Friday, November 18, 2011

The Big Scary

When the phone call finally came, the one we've been waiting three agonizing days for, the one with the results of the further testing on my lymph node and tonsil, I wanted to run away. 

My husband answered the phone in the next room, and I could tell by his tone that it was the doctor.  Reality tilted dramatically, threatening to slide me off the edge and into the abyss.

"Hon, you need to come here and pick up the phone," he said, carefully.  My Mom and Greta were playing a board game in the kitchen.  We've been using a lot of careful tones around the kids these days.

I don't want to, I don't want to, I don't want to, I repeated childishly to myself, as I robotically put one foot in front of the other, until the phone was in my hand.

My husband's face said it all, so as I slowly lifted the receiver to my ear I wasn't surprised to hear   "...cancer.. further testing... hopefully isolated...need to get you an oncologist quickly... come to my office Monday"

I started to shake, ever so slightly, and felt a well of panic rise up in my chest.  The doctor was still talking "....prognosis likely good.... maybe radiation or chemotherapy..... next steps will be up to the oncologist"   I nodded my head, as if he could see me.  As if I could even begin to absorb these terribly unfamiliar words poking their way into my life.

I set the phone down, slowly made my way upstairs to the bedroom, and perched stiffly on the edge of my bed.  I was waiting for the panic bubble to burst, for a tidal wave of emotion to rip me apart.  

Instead, I saw color.  Beautiful explosions of color as the late afternoon sun streamed through our windows and illuminated the blanket on our bed.  I ran my hands across our comforter; it's so soft, I thought.  I heard Greta's laughter as she played with my Mom, heard my dog's contented sigh as she stretched her head into a patch of sunlight.

Time slowed to a crawl; a second seemed to take a minute.  I had all the time in the world to take it all in.

So this is what it's like, I thought, to actually be in a momentJust one moment.  It's beautiful.

I don't know what this next chapter of my life will be like.  I'm sure it will be scary and sad, at times.  I've been living so long in fear of this exact thing happening to me that I'm expecting scary and sad.   Now that it's here, though, I can see the beauty and simplicity found in fear, too.  And freedom.  The scary thing is here and I see beauty all around me. I feel hopeful.  I'm really, really scared, but that's not the whole picture.  

Perhaps I'm meant to go through this, because it will set me free from a lifetime of fear.  But, like with all obstacles in life, in order to be set free, I have to get through to the other side, first.

And I'm going to need a lot of help. Physical, mental and spiritual help.  I have to surrender to cancer like I did to alcoholism; it's bigger than me, and I can't do it alone. 

I am praying to stay grateful for the beauty tucked away in the in-between spaces, the tiny moments that sparkle and shine even in the face of fear. 

I am praying to maintain a sense of wonder and awe, instead of fear, of modern medicine and technology.

I am praying that I will be able to get out of my own way, keep my heart and mind open to the things I'm meant to learn, the ways I'm meant to grow, the people I'm  meant to meet.  Every time I go through something difficult - and this ranks up there as one of the hardest - I am introduced to incredible people filled with spirit and hope.  Or I find out that someone I've known all along is full of spirit and hope and I just never knew it until I needed his/her help.  That is already happening.

If I can keep faith and not lose myself to fear, I know I will grow in ways I can't possibly imagine.

But right now, as I start out on this next journey, I'm mostly scared, and pulling my family and friends in tight around me.

Your prayers and thoughts are needed, and received with a very grateful heart. 

104 comments:

  1. I can't even imagine how terrifying this must be. I know your family and friends will rally around you and get you through this. Many thoughts headed your way. xoxo

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  2. Oh sweetie, I don't even know what to say. I'll be praying hard for you. Cancer runs in my family and it's been scary every time, every single time it comes up. But you are so damn strong, you are an amazing woman and I know that you will shine just as brightly through this as you have done through your alcoholism. You are an inspiration, never forget it. Email if you need, anytime.

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  3. I'm glad you wrote about it.

    The image of the soft blanket and the real moment really got to me.

    Haven't stopped thinking about you.

    Talk soon.

    So much love.

    . xoxo

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  4. My prayers are with you, you wonderful woman. Truly.

