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lossFirst, I loss my health. It happened when the tumor grew. It grew so fast I lost the time to choose. They said I’d lose my fertility, too.

Then I lost my hair, my body. It shrunk and shriveled up like a tight claw. The inside of me did, too.

It hurt so bad I lost my patience, my forgiveness, my wisdom. To those who said hurtful things when I shared my story, who thought it was clever to be critical, I’m no better than you. If I could, I’d give you my cancer, too.

I used to be beautiful. People told me and I knew it, too. If you still think I’m beautiful, then you don’t see what I do.

I lost my house because sometimes people can be cruel. I have no home, nowhere that’s mine. My spirit lost its home, too.

Then, worst of all, and so painful I still don’t believe it’s true, I lost my love. If I’m honest, I saw it happening, I knew. I watched — hands pressed against the glass — and there was nothing I could do.

I lost my trust, the feeling that things are safe and fair. I see the world, and I don’t like the view.

I’m in a hole. I’m sorry I see the bad better than the good. I’m sorry I’m not your cancer hero. I’m sorry my writing is overdue. I look up, and think, maybe I should try harder to crawl out. But can I? Do I want to?

People say it will get better. That bad things don’t last forever. But to me, the days move so slowly they seem like universes, blinking. Black and blue, black and blue, black and blue.

Read my latest column on Reimagine


  1. Janice says:

    Don’t bother trying to be a cancer hero. We really don’t need those. We need people who can speak truth. Thank you so much for your willingness to see it and share it.

  2. I don’t know you, but I love you. I cried for you today and ache over all that you’ve lost. It isn’t fair. I will never understand such loss. ❤️

    • Dear Elana,

      I’ve been thinking about you, hoping you’re doing well – praying you’re doing well – hoping something awful hasn’t happened.

      It saddens me to hear about your loses, and especially that someone said something hurtful. I can’t imagine how they could! I really care about you and value your sharing with us.

      I wish so much I could do something.

      Does it help to know that even though I’ve never met you, I feel that I love you?

      I knows how it goes at the end. You see, I helped my beloved husband Francis when he died of primary osteosarcoma of the spine in January, 2010. Since his death I have published two books, one of poetry, and the second in prose. The main title of both is Francis’ words to me before he died, asking me to sing for him as he passed. And I did. It’s: Sing to Me and I Will Hear You – A Love Story So Elana, I keep you in my heart. Your sister, Elaine

      PS I urge you to read Kathleen Dowling Sing’s book The Grace in Dying.

      • Elena,
        I want to add another PS. You’re young. My husband was 82 when he died. I don’t want to leave the impression by mentioning that wonderful book that I think you should just give up and give in and just die. You’re young. With all of us out here rooting for you, you could – might – be one of those cancer survivors also. I also agree with the responder who mentioned that if you “guy” couldn’t stand by you, he wasn’t the right person.
        May the outpouring of love for you demonstrated here uplift you and give you courage to go on. Yes, I keep you in my heart and prayer. Elaine

  3. My heart is with you.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I’m so sorry to read about everything you’re going through. I’m praying that you get your health back as well as everything else life has to offer you! You’re not alone…

  5. Carolina (from Lisbon, PT) says:

    Thank you for this post. Your honesty touched my heart.
    You don’t have to be anyone’s hero. if anything, people around you should be YOUR heroes now.
    You just have to do what you already do. Fight and sometimes not fight. Be happy and courageous and sometimes allowing yourself to be sad too. Life is more than a bunch of motivational quotes that we pretend we can put into practice in our lives. Life’s harder and more complex than that and frequently makes a mock of our best intentions. It’s big and we’re small and sometimes all we can do is feel little and faithful and just live each day as we know, as we can.
    Wishing you all the best, hoping you feel better soon.

    • Stephanie says:

      This is beautiful….and so true!

    • Agreed, well said. Been thinking about you every day, Elana, and am very saddened to hear what’s happened to you since you last posted. It makes me angry that you’ve been hurt on top of what you’re going through and that core parts of your life have been stripped from you.

      All I can think to say is surround yourself with the people in your life who are givers as much as you can. I’m sure if you reflect on it, you know who these people are. I also hope you can find joy in the occasional light moment/laugh…because sometimes those little moments can do wonders for brightening a day, week or even longer 🙂

  6. lactmama says:

    Sometimes the bottom of the pit is where we need to be for a while.

    I am so sorry you lost your house and your guy.

    I am sorry people have written and said hurtful things to you.You do not deserve it.

    I can only wish that what you are going through at this time will be a distant memory in a few years time.

  7. My heart and prayers are with you. By reaching out, you touch each of us, and hopefully all of our thoughts will reach you and help carry you through until you can carry yourself again.

  8. I’m so sorry that you’ve been dealt so many crippling blows. There’s nothing I can say except that I’m thinking of you and wishing you some easing of your suffering.

  9. Rachel says:

    I’m so very grateful for you. And for your willingness to be vulnerable and honest. I urge you not to try to be a cancer hero. I think true heroism and courage lies in the willingness to speak honestly about the things that are hard. Your vulnerability creates a safer space for the rest of us to reside in, for ourselves and with you. I went through a particularly difficult period of loss and if one more person told me about how they knew I would get through it and how I was the strongest person they knew, I thought I was going to lose my mind. When I’m feeling that crappy, I do not need to be someone else’s pillar of strong. I do not need to rise to that image that other people have of me. I need to be able to need. This is your time to need and to receive. I’m so sorry you lost your love. But I hope you know how much love you have grown and how widespread it is. You are a gift. You may not feel like it, but you are. So I thank you.

    • Karen Mitchell says:

      I have no words to express how I wish none of these bad things have happened to you and how I fail to understand the meaning of any of this. I cannot even imagine how people could be unkind to you or pull away and I just want you to know that you are loved by so many who do not know you in person but carry you in their hearts, Karen

  10. Elana –

    I was recently diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer and am in the middle of treatment ( a clinical trial).

    Your writings have been so helpful to me. I don’t feel so alone as I can relate to much of what you say.

    Love the “cancer hero” line. So true.

    And if one one person tells me I will feel better, that this hell I’m going through is temporary, I think I might just slap them.

    As much as this doesn’t help – I want to tell you anyway – I’m with you in spirit. I’m really with you.


  11. Courtney says:

    Elana, I am so sorry for all of the losses you have faced. Being a cancer hero is exhausting and way too much pressure to put on yourself, or anyone really. You are you and you are facing your life with dignity and honesty and I think we all appreciate and admire that. Unfortunately, the only answer, as cliche as it sounds, is time. I’m sending lots of love and hugs your way. And yes, you are very beautiful! 🙂

  12. Kathryn says:

    Virtual hugs (and more hugs) to you. I am so very sorry that you have to go through this dark night and for ALL your losses. I have been there (ugh), and yes, it sucks, but one day this will all be just a horrid memory. Really. Criss-cross-applesauce.

  13. Carrie says:

    I am so sorry for what you are going through. I am not going to pretend to understand it. But there is something about you that people (myself included) feel so connected to. You are so honest. Don’t worry about being anyone’s hero. This is not a fun journey for you to be the poster child of. This is a terrible hand you were dealt. You are in my thoughts. I will constantly dedicate my yoga practice to you. Thank you for being you. You are so honest, which is truly the most courageous thing anyone can do!!!!! One last thought, I’m sorry you lost your love, but if he couldn’t stand by you right now, he wasn’t the person for you.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Dear, sweet Elana, I am so sorry for all of your loss. I am sending you hugs right now. Just know that it can and will get better. I have had follicular lymphoma for 12 years now (I was diagnosed while I was a resident at UCLA), and many days I feel exactly like you just expressed. My boyfriend and I also broke up shortly after my diagnosis. I am crying for you, and for all of us that have experienced cancer and its wrath. I want to hug you and tell you that better days will come. If there is anything I can do, will you please message me back? Maybe there is a way I could private message you my number, so that we could talk? Even though we have never met, I feel like I understand a lot of what you are going through. Jen

  15. joanne says:

    Oh Elana, every time you write you hit the nail on the head for everything I and so many others suffer through. The medical profession doesn’t understand. We aren’t just battling cancer, we are battling EVERY single thing in our life that is changing or about to change, and not always for the better. I am still in treatment, so like you, I don’t see light at the end of the tunnel yet. I don’t know if I ever will. When people say to me, “Wow, you’ve been in treatment almost six months. That went by quickly.” I always sarcastically reply, “Maybe for you, but for me it’s been the longest six months of my life.”

