Saturday, August 20, 2011


A friend sent me the book, "About Alice", by Calvin Trillin. It's a wonderful book, a love story really about his wife. Alice died of her cancer related treatments. One line she said in a speech really struck me - "the worst thing cancer can do is rob you of your identity". How true...

That is one of the side effects of our journey. Meagan has suffered many insults to her brain. The stroke was bad enough - with some permanent loss of things like right side peripheral vision and ability to handle numbers and dates. The medications for brain radiation treatment and seizures affect her cognitive capabilities. The recent Gamma knife brain radiation treatment has further affected her thinking ability and her speech. All these may be temporary - but of course the concern is they do not resolve before the end. Her biggest expressed concern is over her mind - which is one of the cores of her identity. Not being able to be lucid, sharp, and intellectual is a huge loss - and undermines her self-image and identity. It is tragic.

We try to focus her on the non-intellectual things which are the core of her 'Meagan-ness". Relationships and engagement. Empathy and care. Meagan is not defined by one thing. If you think about a person in terms of concentric circles or rings of a tree, with each space between the lines being one element of a person - sure, she may be losing some of the rings - but like a tree she is still growing. I am in awe of her capacity for courage and expression, her grace under this enormous burden, and her ability to discover the goodness in things, and the gratitude she shows for so many things. Many of these are new, or latent but now exposed. Her emails/letters are shining examples of what she still is and what she is becoming.

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