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  5. Oh, Ellie. I am sorry about your diagnosis, but I'm grateful that you have such an amazing program of recovery, which will help you as you navigate this next chapter. I will be praying for you every day. xoxo

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  6. so grateful for your crystallized moment and awakening of your senses in the grip of processing what you'd just heard. Thank you for sharing it here. Sending you peace, bravery, more moments like this, and so much love.

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  7. Your posts have inspired me in the past...please know I'm praying for you.

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  8. I am so very sorry this call had to come. I'll be praying for you. You are strong and amazing and have so much love around you. {{hugs}}

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  9. I continue to hold you in my thoughts and prayers, Ellie xoxo

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  10. it is just like recovery. A day at a time, or as you pointed out even a moment at a time. We are all here for you. You are surrounded by love, every day , always and forever.

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  11. Ug...I'm so very sorry. My thoughts are with you and yours. What a beautiful moment you captured. I pray that you will have many many more beautiful moments. Sending strength and love.

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  12. Ellie, I am inspired by your amazing words to describe a pure presence moment. I know you will always remember the power of that moment.

    I am grateful for you that you have this amazing, powerful, loving community to keep a steady stream of prayer going for you. Sign me up. Sending big hugs and big love.

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  13. Sending love and prayers. That's all

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  14. What the fuck? I"m sorry. This is really sucky news. The great part is that you have a ton of people in your life that you have helped and that are standing by to help you, me included. So just tell us what you need baby and we're here.

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  15. We do not know one another, for that I am sorry. Know that you are held up to the Universal Healing Power that resides is all of us. May you indeed meet those amazing people and the bounty of them getting to know you matters as well.

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  16. What a beautifu, strong and precious daughter you are. Your faith will trump your fear, and the future has much beauty left in your life.

    xoxoxo

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  17. Keeping you in my prayers!

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  18. Oh my God, Ellie. This just sucks.
    I believe that God only gives us what we can handle, but GEEZE LAWEEZE, you can't seem to catch a break!
    I know that you will handle this hurdle with grace and beauty.
    I will keep you in my prayers.

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  19. You are so amazing and so strong. This is such a touching post...the line about seeing the colors and the softness of the comforter was just beautiful. Wishing you the best on your journey through this challenge. I know you can do it.

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  20. Youare in my heart and my prayers Ellie.

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  21. Youare in my heart and my prayers Ellie.

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  22. Ellie....I just pulled up your post, saw the title and just couldn't breathe and then burst into tears. This just isn't fair is my first response. But you will do what you do that makes me just love who you are - confront it head on and navigate it with grace. You are one tough cookie and your journey has been an inspiration to be as I navigate my own sobriety.

    Hugs and love, I am praying for you.

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  23. Thinking of you and sending you lots and LOTS of love (and cheese) from Wisconsin.

    You are a ridiculously tough woman. Look at what you have overcome in your life already. This will be no different.

    xoxo

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  24. Oh sweetie. Im thinking and praying for y'all. And I understand the suddenness of being in the moment because of something so overwhelming that there's no other place to go. It was oddly peaceful for those few days.

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  25. Ellie - I sat here and thought how glad I am that you are sober and will grow through this with tools you wouldn't have had otherwise.

    Know that I am praying and holding you close in my thoughts.

    Hope
    A Song Not Scored For Breathing

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  26. I'm glad you wrote about it, too.
    We're here.
    I'm here. Always. And we'll be there soon and you keep thinking about those Elsie dimples. You will gobble them soon and look out because I might gobble you.
    I love you.
    xoxoxo

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  27. You need prayer - you got prayer. God will accomplish everything in your life that He wants to in order to show you - and others - how present He is.
    The image of being in the moment, where a second seems like a minute and where senses are heightened, really spoke to me. Thank you for opening your heart and writing about this. Blessings!

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  28. Your description of your moment is bliss and filled with wonder. I am grateful you chose to write about your cancer--your words and experience will be a gift to everyone who reads them.

