Funk(ing) the Dumb Stuff on an Anniversary


The longer we live, the more apt we are to have days that remind us of life’s events.

Anniversaries of things we would like to remember, or wish we could forget, will stick with us.  Some of us are better at remembering those dates than others.  Anniversary dates of birthdays, weddings, divorces, being hired or being fired, accidents, other days that simply have some sort of impact on us and our lives, both big and small, become a month, weekly, and (dare I say?) daily occurrences, especially as we approach our golden years.

Some of these days coincide with normal holiday seasons and, if the event has been particularly challenging or painful, we never look at the holiday or month or season quite the same. As we anticipate the anniversary of the event, the grey clouds of doom and gloom seem to hover over us, and we can dread the very act of waking up to face the days ahead.

We can get caught in a funk.

If this funk were the music of the band, Tower of Power (ToP), then it would be a lot more fun. But this is the kind of funk that sucks the very life out of you.

I have been approaching this funk for about six weeks now, as I foolishly continue to recall or ruminate on the dates, and remember situations and stories that take me back to April to July of 2012.

Today, I asked my sister, Sonja, if she knew what today was. She remembered, yet I proceeded to mention that this was the date four years ago that I was informed of stage 4 diagnosis with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)/carcinoid cancer. He said the prognosis was “six months to a year, two if lucky.”

I cannot even begin to articulate what it is like to hear those words. It changes the world, as you know it. There are a few days where you are in a complete state of shock, trying to wrap your head around the knowledge, most of the time in disbelief. Then you have to move forward somehow. I did not know how I was going to make that happen, and nearly made a decision where there would be no moving forward.

But I did move forward and have now come to this four-year mark after diagnosis.

But have I truly moved forward?

My sister may not realize it, but she kicked me in the ass today.  We all need it from time-to-time.  She held a verbal mirror in front of me, and I had to take a hard look at myself.

“Yes sis”…she knew what day it was.

“I don’t focus on that though.” 

And then she knocked me over.

“You showed me to let go and never look back, to keep moving forward because that is where our future resides…You taught me to never fear the moment…”

At that moment, all I could think of is, “I did?” 

Inside, I felt like a fraud.

Presenting the image of having it all together…

…and asking others to see beyond their own challenges is certainly much easier than going through the pain of moving forward.  Even if others do not know it, because I can talk a good game, I know it. And the couple of people whom I let in to see the pain, and fear, also know it.

Thankfully, they will call me on it, when I need it. They do it with love, but just as directly and compassionately as I do it with my clients and students…and with them.

Yes, today is an anniversary. It has been four years since I hear some bad news that changed my life. The events leading up to it were painful, scary, and confusing. The months following were challenging on many levels, including my choice to stand up to a doctor that I did not believe had my best interest at heart.

But, I must let go of the internal hold these dates have on me, because I am holding on to the fear, anger, and pain of those days, weeks and months from four years ago. It has been insidious; so much so that I did not realize it.

I am alive. I live with neuroendocrine tumors. I have had surgeries, and more CT scans, MRIs, monthly injections, and blood work than I can count.

BUT…I am ALIVE…and my future lies in moving forward.

In the words of my sister:  

“…it’s easier to preach what we know to be true…, but difficult to apply to our own lives…Logic and emotion collide and we…are paralyzed to apply it…We feel empowered (however) to help others…”

I do not know when I ever taught her any of the lessons she taught me today. But she does understand me, and we are very much alike.

Today, I move forward into my fifth year after diagnosis. The future. And I am eternally grateful for those who have stood by me, understood me, and loved me every step along the way.

As far as the “funk”…I think I will take a lesson from (ToP), and “funk the dumb stuff” from now on…

© Coral Levang 2016




12 thoughts on “Funk(ing) the Dumb Stuff on an Anniversary

  1. Judi

    *hugs* hon. I have some particularly challenging dates coming up shortly too. I couldn’t remember your dates because of what was happening around me at the time, but I could have told you the year. There are still times I’m feeling like I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth, but I’m trying to look forward to visiting next year.

    Love you hon

    1. Oh, Judi…I really must start making new memories on these dates. They are nothing more than a day. I have to remember that. I cannot stop life, as it presents itself. I can continue to move forward. That’s the lesson here for me.

    1. Meg…and the older we get, the fewer days there are that don’t remind us of something happening. Thanks for stopping by and reading/commenting.

  2. Sandra Lafleur

    Coral, Thanks for sharing your story. I am just halfway through my second year with stage 4. The first year was gobbled up with surgeries and recuperating. I was in a fantastic frame of mind through most of it. Now that the dust has settled, I am more prone to over thinking things. Like you, I have a few really great friends. I am so glad to hear you challenged the doctor. Not every doctor is educated about Neroendocrine tumours. I was lucky to have a great doctor who referred me to a great surgeon. I did a lot of research as I was going for all of the tests. I believe we need to take a very active role in our own health. I have learned to speak up. Take care. I will be thinking about you.


    1. Thank you, Sandy. Most doctors are not educated about Neuroendocrine tumours. A support group here in Seattle area just had Dr. Eric Liu in for one of our meetings. He said that in medical school he received 45 minutes on this cancer. That’s it. I am glad that there are doctors like Eric who are taking it upon themselves to learn more. He is one of the top specialists and has more heart that most I have encountered. What I would like to see more of are medical professionals who are more open to listening with their hearts to those of us who share our stories. You are so right that we need to “take a very active role in our own health…(and) speak up.” Perhaps, we can help each other with reminders not to overthink so much!

  3. Gail

    God Bless you…..and your sister. My anniversary is 7/15/1993….my carcinoid was surgically removed from my lung…still have yearly checks. My CgA is elevated and I have lung nodule that bears watching but all in all I’m very fortunate. I want to be able to congratulate you on your anniversary 20 years from now..Keep the faith.


  4. Sonja Rae

    My dearest sister, Coral Anne.

    How inspiring it is to hear how we impact each other, intentionally or not. Your reaction “I did?”, made it clear to me how much alike we really are. When you asked me if I knew what day it was, and my response was so slight, I felt a twinge of shame, that perhaps I should have made mention of it sooner or weighed the impact on you more. For me however, that day is one I shall never forget, because I remember the phone call. I remember sitting on the balcony of the apartment wounded, wondering how this kind of news could be given to me, a mere eleven months after losing Mom. I felt fearful, hopeless and incapable of handling another tragedy. I wanted to run and hide, I didn’t want to face it, but didn’t tell you. Instead I stepped up wearing the cape of superwoman and swore I wouldn’t let you see my fear and weakness; you needed strength, hope and above all else, someone who would rally with you. It was a cover though, as I preached words of encouragement to you, and then crumbled in the darkness, and then I prayed…
    “Lord grant me the serenity to accept that which I can not change.”

    In the weeks, months, and years that have now followed, you showed me the true meaning of living beyond the challenge. You put on your big girl panties and said, EFF U CANCER, and the Doctors who did not give you hope, and you STOOD for your right to LIVE.

    From the moment we are born, we begin countdown, our cycle of this human existence. You did not accept quietly, and shrivel and die. You are living with cancer, and living in such a way that it should be an inspiration to all. Therefore, I don’t look at that date anymore, I focus on every day in front of the next, and the next opportunity to share a day in the life of a very amazing woman.

    1. My dear sister, Sonja…You know exactly how to grab my heartstrings and gather them tightly around all that is truth between us. Might I also add, you know how to get the floodgates open, as I tear up like a blustering fool. All I have left to say is, “Thank you,” and to let you know just how much I love you…my sister…my HEART.

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