    Just keep trying. We don’t have any other choice. The waiting, that’s what is so frustrating. All we do is wait. Everyone tells me, “Look for something good every day.” They don’t understand, we grasp at tiny straws of goodness and light every day and some days it’s just not there.

    JUST KEEP TRYING. NEVER GIVE UP. And remember, there are so many people out there, that don’t even know you personally, praying for you to have a better tomorrow. There is someone in the spirit world wrapping their arms around you every day.

  16. Dee Sulenski says:

    My heart aches for all of your losses. You are in my thoughts. If you would please email me, I would like to share an on-line BC support group with you. It has been part of my daily life for over 5 years and I don’t know what I would have done without it! Peace, Love & wishes for healing and comfort.

  17. Laurie says:

    My heart aches for you, Elana. With every word you wrote. Thinking of you and wishing you comfort.

  18. So sorry for all u have been through, going through, and things u will probably have to go through in future. The onlycancer hero you need to be is yourself. My prayers will always be with u.

  19. I am so so sorry to hear about all you are going through. You do have many followers (friends) who are sending you love and healing thoughts. We don’t need a hero, this is your time to receive. I hope and pray for your recovery, and for you to find peace.

  20. Good for you.
    Keeping it honest, real and vulnerable.
    I will reread this several times to remind myself to do the same.
    My heart aches for you.
    Breathe Darling

  21. You don’t need to worry about anyone else but you. You are most important right now. No cancer hero needed for us. Just focus on your own healing, and we will take care of the prayers, positive thoughts, and endless positive energy being sent your way.

  22. Amy Cornett says:

    I started following you right after I had cancer. You are still my hero. You are honest and human! I will pray for you that your loss turns into an amazing gain!

  23. Please don’t be a hero. Be your wonderful, beautiful (yes, beautiful) self. And thank you for being that. Sending light and love.

  24. Jennifer Jhaveri says:

    Fuck cancer. I was in that pit of grief when I was diagnosed for the second time with colon cancer . Fuck being a hero. It all sucks and it’s no fair.

    • Allison Patterson says:

      Beautiful…that is you. Your honesty is beautiful.

      Fuck cancer… Seriously!

      Love and light to you!

  25. Kristina says:

    Thank you for your post. Good or bad, those that are following you want to hear from you. I have been there with breast cancer, but its hard to compare one cancer to the next. In the 7 months of surgeries/chemo/radiation, I came to realize that “I” had to concentrate on myself, more than anyone. I was surprised to find some of the people that I thought cared, never call me during my ordeal. I was also surprised to find people that I never knew cared, did so many wonderful things for me. One lesson I learned is that “I” am the only one that can make myself happy and get me through the worse times in my life. You have to depend on yourself and have faith in yourself. Don’t ever lose that faith, no matter what you are feeling right now. Please stay strong and look ahead to that day when this is all a distant memory. I am praying for you…for strength, love and courage to keep moving forward.

  26. Gretchen says:

    Cancer sucks. I am a 15+ year survivor. Seems like once you are a “survivor” you go into disguise and no one knows. The world needs to know people do survive this sucky thing. Thank you for being honest, everyone’s cancer experience is different. I am sorry all these sucky things are happening to you. And everything I could say ends up being a cliché. I hope you can find some goodness somewhere to hang onto. You’re not a poster child or a hero, you’re just you. And that’s good enough.

  27. Melissa says:

    I hope getting all the positive notes from people from around the country does help in some small way. The idea that anybody would write something mean and critical is so awful. I hope you delete those straight away. If not, start!

    The bird of life is surely shitting on your head right now. Well that’s how my mother would describe so much crap hitting you all at once. Don’t try to be a hero or happy or even write your posts if you don’t want to. Everyone and everything can wait. Sometimes we have to get through days second by second – not one day at a time, or even on hour a time, but one second at a time.

    Maybe, just maybe, all of us out here reading your words, can unburden you of some of the pain you’re going through – just by reading what you write and sending you our love and hopes for brighter days to come.

  28. Dawna Lee Heising says:

    Prayers for you Elana – you are still very beautiful inside and out!

  29. Carol feldman says:

    You are astonishingly beautiful, as is your writing. You are a gift to the world.

    • Lynn Blaney Hess says:

      Carol, you nailed it. Elana, what she said counts double for me. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing your humanness with all of us. There are no words I can say that would help or change anything, but I hope it is some small comfort to know how many people are on your side. Love to you!

  30. Oh, Elena – I don’t know you, but I am sending you the biggest virtual hug in the world. Your pain is palpable, and I wish it could be lessened through the kindness of strangers. I am so sorry for your pain, and the additional losses. One minute at a time. Sending you strength!!!

  31. Melanie says:

    I don’t like that look in your eyes – defiance and despair. Girlie, get your little hiney to a support group! Get some face-to-face, flesh and blood empathy and hugs from experienced Oncology Nurses and fellow cancer patients. They’ve been there and they can help you feel better emotionally. OK, now I’m finished being bossy. I’m sorry if I came on too strong, but I care about you.

  32. dear elana – beautiful elana (yes…STILL),
    as i read and reread your words, i find myself filled up with empathy, sadness, and respect for your ability to talk about “the darkest of dark.” your raw honesty is heartbreaking yet, creates a deep connection with people…strangers just like me, who have found you in the midst of all that you have lost. you are NOT alone. you are NOT cancer nor to blame for this hellacious disease. you are NOT in denial of the pain and sorrow you feel and instead, allow others to learn about the truth of your journey. to paraphrase from the book, “griefland” by armen bacon and nancy miller: “our most intimate collection of thoughts and emotions, strengths and weaknesses, attributes and flaws, insecurities and confidences were exploded open by our grief journeys.” may today bring you new found strength. you certainly deserve as much as you can get ahold of!

  33. My hearts hearts so badly for you. I wish I knew you in real life, we were friends, because I’d hug you and sit with you and hold your hand. I’d cry with you, smile with you. I don’t know you, but in spirit I’m there with you, holding your hand, sitting with you, hugging you, crying and smiling with you. All in a non-creepy way.

  34. Lisa Simmons says:

    Precious Elana, I’m 57 yrs old. Years ago I was diag/treated for breast cancer while my 6-yr-old son was going through 3 yrs of chemo for leukemia. My cancer experience was nothing compared to his, and I suspect your treatment protocol is even more intense than his was. It was also during that time that my husband’s office manager decided that this was an opportunistic time to embezzle from our business. You quickly learn there are two categories of people: those who get it and those who don’t. And now, 15 yrs later w both of us healthy and living full lives, I, my son, and my husband no longer have time for those who don’t get it. …..Honesty. Honesty is about all there is and it looks like you’re there. Then there’s loss. It’s the saddest part of life and I didn’t realize loss would end up being such a significant part of growing older. You’re too young to be having so many losses. It’s not the way things are supposed to be. And it’s not only the physical losses but it’s the loss of innocence, the loss of “everything’s going to be okay”, and a real slap in the face re our mortality and the mortality of those we love. I’m so sorry for where you are. The word that was so significant to me during my son’s leukemia years was “hope”. David’s oncologist would often reply to my questions with, “we have hope that…”. And so I have hope for you, too.

  35. If I could reach through the internet and gently hug you – I would.
    If I could dry your tears – I would.
    If I could give you hope – I would.

    I know that all of us have taken strength from you and your writing – take strength from us now. Let us lift you up. Know that we are pulling for you.

    Know you are not alone – Peace

  36. Hi Elena,

    Yes you are still beautiful. I don’t believe you will lose that because it is something deeply held withinin you. I can’t help thinking about you as I would my own children who are your age. How difficult for those who love you so much to see you hurt and suffer. I hope you are letting your parents, your family help. It’s okay to let them take care of you for awhile. They know you value your independence and want that for you too in the worst way but for now let them help. It’s okay. k

  37. We can’t always have a wonderful great life, it’s just not how it works. You’re doing your best in your struggle and just because you lost your house doesn’t mean you won’t get a better one later. There are people that never get a home. You will get through this and come out so strong and love whole heartedly because you know how it feels to hurt. To lose. To feel scared. It doesn’t look good now, but one human trait that no other species has aside from humans is hope. Don’t lose that. Your strong beyond your knowledge and I know you will get through this, it’s just been a hard time. Smile, and look forward, you WILL come out on top

  38. Janet Kidd says:

    Elana! You are so incredibly beautiful, your strength is in the words you share and in doing so you are surrounded by a world of love! I have come to learn that home is not a place, it is not a possession, it is the people…and I suspect for you the ocean. There is so much more I would like to tell you, but mostly perhaps that I hope to meet you one day to thank you and give you a huge hug! Jx

  39. Jody Elliott says:

    Elana, You are brave, and so very courageous. Your honesty and vulnerability touches my heart. This is so hard; this Life. There is so much love and support for you, from people; many who don’t know you. Just soak it in, and know there is no right or wrong way to be. Four things that have really helped me through very tough things in my life; EMDR, Medical Ki Chong, Acupuncture, and Ortho -Bionomy. xo

  40. Marlene E. says:


    I wish I could give you a real hug and chat for a while, or do anything at all that would put even the smallest ray of hope in your heart.