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  29. Ellie,
    I only know you through your writing and you have touched my life. Your strength and faith speak loudly. I can feel God's presence in your words and I know He has a hold of you. I have had you on my daily prayer list for months, God has placed you on my heart. Those colors, that moment, I truly believe that was God, his peace and his angels. I know you are going to allow Him to carry you through this, you are going to be looking for his wisdom through each step of this and you are going to grow closer to Him. You wil endure this and you will have more stories of strength, courage and faith to share with this world. I am sorry you have to walk this path, but I look forward to watching God's grace and mercy at work in you. I am here for you, a cyber friend. Thank you for being the person you are and sharing your intimate and tough moments with us. You are an inspiration to many and you help each of us with our own struggles. Please know you can email me, or I would be happy to share my number with you, for prayer, to listen, for anything I can do for you. May God hold you in those colors of peace throughout this journey. Hugs to you!

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  30. Ellie, I haven't stopped praying or thinking about you and your family.
    Really.
    Love.

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  31. I can read the strength of your family and your faith in your words. It will carry you through and when it doesn't, I hope you'll lean on us.

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  32. You are in my thoughts each and every day. Have you read Thich Nhat Hahn? From the book Interbeing...
    "Without mindfulness, we will not be in touch with the wonderful flowers, the glorious moon, our children, our spouse, or our friends. These are all infinitely precious and rare, part of the Interbeing nature of all things. Mindfulness makes life real, deep, and worth living. It helps us be in the here and now where true life can be encountered. It helps us get in touch with refreshing and healing elements within and around us. While practicing this, we plant and water the seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in us, the seeds that have the power to modify and transform the pain and afflictions in us. It is not solely by touching these afflictions directly that we can heal them. Often these afflictions and paid can be transformed just because of the presence of the positive seeds that we plant and water in our daily life by the practice of mindful living."

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  33. My prayers are with you and your family. My mom just finished all her rounds of chemo for her ovarian cancer. Although it has been very hard her joy and peace through it all has been a light and inspiration to all of us. I pray the same joy and peace and strength over you during your journey.

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  34. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You WILL beat this.

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  35. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  36. Oh, sweet Ellie! You've been part of my life since your first post. You've kept me strong now I hope my prayers can help you and your family!
    You rock, Ellie!

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  37. Ellie,
    I've never written before but I have been so inspired by you and your ability to crystalize the truths of life with your writing.

    I am very sorry to hear of your biopsy results. I have been there before (3 years ago) and know the terror that the c word brings.

    I'm glad that you so quickly found the other side of sudden overwhelming fear, the grace that comes with it. I experienced the same thing. Having to slow down and allow others to take care of me. My diagnosis was right before the holidays, with surgery during Thanksgiving and I tell you with complete truthfulness that the Christmas of 2008 was the most memorable and loving time of my life. My whole family was transported into the "moment". And it's lasted.

    I will be thinking of and hoping for peace and comfort for you as you go through this journey.

    I wrote about my cancer experience here --->
    http://howidealwithwhatiwasdealt.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html

    Bless you, sweet Ellie.

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  38. Prayers are with you, Ellie. I, too, heard those words in Aug. 2008. You are in the hardest part emotionally right now...testing, scans, waiting and worrying. Keep up the faith and stay positive. I was stage IV from the beginning but am currently cancer free. Have been on chemo for 3 years but have worked full time as a teacher, watched my children go off to college (one is about to graduate) and have been living life to the fullest. Feel free to contact me with questions and worries...I'm something of an expert on this journey and love to help others as well.
    Hugs and blessings!
    Lori

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  39. Will keep you in my heart and thoughts, Ellie.

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  40. Thinking of you, praying for you, and sending all of my positive mental energy to you. If you ever want to talk, let me know.

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  41. This is the bravest thing I have ever read.

    I also have to tell you that the Redbook (was it Redbook?) article where you spoke about your story totally inspired me to get honest about my own drinking. It's not bad, but it could be ... and I decided to take charge before it got bad.

    Thank you!!

    This post is breathtaking. I have no doubt you will kick cancer's flabby ass. I don't know you, but my heart is full of love for you and your family.

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  42. Even now I see you floating downstream. It isn't resignation--far from it--but release. Because you'd rather notice what's happening along your route, than squeeze your eyes shut while it takes you.

    I love you, and am praying for your release from all of this.

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  43. I just saw this Ellie. I wish I was sitting right by your side, hugging you. Holding your hand. We're here girl. All these people sending you love and vibrations of health and peace. We'll be here and we won't leave. We love you.

