Archive for July, 2017

Definitely a weed

weeds and wheat

I spent some time today reflecting on the Sunday’s Gospel of the weeds and the wheat.  Sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between the two- especially early on. Sometimes the “weeds” can fill in the bare parts of the garden with fairly nice effect.  And I have damaged plenty of good plants by overzealous weeding.

But what particularly struck a chord with me about the parable was the “enemy” that bothered to go out in the night to deliberately sow weed seeds.  Who would do a mean thing like that?  The sneakiness of it!  And that the dastardly deed only came to light a long time later.  Maybe that was the “hook” that pulled me into the parable, having discovered that something in my brain last week was proven to be definitely a weed. It was sown somehow over the past nine years, evading chemo and radiation and the blood-brain barrier, growing slowly, undetectable by PET scan and cancer markers.

Remarkably accessible, the tumor was removed and except for some mild side effects in my visual field the recuperation has been gentle.  I am spending mornings outside in the garden watching the hummingbirds and surrounded by the creative healing power of God.  The summer monsoons of the desert are upon us and the colors are ready to burst.

I am most grateful that I did not have to wait for a fall harvest of that little weed in my head.  I look forward to increasing clarity of vision – and maybe even some creative filler for the gap- as the healing continues.  Stay tuned.


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Let the novena begin!  My surgery (craniotomy) is scheduled for Friday, July 14 at 10 a.m. MDT.  This is a very rapid turnaround time from MRI to surgery and I attribute it to the many prayers that have been “storming heaven” during the past week.  Thank you for your notes of support, comments, promises to put me on every prayer list in monasteries and motherhouses around the world as well as daily rosaries, Masses and holy hours.

I offer this novena to St. Kateri (start today and you’ll make it in time for the feast although I don’t think she would mind going over a few days!) as a way of being in solidarity in prayer and preparation. Please pray not only for my healing but for the health care professionals and local caregivers who will attend me.  An additional prayer request: for reform of our health care system that is in such crisis – that we have the national will to provide access to care for all with compassion and competence, recognizing health care as a basic human right, not a commodity.

Blessings, gratitude and much love to all of you.        Janet

kateri mcgrath

St. Kateri Tekakwitha by Brother Mickey McGrath,OSFS


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Another episode

Time to open the blog again.  Although my PET scans have been clear since finishing chemo in January 2016, I have had a few bumps in the road. Sometime during March Madness I began to notice some brief visual disturbances that I eventually mentioned to my oncologist. They were little glittery flashes like a zipper across my field of vision. No pain, dizziness or nausea but definitely caught my attention. An ophthalmologist discovered defects in my peripheral vision and recommended an MRI which I had last Wednesday.

I had a sense of concern as the tech helped me from the table and my worry was confirmed when the oncologist called me just after five pm. “I don’t like to give this kind of news over the phone but I want you to know what’s going on,” she said.  I have a 3 cm tumor in the right occipital lobe of my brain. An hour later I was looking at it on What’s App because Yessenia sent it from the radiation oncologist’s office when she called to tell me they would see me early Thursday.  And they were already working on the appointment with the neurosurgeon.

How life changes in a few minutes. Brain metastasis of ovarian cancer is rare, but as the radiation oncologist told me, she is seeing it more often because initial treatment has improved and recurrences are also managed more successfully.  So I’m clearing my summer calendar and hopefully will have the tumor removed within a week or so. Then there will be four weeks of recuperation before a focused laser treatment to the area where the tumor was located just for added protection from recurrence.  A decision about whether chemotherapy will be required will depend on the pathology.

Meanwhile, I’ve canceled my three travel commitments which means no Ecuador this year 😦 and am coming to peace with this next episode on the cancer journey.  It is always a jolt to move from “surveillance” to “treatment” mode. Gratitude for a quick diagnosis, diligent and compassionate physicians, and the immediate loving and prayerful support of Sisters, friends and family has smoothed the transition.

Two other awarenesses…

First, the realization that many times brain metastasis is diagnosed by the onset of seizures or a stroke. All I had was a shimmery little lightning across my field of vision- and the gift of noticing and reporting it to physicians who didn’t minimize it or allow me to do so.  This was a grace.  And secondly, I am wondering about the significance that this cancer has occurred in the vision area of my brain. What might that mean?

These are the kinds of things that run through my mind. My initial cancer was ovarian- a cancer of the generative organs.  Then the first recurrence was in the pericardium- the lining of the heart. The second came in the central cavity of my chest – where the windpipe runs. And now the tumor has turned up in my vision part of my brain.  For those who follow chakras (not generally something that occurs to me) this gives me something to consider as I wait, wonder and make meaning of my experience.


I will be blogging here and it will show, I think, on Facebook. Feel free to share with anyone you think might find my journey helpful. And know that I count on your prayers to help me through this new episode.

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