    Please receive a virtual hug from San Diego, CA

    Marlene E.

  41. Darlene says:

    Beautiful angel. Praying that each day something comes into your life to brighten it. Don’t worry about being anything to anyone. Just survive. One day at a time. The sun will come back after the rain.

  42. Rebecca says:

    Even if you can’t believe it yourself, believe that someone else is believing it for you — love and truth have never left you side. I feel like I have no right to say this because I have no idea what it is like for you, but I do believe it and do hope you feel, even if it in only for a brief second at a time, that love is around you.

    • Elana,

      Sending you lots of positives thoughts. Please know that a lot of people care and are praying for you.


  43. Michael says:

    This sucks! You have been dealt a very bad hand. Few will understand your loss. Yet some will. And they will be present. The only place really to go is into the tears and depths of Love, even to the very bottom. Dive deep and there you will be safe. Dive deep and there you will be held, kept from all harm.
    Elena, I cry for you. From my heart, I pray for you.

  44. Maria Arduino says:

    Hello Elena,

    I read a lot of the comments that people have left you today and I must say, they pretty much said everything I was thinking as I read today’s post.

    It’s refreshing to hear someone talk about not being strong and upbeat while in such a grueling treatment regimen. It’s refreshing to hear sadness and anger in your writings, because it is the truth. I applaud you for your honesty and ability to share your feelings so intelligently, honestly and completely with so many strangers. I am angry for you that you have lost so much while suffering and struggling as you have been. I wish only health and happiness for you. Now and in the future.

    Best wishes to you.

  45. Pat Kahn says:

    You continue to be a hero to me. And the gift you give us in your truthfulness is beyond measure. I know you’ve lost so much, just as I know there is nothing I can do to change things for you. The only thing I can do is hold you close, embracing you and your cancer, embracing your anger and despair. I will continue to hold you close and continue to hope for you through all these long, dark days.

  46. Michael says:

    This sucks! You have been dealt a very bad hand. Few will understand your loss. Yet some will. And they will be present. The only place really to go is into the tears and depths of Love, even to the very bottom. Dive deep and there you will be safe. Dive deep and there you will be held, kept.
    Elena, I cry for you. From my heart, I pray for you.

  47. whoah, dark times girl . you are going to be one bad ass some day !seriously, you are going to be so strong . nobody is going to mess with you . I am sorry it hurts so much and that some people have been nasty . screw them and screw being a cancer hero . be nasty if you need to , but only if it makes you strong . love and light will still be there for you when you are ready for them again . I love you as the dark angry cancer girl !

  48. Lorraine says:

    In many ways I can relate to you. I too had cancer and felt the same way. I too was told my treatment would render me infertile ( I now have a healthy beautiful daughter). I too am involved in health care and integrating eastern philosophy with western medicine to help people live fuller lives. And I too, felt anger, loss, and the gut-wrenching pain of losing my self. Cancer stole my optimism, my innocence, and my spirit…OR did it? From the ashes I was transformed in some way. I would never have thought it as I was going through that horrible purification called CANCER, but I now consider it a gift. I found me. And nothing can take that ever again. Life is good. Hold on sister. You are still beautiful and a living testimony of your beliefs. Sending you love, hope, and courage to face your demons.

  49. Oh, Elana, what a pit of loss! Just this morning I shared your post, “When in Doubt, Tell the Truth,” with a friend who was so moved by it. When in doubt, keep telling the truth. Even in these dark times. Especially in these dark times! Love and more, Mary Ann

  50. My deepest, most sincere sympathy .. and empathy .. to you, Elana. There’s a reason holes exist .. sometimes we just need to crawl into them and shut out as much of the awful as possible. You still look beautiful, but exhausted, in your photo. You owe apologies to no one. As for being a cancer hero, one of my aunts commended my bravery shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer (and lost my fertility) 17 years ago. My response? “Um, well .. I didn’t exactly _volunteer_ for this mission.” Hoping and praying that things will soon turn for the better in your life; ’til then, find comfort and safety in your hole.

  51. You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.

  52. Carol Warren says:

    Hope, always hope.

  53. deborah niang says:

    Dear Elana,
    I have been following your blogs since October 2013.
    I was so heartbroken when I learned you have cancer.
    I have read all of your blogs since and think of your struggle often.
    I will spare you my story but I will share a book that helped heal me.
    You may have already heard of it , but just in case you haven’t, It is called
    Mind over Medicine by Lissa Rankin M.D.
    I would love to send you this book. Please leave an address when I can send it.

    Prayer is so powerful, (took me a long time to realize that)
    Please, everyone pray for Elana’s full recovery, I know I will.

    Deep Regards,

    Deborah Niang

  54. Peggy GAsparich says:

    I hear and understand your pain and loss. Life is so precious and fragile. I don’t know how so much can go wrong at one time. I am sending you my love and strength. Feel the love wrap it’s tender arms around your fragile body, take it in, breathe it in. Know that you are loved. I know your body and people have betrayed you, borrow our strength to live as fully as possible at this time. You are not the disease. You are not betrayal. You are love. Feelings and thoughts will come and go, acknowledge them, and then let them go. You’ve gone through an awful loss on so many levels but, you, yes you, are beautiful, and loved by so many whose lives you have touched. Beauty isn’t hair or a certain weight, it’s a spirit, that shines bright for all to see. We see it, we feel your beautiful spirit in your words. Take care, be good to yourself, and feel our love and care, leave yourself open to our love and strength. Take it in. Love you, beautiful, talented Elana!

  55. Elana,

    You have so much support in these comments, that I can imagine must feel, in a way, comforting but also somewhat distant. We are behind computer screens, but I think your overwhelming support speaks to how much your writing has impacted so many of us.

    Your blog and articles have made me more conscious of how I share and try to inspire those around me, and your candid accounts of medical school (your ukele song!) and relationship experiences have helped me through some pretty tough times.

    As I navigate medical school and life, I’ll have your blog pieces, articles and your recovery in my thoughts. I hope you continue to write and inspire.



  56. Marianne G. says:

    I’m sorry. I don’t know you, but I’ve lost too many friends to cancer and I’m tired of good people getting cancer. There are prisons full of bad, bad people – they should get cancer. I’m sorry it’s you and not them.

  57. Camille says:

    Your honesty is so beautiful and powerful. I keep you in my heart and hope for your strength and your health.

  58. I hardly know what to say. Your vulnerability and your heartbreak are so poignant!
    I just walked back in the door after seeing my therapist, whom I have not seen in nearly seven years. The talk of the day was on dealing with grief over all that has happened during this time since I was diagnosed five months ago (and everything else I have not dealt with yet) and there was your new blogpost waiting to be read, reminding so many of us to speak our truth, no matter how painful. Love beyond love to you Elana.

    Following is one of my favorite poems by Denise Levertov.
    Talking to Grief

    Ah, Grief, I should not treat you
    like a homeless dog
    who comes to the back door
    for a crust, for a meatless bone.
    I should trust you.

    I should coax you
    into the house and give you
    your own corner,
    a worn mat to lie on,
    your own water dish.

    You think I don’t know you’ve been living
    under my porch.
    You long for your real place to be readied
    before winter comes. You need
    your name,
    your collar and tag. You need
    the right to warn off intruders,
    to consider
    my house your own
    and me your person
    and yourself
    my own dog.

