Because I can

November 21st, 2012 § 17 comments

I load the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry and buy Colin a new white dress shirt
Because I can.

I walk the two blocks between the doctor’s office and the drugstore on a crisp autumn day
Because I can.

I give my children an extra hug, just one more kiss, an additional “I love you” before the bus
Because I can.

But still I worry about today, tomorrow, and the next day.
How can I not?

I put makeup on yesterday.
I can tell it puts people at ease.
If I look “healthy” then they can relax.
If I don’t look sick they won’t have to worry how to act or what to say.

They tell me “You’d never know to look at you. You’d never know you have cancer. You’d never know you’re sick.”

Some moments that’s true. Some moments I feel good. Some days, in fact. And I treasure those.
Some days it’s a lie. It’s not how I feel.
I know it’s a compliment. I take it as such.

The phlebotomist asked me at my oncology appointment yesterday if I’m  ready for Thanksgiving.
I wasn’t sure whether to cry or laugh.
I don’t know.

Giving thanks. That’s a loaded phrase.

I am grateful I have some time. I am thankful for the kindness that gets shown to me every day by my family and friends.

I appreciate every person who tells me they are lifted by my words, learn from them, say they express something they have felt or even just wondered about.

For every email I get of support,
Every offer of help,
Every playdate,
Every Facebook post, photo, comment
I give thanks.

But cancer sucks. This diagnosis is my nightmare.

But I also know that tragedies happen to people every single day. A life can be lost without warning. I have learned of two sudden deaths of friends’ loved ones this week and I see the pain those losses have caused. I learned it for myself when my mother-in-law died. She did not have time to say her goodbyes.

I don’t like that my life revolves around this disease right now. I try to keep my life focused on others as much as I can. I try to check in on friends who have their own troubles. I try to keep up with the kids. I try to be a good wife and keep the house running. I wish I could be a better wife right now. I try to be strong. I try to suffer on my own time. I try at these things but don’t always accomplish them.

It’s an isolating predicament. Few can know the anguish, the daily trials, all of the parts of my life which don’t get shared with anyone. I share some here, of course, and with friends, but much of it is my own. For now, this is how it needs to be while I continue to process and try to make sense of this new chapter.

Thanks to you all.


I was honored to be featured in this blogpost from the American Cancer Society titled “Cancer survivors are truly remarkable people” which focused on the post I wrote in the days after my diagnosis giving tips on how to talk to children about stage IV cancer.


Many have asked about the fractures on my left side. The one that is painful is the one in a rib up near my collarbone. That will probably take two months to heal. It is a fracture caused by cancer in that bone. The cancer must shrink first. Only then can the bone heal. So it will be a slow process.

I start round 4 of chemo tomorrow, on Thanksgiving night. Same full strength dose because I was able to tolerate the last round again. Same regimen: 7 days on, 7 days off.



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§ 17 Responses to Because I can"

  • All any of us really have is just this minute. So many of us squander those minutes in ways that later seem ridiculous. Yelling in traffic, snapping at a friend, not telling our loved ones that we love them. This minute. That’s really all we have. Make them count.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa.

  • I don’t really know what to say except that I look forward to your blogs and tweets, and that I am sending positive thoughts and prayers your way. My mother is going through some similar things with the broken bones because of metastasized lung cancer (she doesn’t smoke) Thank you for chronicling your journey- I wish it wasn’t this particular journey…

  • Jen says:

    Love your honesty. I try to suffer in private too. So much truth to your writing, hank you for sharing. Xoxo

  • I think of you often while I’m feeling impatient with the family and not getting writing done, grousing about laundry created by active healthy kids, and resenting myself for taking it all for granted far too often.

    That’s my guilty version of because I can. You’re a red-shirted imp of a reminder on my screen and on my shoulder. One of the many things I love about you.

  • Rebecca Addison says:

    I think about you, and the other mothers I know with cancer, when I am feeling impatient with my daughter. I pick my battles more carefully maybe these days as I remember that we all wish we had just “10 more minutes”. I call my own mother even on days when I’d rather not because I know that none of us ever know when or if that bus, or drunk driver, or person busy texting on their phone, will get in our path.

    I am grateful that you beat cancer before, and that you are able to be there for your husband and children for this Thanksgiving. I’m sure they are grateful for you too. Keep buying those shirts, helping with the homework, and doing whatever you can each day.

  • Kristin Lyngaas says:

    Lisa I am thankful to know you, only if it is on the “social media” circuit of life. I think of you often, and if I lived there I would try and do more for you. I wish you a peaceful and family-filled holiday tomorrow. xxoo

  • I wish you could have a big block of time where you didn’t have to remember that cancer has turned your emotions upside down. I would wish that peace for you. That can’t happen, of course, but I want you to know that so many of us turn our thoughts to you every day, and I hope that knowledge helps you not feel so alone when you’re suffering in private.

