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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002  

I've been watching BBC American on cable quite a bit and saw "Coupling" I've been hearing about and liked it. Robbie Coltrane was on an interview show. Parkinson, I think. He was in Harry Potter, but I first saw him and really liked him in "Cracker" which was on A&E. The Americanized version starring Robert Pastorelli was quite good as well, which isn't always the case when British shows are adapted for American audiences. Those flawed main characters are more interesting in fiction. In real life, they wear thin.

I'm also watching the last weeks of "Politically Incorrect" since it's been cancelled and won't be on after this week.

12:22:00 PM

Sunday, June 23, 2002  

It's dangerous for me to have a forum and time to babble. Beware!

There was a piece on the man who has done the commercials for Emma's Flowers in the Life section of the paper today. My daughter-in-law Melissa works there and is in the picture with him. Melissa does fantasy art and has written and illustrated a couple of children's books we hope get published. This is the url to her webpage:

This Prednisone gave me a systemic yeast outbreak which Candex I get from Healthy Habits is just beginning to help. My hiatal hernia causes pain in my chest, and some ofher problems from this are pounding heart, labored breathing, sweating, and thrush in my mouth. I'm mentioning this to ask you to pray for minimal and manageable side-effects, if any. Medicine really works on me since I haven't been a drug person, smoker, drinker, or been sick enough to build up any tolerances. I can't take pain pills since one of them knocks me out for three days and don't drink caffeine after mid-afternoon if I want to sleep. I'm going to stress to Dr. Spigel that it won't take as much for me. This is the part that concerns me the most.

I'm already whining and haven't even gotten to the hard stuff yet! I think I'm probably going to be a wimp during this.

6:07:00 PM

Saturday, June 22, 2002  
Abby Normal

I'm sleeping again, thank goodness! For someone who has almost no tolerance for being uncomfortable and inconvenienced, this is going to be quite a challenge! At least I'm getting back to abnormal.

Sheena and I had lunch yesterday at The Front Porch and then rode around neighborhoods looking at houses and talking. That was really fun.

I'm making my fifth trip to Nashville this week this evening to pick up Earl at the airport. He's been to Tampa to visit his daughter Lydia. When he came down from South Fulton Tuesday for me to take him to the airport, I asked him to see if he could remove a video tape I'd gotten stuck in the VCR. Since it was a combo TV/VCR, he took the TV apart but couldn't get the tape out. That flippy part is stuck, probably because of my impatience with electronics. I'm sure clicking "play" before it was ready caused this to happen. Well, actually it's probably because of my making fun of Sheena for her impatience. Instant karma got me!

Earl is a good friend who is like a brother. Ann Sensing introduced us and said only our minds needed to meet. She was right. Earl is a legend in his spare time, he says. He was nominated for a Pulitzer for photojournalism when he was with the Tallahassee Democrat, was State photographer in TN, travelled with Lamar! (we must be sure to include the exclamation mark) to shoot pictures for his campaign, and is one of the funniest people I know. If you'd like to be his next ex-wife, let me know. His daughter Amanda and I are the approval committee since we're still traumatized by his last choice!

1:14:00 PM

Friday, June 21, 2002  

The Renegade Independent Film Festival was interesting. Linda V and I met at Provence for a meal before going to Belcourt. It was fun to see what Nashville film makers produced and to hear the Q&A session afterwards. TSA (the Tennessee Screenwriting Association) had a table set up there, and I saw some of my fellow members. I haven't done much more than pay dues and read my newsletter for too long now and need to get back to the meetings on Wednesday nights at Watkins. I could stay after teaching my class since it lasts until July 15. TSA is a dedicated group who encourage and critique each other. They had some wonderful seminars a few years ago that were helpful and entertaining. If I knew how to add links to this, I'd have theirs and some others on here. I'll work on that.

