Places of Refuge (walking the pole)

January 10th, 2014 § 67 comments

IMG_8044The car has always been a place of refuge for me.

The shower, too.

Water to rejuvenate

Clearing away the old,

Ready for a new day ahead.


The moment of awakening is significant.

I have learned quickly what the next few hours will be.

I try to give a nurse a complete report but I encounter one problem immediately.

I really cannot type accurately.


My body shakes, my hips cry out in bony futile gasps. I gather up  my pump cords, release myself from the wall’s grip.

I walk, counter-clockwise around the nurse’s station with a vengeance, trying to push the pain and discomfort away.


I am Angry at this morning and that which has me here.

The tears arrive.

The radiation pain seems to be on the way in.

How long with it last? Does that mean it’s working? I and everyone else ask.

“I don’t know” is the way to do it. I say it aloud to the dark, embarrassed after the first word that I realize I am alone in the room.

I hear my voice, speaking to someone not present.

I can’t help but cry as I push the pole.


The movement makes it better. It reminds me of being carefree on a summer day, wind in my hair from the sunroof, feeling the sun on my face.

I think of my friends readying their homes for the day before work and school.


I can feel the radiation, where it burns, or at least the spots where tumors are trying to escape their home,

where they try to find new lands to conquer in a cat and mouse inside my body.

It doesn’t matter what stinking metaphor you use for it;  in this case, all roads lead to Hell.

I contemplate eyeliner while the nurse stands, patiently waiting to see how I’ve done overnight.

…. But there is no one there.

I focus very hard on the tasks at hand: morning medicine most especially.

I start to tell my nurse that I weighed myself already today. Or yesterday. Or two days ago. But I can’t remember now. And so I remain mum.


In each moment my mind leaves. I don’t know where it goes. But in those gaps which feel like seconds, minutes have gone by.

The tea is divine, hot silky relief from the cold my body cannot push out.

I realize whatever it is I thought I could accomplish at the keyboard won’t happen once again.

I can’t concentrate. I find gibberish on the page. It takes hours to do a few moment’s work.

Extra time lost.

Time lost.

My precious time.

I stay committed to sitting up, bedside, fighting the urge to recline.

I listen to music trying to keep myself alert.

I think about my children, wondering what each is doing…

I realize today I am too foggy from medication.

I won’t be able to do much for a while. I am too busy talking to people that are not there.

I will rest, let the pain calm, let my head settle.


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§ 67 Responses to Places of Refuge (walking the pole)"

    • Dede Heath says:

      I am tremendously moved by your courage & love of all that surrounds you. I also feel that both your writings & those of both Bill & Emma Keller have been variously misinterpreted. I applaud you all & thank you all for your writings! ~ didi

    • Karen says:

      truly moving writing
      Godspeed with you Lisa.

  • Big hug and please keep on writing when you find time and energy.

  • […] post Places of Refuge (walking the pole) appeared first on Lisa Bonchek […]

  • I love the hot silky tea. It is one of those moments of beauty you suggest we look for. The first moments of morning are important. Reading your words has become part of those moments in my morning. I things go well today.

  • *hope things go well today

  • mary says:

    Priceless. xoxox

  • Diane D'Angelo says:

    Sending you virtual hugs from Denver…And the writing is exquisite, as usual.

  • Diane D'Angelo says:


    I just enlarged the picture – what are those things on your legs?

    • Lisa Bonchek Adams says:

      Those are Velcro wraps that have air inflation tubes running through. They move the air through the tubes —> inflate and deflate them to help move blood when you are laying in bed. We also do two Lovenox shots a day now. It Is all to prevent blood clots from forming.

  • Merva says:

    Looking for and finding beauty each day. Despite the pain and struggles with which you write, your expressions are some of the most beautiful things I’ve encountered recently. Thank you.

  • Angela says:

    This is the most beautiful writing. You are on my mind and heart today.

  • Rebecca says:

    thinking of you on this snowy morning here. hugs.

  • You really are talking to people, Lisa. And because you talk, we can listen.

  • Christie says:

    I love those leg things. The nurses have said I may be the only one who likes them. For my restless legs they are a relief. I close my eyes and there is something about their inhaling and exhaling that is like being on a big swing. I am pretty talented at taking myself elsewhere when in places I can’t control. You are too…so beautifully. Peace.

  • Time and space travel today. Rest. Sending love and wishes that the fog lifts when the pain subsides so you can enjoy the day more. Even if that’s a different day, soon.