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  44. Ellie, your brave words and thoughts expressed here have helped so many who haven't yet found the courage to voice their gratitude, including me. Please know that so many of us are holding you close in our hearts and wishing you a safe and peaceful journey ahead. We are here with you. Please let us know how we can help.

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  45. "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think"....Winnie the pooh.

    Thoughts and prayers for courage and strength and peace to be with you as you travel this journey.

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  46. Hugs and prayers and beauty and health. Coming your way.

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  47. I've been almost exactly where you are - up to the point of the phone call with undesirable news. I know firsthand the well of emotion you're experiencing. You are proactive, smart, faithful, and stronger than most (you've demonstrated this time and again, haven't you?). You have my prayers and good thoughts, but no doubt everything will be alright.

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  48. I came here from Heather's post and have just sat and wept recalling my own moments after that similarly painful phone call... I describe it to others "it's as if all the while I was living in black in white, and all of sudden life exploded into color" as living in the moment became real to me. I am truly sorry you must walk this road. I will be visiting your beautiful blog space again and praying for you.

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  49. prayers for strength and healing from minnesota. i enjoy your blog and your faith is such an inspiration.

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  50. Oh, Ellie. I am so incredibly sorry to hear this and will hold you in my thoughts and send lots of love and prayers your way. I am nearby so I mean it sincerely when I say please let me know if I can do ANYTHING at all. oxo

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  51. Well, darn. I'm so sorry. But glad for "prognosis likely good."

    Glad you have a great support system and the wisdom to accept things as they come, to see so much that is good, beautiful, wonderful ... even now.

    Glad you already know so much about how to deal with hard things. The skills you've acquired in recovery will serve you well through this trial, too.

    Glad you are sharing with us here, too. You're in my prayers.

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  52. My sweet friend, even though we have never met I do consider you a friend. You've given us, your readers, so much hope and have shown us your mighty strength. It is now our turn to give it back. We are here for you every step of the way. I am thinking of you and your family, praying that you beat this thing and come out on the other side even stronger. You can do this. Keep the faith. Peace and love to you today and always.

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  53. I found you and this post today via Ann Imig so I'm not sure what obstacles you have overcome before but just from reading this, I know you have what it takes to overcome this, too. You have a new ally rooting for you from here. God bless and keep you strong.

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  54. Holding you tightly in my heart & sending butterfly wings of hope & love to you and your family.

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  55. Thanks for sharing Ellie. You are one of the strongest people I've ever met so I believe you will beat this. In the meantime, hugs to you and your family and many prayers.

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  56. I'll keep you in my thoughts. Hoping that wishing you strength translates to some measurable solace when added to all the others.

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  57. Ellie,

    I'm here thanks to Maggie and Ann, who posted a link on Facebook. I see that you read Anne Lamott. That will help.

    But mostly, I want you to know that I'll be keeping you in my thoughts in the days ahead. Thoughts that are often jumbled and disconnected. Thoughts that ramble and flit from one thing to the next. Thoughts of my own father-in-law, who battled cancer just a year ago. He didn't make it. But the impact he made on my life will never wane. I wish that for you. Regardless of the outcome, I wish for you a legacy. It sounds like your chances are good. Hold to that tightly. And your faith. I am reverently agnostic myself. But sometimes, I too have the faith to move mountains. I wish that for you. And yours. Peace to you . . .

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  58. Oh, Ellie, I'm speechless...both at your news and at the breathtaking grace with which you've written about it.

    Of course you have my thoughts and prayers. And of course this will be all right.

    Much love to you,

    Anna

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  59. I am praying for you to experience the freedom from fear you so richly deserve, as well as a complete and speedy recovery. After reading the news, I immediately went to put on the silver, dangly earrings you made. Hoping to send you strength through them. From me to you.

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  60. I am praying, praying and sending you hope and love too. I wonder if I had surrendered more to my disease if I would have felt freer here on the 'kind of otherside.' I am praying for you and I understand the scared.

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  61. You are surrounded and enveloped by prayers and love.

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  62. Oh Ellie,

    We are all here, holding space for healing and space and ease in all of this for you and for your family.

