A Milestone

Raundi and Deanne singing “Check, Check, Check Your Breast”

“Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.”…Julia Cameron

This is a huge day for me.  It was exactly two years ago today that I had my mastectomy and the cancer was cut from my body.  I am now cancer free; an enormous milestone considering the first two years after a cancer diagnosis is always the most precarious. 

I feel like I can breathe a little easier these days, but by no means am I off Scott free.  And, it does not mean I am ready for my Lazy Boy recliner and remote control either.  Quite the contrary; as long as our mother’s, grandmother’s, daughter’s and wives continue to die every day from this killer disease I am doing my part to help raise money and spirits for those who have been affected by breast cancer.

And I am not doing it alone. 

Monday night, The “Real Poets” of Orange County and The Mammary Chronicles put on a show to remember to help raise funds for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.  Yes, I am signed up to walk again.  Three amazing poets and performers, Eric Morago, Paul Suntup, and Thea Iberall rocked the fundraiser with their almighty poetry. 

Mr. Suntup ignited us by lifting the roof off its hinges and blasting holes in the black sky so we could see the stars.  Eric wooed the women and men with his contagious smile and love poems.  Thea pounded the rhythm of her voice to the drums, “I am Woman, I am Woman.”  James Palacio filled the room with Pennies from Heaven.  Helen, poet and soon to be centurion, demonstrated that age is simply a state of mind.  Cyndi and Angela confirmed their bravery as they followed Mr. Suntup with their original pieces.  Savanah kept things flowing with her elegant emcee skills.  And, the writers and poets from the Laguna Hills Spoken Word Club reminded us all to never stop writing, never stop creating, never stop.       

"I am Woman" Thea Iberall and Deanne on Drums

Thank you to each and every one of you amazing poets, writers, friends and family that made last night not only possible but successful. 

Deanne, Maggie and Riley

I cannot begin to express the gratitude I feel right now.  One year ago, I was unsure of the next chapter in my life.  The pages were blank.  Today, they are being filled one by one with the most glorious of stories which I owe in part to the brainchild of The Mammary Chronicles;  poet, publisher and BFF, Raundi Moore-Kondo.  She not only wanted to help me, but she wanted to help create a world free of breast cancer and full of rad poetry. 

I will never forget the day she called.  “Deanne,” she said.  “I have an idea!”  The rest is history.

So to this end, Raundi and I published The Hills are Alive: a bodacious little chapbook of poetry, prose and art, all about breasts.  Hoping to see a cure for this disease one day soon, but not wanting to wait around, we came up with our own unique cocktail for a cure.  With our books in hand and our personal collection of bras in tow, we began touring around the OC and LA area, reading excerpts from The Hills are Alive and sharing our breast adventures.  “Believing that the healing powers of art, music and love must never be underestimated and should be a part of everyone’s long-term treatment plan, we have been featuring at open mics providing those who need a place to express themselves with the depth and breadth that only a piece of poetry or art can convey.”  Raundi’s words.

Laguna Hills Show

And, it is working.  In fact, according to the authors of Creating Healing, Michael Samuels, MD and Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, MSN, PhD, “Physicians and nurses are discovering that art, music, dance and poetry can all have profound healing effects on their patients. Art brings to the human spirit a sense of freedom and joy. The spirit freed helps the body heal.”

Well, not only are physicians and nurses discovering the secret artists have always known.  I am now privy to it.  And, I am living it.  When I write, sing on stage or perform with The Mammary Chronicles, I am free!  This freedom through expression and art is my true medicine.  I feel a sense of awe and purpose as we tour around selling books, singing our hearts out, meeting incredible writers, poets, artists and yes, breast cancer survivors. 

At our show the other night I met a beautiful woman in her eighties who was diagnosed with breast cancer 41 years ago.  She had a double mastectomy and radiation.  Years later, she had to have both of her shoulders replaced because they were disintegrating from the radiation.  She is an incredible example that it is indeed possible to live a long healthy and prosperous life after breast cancer.  Without the Mammary Chronicles I would have never had the pleasure to meet her and hear her incredible story.  It is moments like these and women like her that keep me hanging on when I feel like letting go. 

So, to celebrate today’s milestone, I have planned a day full of art, training and rad poetry.  I have this blog to write, a poem to finish, a canyon to hike and some drums to learn.  Our beautiful and talented drummer moved on to new endeavors, so I am learning the drums for now. I have some big heels to fill.  But, I am ready for the challenge. 

“The portal of healing and creativity always takes us into the realm of the spirit.”  …Angeles Arrien

Paul Suntup


Eric Morago

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