ELDER MUSIC: 1936 Again
The Joy of the Ordinary

The Disease Begins to Come Into Focus

Wow. You are, each and every one of you, wonderful people. Regarding the number of comments and seeing the latest of them, I never noticed before that after 100 comments there is a "more comments" link. You can follow that to see the additional comments.

The weird thing with this not-so-good diagnosis is I feel a bit like that old joke about how Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the play: except for the cancer, I'm quite healthy so what could be wrong.

I've wakened each morning since the diagnosis on Thursday with, as has always been, thoughts about what I will do that day. Then I recall the new world I live in. Oooph.

And no matter how long I have slept I am, first thing now, already exhausted. Okay, I had an endoscopy and even if it doesn't show on the outside, it is surgery. I get that. Plus, here's an interesting medical tidbit one of the doctors gave me:

Cancer, he says, is high energy. It uses up energy at a faster rate than a cancer-free body, and he admonished me to watch for unexpected weight loss. Ha. It's the first time in my life I've been urged to eat more. Ice cream here I come.

Some of you wrote to ask, similarly, what a husband-and-wife set of TGB readers wondered:

”Would you be willing to share your ongoing story to the TGB audience? Only to express your current (at the time) situation as well as the symptoms that lead you up to the doctor's appointment. This may help thousands of us be watchful and more careful with habits like smoking, diet, and exercise.”

Since, for the duration, little else will be on my mind, that could be a useful idea and I'll give it a shot. I promise I'll do better than just an organ recital and that shouldn't be too hard since already I can see that having a frightful disease is more about dealing with it intellectually and emotionally than the day-to-day treatment.

Well, it is for now – until I'm in pain and and sick from chemotherapy. That's a different problem I've decided not to think about until the time comes.

My father died of this disease, pancreatic cancer, so I harbor no illusions about how awful it is. But that was 35 years ago. Maybe doctors know more about it now. Or maybe not.

Thank you all for being there. I knew we had created a special community at TGB over the years. But I didn't know until now how extra special it is.

Thank you for all the email too. If I haven't answered, it's only that I can't keep up (a good thing) and still do what is needed to be ready for what is coming. Please understand.

A lot of you seem to think I'm a brave person. I've never thought about that one way or the other but I sure hope you're right.


Oh, indeed you are, Ronni. Make no mistake about that.

You are brave and generous and very intelligent. I can't think of a single post over the many years since I first discovered your blog that hasn't spoken to me, helped me, entertained me and/or made a difference in my life ... and I know that I am in excellent company. You have always set me a great example and will, I'm sure, continue to do so - whatever strategy works for you as you face the challenges, physical and psychological, ahead - thanks to your profound honesty. BIG (virtual so non-invasive) hug.

It was a surprise, a very good one, to see a new post this morning. There's no need to respond to our writings - they're for us to be a part of this journey with you and for you to know we're here, right by your side.

Feel free to rave, rant, grieve, release tension, and travel through any myriad of thoughts and emotions here. We are a strong group, and many will have experiences to draw from, or suggestions for you during this journey.

Music can be helpful, to calm or enthuse or go into another realm of yourself. And humor - remember Norman (? last name) who constantly watched humorous movies, like "the 3 Stooges" to heal himself. Books, as you know, can work wonders and I'd likely read about the tools used by Ruth B. Ginsburg during her medical crises and how she coped. Consider a new venture, like knitting or watercolors, or photography (something portable).

I'm betting you'll give this your usual supreme effort and turn these mountains into molehills.

Ronni, I agree-there's no need to respond. This time should be about YOU. We're with you on the journey, no matter what.

Healing thoughts and prayers for you!!

Of all things, I'd consider you brave in many ways such as being willing to tackle subjects on TGB that are not ususally talked about ( so refreshing!) and the stories you've related pertaining to incidents in your life. Yes, and you will approach this the same way. Just the other day I read that great strides are being made in treating pancreatic cancer, it resonated with me due to it having occurred in my family as well.

