Last week I wrote about how our world is ruled by love, and this week circumstances conspired to show me just how true that really is.
Love is when a week ago I go to the ER at UCLA, where I work, for a cough and feeling that “something isn’t right,” and even though my complaints are mild, I’m brought right in and treated respectfully.
Love is when the chest X-ray comes back with some abnormal findings, and the ER attending attentively points out the fuzzy mass in my chest and the collections of fluid around my lungs. “It could be nothing,” he says, “but we need to get a CT scan right now.”
Love is when the CT scan comes back, and the attending carefully, gently, sits down on the gurney next to me and asks if I would like to read it with him. He says he’s not a radiologist, but knows I would want the results as soon as possible.
He points out the fluid collections (called pleural effusions) and a few enlarged lymph notes. Then he points out a large mass in my anterior chest, measuring 18x11x7 centimeters.
I ask him, “This is bad, right? It’s lymphoma, isn’t it?” He says he can’t tell me for sure—that I will need a biopsy ASAP. I start to cry. I tell him this was not what I expected when I came to the ER. He asks me if there’s anyone I need to call, and I tell him my cell phone doesn’t have reception. He gives me his phone to use.
Love is when my friend Marya comes to the ER to be with me then share some tea at Starbucks when I’m discharged, even though it’s midnight and she’s an anesthesiology resident who probably had to be up at 6am the next day.
Love is when I go home and wake up the middle of the night with blood curdling, searing pain in my arm, and panicked that the tumor is occluding a blood vessel or nerve, yell to my boyfriend to call 911. I hear him sobbing on the phone and tell him to stop because it’s too hard for me to see him so afraid. He yells out, “I can’t lose you!”
Love is when I go back to the ER and even though they can’t find out what caused the pain, they expedite my biopsy and have it done in the hospital.
Love is when I’m discharged again, but another UCLA resident, Becky, who specializes in hematology/oncology and who I knew back in medical school, hears of my case. She has me call her that night, and moves mountains to have me admitted back to the hospital the following morning directly to the heme/onc service for expedited work up and treatment.
She emails the medicine chiefs, the ER residents, and every single oncology specialist at UCLA to arrange my admission and expedited testing. Even though there is a week-long wait to get a PET scan, I get one the next day. My bone marrow biopsy happens right after. Every resident, fellow, and attending I talk to tells me that Becky sent them an email asking them to take extra good care of me. I don’t even know her that well, but she might have saved my life.
Love is when so many friends and colleagues visit me that I’m quickly dubbed, “The most popular patient in the hospital.”
Love is when my boyfriend, Peter, has not left my side for a single night and has been sleeping on a mini aerobed, even though he’s 6’3 and usually complains about sleeping on anything smaller than a California King.
Love is when my parents immediately fly to LA from the Bay Area to be with me in the hospital. My mom, a pathologist herself, even calls the lab directly to read the slides with the attending pathologist.
Love is when nearly every oncology attending who works at UCLA comes to visit me and check in, even though it’s not part of their job description and they’re not officially on my case.
Love is when every single staff person in the hospital, from nursing to care management to the custodians, treat me kindly and compassionately.
Love is when I get the news that the biopsy is not Hodgkins or B-cell lymphoma like I had hoped, but a more rare, more difficult to treat, type of cancer called Acute Lymphoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma. It has spread to the lining of my lungs and several groups of lymph nodes, making it Stage 4. It will require 6-8 months of intensive chemo in the hospital, and up to 2 and a half years of less intensive maintenance chemo after that.
Unlike the chemo regimens for Hodgkins or B-cell, this one will make me infertile by ravaging my ovaries. The oncologist did have one patient who had twins after this chemo, but it was a rare exception. I could be in the hospital for the next month if I become neutropenic (a suppressed immune system) from the treatment.
The oncologist spends almost an hour with me and my family going over the diagnosis and treatment plan, even though I ask him the same questions over and over because my mind is so overwhelmed.
Love is when I’m given the option to wait two weeks to start chemo to do egg retrieval to preserve my fertility. But—I am told the entire tumor likely grew in only 6 weeks, so this could be very dangerous as the cancer is already occluding my blood vessels and lungs, making it difficult for me to breath. My boyfriend hugs me and asks me not to wait. He tells me, “It’s like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. I need you more than I need our future child.”
Love is when the next day, when visiting with the heme/onc fellow, I start crying that I will never be able to have children. She sits down next to me on the hospital bed, holds my hand, and with tears in her own eyes, tells me, “Nothing is 100 percent.”
Love is when that day, I decide I will choose the course of my illness. I write on a piece of paper, I have acute lymphoblastic T cell lymphoma. Here is what I know to be true.
- I will not get neutropenic and will be discharged from the hospital by the end of the week.
- My bone marrow biopsy will be negative.
- My cancer will respond so quickly to the chemo that I will only need the 6-8 months of intensive chemo, and not the 2 and a half years of maintenance chemo.
- I will be that 1/1000 who is fertile after this chemo and will have a child.
Love is when, knowing my long hair will soon fall out, I decide to have a stylist come to the hospital to preemptively cut my hair so it can be used for a wig. He comes on Sunday evening, after a full day of work, the night before he’s supposed to leave town for the holiday break. He gives me an awesome haircut. He refuses to accept any payment.
Love is when my former roommate and best friend from medical school, Julie, offers to cut her long, brown hair in solidarity, and as a contribution to my wig.
Love is when the following day I get the results back that my bone marrow biopsy is negative, and that I do not have leukemia on top of lymphoma.
Love is when, the day after, my blood counts are looking so good they tell me I could be out of here by Friday.
Love is when such a tragic event has shown me how many people out there care about me deeply and hold me in their hearts, showing their concern through visits, phone calls, texts, emails, messages through family, and heartfelt gifts. Ignorantly, I hadn’t before realized this was true.
Love is when I feel an urgent desire to get well so I can continue doing the work I am meant to do, here on this blog and through my connections with patients, promoting a positive and integrative view of psychiatry, a field I care so much for. I will get well for me, but I will get well for you, too.
Love is when I realize my passion for life far supercedes my fear of this illness or its treatment.
Love is when I know this cancer will hurt, and will make me sick, but it will not kill me. Love is too strong not to live for.
I am here for love.
Oh my gosh, Elana. You are incredible. I am so sorry to hear this news and am praying for you. I’m keeping you in my heart as you fight through this. Stay in love.
MaryAnn Barton says
What an extraordinary story you’ve written, Elana. This is what I mean by the Joyous Paradox: Sometimes, in order to heal we have to get closer to the pain.
Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear this! My thoughts are with you! Hope to read about your progress. My sister had an aggressive form of Ewing’s Sarcoma (bone cancer) a few years ago and her treatment was about 8 months and quite intensive. She is well now! (Knock on wood.)
Keep the faith and hope going, you are stronger than cancer. My niece , who also had the very aggressive Ewing Sarcoma 17 years ago, at 12 years old, gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy yesterday .
Maybe you should read your text and change the wording on “17 yrs ago she was 12 and had a baby…”
Does it really matter?
Laughter and smiling keep on laughing
I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Cancer and chemo are the worst, but it sounds like you have a great attitude and support system. I’m a seven year survivor of Ewing’s Sarcoma as well (it blows my mind that others commented with the same very, very rare cancer). Cancer isn’t a death sentence and with so many doctors and nurses pulling strings for you, you’re in the best place possible. Hang in there!
Edmund Hayes says
Stay strong and you will win this battle.
You have 1000’s of people praying for you.
You are also in a great place both mentally and clinically.
Before long you will be in Nicaragua talking on the phone telling someone the same thing I am telling you.
Hi Elena, I am so sorry to hear this news. I am sending thoughts of good health and a speedy recovery. I can’t wait to read your blog post of a return to wellness. Andrea
elana, was so happy to find your blog some weeks ago, and to know that others bring love and compassion to medicine. (i’m an old pediatric cardiologist, spent some time, happily, at ucla).
now this. if anyone will see this through, you will.
thank you for your courage to share, for your strengths, and for your magnanimous, quiet love. it comes back, doesn’t it? just a matter of what we choose to see.
“live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly.” work honestly, trust in what you offer.
rooting for you from afar.
p.s. great hippy haircut.
Your blog about Equanimity changed my life. I can’t even begin to describe how hard I’m praying for you to get well. Thank you for being you. Xo
I started following your blog in Feb because I felt I could relate to your varied interests. Though not a psychiatrist myself, I have always been fascinated by the workings of the mind. I was drawn to your perspectives on psychiatry and meditation. Thanks for sharing.
Reading this post deeply saddens me. I love your positivity and strength. I love your energy and passion for life. Be with love.
You are in my thoughts and prayers! I wish you and your family health and strength.
Elana, I love your spirit and attitude. Your statements about what you know to be true speak volumes about your inner strength and courage. Thank you for sharing your story and know that you have many friends who will be praying for your recovery.
Larry Hochman says
Wow. Elana…I am glad stumbled onto the blog today. I am going to send the energy of love, laughter and rotating juggling balls out in your direction. You are strong and beautiful.
Wow!! Elana I Amm soo sorryy!! U are an amazing person!! U just slapped me in the face,, my problems mean ZERO now.. Wow!! U keep fighting and Stay IN Love That will keep you strong.. U are now in my prayers,, God Bless you and Keep you strong.. I Love Your Attitude,, it will be hard But Remember That A lot of people Love you and admire you For The Strong Person that u are!! U are a fighter:)
Would it be selfish to tell you that this blog has helped me in a time I needed some insight….I wish you even more love……and I hope with all my heart you continue to enlighten those that come here…..much peace and love
michele kovacs says
Elana!!! I am so sorry to hear you are going through all of this. I will be thinking of you and sending healing vibes. If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Love, michele
Your post is inspirational. I was just diagnosed with a reoccurrence of breast cancer in November. I never realized how many people love and care about me. Having gone through this once before, it was painful to announce to everyone that the big “C” word was back. The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. Your outlook is infectious. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers over here on the east coast!
Kathryn Shimmura says
Wow! I only discovered your blog a few weeks ago. Now my thoughts are with you in this difficult time. I wish you the best of health.
I recently started following your blog which I find very interesting and educational. The mind is the most powerful tool that human beings have with it all can be.
The news left me shocked for a moment, I am so sorry about, but I believe that your spirit and positive mindset will overcome this great challenge, you must keep strong, open mind, and always have faith, faith …because all fights can be won, no matter how aggressive or bad the disease can all be curable.
I have good news for you there is a doctor in Mexico, that can reverse the illness, is the discoverer of the Bio magnetic Pair called Dr. Goiz Duran. I have proof of this; a very close relative was cured with terminal cancer by him “ Dr. Goiz”..
Please check his theory; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Also check out Dr Hulda Regehr Clark
I will be praying for your soon recovery and I send you all the love in the world that will embrace and give you all the strength to overcome this challenge. Lots o f love.
Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for about six months now. It’s really meant a lot to me — I recently started medical school after changing careers, and your insights and outlook on medicine and life have really inspired me.
If there’s an address where I could send you a card care of the hospital, I’d like to do so. I’ll be thinking of you and sending my best wishes in the coming days and weeks.
