Perhaps we offer a gift that our loved ones and co-workers need to experience. In any event, your calmness calms me and I value that. 

Comment by Daniel W on August 24, 2013 at 12:13pm


I hope the counseling isn't offering prayer.  I think you would have mentioned that.

Mindy, thank you.  That means a lot to me.  So glad you are here.

Working on another blog post.  That helps me too, sorting out my thoughts.  But even yesterday, I thought, I'm doing pretty well, even at work.  And everyone is always overwhelmed and stressed there.  Maybe it's gone to my brain.  (dark humor there - I know better).

Comment by Daniel W on August 22, 2013 at 10:25pm


I'm very happy you are back on track!

It's bizarre, but in some ways I think I'm happier now than before I was diagnosed with cancer.  Life is more precious.  If I'm doing something - like working - it's more because I choose to do so, not because of long long long term benefits.  There are challenges.  Cancer has to mean some grieving.  But there are moments I think, I'm doing pretty good.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 22, 2013 at 4:44pm

Cancer Care Northwest in Spokane provides counseling for cancer patients and family. It has been several years since I had training in counseling and knew my skills are out of date. With just a few minutes I was able to see my blind spots, which for me was grief work. I plan to return for more sessions and then upgrade my training. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 18, 2013 at 1:41pm
Daniel, I am very glad you are not depressed; that black hole can devastate even the best trained people.
That tiny little frog with a mighty voice just joined me on the patio and he croaks a raucous melody that is almost primordial. Can't be down with his noble efforts. The yellow jackets are especially thick this summer. The old timers say that our cool spring and hot summer tends to produce an overabundance of the stingers. Dominic and Spaz, Laura's family pets, nip at them constantly. We observe no sign they have been bitten yet, even as they spit out of their mouths stunned bees.
Comment by Daniel W on August 18, 2013 at 1:12pm


Thanks for talking about your music.

I used to listen to a lot - favorites were classical, old rhythm & blues, and smatterings of other stuff.      

Then, I don't know what happened.  I lost my taste for music.  That seems almost not human, but it's true.

I do listen to a lot of audiobooks.  The tenor of the voice almost as important as the content.  Maybe that replaces music for me.


I will look into your links.

I don't think I'm depressed.  I am glad that you are doing better, and thinking positively.  If you are doing well, that is what matters.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 18, 2013 at 9:14am

Daniel, there are at least two kinds of depression, 1. clinical (chemical) and 2. situational. Clinical is when the brain chemistry changes and pulls a person into depression that has to be treated with medication. Situational occurs when a person thinks they have no control over what is happening to them, and they can't predict the outcome. 

My depression was clearly caused by both, and when I felt that awful black cloud come over me I made an appointment with my chemo physician, nutritionist and therapist. I started the exercises of positive self-talk, guided visualization, body relaxation techniques, and talking to my family and friends to let them know I was slipping. Most of my friends are professional nurses and mental health therapists so I had help at once.

My depressions are learned, and I can identify how and why I learned to be depressed. When I was a very small child I observed my father beating my mother and hid under blankets and pillows and anywhere I could find to escape the threat over which I had no control. I learned I was helpless and when I grew into a woman I know no better. That is how I became a battered wife and failed to protect my children from abuse.

After I left my husband, I returned to school to try to understand why I had failed so horridly. First a B.S. in psychology, and then a Masters in Applied Behavioral Science at Whitworth College under the presidency of Ed Lindaman who started a program called Leadership Institute of Spokane, LIOS. I learned about helplessness and depression,and that they are learned behaviors. I was trained in techniques to take control of my life, and my depressions ended.

Until cancer. I couldn't give up being active and working hard from morning to dusk. I had to accept I had a new normal. You, my friends at Atheist Nexus, my family and friends and Cancer Care Northwest helped coach me back to equilibrium. 

I highly recommend reading Martin Seligman's works, "Learned Helplessness" and "Learned Optimism". He provides the clinical studies that explain the processes of learning, both harmful and healthy. 

My daughter, Laura, and son, Craig, (twins) are two of my best counselors. They have both had extensive training in Landmark, which is based on the same theories as Ed Lindaman brought to Whitworth College and I learned from 1977-79. Their skills started when they were 14 years old when I started at Whitworth and then grew further when Laura first took Landmark about five years ago. The whole family has followed her example. 

Authentic Happiness


Both of these programs have been called "cults" and they are anything but that. They teach a healthy way of thinking and behaving that brings about positive outcomes for those who learn the skills and those who interact with them. These skills are nothing more or less than tools for personal and interpersonal relationships. 

Comment by Daniel W on August 17, 2013 at 3:47pm

Patricia, your attitude is inspiring.  Go with the flow, learn the new normal.  Those are almost, Zen?  Understanding, attachment to the present or past, can bring grief when those change.

Joan, I may need some of your learned optimism.  I'm introverted, and analytic, and try to keep on the line between optimism and pessimism.  Is the glass half full?  Half empty?  I'll say - it's at the 50% point.  Optimism would be better.

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 17, 2013 at 1:25pm

Mindy, I like your new photo. Your gorgeous face and bright smile, along with your great comments always cheer me. 

I am so sorry to learn of the young man's struggle with colon cancer. I hope he has the skills to take on such a challenge. The good news, these are all learned skills and can be learned at any age. We can also learn to be depressed and not know how to get out of it.

I discovered the long term effect of Learned helplessness, the condition of a human or animal that has learned to behave helplessly, failing to respond even though there are opportunities for it to help itself by avoiding unpleasant circumstances or by gaining positive rewards from Martin E. P. Seligman. He also developed the theory of Learned optimism, the idea in positive psychology that a talent for joy, like any other, can be cultivated.

These are both learned. 


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