12:17:00 AM

Thursday, June 20, 2002  

This is my last day to take Prednisone until treatment. I'm looking forward to being able to sleep again when it wears off. Food tastes strange. It's hard to describe but seems sort of diluted and watered-down - almost transluscent. Then there's the sweating, agitation, and other fun things to go with it. During my appointment at Healthy Habits with Jim, the gleefully sadistic reflexologist, we were amazed by how much the swelling has decreased in my neck, which was twice the size it is now. I think I just had the idea tumors were cells that congregated and went awry. I suppose it's the awry aspects that cause inflammation and interference. Traffic jams will do that.

I went by the central office today to discuss sick leave and am going to take the whole year off since I have the accumulated days and don't know how this is going to affect me. That will make it much less stressful for me and easier for them to hire a teacher for a full year. This part I'm looking forward to but not what I will be going through.

2:43:00 PM

Wednesday, June 19, 2002  

Some of you asked about the reference to my daughter. This was my big announcement at the end of school last year.

May 15, 2001, I was sitting at my mission control center in the den attending to email and watching/taping "Judging Amy" with the cats lying in petting range, remote controls accessible, and the cordless phone at elbow. When I checked the Caller-ID, I didn't recognize the man's name on it. The woman on the phone asked if I were Joy Durham and then wanted to be sure if I were the one she was looking for. When she asked if my birthday were October 3, 1943, I asked who she was. This was getting weird! Then she bravely said that her name was Kathy Sivley and told me her birth date. That's when I knew she was the baby I gave up for adoption when I was an unmarried college student.

After a halting beginning, the conversation tumbled over itself with questions and answers. Yes, she'd had parents who loved and cared for her. No, she didn't hate me. Yes, she is short and has curly hair. We did really well and covered a wide range of subjects for over two hours. Kathy is married to Mark and has three children (Kelsey - 9, Kari - 7, and Luke - 3) who now call me Grammy. They live on Signal Mtn in a pretty house and are a happy, traditional family. Her adopted parents were the age of my parents and Baptist Republicans. (well, there is that) Kathy's father died when she was 10, and her mother is in an assisted-living facility with her second husband and has Alzheimers.

During this year of reunion, Kathy and I are conducting our own nature/nurture study. It's amazing how much is inherited. For example, she said she always got in trouble for talking so much and her smart mouth. See? That's just one example!

When we got off the phone, I called Brian and woke him and Melissa to tell them the news. They agreed it was definitely worth it and were delighted. Brian's known about this since he was fourteen when I felt it was the time to tell him. Not long after our conversation, I joined an online support group for reunited birthmothers which has been a blessing and more help than imaginable. These women have become friends who understand and offer support.

8:04:00 PM

Monday, June 17, 2002  

One of my high school English teachers Miss Eleanora Miller used to say, "Give me my flowers while I'm living." Emails from family, friends, co-workers, and students have been the most wonderful flowers! Thank you so much for them. Wow! I really do appreciate hearing from you, learning what's going on in your lives, and being back in touch with some of The Little Gifteds, as Brian calls you. :-) Thanks again!

7:34:00 AM


My next appointment with Dr. Spigel isn't until July 2. Treatment won't begin for another month, so during this intermission I plan to be social. (yes and clean my house) Let's make plans for lunch, movies, or something! A friend and I saw The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and enjoyed it The first Renegade Independent Film Festival is at Belcourt Theater on Thursday, June 20, which I plan to attend. It sounds interesting. Windwalkers is also on my list to see and stars Nicholas Cage and Adam Beach. It's about the Navajo Code Talkers in WWII. NPR had a fascinating interview with one of the code talkers.

I watched Erin Brokovich again on cable last night which was fun. I can't believe they cancelled The Education of Max Bickford!

What have you been doing?

7:26:00 AM

Saturday, June 15, 2002  

I'm on day 4 of Prednisone which is making me feel like a chihuahua and probably just as annoying. This will be a 9-day experience each month. How nice! LOL Prednisone and sleep aren't compatible, so this is interesting for sure. See the times on some of these posts?

