A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer...
And There Is One

deHaan

About Marie de Haan

Marie de Haan—wife, mother of three, piano teacher, songwriter, and writer—was leading an impossibly busy life. All of that changed when she was blindsided by a diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer. She got even busier. From chemotherapy and surgery to battles with the insurance company, tussles with her naturopath over the consumption of sugar to internal debate over whether or not to endure radiation, Cancer Is A Funny Thing details how Marie handled these issues: with humor and grace. And Häagen-Dazs chocolate mint ice cream.

August 10, 2019

Letter #46 To My Benefactor

Hike to Clayton Beach on July 31, 2019

Dear Benefactor,

Guess what? I’m so excited. My mental block against hiking is over. Finally. I thought it would never end.

Remember? I told you all about my anxiety in Letter #45 when I let you know that I was hoping to conquer Cutthroat Trail. I made it all the way to the lake and back, only stopping once and that was when I was too chicken to cross the log dangling over the creek and had to be coaxed over by my hiking partner for about three minutes. At least there was no crying involved like the last time.

I’ve done two hikes since, right in a row. On July 30, I went up to the top of Fragrance Lake on my first try—usually it takes me at least three or four to work up the stamina to do it. Go me. Go me.

Where was I? Oh, throwing a little party for myself, I see.

I’m not gonna lie. This hike kicked my bahookie. According to my Fitbit, it was as if I had climbed 96 flights of stairs and my heart rate went up to 183 beats per minute and stayed there for 10 minutes. I finally forced myself to rest, because I didn’t want to have a heart attack right there in the woods. That would have put a damper on things, eh? (Like I was telling my friend, Fran Drescher, I’ve had a few heart issues in the past, so I wanted to be careful.)

I only dared stop for one minute. If I had stopped any longer, I would have taken a three-hour nap right there in the woods and my husband would not have been able to drag my ass back down the mountain.

On July 31, I did another easier hike, down to Clayton Beach.

I’m looking forward to telling you about more of my adventures.

Sincerely,

Marie

By |August 2019|Letter To My Benefactor|

August 9, 2019

That’s Not Something You See Every Day #6

Seahawks OnesieI went shopping at Value Village today and bought a onesie for my 6’5″ son because he’s bonkers about the Seahawks. The only problem is, I tried it on when I got home and it barely fit me. (I’m 5’7″.)

Looks like I have a new pair of pajamas.

By |August 2019|That's Not Something You...|

June 21, 2019

Letter #45 To My Benefactor

Dear Benefactor,

It has been a really long time. On March 8, 2018, I promised you that I would go hiking again. Well, I hit a bit of a snag.

Boy-howdy, who am I kidding? It’s been rough.

On April 11, 2018, I ended up in the ER. I had been having sporadic, excruciating pain on the left side of my abdomen for a year and a half. I was sent home with a possible diagnosis of a kidney stone.

I went to several doctors to keep searching for an answer and by June 3, I was diagnosed with celiac sprue. I guess my colon was bleeding, hence my pain. Because of the internal bleeding, I ended up with severe anemia. (The normal range for ferritin is from 10 to 232, and my ferritin was 5.)

Not only did I have severe anemia, I had also gained 40 pounds because I was in so much pain all the time and had not been able to exercise like before.

Last year, on July 1, 2018, I determined to try to go hiking with my family from Ontario, Canada. I settled on Cutthroat Trail which is an easy trail I’ve done before. (I told you all about my first time hiking it in Letter #32 to you.)

About twenty minutes in, I knew I was in trouble. I turned around and bawled my head off for those 20 minutes back to the car, so frustrated with myself. The medical websites weren’t kidding when they said that “anemia causes weakness and fatigue.”

Since that day, I’ve had a mental block about hiking.

I’ve managed to lose 24 pounds and my ferritin level is up. Therefore, I have decided it’s time to get back into hiking. Tomorrow morning, I am going to conquer that Cutthroat Trail. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Sincerely,

Marie

 

By |June 2019|Letter To My Benefactor|

April 3, 2019

Cancer Survivorship-6

April 3, 2009

April 3, 2019

Today marks the ten-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, the day some strange doctor—not my regular one—told me about ten times in a thick accent, “You have advanced cancer.”

The picture on the left was taken three hours later, right before my family’s scheduled road trip to Angel’s Camp, California.

I thought for sure I would die within six months; maybe with a little luck, I’d make it to Christmastime. God had other plans.

Ten years. I can hardly believe it.

Not only am I alive, I have a good life: a wonderful husband who stuck with me through thick and thin—cancer was definitely one of the thin spots, I must say—and three great children who make me proud on a daily basis.

On top of that, I have countless friends, friends who drove me to my chemotherapy appointments, friends that were there for me when I wanted to quit, friends that were there for me when other situations in my life tried to knock me down.

I’ve been grateful to be part of a church family that has held me up over these past ten years, scraping me off the floor way more than once.

I’m going to continue to live my life, happy and content with every extra day I am given.

 

By |April 2019|Cancer Survivorship & Survivor's Guilt|

January 1, 2019

Dear Fran Drescher #37

December 15, 2018

Dear Fran,

Remember in my last letter to you, I told you about my upcoming nipple surgery?

Well, I ended up getting that nipple on October 1—and four other procedures done—and I must say, it was quite the ordeal. First off, I remember counting back from 100 and the next thing I knew, I thought to myself, “Why is that surgeon sitting on me to work on my boob? Come on, guy, get off me…I can’t breathe when you’re sitting on my chest.”

Suddenly, medical personnel were scrambling, asking me questions and barking out orders: “Get the leads. Can you breathe? Have you had this before? Is the OR ready?”

I could not open my eyes to save my life, or my mouth to speak, but instead felt sticky pieces of tape being applied all over my chest.

All I could do was think, Oh my word, they think I’m having a heart attack.

In fact, Fran, I had had this same feeling before, the previous November when my husband and I went to Maui. The first morning we were there, I couldn’t breathe and I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I knew it wasn’t a panic attack, because I had learned how to conquer those a long time ago.

To make a long story short, I did not have a heart attack on October 1. I do, however, have a new nipple. I will tell you about the other procedures in my next letter to you.

I hope you have a great 2019.

Best friends always,

Marie

By |January 2019|Breast Reconstruction, Dear Fran Drescher|