    • Joni says:

      Thank you. I was thinking of genittg the athletic type knee protectors for my father. But now I am going to get what you suggested, itl28l work so much better for him. That step stool for genittg in and out of the car is genius. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Nicole says:

    Dearest Lisa,

    I hardly know you, but I think of you at least 5 times a day. And it’s not because I follow your tweets (I actually don’t, because I’m not on Twitter much these days), it’s because of how powerful and moving your blog posts are.

    I feel so honored that you would allow me, a virtual stranger, in to your world-turned-upside down, and I want you to know that the experience you have shared has had a *profound* impact on my own life — and I don’t have cancer. I want you to know that what began as a generous gesture of support for others experiencing or caring for someone with breast cancer actually reaches well beyond your intended audience, and offers people like me – a mother, wife, daughter and sister – the gift of insight and introspection that has, literally, changed my life.

    You have changed my life. In ways I don’t even have words that would do justice to their significance. You have been real. So real that your words easily weave their way into my own internal narrative: challenging me to be as courageous, reminding me of how grateful I am for all that is good in my life, gently chiding me when I feel like taking the easy way out of a difficult situation, looking me straight in the eyes when I feel despairing with a reverence and compassion that immediately makes me feel ashamed of my self pity … You, through your words, have made me a better person. Even when I don’t always agree with them – especially when I don’t always agree with them – I am transformed by them, physically and spiritually. To say ‘thank you’ feels so hollow compared to how grateful I truly feel, but I do thank you.

    I marvel at the truly amazing legacy you are creating for your children through all of this. They will always have this living, breathing testament of your life, and strength, and courage, and sense of humor, and vulnerability, and generosity, and kindness and profound ability to influence the lives of SO MANY through your words. And so will the thousands of new mothers, wives, friends, daughters, sisters, and their families who come across your words in the future.

    I thank you for the gift of your precious time and energy that you have given to me each time you have written a post. Please know that, even if (and when) you are unable to type one more word, the thousands of words you have given us over all these years are a gift that will continue to feed us and buoy us and encourage us to find beauty in our lives for as long as we can.

    Thinking of you today, and every day, with all of my heart.

  • Lisa Boone says:

    Wow, this post has left me speechless. So powerful. I woke today to freezing rain, and contemplated all the ways this will make my day more difficult. I looked outside and saw a limb covered in ice, and thought of you and how I needed to find the beauty in each day. I found it in the tree limb, and I find it in your writing. {{{Thank you}}}.

  • Kirsty Aversa says:

    Again, your words help me to stop my own grousing and complaints of pain, and truly savour the moments of life, however, small they may be. It’s a gloomy, wet, sloppy yet cold day here in Ontario and yet the beauty of it all is that I am home with a toolkit (so to speak) of breast cancer fighting paraphenalia (herceptin and arimidex). I thank you for your words of encouragement. They are words that really paint the true picture of this disease and I have collected pieces of your writing in a folder for my own children to read one day so they will better understand. I hope your pain subsides more each day with the help of your pain meds. so that you may soon return home to your family. Again, I wish for you heaps of time to enjoy the beauty in each day!!

  • Lynn Mumma says:

    As has been said by many others, I, too, am deeply touched by your words. Thank you for your continued gifts to so many. Much love to you.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Wishing the day gets much better for you.

  • I love you. I admire you. I cry when I read you blog. I thank God for helping me to catch my cancer before it metastasizes, I’ve had surgery 3 times now. I pray for you, for relief from your pain and progress in your treatment.

  • Babs (uk) says:

    Moved to tears as always, such powerful words. I can almost see that pole your dragging around, keep dragging it Lisa x Thinking of you oxo

  • Gigi says:

    Thank you for writing even amid the storm. I pray for you each day and and as so many others have said, think of you often and are inspired by you. May today be easier and tomorrow better.

  • jenn says:

    I stopped breathing when i read this just stopped in my tracks by something so profound from battlefield of life. you are such a warrior but more an artist, a poet, a human being wrestling with the most profound struggle we call face. i am speechless but i think of you so so often and wish you grace.

  • Love, thoughts, and wishes for today (and every day) to get better for you.

  • Joanna Kuzba says:

    I know the aftermath of radiation second hand; it takes an incredibly strong person (mentally and physically) to bear something so brutal. Sending you good vibes.