So happy to see this post this morning-carry on!

I've thought over and over again about you since reading about your diagnosis. I wish I could write something profound and comforting, but having gone through this with my sister three years ago, I really want to wish you ease and comfort as you go through the treatment and life changes.

You are, Ronni. I do believe this is part of aging...so write. Thanks.

I'm so sad about your diagnosis! To have this happen to such a wonderful person who helps us all so much with your column is truly heart-breaking. I wish you all the best with your treatment.

God bless, Ronnie. My prayers for a full recovery.

Prayers are ongoing for you. May I make you a prayer/comfort shawl if you don't already have one? Let me know if you have a favorite color too.
Peaceful blessings

I love you, Ronni, you are an inspiration.

Wow! You are some great gal. May I add my prayers to those of many others?
When I was fighting the big C several years ago as I went into surgery, I thought of the many people who were praying for me (including the entire Korean church of a co-worker who'd added my name to their prayer list)!
God bless you!

I guess we were all hoping that you would come back today and tell us that "It was all a big mistake". but that was not to be. So we'll have to wait for a future post when you WILL tell us that you're cancer free.

Thanks for the update Ronni. And as we say out here on the Edge, long may your big jib sail.

You wield a mighty fine pen too.


Good morning, Ronni. Good to get up to a new post today and hear you sounding much like your old self, which you really are, except with a new awareness.

I think we do know a lot more about cancer than when your father went through it a few decades ago. Besides that, we know a whole lot more about the human brain and the powerful effect of emotions on our lives.

Simone brings up memories of Norman Cousins, who wrote many years ago about using humor to deal with his bout with cancer. This has been affirmed by many others since then. What ever it takes to maintain an even keel has to be helpful. The body is easily flooded with hormones and other chemicals that can help or hurt, and using knowledge about these to aid the healing process can be one of the strongest weapons available.

There have been amazing medical advances in recent years that have significantly reduced even the adverse effects of chemotherapy. And there are (as long as you're in good hands) so much more friendly and positive approaches to this disease these days. Don't be afraid to call in other troops if you don't feel comfortable with what's going on. It's your body, your life, but the medical establishment can sometimes leave you feeling otherwise.

Hello Ronnie:
I was saddened by your news and have been thinking of you since. Isn't it amazing the power of writing, and that although we've never met, how close I feel to you and am rooting for you every day. This is no doubt due to the personal nature, sharing and transparency, humor, insight and darn good writing of your posts...not simply because I agree with your opinions and view points. So, I want to add to the comments of so many sending you my wishes for your love, support, endurance, self-compassion, and good faith in all that endures no matter what we go through. Susan P

Although I wrote nothing on Saturday, you were still in my thoughts and prayers the whole weekend. This is a tough disease, and I'm hopeful that there is more current and up-to-date research on how to treat it, and those new insights can be used to help you make it through this. I always tell people, you will get THROUGH this.

Thinking of you, wishing you didn't have this challenge, and somehow still believing that all walks are worthy. I like to light a prayer candle in the morning for friends, and often myself, who are walking through rough, unchartered terrain. Unless I hear no from you, I'll include you beginning tomorrow. Love to you.

Thank you for being willing to write about all this when you have the energy to do so. You are such a good writer, I am glad you are considering it.

Thinking of you and know that all your many followers are too.

Thank you for posting today, Ronni. Yesterday, I kept clicking into the blog, like many hoping you'd post that it was all a mistake. It's good and reassuring to "hear your voice."

Of course, I second everyone else's affection and good wishes.

My many years in home health care and some as a hospice counselor have proven to me that mental attitude is the single most important determinant of the course of treatment for serious health challenges. So you are right on, identifying that component as salient now. And yes, there have been many advances since your father's probably rapid decline. May I suggest that you spend some time reviewing your personal priorities, deciding what and how much of your so far usual routines you want to continue to spend energy on, and what you are ready to set aside at least temporarily. Know what will help you sustain a positive attitude through those times when the medical treatments are difficult, and be sure you retain access to those activities.
Best wishes.


