Thursday, November 8, 2012


I try to do two things in preparation for the appointments that I have with my oncologist.  The first is  I keep an ongoing list of questions for the doctor.   As soon as something comes up, I write it down.  I have learned that I can not trust my brain at this juncture to remember much of anything.  It doesn't matter how important it is- I will forget it.  The second thing that I try to do is keep track of the side effects that I experience with each chemotherapy treatment.  The first time it was my little gingerbread girls.  The second and third time, I just made lists.  I think my doctor was a bit disappointed with the lists, given the artistic care I put into my first side effects checklist.  So, I decided that I needed to make something more entertaining for my doctor this time around.  I also feel like art is my way of consolidating the information I am experiencing.  I can take them out of my body, put them down on paper to remember, and then put it away. 

What I didn't want was for my little side effects drawing to be a big downer.  Not only does that feel pretty predictable- neuropathy and nausea are kind of bummers, it also doesn't feel very useful.  I enjoy laughing.  My students often comment on my ability to laugh, even when teaching about pretty hard topics.  As a therapist, I love to make my clients laugh.  Of course, we can't always laugh- and I always make room for sad emotions.  But therapists that make you cry all of the time bore me.  Aren't most people seeking therapy wanting to find ways to feel better?  Finding ways to laugh through pain-  connect with the comedy- is healing.  Smiling is an amazing coping mechanism.  A lot of scientific research has been focused on how smiling is inherently good for you!  It changes your mood, boosts your immune system, and releases endorphins, serotonin, and natural pain killers.  Smiling is like a super powerful drug!  Smiling also lowers your blood pressure, reduces cortisol production, and relieves stress. 

"When you smile you don’t only appear to be more likable and courteous, 
you appear to be more competent.” (Ron Gutman)

I inherited my mother's love of art and my father's love of laughter.  I am extremely blessed and grateful for both of these things.  So, I decided that I would make a drawing that made me laugh. 
And so... Chema-ballerina was born.
I know, the side effects aren't extremely funny- but when I put a tutu on it- it made me smile.

And if you want to watch a great Ted talk by Ron Gutman on smiling- check this out :-)


  1. What a positive attitude! I've always said that a smile increase your face value. It does that and all you've said. I salute you!

  2. dear sweet you,
    i could not be happy than to share that your name has drawn from my favorite mixing bowl for the Muy Bueno Cookbook! please send me an email with your mailing address so i may place this delightful collection of love from the kitchen in the mail to you!!!
    i have just posted your good fortune at recuerda mi corazon.

  3. Sweet Caya-Papaya, I'm here via Rebecca and your story being pulled for the muy bueno cookbook, to say how much I loved your memories of you and your precious grandmother. And I find here, more the depth and courage of life and your honest sharing of where you are now. And anything that can make you smile... then I say go for it. You are an amazing artist and I want to scoop chemo-ballerina up into my arms and tell her she is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen. Your story of your abuelita made me smile, thank you so for adding her to my memories, and for you.

  4. I had chemotherapy yesterday - so I just saw your comments! Yipppee! I can't wait for my cookbook:-)