Here I intend to bring together information, analysis, a little snark, maybe even a little inspiration, all about living well in the face of cancer, whether one is in the midst of such a challenge, has survived it, or is making effort to prevent it.
This blog is about more than living well during and after cancer. It’s about how all of us, as individuals and as a society, can thrive, in every sense of this word. When I think about health, I don’t think just of my own individual practices for wellness. I think about our environment and our social relations and how all of that affects our health as people and part of the Earth.
In my early 50s, seemingly in fine health and having always had a healthy lifestyle, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors told me it was caused by environmental pollution. The breast cancer rate for women in the East San Francisco Bay area is now 20%. We are canaries in the coal mine.
I went through conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I also took advantage of the alternative health modalities the Bay area has to offer, and I continue to thrive using a combination of conventional and complimentary health practices. I want to share with you what I am learning about how to live well, having gone through the outrageous and now all too common experience of cancer.
Professionally, I work as an estate planning attorney with my own solo law office. I went to law school in my early 40s and when I got out, I knew I wanted to work with people regarding big questions of aging, illness and death. Estate planning involves a lot of paper work. It also dovetails with my broader interests and allows me to have a flexible schedule and a client-based service.
When not working, I spend time doing what I love: knitting, gardening, cooking, and playing with dogs.
I’m a life-long spiritual seeker. I was raised in the Jewish tradition which has always sustained me. I became a teenager just as the spiritual counterculture was gaining steam, and began practicing yoga and meditation when I was 14. Starting at 18, I studied and practiced Sufism. At 40, my primary practice shifted to Buddhism. I would say, now, that my spirituality is a syncretic blend of all that I have studied and practiced. I’m not big on isms or schisms – or organizations for that matter. I am religious. The word religion, derived from the Latin word ligare, meaning to bind or tie, has to do with re-connecting, re-turning, toward the One. For me it’s about experiencing unity with the Divine Being, that sweet, indescribable, ever-present, all-pervading something I’m happy to just call God.
I’ve also always been a writer. My first grade teacher, after lunch, would have us do spelling and arithmetic worksheets, and when we were finished, we were free to go sit at an art table and do whatever we wanted. I’d rip through the worksheets within a few minutes and then go play, blissfully by myself. With construction paper and crayons and a growing vocabulary of words I could write, I made “books.” Granted, they were mostly about Sally, Dick and Jane and dogs and cats, but I like to think that writing was in my blood. I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I loved school and I also wanted to be a teacher.
In my 20s, while studying Spanish as an undergraduate, I became a human rights activist. That led to my involvement in the Central America movement of the 1980s which led to my becoming a journalist. I had gone to college in southern California during the heyday of the “Jesus freak” movement. I certainly didn’t join it, but I was very interested in it. As a young journalist, I delved into the growing political influence of the Christian Right in the early 1980s. I started pounding out articles on my electric typewriter, and later, on an early computer with floppy discs. I got published in all sorts of independent publications. In the mid-80s, I wanted to ground my journalism about the Right in a social science discipline. I entered the doctoral program in Sociology at U.C. Berkeley. There I received invaluable training in how to think like a social scientist. During grad school, I published my first book and then wrote my dissertation, a 50-year history of right-wing social movements as a first draft for what would become my second and major book, Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements in the United States.
In the 1980s and 1990s I was a public intellectual, often involved in activist movements and helping people on the Left have an analysis of our political system.
After my fourth and last book was published in 1998, I retired from 15 years of researching and studying right-wing movements.
I had wanted to be a professor of sociology but found it impossible to secure a full-time university position without leaving the bay area. Starting in my early 40s I went to law school and then built up my estate planning law practice.
In the wake of surviving cancer, like many others, I find myself asking: “What Next?” I am aware of my limited time on earth.
What would I do if I had all the time in the world and could do exactly as I like? Many things. One of them is this: blogging about what I am learning about how we may survive, thrive, prevent cancer and live well as individuals and as a whole.
I find myself spiraling forward and returning back again and again to my life-long interests in health, politics, spirituality, the homemaking arts, and writing. I have always, and still do, want to teach and share information, and I’m still a writer, though now of a different sort and with a new mission.
Welcome to my blog.