    • What a beautiful, powerful poem. Thank you for sharing it. It made me cry. I am a very fortunate survivor of uterine cancer in 1994. No matter how long it’s been, the memory of my diagnosis and the instantaneous falling apart of my world will always be with me.
      I pray they find a cure for this hideous disease soon.
      Thank you.
      Leslie in Dallas

    • Dear Sweet Elana:
      Being a cancer hero is only for movies- not real life. I wish I had some magic healing words for you but I don’t. I know you were interested in Buddhism – My hope is that either that or some other spiritual source brings you some degree of comfort , but if not I understand that too.
      I believe in God but struggle at times when I see how screwed up things can get.
      Please know that like so many others commenting here that you have touched the hearts of so many people. I am a very fortunate cancer survivor since 1994 but I will never ever forget how the diagnosis blew my world apart in an instant.
      Losing love under any circumstances is excruciating – but to lose it at a time like this is unimaginable. You’ve mentioned your Mother in previous posts and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you have a loving, close relationship with her. And I hope you have good close women friends – they are truly a blessing. I’m sending you a virtual hug – and hope that the love of those close to you brings you some comfort.
      Please keep posting – if you weren’t a shrink I’d tell you letting it all out is good – but you already know that.

    • How I ached when I read this poem. It is so right, so honest, so real. I am a social worker who’s worked in hospice and this is a poignant reminder that ignoring or being denied the opportunity to grieve is more soul wrenching than the loss itself.

      Thank you for sharing that reminder.

  59. Lara Shwer says:

    Cancer really sucks right to the core. Thank you for posting and sharing your inner most feelings with us. It’s a very lonely disease I’ve noticed that when I was diagnosed family and friends were all around with endless support but as the time has worn on (I’m starting my 7th round of chemo tonight) everyone goes on with their lives but we are stuck in this cancer hole. Even the Doctors I’ve found just expect us to cope !
    I’m so sorry for all you’ve lost -it’s completely unfair and no one deserves to go through what you are going through. My suggestion is to just give in to sleep and hope that this too will pass Thinking of you

  60. Even through your honest account, it is hard to grasp what you have had to go through in such a short time. Yet, in the most basic human form I feel compelled to write. It is hard to find different words, a meaningful message in this sea of love and support.
    Elana, I wish you all the best and the strength to endure these hard times. Find your hope , all the love from those physically close to you, and from all the lives you have touched.

  61. Blair G says:

    Elana. Do you read these comments? I hope so. This world is cruel. Life sucks. Sometimes, it doesn’t get better. We don’t see what you see, but what I see is someone hurt, yet still so very beautiful. You are a doctor. A god damn DOCTOR! You have accomplished more than most even dream of! You are smart, beautiful, outgoing, ambitious, and you are going to kick cancers ASS! Don’t let it win, and take everything from you. You can beat this. WE have faith in you.

  62. Do you ever play your Ukelele? Don Livingston

  63. Hi Elana,
    You write about what you lost.
    Think about what you have gained…

    The LOVE and support of all the people you have touched with your words.
    The ability to see beyond external beauty and material items.
    The clarity to see what is truly important in this world.
    The power of prayer coming your way from all that you have touched.

    Keep fighting. Keep touching people. Keep the FAITH.

    Love and prayers your way.

  64. Sue Fernande says:

    I’ve read this post about 10 times- I can’t even begin to say the ‘right’ thing- but I can say that you are still SO beautiful, so honest. There has been something about your words that touch me- and others- every single time.
    I am sending you every healing thought possible- I know you will beat this- because the world needs you and your amazing spirit

  65. Julie Evans says:

    Thank you for sharing and being honest with your eloquent writing. I do not believe anyone with cancer should be a hero, it is hard and we need to be honest about this. What you have been through in such a short time seems unbearable, but I know you will triumph and find happiness and health again. The article below resonated with me and people with or without cancer should not expect us to be positive when most of us are going through absolute hell.
    Please keep writing when you can and know that we are listening, hoping, and encouraging you to realize that much better days lay ahead.

  66. If anything gives you solace…know that someone who thinks that you are beautiful, loved and blessed is praying for you in Virginia.

  67. The moment I saw your picture today I thought you were so beautiful. And, so honest. You are such a beautiful writer, your words are like poetry. People can be so extremely hurtful sometimes and they don’t realize the negativity they have caused another human being. I just went through a huge negative conflict with a woman and removed myself from being around her and a special center I went to. My blood pressure went way up. I was feeling alone today because I made the a decision to stay away from her which means I’m not going to go to the center for a long time. I now have taken two steps back, and I’m working at being happy and relaxed again. I don’t feel so alone now that I’ve read your blog. Please don’t give up. I really care what happens to you and I really want you to be happy again. You have such strength.

  68. You just keep fighting. Don’t ever look back and know the love everyone feels for you will never be lost.

  69. Suzanne McMahon says:

    Be sad, be angry, stay in bed……we all are entitled to to just live day by day until we feel alive again…

  70. I am truly sorry for your pain. I am even sorrier that you have not gotten 100% support from readers and real life “friends”. I do think you are beautiful and the fight you are fighting just makes you more beautiful. It is my deep hope that the light at the end of this nightmare is very close and this horrible chapter of your life is soon to be finished so that the next chapter can start to be written…….and it be a happy one.

  71. You don’t have to be anything right now. You just have to be. If its mad be mad, if its happy be happy but just be. Let it out and who cares what anyone else thinks. They aren’t you and have no idea how they would react if they were.
    Hugs and prayers

  72. Caitlin says:

    I am so sorry that you are suffering, and sorry that you have come to see yourself in such a negative light. You have lost your body, your mind as you knew it, and your sense of self. This is an awful thing to happen and it is no wonder that you feel the way you do or behave the way that you have. Please be kind to yourself and focus on healing. You can rebuild when you are well. It won’t be the same as it was. It can never be the same again. But it can still be beautiful and good and bring you moments of joy. Grieve and forgive yourself as much as you can, and keep healing.
    I do speak from experience. In the words of someone else – it won’t be easy but it will be worth it. (It will just feel like shite for a long while before then too.)
    I know it is nothing but a cold comfort right now, but I am thinking of you and wishing for the best for you.

  73. I had 75 new items in my mailbox, but yours was the first I opened. I had been worried about you since your last post. I’m nervous to type that because I don’t want you to “hear” that as pressure to write. But I had to type it because I want you to know how many of us out here care about you. Sheesh! Insult to injury you’ve been going through. Ugh. It just really sucks Elena. Hoping that a ray of light touches your mood when you need it. Or somebody does something ridiculous and makes you laugh and forget it all, if even for just a minute. Hang in there.

  74. I have been in the dark hole of loss and felt what you describe of each day being a universe long. It doesn’t matter that other people tell you it will get better, that simply doesn’t feel true and maybe it doesn’t even matter. We’ve spent so much time learning and practicing being in the now to save us from fear, worry, anxiety, etc. Now it is the “now” that is unbearable.
    I am so sorry for your incredible losses and as many others have said, I know I can’t do anything other than let you know that my heart is with you. Thank you for being so open, honest, and vulnerable. Your heart and your spirit, even when you feel completely broken, is still moving and touching so many others. I hope that us doing the same for you may provide some comfort.

  75. You are honest; you are brave; you are on your own hero, no one else’s, ; you are sick, but you are still here; you are love. I can relate.
    I have stage four cancer.
    I have very little odds of being cured let alone living.
    My father died last week of cancer.
    And what I saw when I held his hand until he took his last breathe gave me hope.
    I am now not scared.
    I will miss my kids and this world, but what I saw is that he already saw others/something if it be light or energy or hope of past friends or loved ones,whatever he saw, I was there to witness him going to them when he took his a last breathe.
    Maybe this is hell.Maybe there is a better place for all of us.
    And maybe you need to believe that .
    You are loved.
    Know that in your heart.
    And you will be forever.

  76. Colleen says:

    I don’t usually respond to blog emails, usually too deep in my busyness. Then I read yours and my heart goes out to you. Rarely does someone have the courage to be this real. This depth and breadth of loss sinks you into a deep pit and it’s hard to see the light above. Your have not lost your beauty, or your honesty and raw guts and look at the support you have. I will include you in my loving-kindness meditations every day now. xx

  77. Your authenticity is palpable. I applaud your ability to be genuine in this time. I don’t know you but from the depth of my heart I am so sorry for all you have suffered and lost. You just don’t deserve that. I am sending positive energy your way.

  78. You are beautiful…

  79. Barbara Snow says:

    No heroics necessary.
    Just keep breathing and know that there is a community of caring people out here breathing with you.
    Loss sucks, cancer sucks, pain sucks. You are going through hell, no doubt about it. But I think it was Churchill who said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
    Don’t give up.
    Beaming you peace and love.

  80. Martha says:

    Your honesty is heroic….sad, tragic and so refreshingly honest. Thank you.

