Saturday, March 17, 2018

Starting here, starting now

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Patricia's Journey


It is “one of those days” that I don’t like to write about….and so I haven’t. And yet, as my wise friend coached me, “that is the writing I want to read. What are you really feeling?” I have blogged more about what is happening and gone off on spiritual quests and tangents rather than sharing the raw, often gut-wrenching emotions.

What is “one of those days”?

It is a day where I want to send my son with a one-way plane ticket to live with his Dad. I am certain if I have one more parenting conversation about chores or responsibility that I might crumble onto the floor in a thousand unrecognizable pieces. He is wading through his own stuff about time and discipline and eating right and caring for his braces. When you’re 13, you hope that to be the biggest of your challenges.

In this moment, on top of my personal care, I feel as if I’m being crushed.

“One of those days” is a day where I consulted with a new oncologist. He did not tell me anything I have not heard before on this journey. He simply said it in a lovelier way than previous doctors! He shared that my quality and quantity of life are mutually inclusive…for now. That metastasized breast cancer has many, many systemic treatment options, like branches on a tree. He notices and observes that I respond quite well to treatment. That is the good news. There isn’t a very long holiday between treatment options. We must be vigilant. We keep using the options until we hit the point where there aren’t any more branches from what will be the final branch of decision. At that time, the quantity and quality of life will be mutually exclusive. And then I die from metastasized breast cancer. He doesn’t say “you will die”’; he says there won’t be any more options and we’ll make you comfortable. I know what he means, and I appreciate (really) that he has discovered a respectful way to deliver his truth about cancer. It is treatable, not curable, until it is no longer treatable. And we don’t know how long the long is. I should’ve snapped off his head. Do they have any idea how disempowering their monologue is? Are there repercussions if they give any hope? Do they disconnect so they can get through the conversation? I am angry and sad at feeling dismissed.

He leaves the room and I begin to cry. I don’t know why and I don’t need to know. I just want to cry and so I do. I cry at the picture the doctor has painted…a picture of a future that only includes more of this. A life of lab tests, treatments, scans, and then repeat the cycle as many times as needed until there aren’t any more cycles to repeat. I cry for the thousands of women each day who must listen to this terminal prognosis. It looks bleak. I feel defeated. I feel incapable of producing any positive, long term result. I feel ineffective.

Lisa, who is in the office with me, comes over to give me a hug. She starts telling me “we’re gonna truck right on through this. And we”ll just keep trading in for whatever truck we need to make it through.”  She starts giving funny examples of trucks we’ll need and now I’m laughing and crying.

“Patricia Rapp, next to my mother, you are the strongest woman I have ever met. You are strong and tough; you are a fighter. I’m asking you to be vulnerable and be a fighter. Let everyone in who wants to support you. I am here for you, committed to you 100%. This is the most phenomenal experience I have ever had. It’s practical application for my academics. They don’t teach you this. This is deep. God has brought us together at this time and I’m blessed to be with you.”

Then my work begins. It is the thoughts that wreak havoc. How to move from a powerless, “what’s the use” bleakness to an “I’m not giving up no matter what!” hopefulness. I have been at this place before. It cycles around and each time and feels familiar and yet new. It is a weary place and tonight I fall into it and be with it. No fighting, no resistance. It’s not a giving up as much as it is a giving in. Another level of surrender. Here I am. Tired. Darn tired tonight. Tired of the cancer show. This is the kind of recognition I can do without.

A long time, dear friends’ sister was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last weekend. My mind is envious. Is it okay to admit that? Her doctor will tell her she will heal completely from this. No doctor is ever going to tell me that. There will be an end to her physical journey from this accident.

It is challenging for me to wrap my brain and heart around focusing on the quality of life and not the quantity of life. On days like today, I don’t know how to be in that space. I pray that I will be shown the way through. Others in my situation have shared we are all going to die, so what is the difference between you and me? You simply go on knowing how your life will end while others don’t have that knowledge. How do I make that knowledge work for me and not let my mind use it against me?

I still carry self-blame at being uneducated and stubborn along my journey and using up time looking for alternative support and delaying western medical care. Hindsight would have me believe it would have been better to seek early medical treatment while exploring all means of alternative support, which is what I continue to do. Intellectually, I know those thoughts are useless and keep me in darkness. However, they are there today.

It’s a lot to chew on and my jaw is tired. I cry myself to sleep.


I wake up early from a restless sleep and the tears are still flowing. This is a turning point in my cancer journey. You can feel it when this happens in your life. Something so profound and deep, that you come out on the other side transformed. In Unity Church we like to say “shift happens”, and when it does, we do the Happy Dance!

This is a turning point in my cancer journey. Previous to yesterday, I was still doing the dance of “I’m good, God is Good, all is well” and covering over deeper emotions that simply want the spaciousness to be expressed.

All of my life, if you asked me “how are you?”, I always responded with “good, wonderful, blah, blah, blah.” That is one way I would take care of others-not share what was really going on so you wouldn’t be concerned, and I didn’t have to look less than being in control and on top of it. If I’m not being truthful with myself, how could I possibly be truthful with you? I was the great pretender.