3:09:00 PM

Friday, June 14, 2002  

Some of you have wondered why I just now told you about this. That would have made it too real. I hadn't even admitted it to myself and tried to feel convinced that I had swolllen glands because of sinus infection. This is why I waited over a month for it to go away and then went to the walk-in clinic for antibiotics. The doctor I saw wouldn't treat it without calling the pathologist in to do the fine-needle biopsy. I had to wait a week to get those results and managed to overcome a lot of worry with denial. I didn't really find out it was changing until I saw Dr. Spigel last week. I coped as long as I kept busy with tasks to focus on like hours of research, preparation for and teaching my class, and checking my sick days. I kept thinking I was going to die right away from the chemotherapy or much sooner than I thought from the cancer. Now I don't feel that way, but I had to calm down some. Creating this page is my way of reaching out and letting others know what is going on. There was too much misinformation last time, and I hope to avoid that as much as possible. It's been so good to hear from many of you and others some of you passed the information along to. I feel the positive thoughts and prayers and need them. Thanks so much!!

5:41:00 PM

Treatment Plan

Dr. Spigel is prescribing FNP with Rituxan. These letters stand for Fludarabine, Novantrone, and Prednisone. Rituxan is an immunotherapy drug and monoclonal antibody. They will be injected for a 3-day cycle every 3 weeks for 6 cycles and will begin in August. I started on the Prednisone yesterday and it's not fun. I feel hot and flushed and hyper. This involves taking 10 mg tablets for 9 days: 5 twice a day for 5 days, 50 mg once a day for 2 days, and 25 mgs once a day for 2 days. I'm teaching an English 102 class at Watkins College of Art & Design and the Film School which ends July 15. Dr. Spigel will be on his annual vacation to Maine for 4 weeks during July. He wants to be here for my treatment and I want him here too, so this will give me some time to get things done around the house and do some fun things too. I want to visit my daughter Kathy and her family and watch the grandchildren play softball and T-ball. Brian, Melissa, and I have some plans to get together, too. I'm planning to be on sick leave first semester and possibly the entire year. Based on what some people say, I'll probably need it. It's not a good idea to be around kids and expose myself to illnesses while my immune system is compromised. What I get to do and when will depend on my blood count. It's going to be a drastic change from teaching high school English, speech, composition, and creative writing, the class at Watkins, and two homebound students most of the year to having more time off than I've had since Brian was a baby. I stayed home with him for three years to warp the twig in the way I wanted it to grow. To stir not shake the metaphor, my Little Apple didn't fall too far from his tree. We just have to laugh about it now. What else can we do? :-)

1:23:00 AM


About a year ago I noticed some lumps in my neck which have stayed about the same until within the last two months. A mass about the size of my hand was noticeably on the left side of my neck. I'd been seeing Dr. Spigel every six months, and this was a drastic change since my last appointment. The fine-needle biopsy and PET and CAT scans indicated that this is in transition from indolent to intermediate and is mostly in my neck with few small places in my chest area and fewer smaller ones in my abdomen. This time I'm going to have to have treatment. The prognosis for this plan is promising with an 80% remission rate. I'm optimistic about the outcome but dread the journey to get there. Isn't that the way it is with many things? This is obviously a crossroads and time for reflection and re-evaluation.

1:09:00 AM

Original Diagnosis

In 1996 I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma with indolent small-cleaved follicular cells. Since it was contained in one node in my neck, the node was surgically removed and a "watchful wait" treatment option was followed. I had no other treatment since NHL is incurable at this time but is treatable. My oncologist is Stuart Spigel, a NYC Jewish transplant to Nashville for over 25 years.

1:04:00 AM

Thursday, June 13, 2002  

Welcome to my update page! I thought this would be an easier way for all of us. This will mean I have to type things just once, and you have the option to bookmark it and can decide if and when to read what I post.

11:02:00 PM

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