  81. Elizabeth says:

    Oh Elana! If I could refill your heart with light and love, I would. Maybe all the darkness and emptiness will make the rest of your life so very bright and shiny in comparison. You have so much courage. Just breathe through all this pain and ugliness, and there will be good that will come out of it. If love and admiration can heal, it won’t take long. For all the haters, there are a million people whose hearts and lives you have touched – in more ways than you could imagine. Bless you

  82. Kathryn says:

    You ARE beautiful as you gaze out at us from the picture above. I so feel for you and hope for all the best for you from now on.

  83. You are absolutely beautiful… in every way… and I hate that you have cancer. You do not deserve this. My husband – a two month cancer survivor- and myself – pray for you daily.

  84. Elana,

    You are still incredibly beautiful Elana, please know that.

    You are a gifted writer and I am so grateful to you for sharing your story. Honesty, integrity, true abiding love , real compassion and authenticity are rare. You posses all these qualities and you deserve a man who also possesses those qualities .

    Losing the man you loved only means you’re closer to finding someone better for you. He wasn’t the right one. There is someone out there who is perfect for you….and a child and beautiful home. Right now just rest…. YOU WILL GET WELL. KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED.

  85. Dear Elana – First I want to hug you. I acknowledge your state and my heart and head ache for you. You have been and are an inspiration. Secondly, it is purposeful to recite all the euphemisms you know about ‘keep fighting’: “Life isn’t what happens to us – it’s what we do about it.”, “When you are going through hell – keep going.”, “The Purpose of Life is a Life of Purpose.” I have found these useful to continuously recite when I am in the throes of depression and despair. You are and will continue to be an inspiration. Even in full health and vigor we can only live ‘one day at a time’. My prayers are for your painful days to quickly morph into your purposeful contributions.

  86. I don’t know of anyone more beautiful… Love and healing light your way.

  87. Hi Elana & So Sorry for all that you are going thru…I understand a little, as my son had A.L.L 10 years ago, when he was a young teen, now he is a college grad and a Big pain in my Arse…but I love Every minute with him…he is healthy and has little side effects from all the years of chemo radiation & multiple surgeries… the hard work paid off for him & I Hope for you Too….Sending you Love & Big Warm Healing ((((HUGS)))) from the farm.

  88. Christie says:

    I don’t know if you even have the strength much less time to read these comments. But please know I understand what you’re going through. It’s almost incomprehensible that someone who loves you would abandon you when you’re so vulnerable but astonishingly they do. It doesn’t matter how understandable it may be; the pain of that loss, on top of all the other losses you’ve endured and those you know are still to come is too much to bear. I’m a stranger out in the Internet ozone but you are me and I am you. Please know that I would gladly, happily, willingly give whatever life I have left to extend your chances of survival. You’re amazing, beautiful, strong, brave. I wish so much I could somehow be there to hold your hand and tell you everything will be all right. I’m struggling through the same thing alone, learning that everyone I love simply doesn’t care; it’s so painful but still I have to keep going. I’m now directing all my love to you; thought we’re strangers I know I’ve found in you someone who needs the love I have to give and who would appreciate it if you knew it was there. Take this gift, and I hope and pray you make it through yo live and enjoy the life you deserve. If you don’t, I’ll be waiting to meet you on the other side. Bless you and thank you for sharing.

  89. Sharon says:

    Elana … a poem for you today …

    Robyn Sarah

    It is possible that things will not get better
    than they are now, or have been known to be.
    It is possible that we are past the middle now.
    It is possible that we have crossed the great water
    without knowing it, and stand now on the other side.
    Yes: I think that we have crossed it. Now
    we are being given tickets, and they are not
    tickets to the show we had been thinking of,
    but to a different show, clearly inferior.

    Check again: it is our own name on the envelope.
    The tickets are to that other show.

    It is possible that we will walk out of the darkened hall
    without waiting for the last act: people do.
    Some people do. But it is probable
    that we will stay seated in our narrow seats
    all through the tedious denouement
    to the unsurprising end— riveted, as it were;
    spellbound by our own imperfect lives
    because they are lives,
    and because they are ours.

    Riveted by Robyn Sarah

    There are words for it. Something clinical, something cold. No. Something vicious. Attacks, most would say. Panic. Anxiety. I imagine them as dark clouds, wisps of terror, filling up my lungs and throat, threatening to make the world disappear.

    Whenever it happens it feels like they have taken everything away from me, and I am left clawing alone in the deep dark.

    It’s difficult, finding my way to the surface. I slide back to myself, only to feel like I have shrunk, dried up in those few minutes, and now my skin hangs loosely from my body.

    A poor fit, says a voice in my head. A poor life.

    I said, I should really learn how to say yes more than no. I said, remember when I was that person? It’s as if she’s vanished, these past two years, and instead was replaced by an empty shell, which is also myself.

    Somebody asked a question, and it took me hours, days, to come up with an answer. I sit in a corner, my head between my knees, gasping. How do people do this without flinching?

    What does it mean to say yes?

    Gumption, I whisper furiously to empty room. Living, said the echo.

  90. Oh boy. I read your post, Elana, and started to cry. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’m sorry it is such a dark time. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for sharing your life with us. It is very brave. I liked the response above that stated cancer sucks. It certainly does. The disease does not follow a nice linear course. It doesn’t always do or respond in ways that make sense. It drags us along the dirty, slimy underbelly of the disease process. It skews not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. It sucks. I also had a lymphoma that didn’t play nice. I remember sitting on the couch after receiving news that the chemotherapy had stopped working. I couldn’t process that. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t think. There was nothing solid I could grasp, emotionally or spiritually. Nothing. The phone rang and it was one of my husband’s co-workers, Lou. I don’t know what prompted her to call, but she did, and told me I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to pray. I didn’t have to move. She was praying for me, my friends were praying for me, good intentions/thoughts/hopes were being sent my way. I hope all of us who read your blog can do the same for you, Elana. If you need to go to a dark place, that’s fine. It’s alright. We will support you through it with our prayers and hopes for your healing. Thank you for letting us walk this road with you, and we will be here with you for the duration. One foot in front of the other, the only way to the other side is just to go through it, sucky as it may be. For what it’s worth, I eventually had a BMT at Dana Farber, and have been in remission for over 10 yrs. I’m sorry this is happening to you. Praying for you here in Central New York.

  91. scarlet says:

    Hi! I just wanted to tell you, I know what it’s like down there, in that hole and you’re not alone. I’ve been there too. I am a cancer ‘survivor.’ myself. i quote that, cuz I hate that word and have been unsuccessful in an attempt to find another word for it.

    Anyhow, please watch this little blip of a youtube video. I think it will really speak to you. I want you to know, the fact that you asked the questions, ‘but can I, do I want to?’ means YES, you do want to. And yes you can. But not alone. If you are questioning it, and verbalizing it, you want out. You are just too physically weak to do this or muster the strength alone. Let every word on these pages be the medicine and energy to get you up, every word be a cancer cell buster that works it’s magic one word at a time. Let every word be a morsel of nutrition for your spirit as it begins to accept them as food for healing.

    There are always going to be dark moments and the fact that you ‘let’ yourself go there emotionally means you feel secure enough in your strength to be weak and real and vulnerable. We all go down at times. Be down as much as you need to. I never subscribed the ‘rah rah’ cheerleader cancer survival method either. i figured there was pain in my cells and it NEEDED to get out. If I looked the other way and pretended that everything was kosher, I was missing the point of cancer, or any dis-ease. You have to let what comes, come. Let it come baby. And then keep going. It will NEVER win. The dark never wins. It only visits to give you the power and restoration you need to be a weaker but stronger piece of consciousness. The light always wins.

    In photography, as it is in life, it’s not so much about the camera, it’s about the lens. Take my word for it, it may get worse too. I know it’s dark down there. Don’t be afraid. This is just this season. Let the darkness show you where your light is. You don’t need to do a thing…it’s intuitive. It’s okay, we will hold you for a while. I will hold you. The wound is the place where the light enters you. Love and support and all kinds of healing sent to every cell in your being. Oh and google if you can Kahlil Gibran’s poem on Joy and Sorrow. It’s poignant!

  92. Ratnesh says:
  93. Haydee says:

    I have no words… I am sorry for all that you have gone through. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope not to offend you but I look at your picture and I think that you still look beautiful. You have a very special place in this world, and I hope you know that. I pray for your healing and for you to get back your strength, health, and spirit. This world needs more people like you. Peace to you.

  94. You are BEAUTIFUL!!! I don’t know you but I feel like I do. I’ve followed your blog since December. You have so many talents and your writing is beautiful. Your honesty makes me feel like I know you. I pray for you. I think about you. I worry for you. You have touched my soul and I hope and wish that I can send you love and light and energy to beat this horrible disease. Hugs! Xoxoxo

  95. You have touched my soul. I’m sorry that you experiencing such intense losses.

    I am grieving with you, for you. I wish you could feel the connection.

