Choices, ovarian cancer, Suzanne Wedel, Suzanne Wedel XOXOUT

My body, My friend.

Some people might place flowers to honor a friend’s death. I will lie my body down.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago my friend Dr. Suzanne Wedel died from ovarian cancer. Her daughter called to tell me while I was standing on an empty beach, watching the gulls hover over iced waves. I was willing time to stand still. Three hundred and sixty five days later, I honor Suzanne with a surgery date, making good on a promise I made to her. Doing all I can so history does not repeat itself.

My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was twenty-one years old and she was forty-seven. We coped. We fought. We learned. We lost. That has always been the nature of ovarian cancer, no different in 1982 or 2017 — once diagnosed, a woman’s risk of dying is exponentially higher than any other female cancer. It hides, divides and grows unseen. Once ovarian cancer is diagnosed, you are past the easy stage. Period.

I trusted medical advances and advice for the last thirty years: yearly CA125 blood test, trans-vaginal ultrasounds, twice-yearly pelvics. Until Suzanne. Amazing physician, mother and friend with no familial history of ovarian cancer. Then — a pain in her shoulder. Tight waistband. After three years of every cutting edge surgery and treatment, she was gone.

Her illness highlighted that there is no magic wand no matter who you are: ovarian cancer, without an early detection test, is deadly. Her genetics were negative, but there I was sitting next to her on her couch with personal family history of this cancer. The gig was up. She made me promise; promise to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes, SOON. She very plainly noted, as Suzanne could do so well, that I was foolish to play roulette with my body and my history.

What you should know: Today, oncologists advise if there is any family history, regardless of genetics, fallopian tubes and ovaries should be removed after bearing the last child. That they now believe ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes.  That waiting, until one is fifty-eight years old with a family history, no matter how informed you think you are, is stupid.

I have been given a clean bill of health and await my genetic map. Regardless, on April 20, 2017 I will go spend the day with an incredible surgeon, AK Goodman, at Mass General Hospital. I will have mourned my fertility, my hormones and my skin appropriately. I will have loose pretty pajamas and friends waiting for me at home. I will honor my friend and her family and what we know so far. And if we are supremely fortunate, the Suzanne XOXOUT Fund will expedite an early detection test so my children and their children can grow old with less risk.

Better than flowers. I can now stand on the beach and tell her she made a difference. In so many ways, but especially to me. But she knows that.

XOX back at you, Suzanne.


March 30, 2017 Bainbridge Island Ferry, sunrise

#crushtour, Begin anew, Choices, Golf Fights Cancer, Kindness, Suzanne Wedel XOXOUT

Cowgirl boots. Attitude. Onwards.

Forget gentile resolutions. This is the day I am kicking stuff to the curb. There’s that word again. Time for my red pointy cowgirl boots and a big attitude.


People who can’t be fair or open minded about politics or gluten or sexual preferences.  Anger, prejudice, hatred is life-sucking, mean and tiring. If we were all the same life would be a big snore. I love you all. Thank you for loving me.

Sugar: Used to be just salt. Now I am going to scrutinize sugar. Turns out that is a sneaky unhealthy additive, too. Still researching the chocolate.

Bad humor: From me or others. A new barista has ruined my morning ritual with unfriendliness. I am killing her with kindness. We had enough animosity in the elections. Try the opposite effect.

Ignorance:  Fact. The divide will be greater under the next President. My cousin Nicole, on seeing a homeless family this week, asked them what they needed, drove to the store, purchased the items, and returned to place them at their feet. I intend to practice kindness with double intensity, especially to strangers. Do it more. Thank you, Nicole.

Wasted time: My dog is getting old. My 50’s winding down. I want to measure 2017 with all the good times. We have to make that happen for ourselves. I wasted a huge portion of 2016 addicted to the news. And we know how reliable that was — don’t cheat and waste time on people or places that do not make your heart soar.

Cancer. I may need help with this one, it is heavy. My son’s very best BFF is battling Gliobastoma. Ovarian cancer took a friend in March. Let’s #CRUSHTOUR every single day: Help crush cancer with your heart, feet, hands and your wallet. Suzanne Wedel XOXOUT Fund, Golf Fights Cancer, wherever people are putting science and money into understanding how to crush cancer they need you. Please. Your kick will make a difference.

And finally:

Looking down has got to stop. Look up. We are part of a vast, complicated, beautiful world. Be part of it. Look where staying in our own little reality got us in 2016. Open yourself to everything and everyone.

While Olive snoozes off her breakfast and the birds kick  seed into the air I write this short list. Write one of your own now. Let’s make a mountain on the curb. Let’s start something good tonight, like a New Year.

Kick hard today. The very best news about tomorrow, January 1st, 2017, is that the crazy horrible that was 2016 is out with the trash.

I’m taking the best bits forward with some serious attitude.

Adios, 2016.

Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet new fallen snow,
And breathe the new air.
So much has died that had to die this year.


May Sarton, New Year Poem, first stanza.

Bainbridge Island, November 2016.