Others have more wisdom than I, I'm sure. You have built a virtual community. Those of us in the greater Portland area would, I'm sure be willing to help out in ways both great and small. Please ask the community for what you need as you realize you need it. We are here for you.


Oh shit!

So glad to see this post from you today, Ronni.
I hope it will be a help to you to continue your blog through this adventure.
We are concerned for you and this is one way for you to release sometimes
worrying thoughts, and for your readers to help you thru this.
As others have said, "we are here for you!"

I must have been blocked out in the first 100 comments, but want to say now how much I've learned from reading your excellent blog over the years. Often I quote you to my aging friends, and your research/information has given me things to think about I'd never considered. I'm 65, so you're like an older auntie to me!

At any rate, I'm sending good wishes, ((((hugs))) for recovery. My late husband had acute leukemia, and by the time we learned about it, he only had one chemo and died. However, that was due to his weakened heart (he'd had a heart attack the previous year). It was a battle we were gearing up for, just didn't go through.

I know you will share what you are able to, and for that (in advance) let me thank you. Your blog is a great contribution to aging seniors everywhere, and please don't ever forget that! And yes, you ARE indeed brave, as well as intelligent and a wonderful writer.

Sorry you have to deal with this Ronni...you are definitely a strong woman. Thank you for sharing your feelings and your experiences. I don't know if links are allowed in these comments, but I'll share this from the BBC "The Puzzling Way that Writing Heals the Body" http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170601-can-writing-about-pain-make-you-heal-faster?ocid=ww.social.link.facebook

I can only add my voice to all the other beautifully written comments. On Saturday as I read your post I felt as though a member of my own family was sharing their diagnosis with me. I thought about you all weekend and you will be in my thoughts and prayers for the foreseeable future.

We will all be with you in your journey!

Ronni - Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I realize you are going to be tired and too busy with surgery/hospital/doctor to deal with all these comments (and I saw you deleted emails - totally understandable). But I am not that far away and can help if you need it. PLEASE let me know what I can do for you (you will remember I am an RN!). I am so sorry to hear about the cancer. And yes, there are medical specialists in almost every organ, and every limb! amazing, but since our bodies are so incredibly complex, it kinda makes sense that there is a doc who specializes in the pancreas, and another who just treats right hands, etc. Sending healing energy to you.

My cancer journey has me now on the 4th round of a six round cycle of chemo. The chemo has saved my life. I was too sick to go on and had almost given up, but after the second cycle I started rebounding and my energy returned.
My lung cancer was diagnosed too late for surgery. It's stage 4 and metastasized to vital organs and bones. But the chemo, at least for now, is holding it at bay.
I have had some of the best days of my life after diagnosis, when the simplest things fill me with joy. I am overwhelmed by the care and concern of the people around me. Blogger friends, some I have met in person and some not have also helped my morale so much.
My mindset, mostly, is thankful and grateful.
Ronnie, I would like to e-mail you but am having trouble figuring out your system. I'll work on that today. Best to you!

My Mother died of Ovarian cancer, her sister colon cancer and my husband of brain cancer and my only living brother has had tonsil cancer and now chronic leukemia. So it's a disease many of us have to face. I'm sure you'll do it bravely and with grace.

I am sure that the first thing that your thoughts turn to when you first wake up is your terrrible diagnosis. It's like going through grief, one stage at a time.

I also know that you are a very strong woman and will overcome this just like Ruth Bader Ginsburg did. I also know there will be down times that you have to deal with because this is a diagnosis that you surely didn't want.