    • Spike says:

      Danke. Ich wollte zunächst mit Inhalt glänzen und erst dann mit Dingen wie Flattr, tolles Layout und so. Es wäre mir nämlich ehrlich gesagt ein wenig peinlich gewesen, es andersherum zu versuchen.Wir werden aber hoffentlich noch weitere lesenswerte Artikel vehfeÃfentlicr¶n. Das Lob der Leser spornt an 🙂

    • http://www./ says:

      Adorei o post!Como o meu “campo de atuação” exige raciocínio e não inspiração/criatividade, nem sempre preciso lançar mão desses métodos. Como escrevo só pro blog e só por prazer, quando a inspiração me falta, eu simplesmente deixo de escrever. Mas, às vezes, isso me incomoda. Vou deixar esse post salvo aqui para futuros brancos criativos. (:ps: adorei o novo visual do blog.

  • Kristy says:

    Listening. Looking for beauty. Wishing it for you.

  • Susan Zager says:

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. Hoping this haze lifts and the radiation helps get rid of the pain. Hugs and xoxo – Susan

    • Happy says:

      Oi…Sabe,eu acredito muito em destino…E foi exatamente ele que me fez parar aqui…Uma conhecida minha compartilhou o link desse texto no facebook e resolvi ler…E me fez muito bem…Tô passando por essa fase de auto-aceitação conjugada com contar con a família…Muito obrigado,de verdade…Seu texto me fez refletir e renovou minhas esnarapças…Ah,egora virarei frequentador assíduo da sua página tá…=D

  • fujikats says:

    Hi, Lisa. I’m sorry you are where you are – my thoughts are with you and your family. A couple of ideas that might help. There’s nothing warmer and cozier than a thick poly-fleece blanket (two pieces stitched together) – it holds the heat inside wonderfully. I’ll bet you’ve got a friend or family member who’d be happy to do your typing for you, if you got one of those little dictating machines (with or without tapes, I guess). I’d be more than happy to do this for you, but I’m not very literate technologically – still, if I can help via the Internet, you just have to say the word. No acknowledgement necessary here. Stay strong when you can and curl up and rest when you need to. You’re a wonderful writer!

  • joannefirth says:

    Thank you. I can not even fathom how difficult this piece was for you to write. To be part of your day, whatever kind of day it is for you is an honor and a privilege Lisa. Virtually holding you gently close and hoping today is one day closer to relief and you being back home with your family. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being you. I love you.

  • Yolanda says:

    Your posts require an enormous amount of energy and precious time to write. Thank you for your eloquent and beautifully written words. Rest, Lisa. And remember, while each day is precious, each sunrise means you are one sunrise closer to going home to your beautiful family.

    I hope your team continues to assist you with controlling your pain, particularly over the coming weeks.

    As always, you and your family are in my thoughts, each and every day.

  • Stephanie says:

    I love your description of the hot silky tea…I am a tea drinker too. Drink it every day, several times a day. Shall we share a cup?
    I’m sorry the meds have you feeling foggy, but hope the pain us manageable enough that you’re getting some rest.

  • Pam says:

    Oh, Lisa. How fervently I wish for you to have some easy days. Sending love and my wide-eyed awe of your ability to reach out with your writing.

  • Qurban says:

    I’m wearing my f**k cancer t-shirt in your honor today. Thank you for sharing with us – your writing touches me deeply and I didn’t find any gibberish at all. Cancer is definitely a road to hell. Praying for as much peace as can be found in spite of current circumstances for you and your family.

  • Lisa – I am learning so much from you, perhaps especially the way you directly engage with your reality, what is right before you. You meet your hardships head on. You feel the emotions, then and there, no dodging or suppressing or distorting and with no shame or apology whatsoever. This is what is.

    You define yourself as an atheist, and I think that your refusal to revert to religious language and God-talk is perhaps what gives clarity and directness to your writing. I define myself as a believer, though apophatic, preferring to know God as unknowable and un-nameable, seemingly hidden in darkness. I find this so-called secular stance helpful in opening my eyes and my being to what is around me, what is real, here, and now.

    Thank you again for putting this out there so honestly and clearly. I am learning a lot.

  • ET says:

    Nicole above said it much better than I ever could.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Connie says:

    May you experience peace in the midst of this he’ll you are going through.

  • […] recounts the shameful writing of Bill and Emma Keller, both of whom have critiqued Lisa Adams' blogging and tweeting about her […]

  • Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You are a brilliant writer, and you are helping others who share this difficult journey of stage 4 cancer more than you know.

  • Verlia says:

    Thank you for being so real Lisa. I just started reading your blog today. I wish everyone were as honest as you are.

  • LK says:

    My prayers are with you. Your words, the truth you speak through the foginess is excruciating to hear. I admire your bravery and wish you Peace. Sending many hugs & positive thoughts as you continue your battle.