I have no word of encouragement of my own – I think you said it all. But I have often cited this essay to those facing serious illness – https://dingdingdong.org/bibliotheque/GouldMedianeMoyenne.pdf
Please let me know if I can help in any way. Know that you’re loved, admired, and respected!
Eric Black says
This is an incredibly moving piece and while simultaneously tragic, still upbeat and inspirational. Your words are so moving and your message could not be better received. I’m so sorry to hear about this, but know firsthand that odds mean nothing, and outlook is everything.
I wish you all the best in health, strength, love, and most importantly, happiness.
I’m so sorry about your cancer. Love is everywhere but we don’t all have the power to (1) recognize it and (2) receive it. You do both with grace and dignity. I came across your blog a few weeks ago when playing with the idea of going I to psych. We have a freakish amount of things in common ( Harvard college, bf’s named peter, an interest in writing, former wanna-be surgeons ) so I’ve enjoyed following your thoughts online. I hope you continue to write throughout your journey. Your words are healing.
I’ll keep you in my thoughts.
Elana… I haven’t stopped thinking about you all day, since reading this post this morning. I am so sorry to hear the news – but I am not scared for you. I know things will be okay, just as you’ve declared. I’m only frustrated on your behalf that you might have to delay some things – though who knows what creativity will be borne from this…?! – and sad that you are in pain.
Keep writing. Please keep going. I admire your work so much, and I hope it brings you strength.
Sending the warmest, most positive and healing vibes across the oceans to you.
Love from Australia.
Andrew Bosworth says
Elana — You have written so eloquently about what is happening to you and here I can barely find enough words for a comment. I am wishing you the best and am glad you are in such loving hands.
NAGAT THOMSON says
HI ELANA LOVE IS JESUS HE IS READY TO GIVE MORE THAN WE EXPECT AND ASK FOR PLEASE PRAY AND ASK AND HE WILL ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS YOUR STORY TOUCHED ME SO MUCH. I WILL ASK ALL MY FRIEND TO PRAY FOR YOU. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PROGRESS IN JESUS NAME.
I have been praying for you minute by minute. You are a beautiful soul that has brought an intense amount of joy and LOVE to one of my dearest friends, Peter. I know the strength you have within you will carry you through the darkness of this horrific disease to the top of the highest mountain and through the break of the sweetest wave. You will be forever changed, however knowing you this change will never be look at something that you could have lived with out. It will make the sweet love-filled life you live that much sweeter and that beautiful heart and soul of yours even more beautiful… if that can even be. I will see you next week but wanted you to know that during this intense time of your most delicate state you have been close to my heart. See you soon, out of the hospital and with your contagious smile shinning bright.
Your courage is felt through your words. Thank you for being open and sharing your journey. You remind me that even when presented with life-changing circumstances that are. beyond our control, we retain the ability to choose how to receive and respond. You remind me about the value of community, of support and sharing — both are struggles and triumphs. I wish you strength and love both external and internal.
Your words and perspective have helped me endlessly, both personally and professionally. I can’t really articulate how much. I came to it by accident, but barely a day has gone by over the last six months where I haven’t looked to your blog for reassurance, inspiration and calm.
I wish you yet more love for your recovery, from a wild and wet Scotland. I know it will come.
Thank you for sharing so much with all of us. I have been following your writings and thoughts for a couple of months now and I always enjoy reading your articles as they appear in my inbox. You definitely had a role in me choosing psychiatry for residency, and it`s so cool how we have a similar interest in positive psychiatry! I will let you know which program in cali I match into next March. You are such a strong and beautiful person!!! Will be praying for you every day 🙂
Your love and passion is inspiring. May you emerge from this journey stronger than you entered. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
You Will Persevere!
You Are Strong!
Blessings to you, with the circle of strength and love you are surrounding yourself with, you will come through this difficult time. I am sending you energy and love as I know no one can ever have too much.
Cindy Devore says
Life is 5% what happens to us and 95% how we respond to it. Clearly, your attitude and vision will help you manifest the positive outcomes you seek. May you be surrounded by the love you have reflected upon in your blog. May your treatment bring you more comfort than pain, by making it easier to breathe, and eliminating your cough, and taking away pain as you experienced in your arm. May love grow in and around and between every cell in your body. You are strong. You are beautiful. I shall hold you in my heart.
Jay Burnham says
Elena…As someone who has faced the same challenges please take note…
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit.
Sending good intentions your way!
Jake Bouma says
Jay: Just out of curiosity, did you write this or is it from somewhere else? (I’m a cancer survivor too, BTW).
STAY STRONG!!!…. AND SMILE!
Thank you for having the courage to share this. Sending you strength, love & light.
Shannon Easton-Carr says
Thank you for sharing your story. Our thoughts are with you . Please let me know if there’s anything Raul or I can do to help.
John Bachman says
Impermanence (Pāli: अनिच्चा anicca; Sanskrit: अनित्य anitya; Tibetan: མི་རྟག་པ་ mi rtag pa; Chinese: 無常 wúcháng; Japanese: 無常 mujō; Korean: 무상 musang; Thai: อนิจจัง
All created things are impermanent. Strive diligently. And you do Elana. Please continue.
Tina A. says
Thank you so much for sharing such an incredibly difficult and scary time for you and your family. Your words are something that I have relied on for strength and courage through difficult times and to see your ability to approach your own struggles in the same loving manner is incredible. You have such a strength of spirit and are such an inspiration. This will surely carry you through your treatment and allow you to bring your gifts to the world for many many years to come. Sending love and prayers.
John McBurney says
Oh Elana my brilliant young friend and colleague your news has put my mind and heart into turmoil ever since I read your post this morning. I know you have a hard road in front of you but I believe, like you, that you are strong and will overcome all obstacles in your path. Please know that I, and many others will be meditating with your in mind, and will be sending love and healing intention your way.
Thank you for sharing this, Elana. Your optimism, strength, and spirit is so inspiring and beautiful! I wish you the very best in your recovery and look forward to following your career and blog postings for many years to come.
I wish and pray that you don’t get hurt with pain and the disease gets cured as fast as it came. Because the world is beautiful because of beautiful people like you. Your strength of character and generosity will keep you away from hurt and will bring you peace always. Sending you love and thank you for sharing your love.
Sending so much love and light
I couldn’t agree more!
Whilst, I wish you the best in your treatment, the way this entire post reads to me is: Privileged person gets cancer and has an easier time of it because she’s a privileged person who uses her connections to overide the system. Perhaps I am just a hater, but love had nothing to do with this.
By the tone of your post it sounds like this is hitting you personally. Maybe you have had your own, more frustrating experience with illness and for that I do express my sympathy. This must be hitting such a nerve for you that responding in this way was the only way to let that out. What a shame you couldn’t look past your own experience as Elana shared this with us. I can’t imagine what she must be going through…what emotional upheaval. It seems you can’t either. I read love in that post. I’m sorry you don’t. I refer you to the Buddhist concept of sympathetic joy. Good luck.
John C says
I suggest you reread Elana’s post (as well as her previous posts) and re-examine your key takeaways. Do you think she’ll have an easier time going through 6-8 months of intensive chemo? Do you think she’ll have an easier time dealing with a high probability of not having children? Do you think she’ll have an easier time putting her life and medical practice on hold as she battles for her life? While I feel sad for her circumstances, I am even more saddened by your interpretation of her honest, beautiful and raw post about her diagnosis and treatment. Elana is a loving soul who deserves every bit of kindness and generosity at a hospital — UCLA or elsewhere. Love has everything to do with this.
I hope you awake to the love that is all around you. Namaste. John.
I hope you awaken the love that is all around you. Namaste. John.
Sean George says
You are a hater. It’s truly sad that you are blind to the LOVE in this blog. In reality I am a fighter not a lover, this blog was reposted buy 8 fighters globally who saw it on my Facebook page. When fighters see the love and you don’t it’s sad for you.
Dear anonymous, I feel sorry for you. As you realize, you are “a hater.” While everyone who read this post walked away with a powerful message of perseverance and positivity in the face of horrible unexpected news, you are so bitter that all you saw was your own spin, completely missing the point. I’m concerned about your humanity. I have known Elana for many years and will not defend her to you. You are unworthy of that. Do you see the rest of the replies? Those are people who love her, whose lives she touched and improved, of which I am one. You should be ashamed of yourself. Keep your poisonous views to yourself. They are not welcome.
PLEAAASEEE dont think Im picking on you by responding to your comment again. I’m not at all trying to be a bully (and I’m really sorry if I come off that way by responding to all your comments, I just subscribed to the page to follow her progress. Honestly, I only respond because these type of situations really hit close to home and long story short, I know I didn’t do enough or give enough positivity to someone very close to me when they were sick with cancer. And it is by far one of my biggest regrets in life.
But I just wanted to tell you that in a previous comment, it was said no one was denied or pushed aside. Several staff had just worked extra hours to help her. I also referred to this in one of my previous comments.
And I honestly think that this whole post is her showing humility in addition to gratitude. She definitely acknowledged everyone who helped her.
I am meeting you today for the first time, via Suleika’s link on Facebook. Your blog post made me cry, first with sympathy, then with admiration and inspiration. Keep making those strong, clear intentions! You will survive this in order to go further in your healing mission for others. I am blessed to know you. Love and prayers and healing light.
Joanna Ging says
Hi Elana – I came across your blog on FB via Suleika Jaouad’s FB page. I’m so sorry you have to go through this and I want to let you know that I was diagnosed with Breast cancer a few months ago, undergone chemo and completed it a couple of wks ago and now on my radiation treatment. I understand everything you are going through right now and how you were feeling when you first found out. It’s going to be a tough road ahead but please stay strong and as positive as you can be. You have great support and love around you and I wish you the best in your treatment and recovery process.
Love is what cures when you no longer have the strength or will to carry on alone.
I’ve been there.
LOVE IS GREAT!
Lisa Genova says
Elana–Thank you for sharing your beautiful and extraordinary perspective. Sending you love. xo
Sarah Ryan says
I am so utterly moved. Look at the way you have harnessed the love around you.. it’s quite a powerful treatment in itself. Read this again if your spirits dampen and you’ll feel that surge of loving energy once again. Sending you yet more love to add to your collection of good energy.
Melinda Hartman says
I found your blog from Suleika Jaouad’s post on Facebook. You have brought back to me some of the feelings that I had when I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago. I have never felt luckier or more loved in my life. There have been several silver linings to my diagnosis, and that’s the biggest one.
Linda Esposito says
You are such a brave, beautiful soul. My heart goes out to you, Peter and your family. It sounds like you are surrounded by the best medical and support teams out there. I pray that you have the best recovery possible.
The world needs you.
In love, healing, meditation and holistic wellness.
Linda Knoll says
I don’t know you, but saw your blog through my dear friend, Janet Tennyson’s Facebook page. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Your blog is beautifully written and touched my heart. I spent the last few years dealing with my Dad’s cancer so each medical term you write I know all too well. I pray the process is quick for you and that you will be just fine in no time. Stay strong.
Tara Starks says
Love will help you survive this. I am a 7 year survivor of Ewing’s Sarcoma. Was infertile afterwards due to the chemotherapy. 2.5 years after completing a year’s worth of aggressive chemo, my R.E. sat me down and gently told me I would never have more biological children. Less than 1% chance of conceiving with ART. 6 weeks later, I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. He turns 3 in 2 weeks 🙂 and was conceived naturally. Keep the hope and know that miracles do occur!
