One of my mother-in-law's small pleasures was soft serve ice cream. Karla would take her when the weather was nice--pushing her mom in a wheelchair from the nursing facility and into town.


Recently, Kar got a soft serve tattoo as a tribute to her mom and those little big moments they got to share together.


I am learning that cancer impacts the brain. The trauma piles up without treatment.


There is mental component of being sick.


My trauma pile feels like the insides of a snow globe. Nothing seems huge. Its just mounds of thousands of little pieces---and things trigger a shaking up of those piles inside my head. Sometimes it brief. Only minutes. Sometimes it lasts up to three hours and my brain and body shut down and I sleep.


Mostly, it comes out of me in frustration, confusion...bursts of anger...until I can find quiet and allow the churning fragments to settle.


When layers of noise (talking, tv or radio, honking horns, traffic, barking) intersects bright sunlight, heat, multiple-steps or complexity (like in recipe where a few things have to be happening at once)...my inner snow globe gets shaken.


It happens other ways too. For example, a boy said he was so happy to see my name on his class schedule. That I was ok. That his family prayed for me all summer because they knew I had been sick. He said, "Thank God. I am so happy to see you. I was so nervous." In the moment, it was incredibly sweet and I felt good.


Hours later, I shared the story with Kar. And I cried. Briefly. My head swirled. I wasn't consciously thinking "oh this makes me sad" I was sharing the story because it was so sweet and helped me feel good.


Even television triggers it occasionally.


I started yoga on the advice of my oncology team and social workers. Additionally, I have sought other forms of relief--talking to a therapist, cancer massage, journaling, art therapy, and reiki for the first time later this week.


Near the end of Friday's yoga class, a passage was read about stumbling on uncertain journeys or paths. I felt relaxed from the yoga and this anecdote triggered tears trickling across my temples and onto the mat as I lay on my back, the soles of my feet together.


Earlier, we were encouraged to whisper any word that represented why we were there. I didn't plan what I said, but peace came out.


And as I draw, now, I see the snow globe metaphor (which I have been using to try to explain to my doctors how I feel at my worst) as inner peace disrupted. Initially, I just used the imagery of roiling water and fragments to try to get some help, some perspective, on what was happening inside of me.


Drawing is part of seeking a language to help those close to me (and those going through this too) to understand this better...but it is mostly about letting go of the internalized anger and making space for an inner peace to return.


Non-photo blue pencil gone over with a 3H graphite pencil before inking and lettering.


My cancer team suggested they find someone for me to speak with someone about the trauma of cancer impacting my brain. It wasn't a diagnosis but my oncologist's assistant spent some time with me and used acronym PTSD as a possibility.


From our conversation, I learned that mental health (anxiety, trauma) in relation to cancer is something medical professionals do not know a lot about (yet). There is still much to research and learn...so, whatever is going on with my mental fatigue, strain, forgetfulness, clog, mood swings, avoidance behaviors, etc. is impacting my day to day. I share this because there is the direct dealing with the cancer (cutting it out, immunotherapy/medication, etc.) and there is also the addressing the difficulty our brains experience in processing and recovering from from terrifying intense emotional and physical experiences.


I am hoping to have this inked and posted sometime over the weekend so I can continue forward with the next sketches....