    Those of us who have traveled this road know the gifts that come along the way. It's not easy, but it can be done. We'll light your path and scatter it with hope and love, light and color.

    Huge Xs and Os and love to you...

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  63. Ellie, I almost didn't comment after reading your post because I couldn't find the words to say how I felt. I still can't. So instead I just want to say that you're in my thoughts and prayers and I'm sending you all the strength I can muster to get through this x

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  64. Dear ELlie,
    Your battle is on! Faith will win over fear if you keep reminding us to enter your prayers...they are our prayers for healing and calm in the face of danger. I would admit to the feeling of horror...but the grace you have worked towards will keep you on your journey.
    Much affection and pride in your coping strategies..and your family CARES! XO A Chris

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  65. Thinking of you Ellie..sending love, faith and prayers to you.

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  66. I can't imagine how scared you must feel. Much love and peace to you during this new journey.

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  67. Ellie: You are surrounded by love. Love heals. You are already in the process of healing. And you can bring healing to so many others with your honest and your writing. You are in exactly the right place.

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  68. Sending you strength and healing.

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  69. I'm sending healthy, healing energy your way, Ellie. I'll think of you often and keep you and your family close to my heart.

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  70. Oh Ellie, I so hoped it would not go this way. But know that you have a friend walking with you. I am waiting to January to see if the rise in my PSA is real, meaning the cancer is back, or some lab technicians thumb print. It is not fun waiting, but once we know we can begin to do something about it.

    Lets walk hand in hand through this mess and live whatever life is given to us happy, joyous, and free. We are lucky, we have support, we have so many that care for us. The worst part is the fear, that goes after a bit and life returns to "normal", whatever that is.

    You are, of course, in my prayers. You have my email address, feel free to post me any time.

    Love and hugs,

    Mike L

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  71. This posting shook me to my core.. your grace, strength & honesty is profound. You have been faced with many life shattering moment in the last few years & have walked through them with a finesse & might that is awe inspiring.. and your gift to share your experience has brought comfort & hope to many whom have/are struggled/struggling. To be faced with your mortality is yet another shattering moment.. and again you take that moment of discovery and bring it into light with your words.. you are an amazing soul and SO SO LOVED & much light surrounds you!!! With loving prayers..

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  72. So very sorry to hear this, Ellie. I will be thinking of you and sending prayers.

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  73. You are brave beyond measure Ellie. Your words are so helpful - the way you pull each moment of feeling into a description. Even though you don't know me you have helped me more than you know. I will keep you in my prayers.
    Big hugs, Sharon

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  74. Thoughts and prayers are with you. Today, everyday, always.

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  75. Much love to you and your family. Your brave writing is so generous and will surely bring comfort and courage to others going through the same thing.

    You're in my prayers...

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  76. Dear Ellie, you are such a strong, brave woman and have brought so much inspiration to all of us, especially us BFBers. I am so sorry that you have to go through this. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much love,
    Kim

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  77. Ellie, am thinking of you. And marveling at your description of experiencing life in the moment. What amazing clarity and insight in that moment. Sending you virtual strength.

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  78. Sending you love and light and strength, and so very much of it.

    {Mostly love, it is endless.}

    xo

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  79. Oh Ellie,

    I have no words at all to say. So many people have said so many beautiful things so much more eloquently than I ever could. If I were there in person, I would be turning up to just stand there, and give you a hug (or do your washing. Or take the kids to the park. Or bring you dinner. Whatever it was that *you* needed at that moment.) I don't have words, and sometimes words are not what are needed. But know that you are loved. By people who are close to you, people who have never met you in person, people who have flittered past your blog, people who are family. And if love makes a difference, then let it make as much difference as it possibly can.

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  80. Ellie, my prayers are with you. I have thought about you and your beautiful, meaningful post all day. I think anyone who reads it will not forget it, and more importantly, will draw courage from it when faced with the same situation. You are truly a teacher and you WILL beat this thing and teach us all how to surrender to win.

    You're so strong and beautiful.

    Libby

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  81. You are in my prayers. You are not alone. You are not standing still. You are moving. You are vibrating. You are loved.