Nikki Johnson says
We take so many things for granted and this post goes to show how The Universe/Source/God provides us with everything we need to get through the storm. Love is found in unlikely places, but, it’s ALWAYS there.
Cynthia Branch says
I found out about my lymphoma in a similar way. In the hospital for pneumonia. Nope. Large-cell Anaplastic NHL. That was a year and a half ago. Did CHOP chemo. Remission. Failed remission. Now recovering – slowly – from an auto stem cell transplant. Much of my medical process has made me a “lab rat”, as almost everything for my type of lymphoma is experimental or a throw-away from some other type. Love is…what *I* feel for the scientists who work with little funding to find something that might work for my orphan cancer.
My husband and adult kids have been remarkable. Their love for me has pulled me through some very dark times.
Elana, you might be interested to attend one of Althetes4Cancer’s Camp Koru programs in Maui in 2014…spend a week on/in the healing waters of Maui with other young adult cancer survivors..
tamar/luna (14 year hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, photographer, yogi, surfer, dancer, sister..)
Amy Li says
Tamar and Luna,
Thanks for posting this. I posted a comment for Elana before, and just came back to check to see if she has any updates. I just finished my stage 4 cancer treatment early this year, this program looks interesting, although I can’t really swim, but did dragon boating for couple years before wearing life jackets, can you email me at amy(the”@”sign)dance4healing(dot)com, love to learn more about it.
I don’t even know you, but I just love you!! Thanks for being an inspiration.
God bless you. I just lost my stepfather to cancer and I wish I could have shared this with him. I love you.
May you have a full and speedy recovery. Having had to make a somewhat similar choice, I am glad you chose life. Even if you don’t preserve fertility, perhaps you can still use an egg donor. I did this for half of my kids and was grateful for the chance to be able to carry the pregnancies and breastfeed. I don’t even think about it most days–they are just all my children, regardless of biology. Be well.
I don’t know you but your story has really moved me to the core. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers and have faith that you will get the opportunity to live out your dreams.
Please know that you have touched my heart and your bright spirit is such an inspiration. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
I don’t know you but I will get to know you, all parts of you, I am sure. Not just the bad cancer parts but who you are. Like how the world fell in love with Suleika. I will pray for you, keep my fingers crossed, do any silly ritual I do for good luck, for you. I will still, of course, do it for Suleika and many others as well. I don’t know you but I will tell the Spirits in the World, to be kind to you, please and for you to be Strong and Smile.
I admire your spirit and pray that you get well soon.
I am a psychiatry resident too and came across your blog most recently.
Hope you have the strength to continue doing the amazing work you do.
Borzin K says
This is absolutely beautiful and brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing.
Although I don’t know you, I do pray for you and hope you are triumphant in your journey, which I’m sure you will be. It’s a beautiful thing to realize how many people love you, care for you, and simply want you to be around to share more smiles, laughter, experiences, stories, and much more.
Stay strong and God speed.
I came across your blog when a friend posted it on FB. I am truly amazed and inspired with your courage and strength to win this fight.
It so encouraging how you put things in perspective. But what makes it really stand out is how you put it in LOVE’s perspective…and I totaly agee that love is indeed powerful.
Like you I am also a “Lung Cancer Fighter”…fighter because I was just recently diagnosed 2 months ago. So I understand what you are going through.
If you don’t mind I would like to share another “love” in your list…”God is love.”
I don’t want to sound preachy to you so all I can say is that the God who created the whole universe loves us so much and understands our sufferings thats why He sent His son Jesus Christ for us to healed.
I pray for your healing as I am being healed also.
Allow me to share this video of Abigail Smith who went through what we are going through right now, may you find inspiration in her testimony…
I pray for total healing and a miracle be with you…God bless you Elana!
I am in tears reading your blog. You are an amazing and strong person. May Buddha be with you. I will keep you in my prayers!
My husband survived testicular cancer so I have a little bit of an idea how you are feeling . Ten years later we celebrated the birth of our first son. Nothing is 100% like your doc said. One way or another you will hold a baby someday. I am praying for you . You are already an amazing person. So many love and are praying for you. Xo,Adele
A concerned citizen says
I am very sorry that you have cancer. I wonder what happened to all the people you skipped over in the PET/CT line. If they live long enough, I bet you can help them with telemedicine from Nicaragua.
Why do you assume someone was ” skipped over” for a PET/CT scan? Maybe someone stayed late past their shift end to do her scan, or maybe someone else’s scan was cancelled for other reasons and that spot was open for her. You don’t need to assume the worst just because things went in her favor. If you find a coin on the ground, do you think yourself lucky or do you feel bad for the person who dropped it?
Do you have an off button?
You’ve flooded this blog post with comments that are simply deconstructive and possibly hurtful to Elana and her family. In doing so, you have become a cyber-bully.
I really tried to resist replying but after seeing all your comments. I couldn’t help but to put this out there. But I can honestly say that I don’t know if I am doing the right thing by replying to your comments because in doing so, I am also being really stubborn by feeding in to your disgruntled comments.
You need to ask yourself, are you disappointed with the system or Elana? If its the system, then leave this blog and go make your own. You can fill this empty void through your own blog. Simple as that. Especially if your intention is to “prove a point” and not “attack a blog” (and you are attacking this post if you choose to continuously provide cynical comments about someone else’s struggles). Your points been made very clearly. So if you want to continue it, just do so in your own blog.
There’s no need for you to attack this post, even if you are unhappy with some system. I don’t have any respect for someone sitting behind some computer who gets satisfaction by choosing to anonymously reinforce cynicism at the expense of someone else’s harmoniousness. And that’s simply what you are doing.
Whether you want to take this as being judged or not, I am in no way saying you are not entitled to your opinion but its clear you are attacking this post by providing cynical comments which could possibly affect (hopefully not hurting) Elana. So if you do not have the intention of hurting someone else’s feelings and just have a problem with the system thats fine, just continue to express it and comment on it somewhere else not on someones post reflecting on their personal endeavors.
I wanted to reach out and thank all of you who have put Elana in your thoughts and prayers. It means a great deal to all of us who are fortunate enough to know and love her. You epitomize her message of compassion and positivity in the gravest of circumstances.
Thanks to you all.
Terry (Elana’s dad)
Becki Davis says
Hi Ann,I am new to writing anything on a blog, but I am a Buddhist and meditate with an app called Insight Timer. Through that, I found that Elena had a blog about her cancer. I just read it and am so happy to see how she has used this route to express herself. It is so healing to write and speak your heart during tough times,and I don’t see how it could be much tougher. I also read the rather mean comments made by someone who doesn’t have the courage to put their name down. You responded very well. I just wonder if you, or someone like you could edit her blog so such energy sucking comments would be tossed out to the trash where they belong. Is that even possible? I am not savvy. But I just love what Elena has had the courage to do and I want her to run with her heart and knock this cancer down flat! Is this ok to respond to you? I hope so, if not, just delete this. Best thoughts to you, Elena.
I am really sorry but I didn’t quite understand what you were trying to ask me.
I don’t want to start a conversation through comments on Elana’s personal and supportive blog, but please feel free contact me through an email I just created (because I don’t feel too comfortable posting my personal email on a blog that has gotten so much attention).
The email is [email protected]. I’ll give you my personal email through that.
Hopefully I don’t get sued by publicists when Elana writes her book!
Marie Marotta says
I am Dan bonnicis sister and I want you to know I am sending healing and loving thoughts to you and your family. I also work as a psychiatric social worker in Seattle. Your thoughts about the need o integrate eastern with western medicine are so needed in our society as a whole but especially psychiatry. I know you will be able to continue your work after this time of caring for yourself and your needs.
Love to you.
A concerned citizen says
Love is providing compassionate and prompt medical care to all patients regardless of their means and/or social connectivity. I wish all patients had access to care like yours. Good luck with your cancer! I hope you are cured swiftly and definitively.
Amy Li says
A friend brought your blog to me. I just won my battle against stage 4 cancer early this year, and now inspire by my own cancer journey, working on a project to use tech to support music and dance as an integrative method for health, starting with cancer patients. I also had the luck to be surrounded by a loving supportive community when I was diagnosed, I was in a graduate study program at NASA. So I understand every single thing you said here. I also had to cut off long hair that I had for 15 years. I want to send you all the love and positive energy for good recovery, and always remember and I’m sure you already know this well, your mind is half the game, and you are in this to win this. I just sign up for your newsletter and will follow your progress, and love to connect when you can. Love, Amy
Amy Li says
Want to share this TED talk with you. Ananda talked about her journey of using dance to fight cancer, and gave the most amazing foot dance on the stage. It’s considered one of the most inspirational TED talk. There is a serendipity story about the moment when her video was shared with me and how it became one of the inspiration for my Dance4Healing project. I cried with happy tears when I first saw it, and little did I know, we were connected couple months later by mutual friends, and now she is one of my advisors. So I often said cancer can be a blessing in some ways, it bring a lot of amazing people into my life. I hope you will feel the same way after you win this battle soon.
Brittney A says
I am so sorry you are going through this. It must have been so surreal to hear the bad news. I am amazed how positive you are! You are such a strong amazing person. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
(went to highschool with you)
Just so this idea can be put to rest, Elana did NOT force anyone to be skipped over for a PET/CT, bone marrow biopsy or cancer treatment for that matter. The radiology department did work extra late one afternoon to help this young doctor begin her lifesaving, emergency cancer treatment, but I can assure you no one else suffered as a consequence. Maybe next time think about the human being you are addressing before you post negative remarks towards someone fighting a life threatening disease you can not begin to comprehend.
A concerned citizen says
I am happy whenever curative therapy for anyone struggling with illness is expedited. I wish all patients had access to these resources. Privilege, through institutional connections, wealth, power, or any such stepping stone, can provide monumental benefit to a lucky few. But many unlucky others have no such opportunity, which is unrelated to the struggles and triumphs of those privileged few, but worth reflecting on. By expediting the care of a few, we implicitly say that we value some in our society more than others, which is sad.
I hope that if I am unfortunate enough to have cancer that I have doctors working extra hard for my care too. Maybe I will have friends in high places, money, or the respect to command this special treatment. Or maybe I will languish in the doldrums with the rest of the world, who wait patiently for their turn at life-saving therapy.
Dear Concerned Citizen,
I think Elana took some poetic license in describing her experiences – she chose to focus only on the loving actions when, in fact, her initial care was not super optimal. Scroll up and look at the scan again. Her heart (bright white object) is ENCASED by tumor (grey stuff). Her lungs (the black areas) are compressed by the malignant effusions (more grey stuff) on the posterior (back) side of her lungs. These findings constitute a MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Her heart could have stopped beating at any time trying to expand against the growing tumor mass. In my view she should not have been discharged to home (twice!) before somebody started treating her.
She needed chemo IMMEDIATELY, but it couldn’t be given until her doctors knew what type of tumor it was and how far it had spread (thus the biopsy and PET-CT needed to be done ASAP). It was not ‘privilege’ that got her these tests, it was standard medical practice, which, for some inexplicable reason, had not been applied to her until Becky stirred the pot. (And, BTW, in the future, when Elana needs her non-critical, follow-up PET-CT scans, she will schedule them and wait the 2-3 weeks for her turn on the machine .)