What my friend helped me to see about my writing is that I did the same thing in my blogs. I didn’t share the icky, sticky, muddy, gooey, murky stuff. Make it look pretty. And that is a lifelong pattern. As soon as I saw the Truth in what she was asking of me, my way of being in my entire life flashed before my eyes. This is how I have always been. I remember my Mom telling me many, many years ago “we couldn’t help you because you always said everything was fine.” How tightly wound I had to be and how much energy it takes to hold all this in. I have been on automatic pilot and couldn’t see it. Friends can help you see your blindspots.

What to do about the past blogs that need depth? There is an option of plowing through all of my past writing and filling in the blanks and then re-posting the blogs, which feels daunting and makes me want to bury my head under a pile of pillows. Or the option of revealing to you now that I am in integrity with what I set out to do with this writing and any blogging prior to today is simply what it is. Anyone reading it can detect the shift. As I am called to do so, I may choose to go back and remember the days I hit bottom and share that with you…or not. In the moment of discussing my options with my Chief and Only Technical Officer, Steve, I recognized another familiar pattern. Here I go again! It’s got to be perfect and right before it can be presented to the world (my BS detector just went off)…and there goes another pattern released to the ethers or left in the dust. Hallelujah!

Whatever is unraveling around this enabled me to pray and ask for where my support was in this very moment. God asked me to be open and call Margie from church for prayer support. Easier to ask for support when you aren’t pretending you don’t need any. That woman can pray! In her wisdom, she helped shine the Light into my darkness. My next call was with Sandy, my energy worker, who always lifts me up in talking with her. God guided me to three other friends and within the hour, I was lifted. Only Good for me for being willing to be vulnerable about the dark space I was in, ask for support, and being willing to not linger any longer than necessary.

I made a commitment to be truthful, authentic and transparent in this blog. With what I have discovered and uncovered, starting here, starting now, I can fulfill that. And even then, my writing has its own journey within the cancer journey. Someday there will be a book written. And you will have been with me on the journey toward that purpose.

And another new day begins and another new choice.

Daily Word — Tuesday, October 27, 2009


God is my help in every need.

In “The Prayer of Faith,” Hannah More Kohaus begins: “God is my help in every need. God does my every hunger feed. God walks beside me, guides my way, through every moment of the day.”

With God, there is always a way to meet life’s challenges, to rise above what appear to be limiting circumstances. There is always a way to restore wholeness and peace of mind, to experience joy and to grow in spiritual understanding. God is the loving, all- providing presence within me, the unwavering principle of truth and love.

God brings forth the good in any situation. I turn within to God in prayer with faith and expectancy, knowing there is a way through any shadow into the light. “God, I am listening. God, I will abide in you. You are my help in every need.”

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”–Luke 1:37


3 Responses to “Starting here, starting now”
  1. Leslee Joy says:

    My dear friend
    When I got your email that you were on this journey again I cursed loudly out loud at my computer….my husband in the next room. It’s not fair I yelled. If God had favorites, I know you would be one of them. i wish I could carry this burden for you….know that I am with you through this journey giving you Love and Hope!
    Leslee from Omaha

  2. Jan McArthur says:

    Oh My Friend! Wow! When you wrote and told us you had moved to Hawaii, I looked at Lorin and told him that you were sick again. As we have received your emails and pictures from your Blackberry over the last year we have known that you were living your life to the fullest extent! I wish we would all have the ability to do that! I must admit I have sat here this morning and cried my eyes out for yet another amazing friend who is on the cancer journey. To my earthly and very human eyes and heart it does not seem fair. But I know better! I know I have a Loving Heavenly Father! I know that His Son, who is my Savior and the Redeemer of the world has a perfect plan for us. It is individually wrapped! And if we will put our TRUST in Them we will receive PEACE to our souls! I have a favorite scripture. It is found in the book called the Doctrine and Covenants. It was given as counsel to the Prophet Joseph Smith when he had been incarcerated in the Liberty jail in Missouri. It is the Lord’s response to his plea …”If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; if thou art accused with all manner of accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of they thy wife and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; and if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape wide after thee, KNOW THOU MY SON, THAT ALL THESE THINGS SHALL GIVE THEE EXPERIENCE AND SHALL BE FOR THY GOOD. The Son of Man descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
    Patty! Thank you for being apart of our lives! We LOVE you! Thank you for sharing this journey with us! We are praying for you! And your wonderful son! Keep running! There is WISE purpose in all that takes place in our lives!We don’t always understand BUT there is ONE who does! And He is our advocate with the Father.He is there! ALWAYS!
    Jan and Lorin & Family

    • Patricia says:

      My dear, beloved McArthur family! Throughout the years I have held you close as a demonstration and testimony to the power of God’s Love. Through you, I have known ALL things are possible. To be with you on this journey is a joy-filled blessing. The love you share for God and each other spills over to me and I am grateful. All is well!
      All my love, Patricia

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