Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shore Musings

View from Our Shore House Deck
This past weekend, I took my 89 year-old grandmother to her beloved second home at the Jersey shore. Our shore house has served as a family gathering place for the past 23-years, and despite two decades of family changes (divorces and marriages, deaths and births, losses and hopes) our little house on the bay has remained a safe haven - a respite from our troubles.

Last summer was filled with hospitals and worry. My grandmother had major heart surgery, and there was a strong likelihood that she would not survive the operation. The fact that she and I were able to sit side-by-side at the Ocean together - finding joint solace in the rhythmic tide - was one of the greatest blessings in my life.

6/9/12: First Time My Grandmother Has Seen the Ocean in 5 years
Whenever I'm at the beach, I make it a point to go for a run with my soccer ball. Soccer was my way out as a kid; it kept me on a road toward college and away from a dark path filled with devastatingly bad choices. This past weekend I was able to push myself to complete a 3-mile sprint work out in the soft sand. It felt good - and then it hurt like crazy. 

"The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. This is fact - everything else is pure theory." - Sepp Herberger 

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, Gary bought me new cleats and a soccer ball as motivation. Everything is different now.

This Thursday is another CT scan and Dr. Nash appointment, but for the first time Gary's not going to be there. I have a new life and new friends who are helping me pick up the pieces, but I'm tired of always being tattered. I just want to be that strong girl again, with a wicked left shot - full of fire and anger. I feel like I'm always chasing the ball, but just can't seem to get it under control.

I know these emotions are "normal" and probably even healthy to an extent. Thursday will come and go. It really doesn't matter what they find or don't find... there's always another underdog match around the corner.

Christopher Reeves said "either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out into the Ocean." I guess I'm trying to build up the courage to wade out into the terrifying awe of truly living again.


  1. In such a soft and warm season, please accept my sincere blessing and deep concern for you. Netherlands Euro 2012 Jersey

  2. You are in my thoughts and prayers Marlena.
    Annie Q.

  3. Dear Marlena,
    I hope the appointment last Thursday went okay.
    You mentionned an upcoming surgery in July I would very much like to know more but only f you feel like sharing.
    My email address is
    I feel that the more information is exchanged about our health challenges the more we may "help" one another.
    Thinking of you.
    Annie Q.

  4. Ms.Johnston,
    I have been wanting to get in contact with you but didnt know how to. I still have not been able to find you on instagram lol -_- Its been a few weeks since graduation...things have been really good! Just trying to take life one baby step at a time! (like you once told me..) I want you to know that you were not only the bestbestbestbestbestest english teacher but a person that I can confide in and grown to admire. I hope that all is going well for you too. Please email me at!! I would love to stay in contact you :D <3

    - Nidia Rodriguez

  5. Hi Marlene,
    Thanx for so eloquently sharing your thoughts and feelings! March-April 2011 I was diagnosed, Rt Hemi, course gave up gall bladder "in case of Sandostatin later" . It was appendiceal. I'm fortunate Ga68 scan 2/2012 showed "no visible tumor load". Just had Heart Catheter Ablation to relieve wild rapid heart rate & atrial fibrillation no doubt from NETs Dx taking over 8 years after the onset of rapid heart rate. I've recently learned how to heal my digestive tract with food, have overcome nasty SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) another NETs "gift" (Lady Caca does rule my life the past few years and she can tend to be a mercurial wench), now working to heal from over 25 years of Chronic Fatigiue giving me reversible Heart Disease (so grateful to a strong heart which has no valve damage - Yay). I have learned so much from this journey and know it's not a fraction of what is out there. We Zebras must share all the knowledge/information we can. I've been working with an amazing psychologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, Functional Medicine Dr., Internist/Naturopath/Chinese Medicine Dr and soon a Visceral Manipulation Therapist.
    I believe these same efforts is why they found no tumors in my liver 4/2011 especially since Carcinoid Specialist believes I've had NETs since before 1978 when my appendix was removed.
    Please contact me if I can be of any support to you or if you have any questions about the other support modalities I'm working with to heal.
    I send you white light & healing aka prayers.

  6. Dear Marlena,
    I know you have a surgery scheduled this month.
    I'm thinking of you and sending positive vibes and thoughts your way.
    Annie Quinty

  7. Thanks everyone for your ongoing comments and support. I get my strength from knowing that my journey is a shared one... and my experiences sometimes help others on the same path.