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Death and Faith and Truth

Posted 7/20/2014

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  The title of today's entry is probably grandiose and surely misleading. I sat here and stared at the screen for a long time as I tried to think of how to headline this entry. Here are the components: a wonderful article from The New Yorker about how a physician share this terrible news and my early morning.

  My early morning is the easy part. We have been in Maine for the weekend and, having experimented with all kinds of schedules, have decided--at least for now--that is is better to leave a bit later and have some time in our version of paradise. Since we live there on a tidal pond, our outdoor lives are driven by the tides; we have a couple of hours on either side of high tide to get out in a boat, and this morning's high tide was at 615. My husband is always a very early riser, but I am not, so I was deeply asleep when he awakened me at 6:00. I got up. put on a bathing suit and shorts (it always gets wet in the kayak), and we set out.

  What beaut'y! What glory! The water was completely still, so different from our usual version of wind and currents. The sky was pink turning to blue, no clouds, and reflected in the still waters. We saw loons and paddled close to at least a dozen seals on a rock and went quietly by deer on the shore. I was entranced and thought only:" This is prayer." How can there not be a God when there is such beauty?

  The other half of this entry is this marvelous essay about a doctor's struggle with truth and with faith. Here is the start and  link:


Elizabeth’s breast cancer had already spread to her bones and was now invading lymph nodes in her right armpit, causing painful swelling that kept her up at night. Today, however, as she walked into her oncologist’s office, Elizabeth felt like things were under control.

“All right, so how is your arm?” the oncologist asked.

“Actually, it’s better than it was,” she replied. “I mean, it still hurts. It’s still very swollen.”

The oncologist could see that her arm was getting worse. “I think those lymph nodes have gotten a little bigger, haven’t they?” he asked.

“I don’t think so. Well, I don’t know.”

“I think they’re bigger,” he said, as he placed his stethoscope on her chest. “A couple of breaths. Again.”

She exhaled one more time and made her position clear: “I’m still not in favor of chemo. Sorry. I’m not.”


“I thought about it and … I feel like I would never go back to work. I feel like it would just do me in.”


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