Keeping Warm in the Cold

Hey y’all – happy new year! Hope everyone had a wunderbar holiday season and those in the grip of the current cold snap are staying warm.

Since my last update nothing too major has happened on the medical front. My tumor marker continued it’s “soft landing” and dropped to 17 as of last Thursday.  The RPLND and orchiectomy surgery is scheduled for 1/24 and I have pre-op MRI, PET-CT scans and pulmonary function tests this Thursday. We met with the surgeon last week who does excellent work by all accounts. Having some of the details of the procedure filled in and taking some preparatory steps has added some tangibility to the surgery which is a bit scary.   But it also feels good to be moving forward and on the healing path.  My hair is starting to come back – I even shaved for the first time in 4 months – and my energy is back.  I still have intermittent tinnitus, hardened veins in my arms and I have developed some slight neuropathy as numbness in my left foot (which is also losing toenails) but it’s not too bad and I am hopeful it will all fade over time.

KR and I were able to get away to Costa Rica for 10 days for some much needed R&R. We did yoga almost every day, watched 10 suns set, had a visit from a huge sea turtle during our little solstice ceremony on the beach, slept a lot and ate the best fresh fruit I’ve ever tasted.

The day we got there we walked to the beach to watch the sun go down. As we lay down with our feet in the sand pointed at the source of all life, surfers bobbing up and down in the long breaks, I found myself weeping. It felt like such a sweet wonder to be there, to be in love, to be free of the chemo, to unwind the buried coils of fear for a moment. We returned refreshed, reconnected, rejuvenated and ready for the rest of the winter.

On new year’s eve we had a bonfire. Many of us burned representations of obstacles or other elements we wanted to leave behind in 2013. On a 2×4 I wrote “cancer” on one side and “the illusion of and need for control” on the other. I have been trying to really plug into being able to be grounded in helplessness (which is not to say abandoning intention or action) and I suppose being under general anesthesia while your abdomen is wide open for 5 hours is a good opportunity to practice that state :).  I just read an excellent book that touches on this struggle: “Shadows on the Path” by Abdi Assadi. It’s a quick read but rich in useful, well-earned wisdom in a humble and humorous container.

Couple of things I wanted to share:

1) The song below, “Go Home,” by Lucius has been on repeat for the last month in a way I have not obsessed on a song in while. It’s a gorgeous recording but maybe it’s the refrain “I don’t need you anyway / I don’t need you / go home” and the way they sing it that captures so well how I feel about the cancer right now.


2) a few recent poems:


i can hear the breeze tickling
the leaves, my love.
like a boy moving pebbles in his hand
a tic tac music in the wind

i can smell the weight of the air
filling every space, my love.
sweet burnt molasses smell
filled with expectation

i can see the breast of a thundercloud
heaving towards us, my love.
pregnant blanket pulling across
the sky to cover the green land

lie here with me
take this dry hand in yours
feel the pulse of blood
in my hardened veins
wait softly with me
for the show to begin


i see my self in the
empty space
left by
your shape

a curve of painful loss
a pocket of anger
an angle of need

my shadows bleed into yours

i want to map this landscape with you,
notate all of the parts that are
worn and burnished
like the head of a cane

spend a lifetime finding
the route home
until we can both see it and
stand at the edge of the wood
looking across the quiet snow
to that light-filled house


there are evenings when Venus
appears just above a western hill
before the sky is blackened
and filled with holes

she seems so alone and brave

almost as if one of
the houses on that hill
had jumped up into the sky and
hung there

or when my heart rises
into my throat
where it belongs



  1. Thank you for your beautiful truths –
    you make us all better –
    Love to you both –

  2. I really, really thought RPLND stood for Reverse, Park, Low, Neutral, Drive, and all I could think was “There is something wrong with that tranny.”

  3. Some rich symbolism in this video from the song Jay. My best to you and Katie; my thoughts and prayers always.

  4. Damn, Jay. You really are so inspiring. And such great writing. I am so glad to know you and we think of you often.

  5. Love u jay.

  6. I am so very moved by you. You are an inspiration.

  7. patty giesecke says:

    You are not only taking one day at a time…you are taking one step at a time, keep your feet (sans a couple of toe nails) planted firmly on the stones.
    Sending love

  8. Russell B. says:

    Keep up the positive thinking from Costa Rica. We all on your team pulling for you. Thanks for letting us all know how you both are getting along. Let us know if we can do anything else to help you guys.

    Love the picture on the beach!

  9. Out of all this comes–poetry.

  10. beautiful, jay. Xo

  11. Sending love and sending strength for Jan. 24th!!!! Love the beach photo!!!! xoxoxoxo

  12. You are brave and your poetry beautiful. Happy healthy New Year. Big love to you both.

  13. Marija and John McCarthy says:

    Very beautiful message, Jay. Thank you and Happy new Year Marija and John

  14. Claudia Jessup says:

    Wonderful insight & new poems. So glad you & KR got to enjoy that special place … warm air, sea breezes, sunsets & yoga. You’re doing it all right. Love, love.

  15. Sounds like you’re ever more of who you are. And that’s the best way to be. Keep it up!

  16. Ann Bresnan says:

    You pull my heart strings in many directions. Sending love…

  17. Poet Jay, you raise us all to the stars. Love Nadiya~

  18. Love you man.

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