I am firmly convinced that mental attitude is vital for dealing with the bad aspects of this.
I have a friend whose daughter had throat cancer and when she got the diagnosis she told her mother "Don't freak out" as she was okay. She maintained a healthy attitude through chemo, radiation and several surgeries and carried on going shopping and having lunch with her mom.

Yes, she got tired and had to rest often, but she did not experience nausea or other bad side effects of chemo or radiation other than hair loss. I attribute that to her good attitude. In addition they are much better at preventing the nausea associated with chemo now.

Her mother told me that those going through chemo are a very supportive group and you will meet good friends there.

Those hats you bought will come in handy now.

You are in my thoughts all the time, Ronni, and I so wish I lived closer so I could help with meals or laundry when you tire. I do hope your Oregon friends will do that for you.

Stay strong because you have such a large loving support group that are pulling for a successful recovery.

Ronni, you are such a trooper!! And I'm happy to see all these wonderful comments--we all need friends, and you clearly have an army of them! I like the mention of Cousins' Anatomy of an Illness. It might be worth a look--he's so right about the crucial role of humor.

All the comments are great, and this piece from Hattie's leapt out at me: "I have had some of the best days of my life after diagnosis, when the simplest things fill me with joy." Since we all always are alive only in the present instant, it's a great thing to cultivate. Sending my very best industrial-strength beams to you.

Ronni, I was very sad when I read about your pancreatic cancer diagnosis. I immediately thought of Randy Pausch who had battled this same disease, and provided inspiration and uplifting advice to others as part of his Last Lecture even while making all the details of his disease known. Basically he determined that the disease would not rule his life, and he also was determined to squeeze every last minute out of his life as possible.
I found him a captivating person, and did follow his progress through to the inevitable (but oft-delayed) conclusion via his blog posts. Links to his lecture, bio, and his personal blog can be found here:
You might find some comfort or perhaps some ideas to take away from his story. And I do hope that medicine has advanced beyond what they were able to do for him just 9 years ago.
Good luck in the days to come.

Ronni - - I suspect that writing your Blog just might be the mental refuge you'll need. Perhaps you will be able to feel and take energy from us, your "Ronni Nation", as you apply your unrelenting candor to this huge challenge. You'll get through this. We know that you will.
Love - -

I learned about your blog just a few months ago and have thoroughly enjoyed it since! Wish I had known about it sooner. Just to say that, even though I don't know you that well, your message about your recent diagnosis hit me as if you were an old friend. I will add you to my daily prayers and pray for strength and patience as you journey through this experience. Take care. Rebecca Magalhães

Ronnie, my thoughts and prayers are with you on this new journey of yours. You have had so many wonderful comments and I cannot express anything more. You are truly loved and this TGB community is right behind you with support.

Take care of yourself-so many friends around the world are wishing you well.

I feel like we are personal friends since I have read your always inspirational & informative blogs since the beginning. We also are the same age. My thoughts have been with you since you informed us of your diagnosis. You have given us such a great gift by providing accurate journalism for our age group. I wish for you to have the strength to complete the difficult journey, to heal & send us news of your complete recovery. You have all of us holding you up with care & love.

I don't know if you are a brave person. But from what I have read in your blog, I think you are a can-do, no-nonsense person. My hope is you will let that attitude guide you...one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, doing the next directed thing with all of us walking beside you.

You know we would all give anything to cure you from this horrible disease -- you have been our friend and mentor, our protector and our source of laughter.

My husband has just been diagnosed with cancer so I know some of the thoughts and fears you are facing, but, like you, we've never had to deal with such a disease personally. Our parents are dead, but never had cancer that they knew about, so this is all new to us.

You have been a model of strength and determination for many years and, although you are strong, you will have times of extreme fear and doubt. Please turn to all of us when and if you need support. We love you and only want the best for you...

And so, you will continue to help us learn to age, gracefully and with dignity. You might remember, I met you and your blog through our mutual admiration of the Globe columnist, Donald Murray. Thank you for taking the time to write.

