Tag: breast cancer

How to See Yourself

I’ve been on this planet for a number of years at this point, and I’ve heard a lot of words of wisdom from folks. Most of those words came from patients during my active nursing career; a lot of them came from the dying. None, however, were as deep and meaningful as those shared by my dear friend, Jenesse Aurandt.

leana-jenesse_edited-4During the course of her battle with terminal breast cancer, Jenesse attended her own version of an accelerated spiritual learning program. I was blessed to sit in as a class proctor of sorts, benefiting from her thirst for answers and willingness to share. Periodically, I will be passing some of her teachings along to you through this blog. Tonight I’ll share one I was reminded of only recently.

Several years ago, while commiserating over some inane self-concept issue, Jenesse listened to me intently before shaking her head in disagreeance and saying:

“See yourself through the eyes of the people who love you.”

The woman had an acute ability to sift through bullshit and speak her insightful mind. This comment gave me definite pause for thought.

“In fact, see yourself the way I see you, and you can never go wrong,” she added.

Standing on the doorstep of inevitable death gives a person unsurpassed perspective. I can say this, because I’ve seen it firsthand – particularly during my four years of working on an oncology unit. Dare I say that the large majority of patients that I cared for said that getting cancer was the greatest gift they’d ever been given – even when terminal. Jenesse said the same thing. Her cancer brought clarity, and clarity brought her freedom from misconceptions and the trappings of the mundane.

For the longest time I remembered to put myself behind her eyes, and those of other friends and family, and see myself from a different perspective. It helped – a lot – but somewhere along the line I forgot and dropped the practice. Life, I suppose. It tends to distract from healthy approaches to most things.

Who reminded me to try it again? My good friend and podcast cohost, Mike C. Matthews. He didn’t say exactly what Jenesse said, but he made it clear that doubting myself was unwarranted. He simply reminded me that self-doubt is generated, quite literally, from the “self,” and that sometimes the best judgements of who we are come from those closest to us.

Be careful about where your opinions about you are coming from. Be careful about seeking them out in ineffective and potentially damaging ways. Instead, vow to show yourself the love and respect of those who objectively see your soul and purpose. Do this, and I promise, “you can never go wrong.”

Friends, I Need Your Help



This week I had the immense pleasure of meeting Joan Lunden after she spoke at Baylor Health Care System’s breast cancer luncheon, “Celebrating Women.”

Joan was diagnosed with the extremely aggressive form of breast cancer, triple negative, in 2014. She is now blessed to be in remission, following extensive treatment.

This woman’s speech moved me for two reasons:

  1. Joan educates. Having interviewed Dr. Susan Love five years prior to her diagnosis, Joan went in for her mammogram armed with the knowledge that having dense breast tissue indicated the need to add ultrasound to her annual diagnostic testing. Joan’s mammogram showed no sign of cancer. Her ultrasound, however, did.
  2. Joan cares. She is less than a year out from the time of diagnosis, and her travel/speaking schedule would tire the healthiest among us. She’s on a mission to inform, save lives and remind women that it’s okay to put themselves first to protect their physical and mental wellbeing.

Joan survived breast cancer. My friend, Jenesse, and my cousin, Judy, did not.

I’m heeding Ms. Lunden’s calls to action. I don’t have dense breast tissue, but I’m here to plead with my friends to find out, during their next mammogram, whether or not they do. Ask, and request an ultrasound as a supplemental diagnostic.

I’m also making the decision to put aside the next couple of months to get centered and create a solid practice of not burning my candle at both ends. This is where I need the help of my friends:

Be patient with me if I disappear for a while and you don’t hear from me.

Be forgiving if I turn down some of your invitations to social events.

Be welcoming when I resurface as a better version of moi.

I will be spending a lot of time with a few choice friends during my absence: the characters in my second novel. “Seasoned With Pepper” is begging for completion, and, sadly, the less time I’m able to spend on it, the more stressed I feel. It’s time to focus on focusing, so I’ll thank you in advance for your support and hug you on my return.

Joan Lunden’s ultrasound saved her life, and although I’d heard stories of survival in the past, this woman’s journey spoke to me in a new and impactful way. We’re all so incredibly blessed to have our health. Protect that and find your balance. We’re all worth it.







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