  • Susan says:

    There’s so much going on at once and it’s not easy to know that your life is forever changed. I really get what you mean about putting your makeup on-look great on the outside with so much going on the inside for which it’s hard feel in control of. I am so glad to know you through social media and I know there are good days and bad. It’s a new normal and yet there’s nothing normal about it. You are so special. I send you my thoughts of light with hugs and prayers. XoXoXo-Susan

  • Lisa, beautifully written. I honor you knowing where you are and what you need to process. Glad you can be at full strength, again. That’s feels weird to say, but I’m guessing the longer you can tolerate full strength, that the chemo is hopefully working hard so your ribs can heal and the cancer can be held at bay. Sending much love and wishing the whole Adams family a Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to know you.

  • Anonymous says:


    I am also Stage IV metastatic breast cancer to the spine. I have six lesions. I was first diagnosed in 2010 and the breast cancer returned in April, 2012. I understand your deep sorrow and devastation as getting this news. You are an inspiration to me with your thoughtful and raw words. I had two adoring adult children, 22 and 26. They are just beginning their adult lives with gusto. I always thought I would be a calming and quiet force in the background of their lives. I have days of painful sorrow and days of soaring joy. I am trying hard to live each moment in gratitude for what I have done and accomplished in my life. I can’t wrap my mind around my family’s future without ME in it.
    Keep writing and validating my feelings for me….

    Be Well

  • jenna says:

    Please know that if each of your million followers and supporters could each take a day of pain from you so you can live a million happy days we would. On this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for you, our friendship and all the things you teach us each day about grace and compassion. Much love. xo

  • mollyc says:

    As always, I send you my love every single day.

  • robin black says:

    You are my heroine for your clear sight and your honestly. Lisa, I so wish I could somehow spare you this, But all I can do is tell you what I hope you know which is that you are changing a lot of us, making us more appreciative, making us understand how to deal with adversity. As I keep saying, it isn’t a silver lining, there is no such thing with something like cancer. But it is true that every day you make all of our lives better. It is a side effect – that has nothing to do with the disease and everything to do with you.

    I think of you every day. I think you make me a better me.
    Love, love, love.

  • Terri says:

    I was led here via Becky’s blog. I’m glad you’re writing.

    “put makeup on yesterday.
    I can tell it puts people at ease.
    If I look “healthy” then they can relax.
    If I don’t look sick they won’t have to worry how to act or what to say.”

    I would imagine this is a universal sentiment. My best friend got diagnosed last year. Double mastectomy. Both of my folks have fought the beast since ’06. Just another person, here, listening.

  • Annie says:

    Just another person who wants to let you know how much I enjoy and appreciate your writing. I follow you on twitter as well & I’m always glad to see your tweets appear on my timeline. Your writing resonates deeply within me. I thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences so openly and honestly.

  • sarahbutten says:

    as always you make me wish i could help lift this burden from your shoulders and at the very same time feel so appreciative for what you do share.

  • Fran says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I am truly grateful I stumbled on this site by accident one day, a couple of months ago, just after I found out my breast cancer, diagnosed February 14, 2006 had returned and is now in the bones, at least – my oncologoist is trying to sort out what other areas may be affected. I am also thankful that I am not alone in my fight to keep up a sort of pride based, healthier look and when you said you try to put on your make-up every day, well, I could really relate to that, I have done that all my life, and I do believe it helps me more than it may help others feel comfortable,

    I am thankful that I have a safe place to come and say that I am lonely and afraid, and not be treated with either disgust or kidd gloves, those who do not understand cancer and all it entails tend to just go away from my life, as so many did when I was first diagnosed. This is a lonely disease, in spite of all of the hundreds of thousands of those who stand in front of the camera dressed in all PINK confirming “their gratitude for having breast cancer”. YUK !! I have never undestood how people who have only been diagnosed 3 months or so can run a 6 day race, then end up smiling at the finish line. I bought into the hype when fist diagnosed, but then my sanity returned, and I started to think, how could this be true?

    I am also thankful for all those who come here to bear their hearts and souls….asking for nothing in return more than just an ear to listen to them. That is such an unselfish act, even though some of us may feel selfish while posting on a particular day, asking for the support they cannot find anywhere else that comes close to the comfort I feel when I know how “not alone” I actually am, and stop resonating on the aloneness I feel in the darkness of night.

    With gratitude for your kindness and your honesty,


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