I Am Not My Freaking Cancer!

Don’t let illness become your identity.   Key Points: Illness identity comprises four constructs: Engulfment, Rejection, Acceptance, and Enrichment. Illness identity is the degree to which a health condition is integrated into someone’s identity. The concept of cancer identity is gaining traction as more people are living with cancer as a chronic illness.   Here is the beginning of…

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I Became an Eating Machine with a Loathsome Attitude

Four months after my allogeneic bone marrow transplant, I left Stanford to build a new cancer-fee life. Now I had to go into my local lab three times a week for blood work to monitor my progress. In checking my computer for results of my blood test today, my liver function tests—indicators of liver injury—panic…

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A Pseudo-Medication Taper that Made Me Feel I Was Losing Control

In the middle of my Hyper-CVAD treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an on-call oncologist entered my room. A balding, professorial-looking fellow—wearing a bow tie and appearing to be years past retirement—he pulled a dry-erase maker from his pocket and began writing on the white board. I’m going to be released from the hospital today and…

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What Did My Dad Think and Feel in the Moments of His Death?

Promoted to an Essential Topic in Psychology Today, in the Neuroscience and Near-Death Experiences Blogs. February, 2022   Key Points: Understand the two types of death The natural physiology of the brain is to keep functioning Just before death, neurochemicals in the brain surge Even in a life not well lived, death is likely to…

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An Against-the-Odds Story Can Be Yours

Susan Keller, Dr. Michael Craig, Johnny Shultz, and Andrea.   I had it all, or thought I did. At fifty-five—happy in my marriage and at the top of my career—I awoke one morning in damp, tangled sheets. Turning to dislodge my leg, a searing pain shot up my back. I moaned, gasped, then slowly sat.…

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Blood Brother: A Memoir

Published in the Argus Courier, October 21, 2021 In new memoir, long-lost brother returns to save sister’s life   In times of need, we have the proverbial assurance that “blood is thicker than water” — but what if you can’t find the blood? That was the challenge Susan Keller, a former professional medical writer, faced…

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Don’t Let Symptom Denial Threaten Your Life

By Susan Keller From Psychology Today, 8-24-21 Key Points: People sometimes deny symptoms of illnesses—such as cancer—which can hamper diagnosis and treatment. Reasons for symptom denial include fearing the outcome and not wanting to be “weak” or waste others’ time. People should seek medical attention—even a second opinion—if they notice any of the potential signs…

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Cancer Is a Wilderness That Gives Us a Choice: Panic or Trust

Published in CURE Today Magazine December 17, 2021   In September 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Active treatment would last nearly a year during which I endured the brutal in-patient chemo Hyper-CVAD, a psychotic drug reaction, and a septicemia that almost did me in. By mid-January, I’d completed six rounds of…

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Lymphoma Notes, June 21, 2021

Results of My Diagnostic CT Scan Dr. Arent, a tall, handsome doctor—who could have made good money on General Hospital—enters my room. He has the dubious good fortune of giving me the outcome of my diagnostic CT scan. “I have your results,” he says thumbing through papers before rolling them into a tube that he…

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