Tag Archives: surviving lung cancer

Worn and worn again

When I was younger I hated losing anything. I feel this had something to do with my high level of anxiety—and a fear of the unknown. I actually preferred breaking an object to losing it—because the outcome was not an uncertainty.

Life has dealt me a hefty dose of apprehensive scenarios. I am almost comfortable with unknown outcomes.

However, when it comes to living, I have some definite preferences. Not lost, not broken, but rather worn. Ridden to the bone. Worn out—all the way out.

That is my goal.

Yes. I have made it to sixty—once unascertainable. With any luck (and some formidable science), I shall be here for a few more years. Five would be most excellent, ten splendid, twenty, well…one can dream. Age is not an issue, rather it is most decidedly the objective.

Gray hair, wrinkles, jowls…bring it. All of it. My body is a vehicle and I intend to run that odometer right into the ground.



Damn. I’ve been so busy living (!) that the thirteenth anniversary since my diagnosis with lung cancer–on 4/5/05–just whizzed right on by.

Totally unnoticed.

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Lucky Thirteen

And really, that’s how it should be. It’s the journey that counts, right? And I am enjoying one hell of a scenic ride. Art, advocacy, a little bit of loving (more on that later–wink, wink). Up to my neck in the wonderful details of this one and only life that I call mine.

Which is not to say I’m taking anything for granted. No, far from it. I still begin my days with ‘I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive.’ And now I am apt to add in “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love.’

I think it is no coincidence that live and love are separated by only one letter. In fact, i directly precedes o both in the list of vowels and on my key board. I am wont to sign my personal missives ‘love, Linnea’ but quite often I hit the wrong key and instead type ‘live, Linnea’.

I am also delighted by the fact that my personal goddess/oncologist Dr. Shaw is named Alice. C directly precedes v on the keyboard and once again, It is not uncommon for me to type Alive rather than Alice.

It’s all so nice. As is being both alive and in love (with life) thirteen years post diagnosis–at least a decade longer than I or my oncologist once thought possible.

Thank you innovative medical research. And keep up the good work. I’ve got plans; big plans.

live, love, Linnea


Seven years ago today, on a Thursday morning, I became a person with lung cancer.

For some reason, it is the moments leading up to the diagnosis that I recall most clearly. I’d been in the hospital for three days already, and my doctor at the time was stopping by before her regular appointments to discuss the biopsy results. We were waiting for my husband David, who was expected to join us but was running late. My doctor filled the awkward silence by describing either a story her daughter had written or a play she’d had a role in; I no longer remember which. The doctor talked at some length about a field of sunflowers, which was in some way central to the story or the play. “Sunflowers signify hope” she said.

I had spent the past fews day convincing myself that the mass in my lungs couldn’t possibly be lung cancer. I was only forty five, fit and had never smoked. People like me didn’t get lung cancer. So it never occurred to me that she was telling this story, not just to occupy time, but for my benefit. A blazing field of sunflowers would be the final image in my mind before the shock, fear and grief hit; the last thing I would recall before the world turned upside down was a symbol of hope.

It is a strange thing to commemorate; the day of diagnosis. But of course, what we are actually noting is our continued survival. Seven and counting.