    Breathe, wise soul.

    Zen patient

  96. Ana Serena says:

    Dearest Dr. Elana-
    Let those of us on the outside looking in
    think your positives and
    talk to your angels for a while.
    It’s ok to let the burden of light rest
    elsewhere while you’re in the dark.
    My heart breaks for you and I only
    know you through your blog…
    but by sharing your pain
    and so bravely exposing your
    story you are rallying your warriors.
    We are out here hoping the hope
    you can’t hope right now.

    You owe nothing – not consistent blog posts, not
    uplifting updates – nothing.
    Anything and everything you share is a gift.
    We don’t expect it and we certainly will cherish it
    each and every time.

    You’ve got this, Lady- you just don’t know it yet.

    Sending all my heartfelt kindness.

  97. You are great! I love you

  98. You are great! I love you

  99. berick says:

    Heroes don’t know they are.

    I haven’t had cancer, but I have had decades of bleakest depression, as well as close calls with death by pneumonia.
    Who can say if anything I have felt is like anything you have felt.

    But I am sure that good days are out there if you can keep waking a day at a time.
    And I am sure that every day you do manage to live, and every time you write about your life – no matter how caustic or weary – you’re a hero.

    You’re my hero now.

  100. Dearest Elana
    My heart has a hole in it after reading your loss..I know you are the most amazing women i have had the pleasure to have a virtual connection with..
    Know you are loved by many.. My prayer is for God to bless and strenghten you constantly..

    with Love and Great RESPECT!

  101. Surag Gohel says:

    I know it’s easy to say and hard to do, but we, human, are so resilient that we find the way to be optimistic about something. I am sure that you will find a courage to survive this difficult moment with your great character.

    Take care of yourself.

  102. I am really sorry for all that you have gone through but don’t give up. We are all with you and pray for you.

    Take care of yourself.

  103. irene hennigan says:

    Dear Elana, you are beautiful, you are amazing, you are strong in your deepest core, but it’s ok to take a moment to mourn all that you have lost. I pray that you will find joy again, you will, but I know you don’t need platitudes, dear old time will heal your soul – so hang in there and let those who love you carry you now.
    Sending you love today. Irene

  104. As I read your post and was so deeply touched. It struck me as you live with loss, your ability to share it so beautifully and profoundly has not been lost.

  105. Irina Feoktistova says:

    Beloved Elana,
    You are very beautiful girl , keep fighting that cancer , you will survive.
    I want to keep reading your wonderful inspiring writings.
    Hope you will get better.
    Sending love and light, hugs

  106. Elana you are even more beautiful now. Hold on tight. Don’t give up. You are an amazing incredible person. You have touched so many people. You have been given so much to deal with there has to be a point in all this somewhere. Keep strong Elana. It’s so so hard, but keep holding on.

  107. Patricia says:

    Elana –
    You may have lost parts of the structure you had built for your future self, but you have not lost your essence, which thrives in honesty. Nor have lost your wisdom, I don’t think. Your wisdom is still there, quietly absorbing your new reality — like a sponge. The thing is you have to figure out a new way to gain access to your wisdom. And you will, in time. Meanwhile, why not tap into your past wisdom? The wisdom you’ve put out in the universe in previous writings. Last October, you wrote a post about various ways to analyze dreams in which you described a dream you had a while ago about being diagnosed with the fictitious disease of “organic brain psychosis.” In your dream you were dying — about to take your last breath. You had then the wisdom of realizing that in death “you felt completely calm and ready and even curious.” You also realized that in certain ways you “feel more at home in the water”, and that death “can symbolize transformation.” What these words of wisdom revealed is that having lost your physical home, you might find comfort making the water your home for now, even if that means a daily splash in the ocean, a pool or a bathtub. Your words of wisdom told us that “death can symbolize transformation.” You certainly are not dead but like in your dream, you are being transformed into someone else. Can you be calm and ready and even curious to observe the transformation within you?



  108. You retain your honesty and who you are. These are not lost. You cannot know what might happen tomorrow but know you have love and energy coming to you from all around the globe.

  109. Every word you write is hope.
    For you.
    Keep writing.
    For you. Single words if need be.
    My god, my heart goes out to you Elana.
    Keep breathing.
    Much love from a stranger/friend from downunder.

  110. Francine says:

    Big love to you, Elena. I really feel for you. <3

  111. Mary Sheridan says:

    I felt like a ghost during my initial treatment for ovarian cancer. I will be in treatment until I can’t do any more. It’s 2.5 years later and I’m beginning to find myself again. Hang on, you’re in there. You have just disappeared for a while.

  112. Allison says:

    I just wanted to tell you that you inspire me. You don’t have to be a cancer hero to anyone but yourself. Your “Love is” post came two days before I started my chemo for Hodgkin’s Disease and I feel like I could have written it myself. Since then, I’ve lost a relationship, had a car accident from chemo side effects, and felt pretty bad about myself. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for both of us. I went into remission last month and am doing radiation now…only one more week! Things will get better. I will be ok and so will you. It takes time, but I truly believe things happen for a reason and you’ll come out better on the other side.

  113. Chris Witt says:

    I will give you hope when you have none -out of darkness will come the light

  114. AMY KUSSMANN says:

    Your gift to me is not being a hero but by being you and sharing that. There is no greater gift and I am profoundly gifted in your sharing. Thank you.

  115. Being true to yourself is more important than being a cancer hero. Your willingness to share your life with us is courageous. Sending you love and light.

  116. You are an inspiration to so many of us. You are strong and you are beautiful. You may have lost your love, your health, and your home but it is not over. Your blessings will be multiplied at the end.

  117. Debbie says:

    You’re in my prayers, my heart, my soul. Thank you for your authentic voice. I don’t know why this happened to you. It’s so not fair. Your voice will stay with me. You are brave, and stronger than you know. Not everyone stays down when they’ve been hit to the ground. Many get up. Maybe right now you just need to rest so you can access that strength within you when it’s time to rise, leaving this illness behind you for the new life ahead. And it’s true that I don’t see what you see because your face is so beautiful, it’s what made me stop and read your blog. Your beauty had the power to make me stop, write this, think about you, and make me late for my appointment. I never stop and read these things, because who wants to read about cancer? But you are beautiful. And you are a talented writer. All day people write things on the internet trying to capture someone’s attention, and your writing and beauty had the power to impact many, to get people to think and feel. Think about that.

  118. You are really beautiful, Elana. I love you. . . even though we’ve never me. Please let me know if there’s any way that I can help!

  119. Amitofo, Elana.

  120. Katherine says:

    I was just finishing my shift as a hospice volunteer when I read your latest post. I was stunned by the enormity of your losses, and so very very sad for you. As the comments here truly attest, you are amazing – your beautiful writing and your beautiful self inspire so many of us.
    I hope you can feel yourself being held and comforted by all of us.

  121. Thinking of you and rooting for you. Cancer brings us clarity, even if it is not pretty nor what we want to see. The next question is what do we do with it? Wishing you lots of strength and healing.

  122. As I read your eliqount words of truth, sadness arose from my heart. Also as I read your words I could sense a brillant light that is inside you. I felt it under the sadness of the reality you are living. Your amazing beautiful light will help you out of this because that light is helping me from so far away.

  123. Fuck ’em all!!! Fuck cancer, fuck the ex (wait, don’t do that!!), fuck the negative people. You are fucking awesome! Focus on getting better. That’s your job right now. The pretty never really goes away. We just can’t always see it…

  124. Do you believe in fate? Or is it accidents? I stumbled across your post today by “accident,” and it was wrenching. My sister is the most courageous and beautiful woman I know and it’s tearing my heart out watching her journey through cancer. I don’t even know you, but this is tearing my heart out too. Whoever you are, your words will be with me for a very long time. Blessings and love.

  125. Alison Jessup says:

    Feel it! Live it! You are whole, you are beautiful! You are YOU! Don’t let cancer, a house, a man or anything rob you of your precious self. You have touched me forever! Please get well and be whole! I believe you can! I pray for you! Find the gratitude!

    PEACE and LOVE! Ali Jessup

  126. Elana, I am in awe of your eloquence in this time of such physical and emotional pain. Please know I am sending warmth your way.