Having said all that, I take your point that our system of health care delivery is far from perfect. In my experience, money and ‘privilege’ are not nearly as important as having an informed advocate by your side. All critically ill patients are addled, scared, maybe in pain, not thinking clearly. Everyone could benefit from a ‘Becky’ on their team.
Peace to you, Concerned Citizen
(We are all Concerned)
Meredith Miller, MD (Elana’s mother – who was not in LA when this happened – bless you Becky!)
This post was to reflect on how appreciative and lucky she felt to have so many strangers in addition to loved ones want to help her at such a vulnerable time. She took the whole post to reflect on everyone BUT HERSELF. What is even more beyond me is the fact that she even had the thought of donating her hair before loosing it; thinking about others, once again, before herself.
I’m sure that if she would have found out if she had stage 2 instead and did not receive “expedited” care (even though the post above clearly clarifies it was not “expedited”), she would have even found that to be a reason to be thankful just as she is thankful as she is for all the other great things she wants to recognize as wonderful in her life.
Cancer can be a very unfortunate event because you can’t plan for it. But Elana took this time to reflect on how LUCKY she is to have all these friends and family around her that help her throughout the way (like her boyfriend who slept on a small mattress or her friend who stayed up to get tea with her at starbucks).
Elana acknowledged everyone she appreciated throughout this experience, even the custodians that treated her kindly.
Post like these should instead teach you to express kindness, happiness, and appreciation during difficult times, not jealousy.
Amy Li says
Thank you for being a wonderful mom and come out to defend your daughter.
Concerned Citizen, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year, and I was putting on an express train with all the appointments and scans as well. No, I’m not a MD or a medical student, in fact I did not know anyone in the hospital. I have a lot of amazing people (many I did not know before) jumping in to help me all because of LOVE, and that is exactly what Elana is expressing here, and many people she mentioned here also did this out of their own will, their own time, and that is LOVE.
I do also agree having an advocate on your side is extremely important as it is very difficult to deal with illness and trying to do all the other things at the same time.
Again, Meredith and Elana, sending you all the LOVE and you will win this!
I’m going to stop replying to your comments after this one.
But I really hope you, concerned citizen and anonymous are all one person, because to would be very heartbreaking to see so many hostile people trying to team up to prove a futile point. You really aren’t accomplishing anything besides finding more people to upset.
I really think you’re being childish by posting so many comments to prove one point, which is why I will stop responding to your posts, because I can tell this won’t stop until multiple people agree with you or support you and that wont happen. And I don’t think you even read any of mine, since you choose to make the same remarks without acknowledging any of the other comments. But that’s even more shameful assuming that you are older and shouldn’t be acting like some opinionated adolescent that needs to prove his/her point.
And I am truly sorry, that you have not been able to learn from your experiences to love and appreciate the things you have by picking on what you don’t. And I’m truly sorry that all you have in your heart appears to be hate, and thats honestly what YOU have shown to have in your heart. Elana was given this opportunity because she is such a whole-hearted and giving person and appreciates everything (I’ve never met her but this post says a lot about her).
Again, I’m not trying to attack you, I just hope maybe you can see what others reading your posts probably see. Because if everyone were to look at your comments and agreed with them then you would see more people supporting you and you wouldn’t see so many positive and supportive comments for Elana. But you don’t.
I’ve had a life threatening hospital experience and found that everyone responds with alacrity because they genuinely care about saving lives. Saying that Elana received special treatment is way off point. Sharing her experiences is a gift to all of us. There’s no privilege in having cancer.
Steven Mullen says
I’ve had a life threatening hospital experience and found that everyone responds with alacrity because they genuinely care about saving lives. Saying that Elana received special treatment is way off point. Sharing her experiences is a gift to all of us. There’s no privilege in having cancer.
Jan Newman MD says
I concur entirely with your conclusions re: Elana should not have been discharged and she should have been immediately fast tracked. It is amazing she is doing as well as she is with the extent of disease. My prayers and best wishes to Elana and you, her family. This will not be an easy journey for any of you.
Thank you! We’ll said. I was very disturbed by the post you are referring to and can not understand how another human being could be so mean or uncaring about anyone.
Hey there. I happen to work at Reagan, and healthcare professionals there are very human. They don’t always do this for patients – true. I know you have a point that this is above a “standard” level of treatment, but it’s beyond your authority to claim anything about “ordinary patients”. But when they do beyond what is standard, it is most often for patients who are struggling to pay for treatments. These professionals have hearts.
More importantly though – we have a story of someone who is making it. I think your comments have been met with some negativity for this reason: somebody is fighting for her life. Your obsession with the possible privileges she received (whether true or not) pale in comparison to the fact that she’s fighting cancer.
Regardless of privileges, positivity is still needed. If you had cancer, and happened to receive an anonymous donation that made the best treatments accessible to you, I’d be happy for you – not resentful that it wasn’t fair to the others who may have needed it too.
Sending love and prayers for health and healing your way.
(Was in a Spanish class in high school with you)
Angelique Campen says
Rooting for you. Here to help in the RR UCLA ED anytime. Hoping you never need it though.
there is a cure. vaccine for cancer. https://www.rgcc-genlab.com/ have 2 friends doing it.
alkalinize your body. laughter/oxygen/ trisalts from natural health food store. have a naturopath see how can detox your body. read The Journey by Brandon Bays. Breaking the habit of Being yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Hulda Clark Cure for Cancer. Heart math institute Be whole! Love to you
You hold LOVE that keeps you strong and going. To be fearless by having love surround you is incredible. My prayers and love are with you, Elana.
I don’t know if you’ll ever get to read this with the hundreds of supportive and loving responses you have and will continue to receive from your viewers.
A facebook friend posted this piece from your blog on his feed.
I’m just a pre-med from UCLA. And usually when I look at these past three years at UCLA, I consider them my worst because I felt like everything had spiraled out of control in my family. In my life, there’s always been just me and my family and they are the most important thing to me.
A couple friends even called me Murphy’s law with all the bad luck I appeared to have at the worst times.
But reading things like these makes me realize how PETTY my concerns are when I have so much to appreciate in life. Even more so, seeing someone so brave and positive while going through such a difficult time, yet still being able to take into appreciation every little positive thing in her life, is just beyond me. You’re outlook on life is so beautiful and warming because its so positive, when others (even me) would have taken such a negative view and collapsed into some dark bottomless pit.
When random incidents happen, like losing all my mcat material and computer to a thief that broke my car window 6 days before my exam, I get so pessimistic and hopeless. But when I read your story, I really realize how STUPID of me it was to let myself wallow in some self pity, especially when you, being in your situation, can look past that and take a whole post to write about everyone BUT yourself. Reading posts like yours, only restores my faith in society and helps me acknowledge all the beautiful things in my life.
I want to go into medicine because I want to affect peoples’ lives and posts like yours make me reexamine my outlook on my life and remind me to be less selfish by pitying myself less and appreciate the presence of others along with their care or affection more. By following a career in medicine, I honestly hope I can affect half people you’ve been able to affect with just this one post. And that is not to undermine the number of people I think I will be able to affect, that is to emphasize the power this one post has exerted on your readers (as they grow in numbers).
I truly think you are a beautiful person beyond what any picture can show. And as much as you take a completely selfless outlook on your situation and take the time to acknowledge what others have done for you, there is no doubt in my mind that they feel just as fortunate to have you in their life. And I can already tell you have such a powerful affect on everyone that is fortunate enough cross paths with you in their lives. And that is by far, one quality I hope to be able to gain in my life.
You truly are a person to live up to, and I hope that you never forget about the perhaps thousands or millions of web-based fans you have. You’ll probably never see our faces but we are still routing for you, your success, your victory, and most importantly, your happiness.
With all our love and support, we wish you the best and will look forward to hearing more about your speedy recovery.
Ann, this message you forwarded is such a complete and articulate expression of how Elana – who she is and what she communicates – has made and continues to make an important contribution to everyone she touches. Thank you for posting it.
Sean George says
This hit home, I have shared it with my entire family. I know you will win this fight! Thank you for sharing this.
Rick Carroll says
Love is beautiful! You are beautiful, inside & out; I can tell. Yup, it’s going to be a bitch but you have lots of love & lots of reasons to stay vertical and grateful. I have cancer too. Stage 4, NSCLC. I was diagnosed 3/2005. I too have been lucky to have lots of love. Early on I was told I’d be lucky to live another six months. There’s a reason for me to be here just as there’s a reason for you to be here. You have so much to offer the world and in your chosen profession you will help many. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful writing. I’m offering up a prayer for you and your boy friend right now! Peace be with you. Luv Rick
What a beautiful and inspirational story! Stay strong! I’m sure God has big plans for you!
Melissa P. Broyles, D.O. says
I am an integrative family medicine physician in PA. https://www.drmelissapbroyles.com. Yesterday I started reading Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine. Today, I learn of your blog and illness. Next year, I will be reading your book on how you beat cancer.
Melissa P. Broyles, D.O.
Elaina, I have felt the same love that you have. I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer over a year ago at age 41. God bless you! May you continue to feel that love as you fight your disease. There is no healing without faith in the love that surrounds you.
Amit Jolly says
You’re incredibly brave. May your love continue to inspire.
Jonathan Herbert says
So many 65 kinds of NHLs. I had two simultaneously. While I would not request them from the menu of life, I am deeply grateful for the gifts they were and the gifts they gave.
I was blessed through multiple synchronicities, as are we all. I am in remission after very rigorous R-CHOP. Remission is not cure; the gift in that is how precious the moment is. It is my Infinite dwelling.
Some suffer; some soar. May the Infinite reveal Herself to you constantly.
Andrea Wilder says
I don’t know you, but I sure would like to. Katrina DeBonis posted your blog. I am overwhelmed with your positive energy and what an amazing person you are. Several people close to me have been touched with cancer, and the journey that is part of it.
You are so special, you are here to teach us all important lessons. You have a lot of people cheering you on.
Elana, you are in a lot of people’s thoughts, including my own. I wish you, your family, and friends all the strength and love.
And if you need anything, I work at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in LA. We have an incredible support network there…so please let me know if you need anything – and I will connect you with the right people.
Gerri and Swede Hansen says
Love is ELANA MILLER and PETER THORTON and their powerful connection to each other.
Tejal Patel says
I love this:) how beautiful!
Gerri and Swede Hansen says
Love is ELANA MILLER and PETER THORNTON and their powerful connection to each other.
Josh D says
Get well soon, Elana!
Praying for you, get well soon!
Lauren Benning says
Elana, I’ve enjoyed your blog so much this past year! I’m glad to have been in contact with you, and am so sorry to hear about what you are going through. You are such a strong, beautiful person who has touched the lives of so many people already at such a young age. I KNOW you will triumph over this disease, and be back out in the world spreading your light and love through your work on this blog, and your medical practice. I will praying for you.
Live in Love…you are doing it and that is beautiful.
When I read your story, particularly, the part about how you were loved up by the hospital staff who fast tracked your admission, testing, care, I thought, “every one deserves this.” Every patient who is suffering with the fear of the unknown deserves this loving, kind, respectful attention. Hopefully, we are moving in that direction in health care where the importance of love, positivity, alternative treatments will be accepted and promoted.