When I got my diagnosis, I decided to start a new, second blog to talk about the cancer, and continued as before on my original blog. (My assumption was that a lot of readers wouldn't want to wade through the details of medical treatment, and that proved to be the case.) The cancer blog proved immensely useful in organizing my thoughts, keeping notes, tracking my progress, etc. I could look back through it to see exactly when something happened, or remind myself of what the doctor had told me about something. In time I was able to look back on it and find encouragement in how far I'd come.

You're in my thoughts, Ronni.

Sending warm thoughts from Florida...you are thought of fondly. I wish you well on this life adventure. Like others, I feel as though you are a friend. I don't comment often, but read every post.

No need to respond. Please accept my prayers for your radiant health.
Ellen Greenlaw

I agree with Colleen. You "continue to help us learn to age, gracefully and with dignity."

Now about that ice cream. I was so hoping it could make a comeback as a regularly enjoyed treat...you'll need the calories!! Yayyyy.

Thanks for posting. Thinking of you everyday sending hugs and warm thoughts.

I know that many of the newer chemo drugs are easier on a patient than they used to be, but we all are wishing you didn't have to go through this. I woke this morning after a very peculiar dream and realized it was a reaction to this diagnosis coming out of nowhere. I think that's how most appear, and we wish they would all go back there!

Knowledge is power and we do all want to know how you're doing so please share whatever and whenever you feel like it.

What Simone said! We can do a Portland ice cream tasting. This is what REAL friends will do!

Soo, YES to blogging this journey ... the good, the bad, the ugly and the remission!!!!

Believe it or not, I still have some rusty shorthand if you'd rather dictate and let me type ...

Wow, not many people inspire this kind of reaction, Ronnie. That's a lot of good wishes on your behalf. Here's adding mine as well.

Often, speaking with friends about personal challenges make them easier to face. You are in the company of friends and survivors - some from cancer and other health-related conditions, some from economic ills, relationship debacles and losses; the list is endless. Thanks for giving voice to your infinitely fascinating nuggets of life. Continue disrupting the status quo with your wry perspective, no doubt you'll find something most relevant to kvetch about and I can't tell you how many times reading your blog I've nodded in agreement.

I'm sending love and light to you. This blog is the one I have read the longest and the most! It's very special as you are!

I value and appreciate your voice. It has helped immensely during my transition from worker to retired, from aging to legally old (65) and beyond. Your courage to blog about your health is a gift. I'm not certain I could have written about caring for my mom with her dementia, it was a emotional, ever changing challenge. As a reader I support your writing when you feel like writing and responding to emails only when you feel like responding. We will understand. Sending one big virtual hug. Even though we've not met in person, I do consider you my friend and will keep you in my thoughts & prayers.

Hugs and prayers!You got this! Practice positive thoughts!You are a Fighter.You are Brave! Please Blog when you feel up to it!

Ronni-I've enjoyed your thoughtful wise and witty blog for several years now and am saddened by your recent diagnosis. Sending you positive energy and strength via the Internet to gracefully beat the big f***ing C.- Jody Brown

Please write when you can. Please know we are wishing you strength to help cope with all that is to come. Please may the gods grant mercy that you recover. And mostly, please know how dear you are to us all.

Dearest Ronni, I am deeply saddened by your health news and send warmest hugs and much love from Tel Aviv. The support from your global village is a well of caring and tenderness that I hope you can tap into when you thirst for the abundant flow. — xoxo

From Paris receive the best wishes for your recovery.
Keeping on your wonderful and clever blog would be so good to us
I send you my love, Mrs Chantal ARTAUD

I did not know you were going through this battle. I have not been reading all the blogs, but skimming. You are a warrior and generous and brave to share this journey. We are all rooting for you, so you can relax a little.

Wow! Thank you for sharing. My thoughts have definitely been with you since I read your previous post about the diagnosis. As I've followed your journey into retirement and issues of aging, I will follow along with you on this journey, too. With best wishes...

