Rising Above

20 years…

On My Mind

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.  MLK, Jr.

I’m not sure if I’m haunted or inspired.

  • 20 years and I’m still trying to figure out living.
  • 20 years since my leukemia diagnosis in September of 2000.
  • 20 years of grasping at my sense of self in the midst of chronic limitations.
  • 20 years of a tenacious spirit learning to dance in fragile body.

How can I rise above my personal cancer and be a part of treating malignancies that face all humanity?

This question has been weighing on my mind since last September.I needed to rise up for my journey of Chronic Hope in order to clarify my identity.

20 years later, there is clarity to rise.But rising above is not a climb.

It’s a descent.

My challenge, quarantined in…

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White Noise—A Cry of Repentance

On My Mind

I’m sorry.

Not I’m sorry, but…

Not I’m sorry, in general.

Rather, specifically…

I’m sorry for my ignorance that has perpetuated an unjust status quo.

I’m sorry for my silence when advocacy was needed.

I’m sorry for all the little compromises that left your life more difficult and exhausting.

I’m sorry for my complicity in racism.

  • For my fear of not knowing what to do, and so yielding to inaction.
  • For letting false White conceptions of color blindness go unchallenged.
  • For not understanding how the systems I’m a part of and benefit from have put me in a privileged place at your expense.

I’m sorry for the White sorry buts that add salt to your wounds.

I’m sorry for being dismissive when the problems of society get too scary for me to handle.

I’m sorry for allowing this or that movie about ugly White racism to appease my conscience and…

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Compromised: Immuno-and-Otherwise

On My Mind

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I got a call the other day from Dr. K, my former hematologist-oncologist of 15 years.  From Michigan.  I don’t know if it’s the weight of the heavy Colorado spring snow on budding branches, or the heaviness of a pandemic that hangs on every soul, but I cherish the check ins that comes my way.

Being officially in the immunocompromised category by chronic leukemia and the immunotherapy treatment for it, I feel privileged to receive random check in calls from caring people wanting to know if I am doing okay during this pandemonium that has taken over the globe.  They want to make sure I am taking extra care of myself.

Emotionally Broadsided

When Dr. K called, I felt emotionally broadsided by the unexpected check in.  I’m sure he has a million things to think about at the main hospital, hit hard with COVID-19, in the heart of Detroit. …

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The Other Things On My Mind

Just a heads up to all The Crazy Edamommy followers…

This blog is mainly for me to chronicle my health journey, and what that looks like in combination with life and motherhood.  Thankfully, there are lulls in that chronic journey, which allow me to write about the other things that are On My Mind.

So, I wanted to invite you all to follow my other blog, that sometimes crosses over with my health journey, but more often expands into my other passions, related to language, culture, neighbors, song lyrics, and other word processes: www.onmymindbygeorgia.wordpress.com 

Check out my most recent 2020 posts: 

NY202: Feeling Small

NY2020: Dear Disappointment…What’s the Point of You?

I appreciate you who choose to read and follow my blog(s). 🙂

Grateful,

~Georgia

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Chronic Hope: the Video is Out!

On My Mind

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I feel incredibly grateful. I feel like I’ve been given a second lease on life. If not this time in history, if not this diagnosis, if not so many things along the way, I may not be here. I may not been able to live 20 years with this cancer diagnosis.

It has been a full circle year for me.

This year, my husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.

This year, I also have had the privilege to reflect back over my cancer journey from a healthy place. To cultivate gratitude. To set goals for the future. To be amazed by the grace and power of God along the way.

I’m thankful for my amazing husband, Stephen Coats, who produced this 7-minute summary of our 20-year cancer journey:

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This video was produced alongside a series of Chronic Hope articles for the Yemeni American News, 2019:

Georgia Coats is a…

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CHRONIC HOPE #6: The Luxury of Looking Forward

On My Mind

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in my 20s I stopped looking too far forward.  Planning for the future felt presumptuous, so I learned to live more fully in the present.

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September 2019 marked 19 years since my cancer diagnosis.

I’ve had the privilege of reflecting back on 2 decades of living alongside a cancer diagnosis while continuously being treated for it.

4 different cancer treatments.

12+ bone marrow biopsies.

2 cutting edge miracle meds.

3 miracle babies. 

3 times achieving medicated remissions.

2 relapses.

1 Master’s Degree.  

Tens of thousands of dollars invested.

This journey is chronic.

Chronic struggles.

Chronic tears.

Chronic persistence.

Eventually forging a resilient chronic hope that…

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CHRONIC HOPE #5: From Battling Fatigue to Balancing an Energy Budget

On My Mind

I knew the call would come, like the expectation of a winter storm.

My oncologist forecasted that my body would eventually build up a resistance to my medication for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) after going off of it 3 times to have 3 miracle babies.

That dreaded call came the day after Christmas in the middle of a family movie.  The nurse dictated dates for blood tests and biopsies.  It was clear as I fumbled for a pen while running out of the darkened theatre that she didn’t care which dates worked for my grad school class schedule, my teaching hours, or my family life.

Bottom line, I needed to rewrite my priority list—ASAP!

I was thankful for a short commute between hospital and university in the heart of Detroit.  I naively thought I could change medications and not skip a beat in class.  I didn’t account for the unexpected…

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CHRONIC HOPE #4: A Potential Risk of Fighting Cancer

On My Mind

“How dare you be so irresponsible with your wife’s health?  Don’t you understand the risks you’re putting her through by getting her pregnant in her condition?”

I watched my husband’s face change from shock to anger as the nurse unleashed her stern lecture on him.

Five years into marriage and four years into my cancer diagnosis, I was nearing my 30th birthday.  We had given up on making long-term life goals.  I let go of the dream of living abroad for language and cultural studies, and I quit graduate school.

But the dream of being a mom got stronger.

My super-effective miracle medication for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) extended both my quality and quantity of life.  Aside from 3-month check ups, an annual bone marrow biopsy, and my daily meds, I lived a normal life.  But normal life made me hope for normal things, like a family…

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CHRONIC HOPE #3: Cancer Complicates My Identity Issues

On My Mind

The life of a creature is in their blood.  Blood is the essence of who a person is.

By blood I am Greek.  By nationality I am a U.S. citizen.  By education I am a Spanish speaker.  By cultural experiences I resonate with my Middle Eastern neighbors of Dearborn, MI.  By faith I am a follower of Jesus the Messiah.

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My whole life I have dabbled in multiple worlds, cultures, languages, and social groupings.  I hover on borders, struggling to figure out where I fit in.  That’s why I became a Language and Culture Learning Coach.

That’s why I have identity issues.

Enter Cancer.

By blood I have a cancer diagnosis.  More specifically, chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is cancer in my blood cells.  Ironically, the white blood cells that function to fight off disease have become diseased.

Someone advised early on,

Don’t let your…

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CHRONIC HOPE #2: Learning to be healthy and have cancer

On My Mind

“Wow!  You look great. Did you lose weight?”

In my late 20s and newly married, I enjoyed the positive feedback on an otherwise bleak situation. I joked to myself, Yeah, it’s this great new plan… the CANCER DIET.  But in real life, I awkwardly responded, “Thanks,” with no explanation of the dark secret to my weight loss success.

Then there were the people who knew I had recently been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). They said things differently.

“Awww, you look really good,” which was accompanied by a sympathetic head tilt and a hint of relief. They were glad I wasn’t bald, pale, and gaunt like the poster child for the Leukemia Society.

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I felt overwhelmed by these new life circumstances out of my control.  I needed to manage something.  This was stirring in me a passion for healthy living.

But, what is healthy?

Before my diagnosis,

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