I wish you healing…many blessings, karen
It is usually true that doctors get a different sort of treatment because we are part of a ‘club’ – we know the lingo and other doctors are usually more straightforward with us because we are presumed to be stronger -‘we can take it’ – after all, we were all forged in the same difficult crucible. This can be good or bad. Elana ‘the doctor’ was discharged twice with a very large mass in her chest. She eventually got he care she needed.
Please note that NOBODY’S care was compromised by the treatment Elana got. No ‘ordinary’ person was pulled off a scanner or denied treatment in any way. Elana had to wait over the weekend for the results of her bone marrow biopsy (just like anyone else).
Elana IS very lucky that she works at a premier medical center and that all the most advanced tests and medical expertise were available to her. But the cancer truly doesn’t care where she went to school or who her doctors are; it just wants to grow. We are all trying to help her fight that.
I don’t know where you live or what you have suffered, and I am truly sorry for any pain you experienced in the maws of modern medicine. My heart reaches out to you.
Meredith (Elana’s mother)
Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but have u considered medical marijuana? There is definitely scientific evidence that cannabis can induce apoptosis by affecting p53 and has been shown to be helpful for some patients with various leukaemias and lymphomas. We are all praying for you!
Love is you taking the time to write down your honest thoughts and experience with cancer and sharing them with us. Love is the tears and prayer flowing for you, right now, Elana. Remember you are truly loved…and never alone.
You are an inspiration and your story has moved me. I pray for the healing hands of God to embrace you and rid you of this cancer!
A friend posted this on Facebook, and being a cancer survivor myself I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. I know that oh shit moment, the omg second of am I going to survive this, the please let this be a bad dream hour of will I ever marry or have kids?. It’s a scary lonely place for sure! But it sounds like you have tons of love and support around you to lift you up and carry you. It also sounds like your attitude is positive and I believe that is the first and formost place to start on this unexpected journey you are about to take. I was 35 at the time of my NHL Burkitts diagnosis and I am now 8 years remission with 3 young daughters. I know you can do this, I know you can have it all, I know this because I lived it. Keep your chin up, let others help you, know your not alone, and know that a girl in Texas is thinking of you and wishing you the absolute best!
Steve Mullen says
Good luck getting well. Thank you for your courage in sharing your experience.
Elana, I must admit you have touched my heart so much with this write up. My sister was diagnosed in 2012 but I’m happy today that she’s here, more beautiful and we love her more than ever before. May God lend ears to our prayers for you and you shall be a testimony.
Premal Shah says
This post moved me to tears. I’m in a small surf town (Santa Theresa, Costa Rica) on honeymoon with my wife. I know you’d love it here — perfect waves and sunsets. Wishing you the best recovery and all the love in the world.
Carolyn Ryan says
Many prayers and wishes for everything you outlined above. Love is clearly in your corner and may it carry you all the way through. Climb everything mountain til all your dreams come true.
I’m holding space for you my dear as you continue on this journey of love, body, spirit and healing.
We as women are amazing warriors but the realization sometimes takes place when a form of dis-ease reveals itself to us physically.
I’m sending you love, light , courage, and more love.
Moments like this in life truly reveal the grandness of this magical journey that we’re on.
As Jon Cabot Zinn says it so beautifully in his mindfulness meditation classes
“We are here to live every moment as though our lives really depended on it”
Because it does, because its the only moment that’s real, this very breath, this very conversation , this very second when your beautiful heart and my heart realizes its ONLY about LOVE!!!!
It’s always been about love and all its manifestations in this physical world we call earth.
Breath in “i am blessed”…breath out ” I am love”
That’s not the point of this article at all. She’s reflecting on everything she appreciates at a moment like this. And one of the many things she appreciates is the opportunities and care she received from her loved ones.
And if you read the previous comment, no one got pushed aside.
From her friend mentioned in the post, Becky: “Elana did NOT force anyone to be skipped over for a PET/CT, bone marrow biopsy or cancer treatment for that matter. The radiology department did work extra late one afternoon to help this young doctor begin her lifesaving, emergency cancer treatment, but I can assure you no one else suffered as a consequence. ”
She expresses how lucky she felt to have everyone help her in this fight.
She could have looked back and complained about not recognizing she had cancer sooner, or how she wishes she had Hodgkins, but instead she persevered and kept going forward one step at a time.
And people like you should stop attributing her career towards her prompt diagnoses. Once again, if you read the comments above! Others in her situation (stage 4 cancer) were also diagnosed within the same timeline because this type of case is deemed a MEDICAL EMERGENCY.
She’s not some celebrity. The same thing could happen to you (god forbid) and you never know what friend (from high school or middle school ) who pursued a career in medicine, might go out of their way to help you just like her colleagues did. And then maybe you would reflect on how fortunate your situation was.
It’s ridiculously hard and a very long path to becoming a doctor, and its not easy being one, but she choose this path not for “some future advantage” but to help people who are sick. You would acknowledge that if you had read her other blog posts.
Like I said, this post was to acknowledge all the wonderful things in life, not to reflect on all the negative things in society such as “elite treatment” (which is obviously not the situation in her case). That’s like using every post she has to reflect on how she has food to eat while so many others experience food insecurity.
And maybe if you thought about how difficult it is to undergo things like chemo (whether you’re stage 2 or 4), you would never take the time to post such negative thoughts when someone in her case needs only positivity. Because whatever she’s about to go through is nothings you will ever experience (god willing).
There are “BELIEBERS” “YOLO-ING” right now so this should not be something worth focusing negative energy on. What ever help or care she got from the people around her, doesn’t change the fact that she’s going to have a very difficult next few months-years.
As a doctor, she is dedicating her life to help others. And now is the time that she needs the most help and positivity from everyone around her.
As her friend Becky mentioned in the same comment above:
“Maybe next time think about the human being you are addressing before you post negative remarks towards someone fighting a life threatening disease you can not begin to comprehend.”
You’re right I was assuming a lot about you, and I really am sorry about your experiences. But with that said, there is absolutely NO excuse for bringing any sort or negativity into this situation at this time. And thats what you were doing.
When I added that quote from Becky, I actually was referring to what I said earlier in the post. She is pursuing a career that devotes her whole life to helping others, so there is no reason to have any animosity against her for the help she has received from people around her.
You find it necessary for her to acknowledge some aspect of society that you disfavor, when I asked in that post for others who are posting non-constructive remarks to read previous comments that had already addressed some of the points you had choose to remark on; and instead reconsider posting downbeat remarks by offering some words of encouragement.
If you really wanted to provide something constructive, especially coming from your experiences (which again I am very sorry to hear about), you could have offered her some personal advice that helped you get through your vulnerable time instead of some criticism on her post or even her experiences which she honestly didn’t have any control over. You are alive and hopefully well (knock on wood) you should instead reflect on your experiences in a positive manner especially for others who may come across similar situations. There is no room for bitterness at a time like this.
With warm regards,
P.S. Her name is Elana.
You are here for love, Elana. What an inspiration. Your unbelievable power will move mountains, I know it. You spread your love by just sharing your story. God be with you.
Don Livingston says
I met you very briefly at the Birthday Party in California for Peter’s Grand Mother, and thought at the time how charming you were, and how Peter adored you.
Having known Peter for most of his life, and to meet you was a very special event. I could see the change in Peter from your energy and LOVE.
Sending you love and best wishes on a speedy recovery.
Tejal Patel says
Elana – my heart can’t express how much your story has touched me and I’m sure so many other people. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your vulnerability. Your truth, candidness and love will touch so many people. My 27 year old sister in law is fighting hodgkins lymphoma and I feel your story can help so many young cancer patients trying to sort out the love and lesson in a not so ideal life experience. Ill certainly be sending you distant reiki. Though you work at UCLA as the USC Trojans so- Fight On… 🙂 xoxo
Sending you good health and happiness Elana. May my intentions, all the way from Sweden, give your body and spirit strength as you undergo your recovery process. Blessings.
Remember, You are LOVE!
Tejal Patel says
Elana – my heart can’t express how much your story has touched me and I’m sure so many other people. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your vulnerability. Your truth, candidness and love will touch so many people. My 27 year old sister in law is fighting hodgkins lymphoma and I feel your story can help so many young cancer patients trying to sort out the love and lesson in a not so ideal life experience. Ill certainly be sending you distant reiki. Though you work at UCLA as the USC Trojans so- Fight On… 🙂 Your mission of integrating Western and Eastern medicine is so necessary… Continue focusing on that.. – love, light and strength!!!
Tejal Patel says
Just came to me— maybe this is your opportunity to utilize holistic Eastern approaches to help cure your cancer instead of only the mainstream way of pumping your body with poison that decreases your immune system. Just a thought- your example by using alternative medicine can start giving the world proof that modern medicine may not be the best and only solution to turn off your cancer cells. The whole thought it is a fight against cancer puts us in the wrong mindset. Our bodies triggered them on so my creating an alkaline body, positive visualizations, healthy foods, and holistic cancer treatments– you can cure the spiritual root problem rather than only treating symptoms.
I just came across your blog on my friend’s FB page and was immediately drawn in and had to follow on to your page. Your blogs, tips, and passion to integrate Eastern and Western medicine are fabulous and you are truly inspirational! Not to mention I busted out laughing from your ukelele song (I’m currently in FNP school and although not the same I felt your sentiments)! I pray that you can stay strong, stand by your values and beliefs, ignore the negativity of useless and hurtful comments from people with nothing better to do with their time, and feed entirely off of the abundance of LOVE that others have for you! Have liked your page and am hopeful of reading future positive progress notes through your journey. Thank you for sharing during this intimate time. ~Kayla
Elana, I came across your blog today and want to share with you a wonderful book which speaks to Love, and the power of, especially now. You may know of it….Dying to be me by Anita Moorjani.
Wishing you healing and recovery to Live and Love a Long and full life.
Elana, you are an incredible person. Knowing you, when you read such words, you may brush it off and think you are not, but you are. You are blessed to have such a devoting and loving boyfriend, and he is blessed to have you.
Not only is your attitude and beliefs about your situation incredible but the way in which you share your story with pure Love is touching to the soul.
I will be sending you healing thoughts, and thank you so much for sharing your story so open-heartedly. My cancer 3 years ago accelerated my love of life and that is a good thing 🙂
~Wendy from British Columbia
Your beautiful writing and honesty left me sobbing in public at a coffee shop. I just got open heart surgery 5weeks ago and the journey has been difficult, yet not nearly, not even 5% as challenging as yours. I’m happy that you have the support of your boyfriend and hospital staff. Keep up that positive attitude and don’t forget to actually incorporate that positive attitude that you describe in your blog into your life. When I blogged about my heart surgery I often found myself forgetting all the positive stuff I wrote about, and got myself into ruts. I wish you the best of luck in your treatment and recovery. <3 -Anthony
I see you laughing and they say laughter is healing. Keep on laughing!! And smiling
Hugs from vancouver bc
Love Is…. Your incredible courage to stay positive, Love Is….. Your will to survive….. Love is Your Beautiful Contagious Smile! Stay as strong and Bold as you are, may God continue to bless you to inspire others xxxx
Shamik M. says
Hang in there Elana! You and I emailed you back and forth when I was a medical student and was thinking about applying into Psychiatry residencies. I thought you were incredible then, and I think you are incredible now. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Gil Raff says
My son Adam shared your post with me. In 2009 I developed AML. Since my cytogenetic profile was very unfavorable, I had a stem cell transplant after a pretty grueling course of chemo. At the time, what I told myself was true was that whatever happened, I was grateful.
