Monday, April 16, 2012


We have a beautiful courtyard just outside our front door. Danny and I have shared games of scrabble, cocktails in the dark with our neighbors, and on Saturday afternoon, in such a happy place, I stretched out with my new book, The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness. It's a perfect find, just as I'm nearing my Thursday morning MRI. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

      "It was my right to choose what I did. Even if I didn't prevail - and I didn't expect to - it was my only chance. I deeply wanted to live, so I had to fight. Then I could tell myself that I had tried, that I had done everything possible. There would be no regrets." 
      His was a libertarian mind-set, one that placed the individual squarely as the ultimate arbiter of his fate. It represented a certain form of hope - the hope to be strong enough not to yield, to have the determination and the fortitude to fight.

Another favorite....

      When we feel pain from our physical debility, that pain amplifies our sense of hopelessness; the less hopeful we feel, the fewer endorphins and enkephalins and the more CCK (important regulation factor in response to anticipatory stress) we release. The more pain we experience due to these neurochemicals, the less able we are to feel hope. 
      To break that cycle is key. It can be broken by the first spark of hope: Hope sets off a chain reaction. Hope tempers pain, and as we sense less pain, that feeling of hope expands, which further reduces pain.

One more, which happens to be my personal favorite. I wish my oncologist and his team would read this...

      We will likely discover genes that contribute to the very complex feeling we know as hope, but the circuits in the brain that stem from this feeling are not static. Rather, events in our lives modify them, and I would posit that the words spoken and the gestures made by physicians and surgeons and nurses and social workers and psychologist and psychiatrists, and family and friends, influence the synaptic connections. No one should underestimate the complexity of factors that coalesce in this biological process.

In order to succeed in healing myself, I have created an ever changing bag of tricks. Sometimes it's a walk along the lake, or a jog with a friend. Other times it's trying a new healthy dinner recipe, or a vegetable smoothie, or perhaps a micronutrient dense juice. Inspiring books, or personal stories, have also been a wonderful catalyst, changing my whole mindset and energizing me to continue the fight. It's important to find the things that inspire you; it's imperative even, to not only survive, but to thrive.


  1. wow...really great quotes and inspired thinking. What a long way you have come on your journey Jessie...I'm proud to know you and love you.

  2. You remind me of the sharptail eel we saw recently. It was a gorgeous creature, about 3 feet long, golden yellowish spots. It slinked into a hole in this chunk of porus coral and then went nuts wiggling it's long body. Rocky bits of colorful sand swirled into the turquoise sea, it was fascinating, but the eel couldn't go in any further. It wiggled its way out and skittered around the knife-edged side and with its keen eyes it found another crevasse and went for it. It's undulating body had magnificent strength and it broke into the mystery it was going for.

    You are like that beautiful rare eel Jess. All the hard work you've been doing to educate yourself and heal yourself is part of the mystery that's curing you, I know it is. It's your own personal (yet truthfully and publically shared) "anatomy of hope." This is why you will prevail. We are so grateful that you've chosen to share this traumatic and harrowing experience with us. That in itself takes tons of guts. Most of us would give up, but not our tenacious Jess, and I firmly believe that this is why this has happened to you. xoxoxo


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