  127. Cancer sucks.
    You don’t know me but I have been there, or nearly there, struggling through chemo, wondering if there is any point to all this, would I have a future?, my husband screaming he wants a divorce at me, our mortgage payments falling behind… Somehow we managed to survive, I still don’t know how – hope? It wasn’t like I had humour or interest in anything other than plodding through each day and knitting intricate shawls – damned if cancer took that from me too. It had already taken so many other things from me. I am sorry that it has taken so much from you too.

    Please get help. You know it is entirely to be expected that you are in the pit of despair – of course you are. You know that all the horrible things that have happened to you would push the most resilient of people to the brink.

    Sending you hugs. One step at a time. Visit my blog if you have the ability to – it is mostly blatherings but some of it might speak to you.

  128. Dear Elana, there is nothing I can say that can take your pain away. It is ok to feel sad and angry and to not be always positive.

    Just know that there are so many people who know you who love you, and so many of us who are better for reading these little pieces of your life. You inspire us and we love you for it.

  129. chrissy says:

    I have no answers, but I want you to know that I think you are beautiful and smart and I hate that this is happening to you. Wishing you peace and love.

  130. Jen Curtis says:

    I’m a mom. I want to cook you something nice and try to make you smile, if only for a moment. I’m so sorry that your heart is broken.

  131. scarlet says:

    trying to get posts to stop coming to my email

  132. Hi Elana,

    I have been in a hole this morning and I stumbled across your blog and was reading your posts about perfectionism, and your writing made me feel so much better.
    And then. Then i got to the more recent part of your blog and read about your sickness and just wanted to say…I don’t know. I just wanted to say I live on the other side of the world, I’ve never met you and I never will, but i am so sorry you are in so much pain.
    Your writing is incredibly beautiful and important and was so healing for me this morning, and it will live on forever.
    Thank you beautiful girl,

    Emily Banna.

  133. Melanie says:

    Please consider rescuing a small dog from an animal shelter for a companion. You said your house is gone and I don’t know your living situation, but I do know a doggie will give you a reason to live again. The love of a dog is one of the closest relationships a person can enjoy. A new snuggle bug will lift your spirits and improve your mood! I promise, this dog will end up rescuing you.

  134. Rossana Bucci says:

    Dear Elena,
    Please know you are in my prayers and I seriously wish I could take all your pain and suffering away.  It sucks ths t you have to go through this. Please know that most people in the world are good and only wish you well. Please keep fighting. We all want you to feel better.

  135. suzanne says:

    Hi Elana-

    My heart aches for you and what you have had to endure these last few months. As others have said so eloquently before me, sick or not, you embody love, light and grace. Your illness might define what you are going thru at the moment, but it doesn’t define who you are-not by a longshot.

    I live in LA and would love to assemble a band of girlfriends to help you through this difficult time. We could bring you Sprinkles cupcakes, gossip magazines and genuine support. Please let me know if you think this is something you might like. Honestly, you would be doing me a favor by letting me help!

    wishing you much peace & love-suzanne

    • I live in LA too, and agree with you, Suzanne! If there was ever a time for us to gather and share strength and love and support, this is it.

      Elana, please know that you are surrounded by caring and love…….

      • … and i live “close to la” (ojai) and would also love to give my support to you, elana.
        how can we “do this?”

  136. Elana; Your truth is so powerful. Bless you for being honest. My son wrote a blog through his cancer battle this year. It was up and then down then up then down……but funny. He helped us all not worry so much but it was a BATTLE. I believe you need to show the pain too so it won’t own you. My son is almost there where the cancer will just be a bad memory. It can happen. It will happen. He is living proof that prayers work. I will pray for you. Just take a deep breath and wiggle your toes and your guardian angel will come to you . Hug her and hold her hand.

  137. I’m so sorry to hear about everything that has unraveled. It’s so sad, especially that feeling of losing trust.

    I don’t know how to respond well, other than that I’m so sorry, and that your honesty and sharing your story is so helpful.

    With much love…

  138. Just before I got diagnosed with stage iv BC i ve read this somewhere …
    On a day of my diagnosis, in my hospital room above the bed I ve noticed the picture of the boat out in the middle of the sea ….

    The Storm Of Cancer

    Before cancer, you’re sailing along in generally fair weather. You’re travelling in one direction. You have maps, navigation aids and provisions. You might even be part of a flotilla – you and some other boats, sailing in the same direction at the same speed. Life is fine, good even.
    Then a massive storm hits – cancer.
    Your boat is seriously damaged. Maybe parts of it are lost or broken. Your maps and provisions are swept overboard. In the eye of the storm, you lose all sense of direction. Your main terror is that the boat will sink.
    Then your cancer care team appear. They are your lifeboat; your rescuers. They attach ropes, patch your boat up and keep it afloat; they come alongside you, and take control of the steering and direction. Slowly, they tow you back to port. Sometimes this journey towards the port is even stormier than the catastrophe itself. But you know you are not alone – you have the lifeboat staff, you make a good team.
    As the lifeboat tows your boat back to port you see friends and family on the shore waving and cheering. They are so relieved to have you back.
    But then your boat just stops.
    You are not quite back in port. You can see the lights, and your happy loved ones. But you’re moored just outside the mouth of the harbour. Then your lifeboat, and its team, goes. They drop the ropes into the water and sail away.
    You might think: I can get back to port on my own. You’ve been there before, after all. And you can see it, right there, quite close. But it all feels different now. Your boat is still damaged. You need time for repairs. You need to get a new map and provisions. And you keep looking at the sky – is the storm coming back? You listen constantly, obsessively, to the weather forecast – you hear reports of hurricanes. They may be far away, but you can’t stop yourself from feeling that they are coming for you.
    This boat analogy may seem long-winded, but it accurately describes what surviving cancer can feel like – does feel like – for many people.

    I ve had so many downs, hurts and pains since my diagnosis … somehow I’m slowly learning to live throughout the darkness …..
    Best of luck Elana

  139. Hi Elena,

    Just wanted to mention a recent interview I read with Robyn Roberts and beautiful actress Brittany Daniels who was diagnosed with stage four non hodgkins lymphoma and has now been in remission for two years. Like you she was and is a stunningly beautiful women. She also talks about her loss and how with the help of her family made it through years of grueling treatment and is now back to acting and her career. Very encouraging interview and thought it might help you to read. k

  140. That you have the courage to write so honestly, and to be so present with your suffering makes you a cancer hero. Although the world must look impossibly dark right now, hold on— even if a reason for doing so is not immediately apparent to you. And if you can, try to treat yourself with the compassion that, reading your blog, I’m sure you lavish upon your patients. You are so beautiful and so brave, and you’re not alone.

  141. Elana,

    Sending you lots of positive vibes. Please know that people care and are praying for you.


  142. Elana, though I only know you through your blog, I wanted to say that your extraordinary life force beats right out both the photo you just posted as well the one that you use for your bio. Though I’m sure it must be impossible for you to feel that force and energy now with all of the loss that you’re experiencing, I’m betting on you!

  143. jdubyba says:

    Dear Elana, so beautiful and so precious. We are with you with our prayers, support and love. Let it be.

  144. I’ve been reading your blog, waiting for an update. Praying for your heart and praying for healing.

  145. Mandy Scott says:

    You are beautiful. You are loved. Thank you for writing from the heart.

  146. I am so sorry. You really are still beautiful. You can’t expect to be patient and bursting with hope in the face of such hardhship consistently. I am so heartbroken to hear you lost your home and your love. How hard to be coping with that on top of everything else. Life deals us such crazy blows, but there are people who can weather it with us. Even when we are ugly. Hold on to the glimmers of what you know to be your soul, your essence, your very you. The hardest thing to lose is trust, but you can get it back. I am praying for you. If you have a hebrew name I would like to use it, otherwise I’ll stick with Elana Miller. I hope you have more and more rays of warm rejuvenating sunlight in your life, and that this cancer period is behind you and the woman you are reborn into is even more glorious, has even deeper depths and and peaceful center than ever before.

    May you be healthy, happy, wise and good, and forgive and accept yourself when you fall short of your goals and standards. I wish you so much love.


  147. I only have feelings at this moment. These words sung have comforted me during times of loss…

    “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
    That saved a wretch like me.
    I once was lost but now am found,
    Was blind, but now I see.”

  148. Heather says:


    Sending you love and light from a kindred soul in Florida. I’m a fourth-year medical student about to apply for residency in psychiatry, and your words have rung so true for me since I started reading your blog. I hope you can find strength in the loving support of your readers, and keep pushing through the pain. Your beauty continues to shine strong –

    With all my love,


  149. jdubyba says:

    Elana-i check on you every day and i am longing for your recovery. xo Jenn

  150. Dear Elana,
    I could not disagree with you more: you are still beautiful.
    Not many women can pull off the shaved head look. I think it’s pretty much down to you and Natalie Portman. But you make it work.