Now I am back to doing what I love, practicing cardiology every day, and just spent a week in Vermont skiing with Adam, his wife Laura, my wife Karen and our daughter Marika. I couldn’t feel more grateful to be alive.
I wish only the same for you.
I was just introduced to your blog. Hello! My name is Sandra Richards and I am a mom, a nurse, and a cancer survivor. I read your blog and was compelled to reach out to you. I was diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia on November 1, 2002. I sent a month in the hospital receiving my induction chemotherapy and then had 3 more consolidation chemo treatments. I learned truly what love is and how many can and cannot express it to you during a time of need. It’s funny but the people you expect a lot from you may feel a bit disappointed in, however, others surprise you and new relationships are formed and a re- birth of faith in humanity grows. I am 11 years in remission and I was just discharged from annual follow up by my oncologist. I have met so many angels in my life and I pray that you will continue to experience love and support. Angels are everywhere when you open your heart to them:) my hope is you will recover and life a life of happiness and joy. I know that my type A personality held me back from seeing the beauty in imperfection and I no longer have that issue. Life threatening illness at a young age can be such a blessing if you let it. My prayers are with you, Sandy
Lindsay Davis says
Elana, I am so moved by your words and send you nothing but love, healing energy, and good vibes to aid your recovery. You will get through this! Thank you for your incredible light and presence in the world. Love, Lindsay
Another virtual face in the crowd sending Love.
Stay strong and stay positive! You can beat this!
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for your kind words and messages. It was a huge shock when I got diagnosed last week and to see this outpouring of support, even from people I don’t know, it truly touching. THANK YOU. It makes dealing with this terrible situation that much easier for me.
Also, I wanted to especially thank the people who stood up and defended me to the few haters who popped up. Mean-spirited comments have been deleted – this blog is my space for positive expression, not the space for another’s diatribe. I don’t make a habit out of censoring, but in this case the wound is still wide open and it is too hurtful to see that stuff here. The fact that you guys stood up and supported me when I was too overwhelmed to even read the comments means so much to me.
I’m at home now, feeling pretty sick but so glad to be out of the hospital. I will keep everyone updated on my progress through the blog. A CXR done at discharge already shows the mass is much smaller (after only 4 days of chemo!) and I feel optimistic about the future.
Thanks again and share the love,
Larry Hochman says
Amen, Baby!! To pull a Darth Vader paraphrase, “The Force is strong in this one.”
As for haters…I have compassion for them more than anything else. The need to find something to nitpick about in a post like yours is the sign of a very unhappy soul. It’s your space, and you don’t have to justify showing unenlightened people the door.
Continue getting well, Elana. Continuing to send love your way. 🙂
You’ve got this. <3
rock on, girl.
you’re gonna be just fine. i feel it.
Lindsay Reid says
Elana, wow I just saw this on Facebook through Sarah Car-Berry. I haven’t seen you in almost twenty years! I have the most wonderful memories of growing up with you. This post is unbelievable! I’m so sorry for what you are going through. You’re strength is inspiring. I will be paying for you and this battle that you are in.
Hugs and blessings.
Lindsay Reid (Cole)
Hi Elana, I just wanted to drop you a line to say, “I’m thinking about you, and praying that you have a complete and speedy recovery.” I’ll be checking your blog to stay up-to-date with your progresses. Hugs to you! 🙂
You are amazing. I’m a survivor of colon cancer, and I know the diagnosis can hit HARD, but you sound like you have such a wonderful plan for getting well. You also have a fabulous support system! I’ll be praying for complete healing for you!
This post? It kicks so much ass all those lymphoma cells are shaking in their puny cell walls.
I had an encapsulated dysgerminoma removed when I was younger and was faced with the (almost) inevitable fate of infertility. The stress of having a Gigantor-sized tumor removed coupled with the knowledge I might not ever be able to have kids was quite epic so I have a tiny inclining as to what you’re going through right now.
You know this already, but I’ll say it anyway:
It’s OK to not be “strong” all the time.
It’s OK (and normal) to not be the one to reassure everyone else all the time.
It’s OK to be mad.
It’s more than OK to say, “fudge bars” every time someone asks if they can bring you anything…not that I did that. Nope. Sure didn’t.
The support system you’ve built around yourself is simply amazing and that, above all else, is what’s going to help your body go all Chuck Norris on these errant cells and it’s what’s going to help keep you (somewhat) sane through all this.
Here’s to 2014 and annihilating you some cancer.
And I don’t say “Mcdonalds Vanilla Milkshake and Tapioca Pudding” everytime someone asks the same of me. 😉 Lol
Robert D. Stolorow says
I left a comment on this moving and beautiful piece in the Huffington Post.
My very best wishes to you, Bob Stolorow
Kevin O. says
Wow, Elana. You are a strong person! I can’t imagine going through what you are. You are in my heart.
Louise Steyn says
Hi Elana, I am from South Africa and my role model in healthy food is Lauren, who I cyber love like my own daughter.
You are strong, you are a good person – I am convinced of that without even having to knowing you and just looking at your lovely face.
From South Africa side you will be in my prayers, asking God to heal you and make you whole.
With much love
You go, girl.
You are amazing and incredible and I’m keeping you in my loving kindness meditation prayers. Thank you for writing such an intimate and beautiful post. I wish you well and health and safety and hope that you have an amazingly speedy recovery and are able to have a beautiful family.
Good morning Elana, just wanna give you a virtual hug…i wish this nasty period pass fast.
And i also believe you will have a baby in your arms in the future*
Hug you …from a very distance country
Ilan Richter says
Thank you for your candor, observant writing and absolute optimism – none of which are trivial. As a med student and future clinician, they truly are inspiring and unique.
I can only wish you that one elusive haematological term you so deserve – CR (complete remission). May 2014 bring it to you.
I read your article through a link on the Huffington post. I just wanted to let you know that at 17 I was diagnosed with lymphoblastic T cell lymphoma as well. I was initially diagnosed with the same tumor in my chest wall as well as other spots in my abdomen and neck area. I had 18 months of high dose chemotherapy including many drugs (cytoxan etc) that cause infertility. I just celebrated my 39th birthday last week. I also have 3 children (11, 8 and 2). I’m sending love and healing thoughts your way !!!
Thank you so much for this comment Shelley… it gives me such hope that you were in the exact same situation and still had children!
James McDonald says
I’m sorry to say that I never heard of you until today. I was skimming Huff Post, and this headline caught my attention. I read this, and I’m happy that I stumbled across it.
You have no idea how much this moved me, and how much I agree with you. Love is what it’s all about, and I love you. I love the love that you’re seeing around you. I hope and pray that you beat this, and because of the love and passion you have for others, yourself and the world, I truly believe you will. My thoughts are with you.
I signed up for updates, and I’m going to read everything I can on your site. I’m very intrigued by mixing western medicine with eastern philosophies. You boyfriend is a lucky man.
Robert D. Stolorow says
Comment reposted from Huffington Post: Thank you for this very moving story, Dr. Miller. You give a beautiful example of how an experience of trauma can be better borne when it finds a context of loving understanding in which it can be held. You might find my own blog post on this theme to be of interest: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-relating-existing/201303/i-ll-be-you-when-the-deal-goes-down
Sadie Blood says
I don’t know you, nor have I ever read your blog before but this came up on my Facebook and I couldn’t help but read. I’m so glad I did. I hope that you keep your positivity and strength going, it is inspiring. Thank you for posting this.
I came to your site after reading about your journey at the HuffPo and just wanted to tell you that you are in my thoughts and prayers. The fact that you can be so graceful during the most difficult time is a testament to your wonderful soul. May it continue to stay strong and thrive even on the darkest days and gleam on the brightest. Wishing you the very best on this new journey and that it is filled with hope and love.
Kathy Dempsey says
Dearest Elan, thank you for sharing your story with such honesty and Love. You have touched my soul with you story and am praying for your full recovery.
Continue to inspire us with your truth and courage and love. What the world needs more of is Love…..
I am lighting a candle for you and will continue to keep you in my prayers.
Love, Light, Joy and Courage,
Lauren Benning says
Anon, I am sorry if you personally have received unequal treatment in a hospital setting. I urge you to consider the idea that not every act of kindness necessitates someone else going without. When you do special favors for the people you love, are you taking something away from other people in your life, or are you simply expending a little extra energy to perform those acts of kindness?
Elana literally just said, “the wound is still wide open and it is too hurtful to see that stuff here” in her response to mean spirited comments. And fortunately for me, I don’t know anyone who has any respect for those that sneer at the vulnerable (especially when they choose to be “anonymous”.
Cancer is a very complicated and wearisome illness that takes a lot physical and emotional strength, especially in Elana’s case. I’m sure if you were in such a vulnerable state, you would be hurt by such cynical comments as well.
Elana could have reciprocated to the negative comments with hate, but instead she choose to censor those comments and made clear this blog is “not the space for another’s diatribe”. You should learn from her positivity and not try to harm it.
If you cannot share any positivity with the community supporting her because of a social issue that upsets you, then you should express those opinions elsewhere.
You should also read the multiple comments beforehand which distinctly clarify she did not push anyone aside.
Its so sad to see how someone could emanate such negativity and cynicism, when Elana, being in such a situation she’s in, still has the ability to express gratitude and positivity towards everyone around her when SHE needs it the most right now.
P.S. It’s spelled “anonymous”
I am not as mature as all these other folks who are trying to defend and explain Elana’s situation. I am inspired by her, I am overwhelmed with love by her. All I have for you haters is…Fuck You!
I read your post within hours of you publishing it. I was so sad, crying while reading, and so moved as well by the way you were able to contextualize this shocking news and transform it into such an inspiring contribution to the world.
You and I have had months of a serendipitous, email-based relationship, which I have so appreciated. It’s the one and only email-only relationship I have with anyone! And yet, it took me until today to overcome my mind and bring myself to write.
I so admire who you are and what you stand for and your thirst for learning more about whatever works to heal others. I apologize for the delay. Thank goodness jillions of others are flooding you with kind words and support.
Today I figuratively shook myself by my shoulders to get off it and write to you. I’m a perfectionist procrastinator. (Do you know a therapist who might help me? ) So I dropped into your blog first to see if anyone had posted any comments. It’s been what seems like hours now that I’ve been reading these extraordinary messages of care and love and appreciation and support and optimism. You so deserve the overwhelming number of good ones. As for the others, I let them go, using one of my favorite lines: They just can’t help it, their brain made them say that.
I want you to know this: I appreciate you so much, Elana, I intend the very best for you, and, as e. e. cummings wrote so eloquently, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart).”
Elana, That you so much for sharing your terrifying story and brave heart! I found your blog post through Huffington Post and followed the link to your blog…. I intend on reading your story and following your journey along with what looks like many MANY more readers. I don’t know your spiritual beliefs but I would be honored to pray for you. I don’t know you but I do know that God has big plans for you and your story!