I was so very sorry to learn of your illness in your Saturday post, Ronni. You have been in my thoughts daily ever since; and I wanted to add my voice to the swelling chorus of your blog readers and followers who are sending you kind thoughts and well wishes. Thank you thank you for all the many thoughtful and thought provoking posts over the years; as well as all the wonderful links. Sending you healing wishes, hugs and love...

Ronni, no original words here just sincere wishes for the best possible outcome in your health treatments.

If loving thoughts from your many far-flung and faithful readers can make you well, then well you shall be! Please consider us family you can lean on and never feel alone.

You have given us much over the years, and as your treatment progresses I hope you will allow us to help make you more comfortable, perhaps by providing funds for a cleaning service or meal service through your donation button. There are a lot of us, and a little from those who are able to help could make sure you are able to relax and heal.

Hugs from Canada,

Love and prayers sent your way! This is survivor, 6 years post chemo and radiation! You can do this! Give yourself the gift of rest and don't fight it. I truly believe that rest and diet brought me through the worst days of treatment. And friends who understand. I'll be a friend for you too. Stay focused and positive!
I always look forward to Time Goes By and have learned so much from this blog.

Ronnie dear one, You are in my prayers for radiant health.
Needing to make use of the USA health system (designed to profit insurance companies
not make you well) can be done and you have to be smart and strategic.
1. It is standard practice to send patients home too early. Insurance companies like this.
Most of us on the receiving end of medical care do not. Make sure you have adequate support when you get home. That means friends, family, neighbors, home care workers from the state if you qualify through your insurance. While in the hospital insist on good thorough care and let them know if you are going home to a living situation where you are alone and without a helper.
2. Most hospitals have someone who advocates for patients. Fine one who does their job
as a representative for the ordinary non-medical patient. It will take some work to find out who does this job. Just ask around -nurses, CNA, staff who are ethical and genuinely want to help you will be a good way to locate such a person. In my community these people are under the hospital department like "Patient Relations" or Problem solvers.
I have found reliable, fast help from patient advocates who do their job.
3. Check out the state sponsored Ombudsman. Our state has volunteers who check up on the institution to see if they are providing good care. Sometimes they are excellent and do
unannounced evaluations that find out accurately what is happening. Some get bought off easily. Occasionally you can find help navigating the medical/insurance system from
these folks.
4. Our community here in Oregon has an independent Elders in Action group. Not associated with anybody but more active, concerned citizens. A gold mine and can give you accurate information on what does and doesn't work.
5. Make sure you have contact with YOUR doctor. They may connect you with a "Hospitalist" that 's a doctor who manages your care while you are in the hospital. They work for the hospital though sometimes they can be helpful. But your doctor is your best resource on how to navigate the system so it works for you.
Prayers for you to use what of they medical system will help you and leave the insurance garbage and bureaucracy behind.
I was in a car accident in 1991 and have had to use the medical system. These are guidelines that I wish I had when I was in hospital for two months.
Best wishes,
Ellen Greenlaw

I post rarely: however, I have read your blog since the beginning. I want to say that I love you, and I send you strength and as much lightness of being as you can muster.


Of course you are brave. You have been telling truths for a lifetime. Oh dear Ronni, I wish you all strength for your journey, the strength we all need. You are surrounded in our concern and love.

Loyal Canadian reader since you lived in New York but infrequent commenter. I wish you all the very best in overcoming your health challenges. I know you will approach the process with intelligence, curiosity, humour and determination.

You have me thinking of my October Years.com blog, where I am currently posting about my own cancer diagnosis and my efforts to move beyond the impact of it. Had no idea how powerful the psychological impact could be.

Am hoping the best for you, Ronni

sending you prayers on a speedy recovery
me and my mother will keep you in our thoughts

always keep a positive thinking mind
half the battle in life is taken place in our heads

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