    I hope you don’t mind if I share my story for a minute.
    In November of 2005 I was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer – clival chordoma.
    I was also in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, broke, and living with my mother.
    All terrible things for a 35 y.o. man.
    It was a terrible and terrifying time but ended up being the most positive experience of my life.
    Through hardship and loss we learn our strengths as well as our weaknesses and we grow.

    Robert Frost said, “The only way out is thru.”

    Keep fighting.
    You will find your path and these hardships will, one day, make you so much more grateful for all the goodness that you gather around you.


  151. Sara Baker says:

    Thank you for speaking your truth.

  152. My heart breaks for you. You are still beautiful.

  153. Elana:
    I have followed you for some time. There was something about your journey that spoke to me, and I see the deep despair about where your life as it is, with your cancer. You speak about loss, that seems to be coming at you from everywhere. But, that is where you are, in the middle of loss, and understandably, you can’t see beyond that. But perhaps you should try to see where you were before this, and take some of those wonderful elements and attributes that you clearly had/have, examine them and start to reach for just a handful of them again, now. Hope, springs for those grains of possibilities.

    And, you continue to be beautiful…

  154. Dear Eleana
    Trusting you are doing well, i include you in my prayers always. you are a beutiful and amazing woman, who has affected a whole lot of people. We all love you..

  155. Veronica says:

    You ARE beautiful. You ARE strong. You CAN do this. -lovE Veronica

  156. Life is bitter, and what happened to you it’s not fair, not at all. You have the right to feel angry, sad, hopeless or whatever you feel, it’s just right…Life can get better and I hope it will, but now it’s a dark time just hold on, just keep on goin’ step by step, day by day…Don’t say you’re not a hero that’s just wrong, Life is cruel, Life is a struggle and you are fightin’ a big shameless monster You are a Hero like countless other but you are
    My best wishes MD Miller may you find hope in your strenght

  157. Having just read your blog from beginning to last entry, I am awestruck at your strength and ability to convey your emotions with integrity and grit. You are a beautiful, amazing human being and I bow to your strength and grace. Holding you in my thoughts and prayers.

  158. Elena,

    We have not met – I learned of your blog through Scripps, and then as soon as I found it and was learning and enjoying it so much, well, your cancer diagnosis happened. I am still learning but feel saddened by what you are having to suffer through.

    Just want you to know that I’m hoping that a wildly wonderful bit of great news, kindness or light comes into your life that gives you such a surprise that you smile and have reawakened a faith that these lovely, easy, helpful and bountiful things can happen too.

    [because if I were in your place (though I would not be nearly as wise nor adjusted as you seem (I would be an Eeyore of the highest sort for sure) I likely would be questioning that possibility and might even feel so tired and downtrodden with so many losses that I couldn’t even gather the energy to be questioning . . . I suppose that would mean I’d be wallowing. ]

    I wish I had more to offer you – but my family and I are thinking of you – and sending energy for a spectacularly serendipitous joyful happening!


  159. Wow. Damn. I don’t know you and I don’t even know really what to add that hasn’t been said already said so well above. Your writing is great and your story is painful to hear about. I’ve only followed a few of your updates and yet, they pull me in, make me wince and smile and laugh all in the same post. I’m sorry you are so sick right now. I will be telepathically pulling for you to get through this and plop yourself into a little Nicaraguan bungalow where you can do telepsych visits in between surfing.

  160. Maureen Harkin says:

    Hoping this is the nadir and the way back to health is just around the corner.

  161. Elana,

    I somehow missed this post when you first wrote it. I wanted to write and say I can empathize. I can’t say I truly know how hard it has been…what you’ve been through or continue to go through…but I can empathize with illness taking away one’s life, figuratively not just literally. My mother is ill and it has made me lose my patience, my optimism, some of my friends, and has even put my relationship in trouble. It has made me feel numb inside. And it’s not nearly as difficult to deal with as all that you’ve been through. Because it’s happening to someone I love, but not me myself. When I’ve gone through bad times in life, I’ve actually appreciated it most when people have been real with me. I think things are going to get better for you…but in the meantime it’s ok to say it sucks, it’s hard and it’s not fair. And it may be that way for a while. At times like these, I find it’s easiest to break things down into manageable chunks. Get through one day. Then another. That’s all you can do. I’m rooting for you. And I’m going to try to start doing the same…and I’m also going to try to keep things in perspective, thanks to you and the story you’re sharing.

  162. Marieta says:

    Dear Elana,

    Reading this and your last post, I want to give you a big warm hug and take away the pain. I know I can’t, but I want you to know that your authentic voice is SO appreciated. Even when you think you have nothing to give, you’re still imparting wisdom on anyone reading.

    I’m so very sorry for the loss of your love. I sincerely hope you’ll find love again (within yourself, too). Please keep sharing when you can. We are reading and feeling with you.


    P.S. You are (still) beautiful.

  163. Dear Elena,

    I see all those messages, and feel how incredible this is: do you imagine how much you can be present in people’s mind. And though here you are, with your doubts, your pain, your losses… I am reading your messages regularly, and with your last 2 posts, I felt I had to send you a message myself.
    I can not know what it is like to have cancer. Even though I am a nurse, I can not know what it is like to have chemo and all these treatments that take your breath, your blood, your energy…
    I see in you a beautiful person, because despite all you are going through, you are still able to love. Even though some people have reacted in a terrible way with you. Even though you may feel there is no hope. Even though everything seems to fade and to disappear around you. You breath love as you write. This is the first message that I read from you. Love is when you write those messages about what you are going through, and it helps people to live and survive cancer, to support loved ones who happen to have cancer, to understand life in a different light. Whether you are conscious of it, or not, here it is : the love you have deep inside is still vibrating, expanding somewhere, despite the fact that exhaustion and dark thoughts may prevent you from seeing it. Every second may pass and last too long for you because of the pain, the lack of energy and peace, the anger you might feel about situations or people… But this is not you. It is only a moment, a context, in which you are. Not you.
    You are this light, this beautiful woman, this person with that particular way of looking at others. You are much more than a piece of skin pierced by a needle, or a shaved head. You are a person. And you are still breathing. And writing. Still sharing when you know you should be dedicating all the energy you have to get a little bit better. Still, the beautiful person you are is writing for other people. Thank you for this, for being who you are. Thanks for doing your best to go through what you have to face everyday, even though some days are better than others, and sometimes you feel terrible, and lost, and not as well as you wish you could be.

    Personally, I choose to take everything. The Elena who is feeling happy and joyful, and the Elena who is feeling bad and exhausted. No difference. You are still a beautiful person to me, whatever the portrait you choose to post on this blog. In letter or with a camera.
    You know what to do, so I will not tell you to be strong. I will not tell you it will pass, or the pain will ease. I have no clue about all this, and you are the one dealing with that disease, you know it all. But be assured that some people reading your blog are thankful for your courage, for your honesty, for showing a side of you that is not perfect and bright. ItFor it allows others to be fragile, vulnerable, and that feels good. Thank you. Do not loose hope if you can do that. Hope is what belongs to you. I will keep my hand around yours, so that you do not loose that kite of hope that is trying to remain high despite the strong wind.

  164. Yoga Mom says:

    I’m so sorry, so sorry, so sorry, so sorry. I cannot imagine the tremendous loss you have been through these last months. If I could do anything I would. I will pray and think of you everyday. I will also be extremely grateful for what I have. I’m so sorry, so sorry, so sorry, so sorry. None of my words will mean much but please know that there are people out there loving you and praying for you, if only I could do more. Is there a donation website set up for you? If not, I would love to be the first to set up something that could help you find a place of your own, something that you can wish to go home to. Thank you for being so brave and wonderful, sharing your story.
    Love from Canada

    • Yoga Mom says:

      And by the first to set up a donation website, I mean, nothing that you have to do or respond to. Just something I can give without expecting anything. Yes, I read your last post, but honestly if I could do something that might lessen your burden even just financially, that will take some stress off you, I will do it. Please know I don’t expect anything or even a response but would like to help any way I can.

  165. Elana,
    Can’t say enough how comforting your blogs have been to me/us.
    You are welcome to visit my blog and look for “Permission to Grieve” – I hope it will help you feel a little-bit-less-alone with your feelings of loss and suffering.
    Kira the Mommy

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