Kick it’s ass!
Sara Baker says
Elana, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
As I sat to meditate this morning I checked my ‘Insight timer’ app and found a post mentioning you in the Healthcare professional group. Someone called John in Greenville ,South Carolina asked us to send you wishes and positive energy.
So here I am, all the way from Melbourne, Australia doing just that.
I know also that you didn’t need me to tell you that 😉
My own daughter had Acute myeloid leukaemia some years ago, and I am a Doctor too.
You are right- this course will be one of great love, at such an intensity that at times it too will take your breath away! There may be days when that alone keeps you going….
So , I send you, your Peter, your family, your friends and even those who are yet to meet you – love from Australia to add to your journey.
Elana, you have the right attitude.
I received my “Holy shit, I have cancer” diagnosis six months ago – Stage 4, grade B, B cell, non-hodgkins follicular lymphoma. Within 24 hours I realized that I am worthy of my own love, that I was far from done (as a matter of fact I was just getting started) and that I had more love and support amongst my friends and family than I had ever known.
Because of my “thank you for coming and teaching me some lessons I needed to learn, but you’re not welcome here anymore, I will win” attitude, the support, love and good juju from friends, family and even strangers, as well as diet adjustments (cut out refined sugars, all processed foods, most dairy, increased veggies and added fish oil, spirulina, chia seeds, hemp seeds, turmeric, etc) and chemo my mass went from 17.5 x 14.6 x 7.3 cm down to 9.5 x 6.1 x 2.6 cm by the three month scan. My six month scan is in 10 days.
Well, that’s a long winded way if saying, I can completely relate to your situation and outlook. Loving yourself and letting the love of those around you in can go a very long way towards your process of healing. Sending you nothing but strength and healing juju.
You may enjoy this article I came across last week in the Huffington Post. https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1628266
Best wishes on your scan.
Dawn DiAngelo says
Your blog brought tears to my eyes, but the kind of tears that summon the strength each one of us needs to navigate the challenges in our lives. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your words and strength will resonate for anyone who has read these words.
If getting my ass kicked in Pentago for 1 year taught me anything, it’s that you’re a fucking champ. Kick some ass and get better soon.
Get well soon elana
Amazing post. You follow your own teachings. Beautiful to see.
Best of luck to you
“What seems nasty, painful, evil can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind.”
“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.” ― Henry Miller
Found this via HP and it resonated so very deeply. Sending you woo & juju for the next steps on this path.
Myriam FT says
My sister sent me your article today and I was deeply moved by your amazing attitude towards life and health as well as your beautiful blog… My thoughts are with you, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring vision. I spent half a day reading your posts and reflecting on how strong and unique a person you must be.
You must truly be love to get so much love. Best wishes and God bless.
Thank you for that beautiful article and for sharing your inspiring story. I, too, spent Christmas in less than idyllic circumstances at the hospital – I lost my first baby. It was a wretched experience, but a good reminder of my forgotten strength. As horrific as such events may be, we learn to accept them and face them with incredible strength. I wish you continued peace, strength and positivity. And may you always find love in your journey.
You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Sue Ferguson says
Your strength is amazing! Thank you for sharing so much wisdom and love!
I am not as mature as all these other folks who are trying to defend and explain Elana’s situation. I am inspired by her, I am overwhelmed with love by her. All I have for you haters is…Fuck You!
James Bailey says
I don’t know if you remember me but I was on the swim team a long time ago and I saw John Cole post about this. I live in LA and work very nearby you. It would be great to come by and visit sometime.
Please let me know if you are up for it. Be
Elana, you have such a beautiful outlook on life. Love that I found you, so sorry it was under these circumstances. Xoxo
Lisa Bonchek Adams has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and writes about her journey on this blog and twitter. Her mantra is “@AdamsLisa: Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”
Lisa is medically sophisticated and hyper-organized. I love this idea of a binder!
Dr. Miller, I just found your blog today while trying to find an app for reminders for breast self exams. I read this post – I am not often moved to tears, but before I was half way in, I was weeping as I have not done in a long time. I am truly, truly sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I will keep you in my thoughts for a full recovery that is as quick and comfortable as possible.
My mother, due to an unwillingness or fear of managing her health, passed from undiagnosed/untreated breast cancer and I have found a small tender area on one of my breasts. I have a mammogram/ultrasound scheduled for Monday, and am working on not being afraid and keeping as positive of an attitude and expectation as I can. Finding your blog, I believe will help with the waiting beforehand, and regardless of the results, I also believe will be of great value in helping me to stay positive on a day to day basis.
Perhaps it is synchronicity that I found your blog 🙂
Best thoughts and wishes for your good health.
I’m reading ur post on Facebook first thing in the morning. It has certainly opened up a flood gate of all sorts of emotions. What strikes me is the striking similarities between my story and yours. I’m a psychiatrist as well and like you had acute myeloid leukaemia. Only difference is that I chose to become psychiatrist only after my experience through my ordeal. It takes me back exactly nine years ago when I was diagnosed one fine December (17 dec) morning. It felt my whole world has stopped for a minute, but I had to pull myself together for my hubby ( who had lost his mum only a week ago)and two lovely little children (aged 3 and 18 months) at that time. All I could think of was my children. What would happen to them??? New in UK with no family around.. Who will look after my children?? And then… God send me the most beautiful gifts over the next few months… love, hope and faith..which helped me through 6 month of intensive chemo, few trip down the ICU, and couple of near death experiences. I emerged as a different person all together through this..despite being so “pathologically optimistic” as my husband puts it, I never imagined if I’d be able to see my 40th or to see my daughter getting into secondary school. This year, I’ve reached that milestone :). Can’t be more grateful to God for giving me strength, my hubby, my family and those friends who became my family for being there at the lowest time of my life.
Elana, get well soon. Just never lose hope… Don’t read too much about the evidence base / prognosis of ur rare type of cancer… These are all numbers… They mean nothing … I was told there was 99.9 % chance of getting a relapse within 3 months…if I didn’t have transplant.. I refused transplant b/c I wanted to have quality time with my children … Never had one .. Still alive and kicking…
I can write a whole book about my experience but for now won’t bore you more. 🙂
May God give you strength to go through this. Prayers and best wishes … Zakia ([email protected])
This was incredibly written and heartfelt record of your feelings and experience. I too hope you get better for you and for your goal to help others. You are an inspiration to me. I am currently a medical student and I will not forget your story. I believe in you. Get well soon!
Cassandra Hamilton says
I am sorry to read of the events of your diagnosis. The list you wrote is very healing. Since you are interested in psycology, I would urge you to read the work of Lewis-Mehl Madrona. His work with narrative medicine is what helped me to heal a very rare eye disease.
In a nutshell, one aspect of his work is to have a client make a shamanic journey to the disease, name it as if it were a person or being, ask it why it came, listen to the answers, thank it for the lessons the disease has taught, tell it one doesn’t need it any more, and tell it to leave. I am now not sure one even needs the shamanic journey. I think one’s imaging such a conversation might be enough.
I wish you blessings and immediate healing.
I found you via a tweet. Wishing you all the best for quick healing.
From another blogger/psychiatrist/Dr. Miller.
P.S. When I started practice I treated a young woman who had had lymphoma as a teenager. She was told she would be infertile from the RT/chemo and so did not use birth control. She became pregnant and I later heard from her that she had a second child.
You got this. My oncology surgeon told me chemo will kick my @ss but I will kick cancer’s @ss. I have 2 more week of chemo before I move to radiation. It can be done. On those darker days get up. Just get up and walk. You can do this.
Best wishes to you!
One warrior to another….
Barbara Snow says
The universe continues to astound me. I found your blog for the first time just yesterday and cannot begin to tell you how beautiful and inspirational your post was for me. Love always wins, I believe that, and tonight I send my love to you to help in the days to come. Will continue to follow your posts and look forward to the day when the worst will be behind you. Much love and peace.
Barb in Minnesota
Jan Newman MD, FACS, ABIHM says
I subscribed to your blog a few days ago because you seemed wise well beyond your years. Psychiatry is in desperate need of practioners with your insight and dedication. I was surprised to see your post referring to being diagnosed with cancer. As I noted in a previous post, I don’t believe you received privileged treatment due to the fact you are a physician. You received standard of care treatment which occurred because your friends went to bat for you. Unfortunately our medical system is not what is should be, but all of us have to deal with the world as it is. Fortunately cancer therapy has advanced significantly and with your support network and courage, hopefully, you will prevail. You will learn a great deal from being a patient. Your journey will not be easy. Both the agony and ecstasy are no permanent but love and compassion are our true nature and they can be. My best wishes and prayers are with you.
sally randall says
thank you for your honesty and courage. My husband just went through this. the words you choose just nail every point and feeling one goes through when faced with this terrifying stop to life. – We were treated with love in a place where we knew only a few people and i have no family. IT was horrible. He has lymphoma and is fighting it now. I pray for you as i pray for him!!! And he was given a ct the night we went in to the er—then they put us in a room and did a biopsy that night!!! they knew we were afraid…one possibility they had to rule out was a scary one! we were treated well overall and nobody knew us.. its protocol.. they treat to save!!!!
So sorry to hear about this elana. my family and I in india are praying for you everyday . we love you . take care
Hey Elana . Praying for you day in and day out. love.
Crying after reading this. Your strength, drive, determination and passion are beautiful. I am thinking of you. I’m praying for you. Love is everywhere, you are right. And you know how to find it. Please continue to stay strong, to share your story and to live fully and without reserve.
Elana – Your blog touches me like no other. As a cancer patient myself (myeloma; dx Dec. 2001), I feel a sort of kinship with you regarding your general attitudes about life and your specific writings in your Love Is piece. I love your positivity (so important!) and am looking forward to future writing from you as you fight this Beast. *HUGS*
Sara London says
Dear Elana, I just came across your website- like you I am also a psychiatrist interested in integrating Eastern and Western traditions of healing. I am so sorry to hear you are fighting a health battle and wish you strength and Love to you and your family to be able to recover from this.
You write so beautifully and gracefully. Thank you. I hope to meet you one day!
Love Sara xxx
My name is Sarah, I’m coming from Germany and I’m 25 years old. I have the same cancer as you have (acute lymphoblastic T-cell lymphom) even the size of the lymphom was the same and I also had a pleural effusions (3 litres). I’m since februar in therapy and the large lymphom is gone, but the found T-cells in my pleura in december. The doctor told me, that I need a stem cell transplantation as soon as possible to beat the cancer (because the cancer adapt to my immune system and thats why I need a new one)
And I also know….intrathecal chemotherapy sucks!
Can you tell me how your therapy protocol is called? I’m wondering if it is the same as in Germany.
Always stay positive!!! We will defeat the cancer!
Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your message. I’m on Hyper-CVAD. Yes, intrathecal chemo is the worst!!
I read your blog through a post of one of my friends on Facebook. And I am deeply sorry for what happened to you. I will light a candle for you and share your positive view on this illness and the treatment. You will come out of this ….as you predicted!
Your view on being grateful for all the good things that happened to you, whilst you took in the message and afterwards, humbles me…I think you have found the best approach possible!
