9/27/22

For National Hereditary Cancer Week and National Previvor Day 2022

National Hereditary Cancer Week 2022 is

September 25 – October 1, & National Previvor Day is September 28

National Hereditary Cancer Week and National Previvor Day Graphic

 My daughter is a previvor. My wife should be one.

My latest blogs at Cure Today:

Finding the Courage to Look at Family Cancer History
 
 

Learn more about hereditary cancer here: 

 

8/25/22

Creating a Cancer-fighting Superhero

Cancer is incredibly evil and I expand on that in my latest blog on Cure Today. I also demonstrate how cancer patients and/or cancer caregivers can take a creative, hopefully therapeutic, break and draw their own cancer-fighting superhero. 

https://www.curetoday.com/view/create-a-cancer-fighting-superhero

8/12/22

Cancer, Bears and Fierce Compassion (and drawing)

In my latest blog post on Cure Today, I share a short story titled Cancer, Bears, and Fierce Compassion. It includes another easy drawing lesson for cancer patients and/or caregivers.

 

6/22/22

The Colors of Love and Loss

The Colors of Love and Loss


A book I helped to create with Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is now available. It is a FREE resource for grieving children and you can download it here: https://www.missfoundation.org/the-colors-of-love-and-loss-by-dr-joanne-cacciatore/

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is also the author of Bearing the Unbearable* and is a globally-recognized expert in traumatic grief and a gift to humanity. Please learn more about her loving and devoted work with the bereaved by visiting her Facebook page or the MISS Foundation Facebook page.

I do have to admit there was a lot of heartache associated with working on this book on so many levels, not the least of which is grieving the loss of my wife to hereditary cancer. But I hope the tears shed while illustrating it will help children facing the unbearable loss of a sibling.
 

Disponible también en español.


*The first book I read after the death of my beloved wife and I highly recommend it to the grief stricken (and the grief-adjacent as well.) More information about Bearing the Unbearable is available on Dr. Cacciatore's Miss Foundation website. Or you can buy it on Amazon.


4/22/22

Grief Break : Earth Day

House Finch

I gave my broken heart a little rest and took a break from writing about my soul mate's death and hereditary cancer prevention on CURE and The Mighty to do a quick sketch of a House Finch building a nest in the acacia tree in my backyard.

And a reminder to everyone this Earth Day to take the time to look around for the small wonders of nature -- even if it's in your own backyard.

Know nature. Learn to be still.

4/9/22

Expressions of Grief: Another Heartache Today

Today marks the 37th anniversary of the day I officially began my full-time freelance career. But I’m not celebrating today. 

Last June my wife, Donna, died after a nearly 4-year battle against hereditary cancer. Donna wasn’t just my wife and mother of our child; she was also my muse and co-creator on several projects over our 40-years together. It is an unbearably heartbreaking loss, especially because her death from cancer was nearly 100% preventable.

 
Being Donna's caregiver hastened my retirement from freelancing. Cancer caregiving is awful beyond words as you watch cancer rob your loved one of their life. And it's something no spouse should ever have to go through. So now I’ve turned my attention to hereditary cancer prevention advocacy and volunteer work. I'm doing it because speaking up might prevent others from suffering horribly and dying from cancer. And because of the pain I will always feel from the loss of my beloved wife and the countless hopes and dreams that were lost personally and creatively. 

Brains, love and courage would have changed everything.

3/27/22

Expressions of Grief: The Universe's Plans

Late the other night I stepped out into the desert night, stared up and took a deep breath as tears ran down my face. I looked into the darkness and tried to think about the last time my wife and I stargazed before her cancer diagnosis. Then I started thinking about an incredibly stupid and insensitive comment that was directed my way about “how the universe has plans.”

What about my wife's plans? Plans to continue to teach, to be with her daughter, to travel and to create more books with me. Plans for all the moments big, small, and ordinary. Plans to love and be loved. Plans to live a full life.

You are telling me that my beautiful and sweet wife was singled out in all the vastness that is the universe so she could suffer and die in my arms from a horrible disease like cancer because the “universe has plans?”

If that is the case, the universe is a dark place indeed.

3/18/22

Expressions of Grief: Hearts & Brains

Hearts and brains -- in the game of life it takes both of them to make humans, well, human. Unfortunately, I have found along my path in life that there are people who, sadly, either lost a few cards along the way, or were never given a full deck to play with.

3/10/22

Expressions of Grief: Speaking Up to Save Lives

In January, a Breast Cancer Gene Screening bill I initiated -- HB 2529 – was introduced into the Arizona House. Basically, it would obligate primary care doctors to properly screen for familial BRCA mutations and recommend genetic counseling if appropriate and it would be covered by insurers. If passed, it should save many lives. It would also save on the enormous expensive of cancer treatment paid by the patient and the insurance companies for a cancer that was not prevented or caught early. It is based on a law passed in Nevada in 2021 (SB 251).

I initiated the bill in my wife Donna’s honor because she died a horrible and needless death from hereditary cancer. Had this bill been in place, I would not be a widower. It would have made her relative's  incomprehensible failure to speak up about a germline BRCA2 mutation a non-issue. Proper screening years ago, genetic testing, and prophylactic surgery would have reduced Donna's cancer risk by 95%. 

I sincerely hope support for this bill will grow and it will pass and prevent many, many others from suffering Donna's fate.

UPDATE: This bill died in committee. Since the bill was introduced and sponsored by one political party the other political party just ignored it. Sad and frustrating.


Text of the bill:
https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/55leg/2R/bills/HB2529P.htm

Currently it is pending in the House Health and Human Services Committee. Hopefully it will move along soon. Progress report: https://legiscan.com/AZ/bill/HB2529/2022

If you live in Arizona, please contact your state representative and urge their support. Thank you!

Legislative Members Roster: https://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster/

 

(This is based on post from my site BRCA2wise.com)

3/6/22

Expressions of Grief: Some days are like this...

I hate this "journey" I'm on. I should be drawing silly cartoons, painting landscapes, or just sculpting something for the sake of it. But here I am again, in a dark place. Something brought back a flashback of one the numerous times I rushed my wife to the ER because of some complication due to her cancer and/or cancer treatment. Being a cancer caregiver was hell. Watching my wife suffer and die in my arms from a horrible, but preventable cancer was/is total hell.