  • Marg says:

    Thank you for writing how you’re feeling at this very difficult time. It is so helpful to many of us to see what is going through the mind of a person waging a battle such as this. Thank you for your bravery and courage and your generosity to share.

  • susan says:

    Thank you over and over for sharing your thoughts and your poetry, your life, your heart. Walking this path I am continually finding wisdom and comfort and togetherness, finding such beauty that you have shown us with your love and your words. Your sharing of your days stays with me and you will help science by showing the importance of clinical trials, the hope for the future.
    Thinking about you every minute and I will remember so many of your words, thoughts and hopes. I remember so many years ago when I first skimmed a site on mets, a beautiful woman from florida always signed off with “Wishing you diamonds on the water” and I will take your direction to always look for beauty during the day.

  • Monty says:

    Best wishes to you and your family.

    And thank you so much for sharing your senseless, brutal, instinctive courage via prose. Thank you for remaining honest in the face of things.

    You are the definition of warrior-poet.
    An example to us all.

  • Jayne says:

    I’m a retired Registered Nurse and I’ve cared for many cancer patients, some at the beginning of the disease, some at the end. Everyone finds their own way of dealing with the disease. Some are solitary and some are vocal, as you are. I think you are doing the world a favor by sharing your experiences. God bless you and your family.

  • Lisa Koorbusch says:

    Fight the good fight, Lisa. You’re a badass, you can do it. Prayers that you get through the current treatments and back home to family as soon as possible. Rest, rest, rest and find peace with the amazing love and support all around you.

  • Lauren says:

    Dearest Lisa,
    I have faith in you. Be strong, you will make it. I pray for you every night. You can beat this. You can do it!
    Stay stong love
    XOXO Lauren

    • Robin says:

      Thank you for opening up and sharing your experiences with me, a neighbor yet a complete stranger. To allow me the opportunity to bear witness to your life, your joy and your struggles is both an honor and a privilege. Your writing is poetic, your honesty takes my breath away and your strength and courage are inspirational. I’m here thinking of you and supporting you from the sidelines.
      So much of what you are doing resonates with me. Your desire to educate others about the science of your cancer as well as sharing the emotions that accompany you on each step of your journey is so powerful. What an amazing legacy you have created for your children; every word, every blog, every tweet reflects the essence of who you are as a mother and a person. To share oneself so openly; I can’t think of a greater gift for those you love. Keep writing Lisa and I will keep reading.

  • Kathy Provazek says:

    I just read one of your posts ‘when daughters grieve the death of their mothers’ and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My mom died of stomach cancer when I was 22. Such a tough time in my life. I have no family, no siblings, no father relationship. I had breast cancer myself at age 39. I became a radiation therapist to try to help others. I have witnessed so much pain. You are a very unique, strong, and amazing individual, and a total inspiration to me and those fortunate enough to read your blog. You are in my prayers daily.
    Kathy Provazek

  • BC says:


    I have tremendous admiration for your strength.

    I had a nasty form of bone cancer and know intense pain all too well.

    Sending positive energy your way! Stay strong.

  • NK says:

    Lisa, I am praying for you, and for Clark, and for your children as I think of you often and wait for your next update (no pressure, just write when you want to and when you can).

  • Alicia Brooks says:

    Not a comment on you post but rather the latest news coverage. I’m not in twitter or FB so forgive me using this space to comment. Was watching The Kelly File and checking my phone etc and all of a sudden my ears perk up to your name!! Wow. Very very cool! Between Fox and Friends and the Kelly File your story (or at least a tease to read and learn more about you) probably hit more people between those two shows than the NY Times could hope for. YAY! YAY for you. Another victory under your belt! Keep up all the great work and know it’s touching so many! Think about you daily and your dear 3. And as always think of fond memories w our little girls in NYC. Hooray for you from Texas!!

  • Ella McRae says:

    I just found your blog today, through the Breast Cancer Site website. One of my best friends is going through chemo now after having a double mastectomy and several tumors in one breast. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.
    Wishing you comfort and relief from your pain. Thank you for sharing your life, you write beautifully.

  • linny says:

    Thank you for sharing so fully and deeply. So sorry that it happened. I said a prayer for you to receive comfort.

  • Tracy says:

    Every sentence brings back memories. I had almost forgotten the cold that sinks into you.
    My husband use to grab the electric blanket and tuck it around me then cover me with another heavy fleece blanket. It’s a fond memory which helps balance things out.

  • niluferwajeeh says:

    Truly amazed at your bravery dear liza.

  • Ludo says:

    You are the epitome of a beautiful soul. Stay strong.

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