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  82. On my mind very much and praying for you to find your peace with this new recovery. You have changed my life, I only wish I could do the same for you. So sad for you to suffer so. Love and Love to you and your family. xx

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  83. I am sending so many prayers your way.

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  84. Oh Ellie - how beautifully you put into words this moment, this experience. How truly amazed I am by your strength and grace... I have been thinking about you and sending you love and I will continue to do just that. If I could, I would sit right next to you and hold your hand - just 'being' in that moment with you. Preferably in a yurt. :) You are not alone, but surrounded by so much love and so much support - many prayers coming your way. xoxo

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  85. I have one of the jewelled felt hearts you helped make for Percy the Penguin, in my study. I will look at it often and think of you. Be strong; thank goodness you didn't ignore the lump and acted swiftly. Thank you for writing about this so well. xx

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  86. Oh Ellie. I'm just seeing this. My heart is...hurting, full, in awe. This is a big one. Please know that we won't let you walk through this alone. You will be surrounded and enveloped by love on every step of this journey. God isn't going to drop you and you seem to know this. We are shoulder-to-shoulder with you on this life experience. Prayers are going up for you and I know you know that you are so very, very loved and cared for. xoxo

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  87. You have my prayers. Now beat this mofo!

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  88. I wish I could say something meaningful, but I don't know what it would be. You are a good woman and have inspired me regularly. I hate that you are living this right now. Please go kick the shit out of your cancer. <3

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  89. Ellie, I'm so sorry to hear this news. I will hold you in my heart. Sending much love to you and your family.

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  90. http://keval-cancer.blogspot.com/
    Thought you might like this link to a great blog by a woman I know and her journey through treatment for breast cancer.

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  91. I am so sorry to hear your news. It seems like an unfair amount of misfortune just a few months after losing your dad. Hang in there. I am sending thoughts and prayers your way.
    Anne

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  92. Awww Crap! That so, totally sucks!! I am sorry you are having to go through this. What a way to "learn" things. You are right, you will learn many wonderful things during this journey. My biggest piece of advice I can give you is about your children....only answer the questions THEY ASK! It's so easy to get caught up in what you think they should know...all they need to know is what they want to know. Hugs to you. Brandy

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  93. Wishing the right words would course through my fingers...
    I'm praying for you, for continued strength, grace and openness

    Keeping you close in heart and wearing my Shining Stones pieces with fondness and gratitude.

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  94. Here's hoping this Big Scary sets you free from the Big Scary Fear.

    Sending you love and postive thoughts.

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  95. Just catching up on my reading and saw this, Ellie. I'm so sorry to read about your diagnosis. This post is beautiful, and so are you. I wish I knew what to say besides...much love, and I admire your grace.

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  96. Sending so much strength.

    I think I sort of know what you mean. I've always assumed I'm going to get cancer, and if I do I hope I receive the news with as much faith and graciousness as you have. It will serve you well, and you've got lots of support behind you.

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  97. My prayers and thoughts are rolling over the Atlantic to you on a huge wave of love. The best of luck with your new journey Ellie x

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  98. Ellie, I'm still a fairly new ready but I fell in love with your words from the moment I came here for Just Write.

    I'm so glad to know you. You seem so strong and I will be coming back and supporting you through whatever your journey may hold. Prayers and peace.

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  99. Ellie, I'm adding my prayers to those already holding you close.
    Lee Ann

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  100. Ellie, I've just seen this and I'm furious! How dare that bloody cancer knock on your door and just barge in!! Well forget it, you're going to kick it's ass outta your house forever!

    God and I are going to have a talk now...I know he'll forgive my language but believe me when I say that He will provide strength and support for you and your family if and when you need.

    I am HERE always.

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  101. ♥ ALL IS WELL ♥ YOU ARE ETERNAL BEING LIVING INTO IMMORTAL BODY aka ELLIE. ♥

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  102. I am so very sorry to hear about this, Ellie.
    Count me in as your prayer warrior, starting tongight.

    Starting right now.

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  103. "I can see the beauty and simplicity found in fear, too. " I have been reading your posts today as I have a 2 cm lump in my breast - having a biopsy Monday. I find myself falling into fear. Your words help me cope. Thank-you, Ellie. You are a beautiful soul.

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