I wish you to get well very soon Elena,
Elana- you are so beautiful, inside and out. I was so moved by your very personal story. Thank you for sharing it. It was “shared” on Facebook by my friend, an anesthesiologist. I am a surgical oncologist, and I didn’t realize at first that you are a physician also. You write so eloquently so that every person can understand and relate to what you are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and I am sure that you will achieve your goals. You are so positive and so full of love- you are an inspiration to all! There is no wonder why so much love is enveloping you. I also “shared” your story on FB. You are touching so many lives. God bless you and your family.
Allison Dimsdale says
You have given a wonderful and important gift to so many people in far reaching places by your willingness to be transparent and to share your story. You are strong! You are beautiful! You are sensitive and smart, and by the way, you are a fabulous writer. I have faith and confidence that you will overcome this wicked disease with style and pizzaz, and I will pray for you.
I found your blog in german Facebook! Your story touched my heart and thats why I just wanna send you a little smile and a little bit more power! Keep on fighting!
You gonna win this fight.
All the best wishes,
Tobias from Germany
I never really took ‘cancer’ so seriously, even though I’ve heard friends of friends found themselves with cancer. This post shatters my world….I’ve been following your blog for a while that you almost feels like a close friend to me. I shared this on my FB as well. My prayers are with you and your fight against this!
Kristina Johnson says
I just read your story and cried while reading it as I could relate in many ways. Although my situation is different, it is a bit the same as I just went through 6 months of chemo and multiple types of radiation treatments for breast cancer. It was important for me to stay positive and only be around people who had positive things to say. I never realized how much everyone cared for me and wanted to help. This was definetely an eye opener!
Stay strong, stay positive and you will make it through this! Your story is and inspiration. Thank you for sharing it. My prayers are with you.
Alan Howard says
A beautiful and painful article for me to read. I lost my young wife to cancer a year ago. It was horrible. I read this and immediately made dua for you and your family.
Chase Faulk says
Love is… finding the love that surrounds you, even in times when it could be so easily neglected.
The mind rules. Remember that Elana. As long as you stay focused and strong in your head you will be on top. I have been at it (cancer) for almost 8 yrs now. It’s not easy, but life never is. I hope your chemo will work great!
PS That Peter is the real deal, no doubt about that!
… and there 2 things we can not get too much of in life, education and (of course) love! ;o)
Traci Lowenthal says
I’ve never heard of you before I read your “Love is…” blog. I am a psychologist – so that makes me feel some sort of connection with you… I love your website.. I love the premise you’ve created. I have previously worked with people kicking cancer’s ass and have been so humbled by them, and now, by you. The arbitrary unfairness of it all is enough to make you nuts, but hopefully, also enough to light a fire on the darkest days. You can do this.. I don’t know you, but I believe that you can. Please keep writing… knowing there are people out here in the internet world waiting to hear of your progress and set backs.. your pain and your joy..
David De Silva says
thank you for being so vulnerable and open as you are in this article, it made me cry (and does every time I reread it). I signed up for your blog and just got your latest article (Things I’ve Wondered Since Being Diagnosed With Cancer), thank you for this as well. 10 years ago I got cancer (carcinoma of the appendix, weird right? They didn’t know what department to send me to) and in February I’ll be 11 years post treatment. I asked myself many, if not most, of the same questions you’re asking as well and reevaluated everything. I felt the incredible love that you write about here, embarrassed at times to accept it, but needed and restorative. Some, no many, of the question I found had no answers, and that was OK for me. I wanted to respond to this, leave a comment, but then one finds oneself wondering what exactly to say even though you feel like you have so much you want to say. Thank you again for this, I hold you in my thoughts and prayers….
wish you the best 🙂
with LOVE .. Mohamad
Rawiya Dirani says
I wept my heart away, but you are in my prays and in my thoughts, that was such a nice piece you write, you have such a kind and caring heart, and your family and friends have hearts that are so precious, I hope you get better very very soon and you get back up on your feet and you do everything that you wish to do and accomplish. get better soon Princess xoxo
Dr. J says
I had not read your blog in a while, but revisited as I have liked your writing and atypical yet similar view of medicine! I really don’t have words to express my feelings as I read your words about your cancer diagnosis.
Your courage and vision is amazing!
My mom had B cell lymphoma.
Bobbie Piety says
Poignant story. While I cannot give medical advice, if *I* were in your shoes, I would immediately begin eating edible cannabis preparations, in addition to whatever treatment the doctors prescribed. If you google “Cannabis cures cancer”, you will find dozens of studies, anecdotal stories, and reports that cannabis indeed CURES many forms of cancer.
I am a stranger to you, but a friend of Debbie C, who shared your story on her FB page. I hope, at the very least, you google “Cannabis cures cancer”– or whatever combination of terms you choose, and make your decisions knowingly, NOT based on political fear mongering of the past. I also hope that you have complete remission quickly, with your fertility preserved.
Keep the faith. I was asked to view your blog as I was just diagnosed with Hodgkin s Lymphoma stage 2. I like you know I will beat this and be a better human for it and will be able to help those who might have cancer now and in the future be able to stay strong and beat the beast.
Stay strong and I will read on…
Hello Elana, i hope your doing well this morning. I read your blog and was very touched by it. I’m a D.O. in my first year of psychiatry residency and i have been dealing with some relatively minor health problems that caused me to take a medical leave. I remember not knowing what going on with my health and being very scared at the time. I felt like i had worked so hard to get to that point in my life and i felt like it was all going to be taken away. Your stength and courage during such a difficult situation is awe inspiring. Luckily i have been able to go back to work and i am so grateful. We are so lucky to get to do what we do! I honestly never thought i would get the kind of fulfillment and peace i have when im practicing medicine. I hope you get well soon and get back to what you were meant to do.
Hi Elana –
You are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story. I love your blog and all of the wisdom you share in it. Wishing you a speedy treatment and recovery!
Christy from San Francisco
I can’t believe the amount of ignorant people that are making a fuss about her recieving better treatment than others (especially on the huffington post website). This is a person who has chosen to share something powerful. She’s professing her gratitude and thanks for those who have been there for her. Maybe she is recieving excellent care by doctors and collegues but those are also the people who genuinely care about her. The bottom line is we should not hold resentment or jealousy toward this woman. I am 19 and just found out 3 weeks ago that my father has a rare sarcoma in his leg. It his a high grade tumor and he will begin high doseage chemotherapy which will make him very sick. We have also had to deal with waiting and scheduling countless MRI’s, CT’s, and PET scans. He is not a doctor and doesn’t have any “special connections” however i’m not complaining about how he has been treated. Maybe you don’t have spectacular insurance or know someone in the medical field but you should not feel justified criticizing Elena and her situation. I am positive that there are much worse or “unfair” occurances that happen in hospitals each day where patients recieve better care than others. In my opinion, this is not one of them. Just stop complaining and be thankful that she is recieving the proper treatment that she NEEDED. Elena, I wish you the best on your jouney with fighting cancer.
Irene Metro says
Keeping you in my prayers, sending you love. I was looking for something else on the ABIHM website, when someone mentioned your name and I read your story. Your strength is
powerful, your love amazing and you have a million candles lighting your path.
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vịt nướng vân đình says
Asking questions are in fact good thing if you are not understanding something fully, except this piece of writing presents pleasant understanding
Hi Elana ,
your spirit and your desire for life, overcome this difficult stage of your life. Do not lose faith, and what you say and how you say, that’s fine, no one is prepared to face such a challenge. God bless you. xoxo
Dr. Simoncini discovers incredible new Cancer treatments:
We are kindred spirits! I too am Stage IV but Kidney Cancer. It is all about LOVE! It’s amazing to know this feeling of living each day to the fullest, never giving up and knowing the real meaning of faith. I wish everyone could have this feeling at least once in their lifetime. My prayers are with you and I will pray every single day
We are kindred spirits! I too am Stage IV but Kidney Cancer. It is all about LOVE! It’s amazing to know this feeling of living each day to the fullest, never giving up and knowing the real meaning of faith. I wish everyone could have this feeling at least once in their lifetime. My prayers are with you and I will pray every single day
Saw your wonderful article in KevinMD yesterday– certainly you now have a new follower. The article went way beyond the usual “10 things not to say to a cancer survivor.”
By the way, I’m surviving low-grade B-cell NHL….. not exactly thriving, but trying new and alternative things in addition to Western med. Anyway, it’s treatable (with new and better treatments coming online all the time now), but not curable. I’ve probably had this for 10-15 years, but officially 5 years post-diagnosis now.
Anyway, true inspirations come along rarely, and I don’t forget when it happens. Thank you.
First of all, I stumbled upon your website today and it is just what I needed. I believe the universe works in weird ways. Sometimes, it has a not so funny sense of humor that it uses to get our attention. And, I think it kicks you in the butt when you refuse to listen. I was diagnosed with cutaneous t-cell lymphoma Feb. 2014. In the fall of 2014 I started noticing bruises, marks on my skin, itching skin, experiencing nosebleeds, hair falling out, etc.. etc. I never connected the dots until I went to my doctor in Dec. 2013 for something unrelated. He referred me to a dermatologist because it was mostly skin related. Of course, I waited. I finally saw the dermatologist in Jan. 2014, The derm did a biopsy on my “spots” that same day. He was a rock star! He Sent my biopsy to 2 different pathologists to confirm I had CT-CL. Well my sneaky lymphoma is blood and skin involved. It’s indolent (new word I learned!). I have a team of doctors from the dermatology and hematology/oncology dept. They fight over me. 😉 I’ve been on a roller coaster ride ever since Feb. 12 when I got the phone call from the derm, “you have cancer.” I was sitting in my car at a Target parking lot wondering how I was going to get my shopping done after that phone call. We now I’m on a journey. Sometimes it’s lonely, sometimes its actually funny. My mantra is ” I don’t have time for Cancer!!!” Thanks for letting me post and vent a little bit. 🙂 I will be following your blog!
Doc Amy says
Hello, Elena! How are you now? Please let me know if I could be of any help to your condition, well-being, and soul in using Wholesome and Authentic approaches of various kinds of Medicines and Remedies! I am sure you have traveled so many Different Types of Paths in Your Life since onset of Inconceivable and Unexpected Dx let alone you are in the medicine field!
I hope you have been making great progress and that your body is not manifesting too many adverse effects from the treatments. Take care and please email me if I could be of any assistance at all.
Rest Well and Be Well!
Doc Amy, Health Doctor (HD), Consultant, and Educator
Doc Amy says
Actually, I want correct the misspelling of the one letter in Elana’s name. I used the letter e instead of an a. Anyhow, please correct it for me if you could. I hope Elana is Well! Thank you!
Amy’s Authentic Medicinal Health Elements and Pathways
Abi Mayer says
I’m so moved by this. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroendocrine Carcinoma a year ago (as of yesterday, as a matter of fact). I came across your blog after clicking on a post I pinned many months ago.
My father has been chronicling my story for the past year, and we recently decided to start a blog. I’ve been hunting for blogs with a similar focus and haven’t had much luck until I found yours. My hope is that I can elicit a fraction of the emotion you do through your writing. Simply beautiful.
I hope you’re well and feeling strong. It’s amazing how the most unfortunate of circumstances can illuminate the most beautiful realizations– that love can inspire hope, healing and meaning.
With love and admiration,