Chronic Anger Will Kill You

nega tive thounghts mae u sick

One of the things I learned after my cancer diagnosis is that emotions, like fear and anger can make me sick.  Feeling joy and gratitude can keep me healthy. I include gratitude because it’s hard to feel pissed off when you’re grateful for something or just feeling happy to be alive.

Before cancer, my emotional state was pretty much a roller coaster. For the most part, I am a happy gal but if someone rubbed me the wrong way… watch out! If the person making me mad was my boss, then I would internally fume for hours and fantasize stabbing that person with a dinner fork (since I worked in restaurants most of my life, a fork seemed like the logical weapon) until I felt better.

It wasn’t until I was in my forties that someone told me, “No one makes you angry, you choose to do that. You are in control of your emotions.” Those words hit me like a splash of cold water. No one ever said that to me. I always thought it was outside influences that made me mad, sad, fearful and happy. I allowed myself to get sucked into whatever drama was unfolding all the time because I just didn’t know any better.

Over the next fifteen or so years, I still found myself getting angry over something another person said, but at least I was aware of it. What I didn’t know was how to stop doing it. I also didn’t know that my emotional state affected my physical health… until I got sick.

My diagnosis turned my whole world upside down and I knew intuitively that if I didn’t make BIG changes, STAT… I would not survive. I turned to the Internet, read blogs, found websites and read books on how to get my body well and back in balance. Many of the posts I read, had to do with emotional health and how negative emotions, chronic stress and anger can and will kill you. Many medical studies have been done proving anger, especially long term anger, contributes to heart disease.

Western medicine is finally figuring out that emotions do affect our immune system. For the longest time, doctors thought it was either bad genes or bad luck. Not so, negative thoughts which become emotions, damage the immune system… which leads to disease, even cancer. My medical team was terrific but not one of my doctors suggested I look into meditation, visualization or some other way to lower my stress. Who knows if they even understood there was a connection. I found that out on my own. It was the writings of Louise Hay And Kris Carr that taught me the importance of keeping my body, mind (and spirit) in balance. Both of these women are not only cancer survivors, their lives changed for the better.



Today, I am cancer free. Everything I learned when I was going through treatment, I still do today and that includes watching my thoughts. I still get mad but I allow myself to feel the emotion for only a few minutes, then I let it go. Stuffing emotions is bad for your health also. If its someone I think offended me, I let them know immediately. If its something I can’t control, I try to find a better way to look at the situation or come up with a positive solution. But no matter what, I always let it go and don’t hold onto my anger for long. Forgiveness helps. I’m not letting the person off the hook, instead I’m choosing to not allow myself to be held hostage by the behavior of someone else. In the end, I cannot control anyone or what life challenges may come my way, but I can control how I respond.

My number one goal each day is to do everything possible to keep myself healthy and balanced: body, mind and spirit.

Be well and Pay Attention to Your Thoughts,


Cussing My Way Back to Health

Girl with Black Eye, 1953


I am not a “touchy, feely” person. I used to get in rock fights with boys when I was six years old. My rock fighting days came to an abrupt end when one of the boys threw part of a brick that nearly knocked my right eye out. I remember proudly showing my bloody war wound to my mom who almost fainted. When she recovered she called my dad, who told me over the phone that I was to start acting like a girl. Girls did not throw rocks. So when I entered the third grade I got in to fist fights with the boys on the playground.  I remember sitting in the principal’s office and being shown the “paddle.”  He told me, the only thing saving me from a good “paddling” on my behind was the fact I was a girl. I stopped fighting and graduated to “swearing.”

I grew up next door to a couple of retired Marines. They were husband and wife and they had a vocabulary that could strip the paint off a wall, especially when they were fighting. I was forbidden to get in to anymore physical fights so I picked up a few choice words from my neighbors that seemed to get the job done when it came to dealing with the opposite sex. During my years in grade school, I firmly believed that boys were stupid and if I couldn’t clobber one, I could tell them in a “colorful” way what I thought of them.

I didn’t know what cuss words actually were. They just sounded good to me, but that soon changed when I told my teacher that I knew “the goddamned answer!”  I found myself sitting in the principal’s office again getting a lecture about acting like a girl and that it was not lady-like to swear, and where did I hear that kind of language? Me being eight, I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked him, “What the hell are you talking about?” And he replied (or did he yell?) “That’s exactly the type of word I am talking about!”

That afternoon I found out that a bar of soap does not taste very good. I also decided that being a girl and acting like a lady was not for me: too many restrictions.

Fast forward to when I was diagnosed with cancer. My first words were, “rectal cancer my ass!”  I was now a fifty-five year old female but my inner tomboy never went away. I now speak fluent smart-ass and on occasion throw down some f-bombs when needed — for emphasis.

My “scrappiness” helped me get through thirty radiation treatments. The actual radiation beam did not hurt but soon after (especially when I pooped) it felt like a hot poker being shoved up my ass. Don’t get me wrong, there were times I cried but not out of sadness — I was pissed off! Then my doctors introduced me to the wonderful world of pain killers and I became this bubbly, happy girl, who loved everybody.

Drugs turned me in to a mushy girly-girl, much to my family’s angst. Who was this person? James, my son, wanted his mom back. He was tired of living with a beauty pageant contestant.  I do recall waving at strangers and telling them, “Hi!” everywhere we went. My husband told me after I was well that my “niceness” was so over-the-top it made him nauseas. James picked fights with me to see if he could get me mad, but I always responded with some sticky sweet answer. The day I told him to “fuck off” he cried with joy!  His mom was back and he knew I would be ok!

Everyone has their own way to deal with a crisis and having cancer qualifies as a crisis… no matter what stage. I just think it’s better to get mad than feel like a victim. Anger is a good motivator. Feeling sorry for oneself just makes things worse. Having cancer sucks, no argument there, but getting depressed won’t change things either. I’m not saying it’s never ok to feel bad, just don’t get sucked into a “black hole.” It’s too hard to climb back out.


I took pain meds to control… pain. There are meds your doctor can prescribe that can help you deal with emotional pain. Smoking cannabis can help if you are open to that. I never had a bad time when I was stoned (but that’s another story). Talking to someone who has gone through what you are going through is also a good way to release anxiety. The American Cancer Society has a group called Imerman Angels. They match up cancer survivors with newly diagnosed patients. I am available to mentor as well. Just send me an email. You can find that information on the “My Story” section.

I firmly believe you are stronger than you think.

Be well,









Petty Bullshit


I have been asked on occasion if having cancer changed me and I can say that the answer is a definite YES! The first thing I tell them is that I changed my diet to vegan. The second is — I stopped worrying about petty bullshit…you know the stuff like “he did this or she did that…” It’s the water cooler gossip that we have all either joined in on or tried to ignore. The most important thing I do not miss from the “working world” — is the petty bullshit. If people just minded their own business…

I think there is something about the human psyche that is drawn to drama. I have been guilty of it myself but these days I can’t stand to hear it. I recently read an article about empathy and how it is better to just listen to someone’s problems without judgment or advice…but where do we or rather I draw the line? I am a problem solver. I read that women are better listeners than men (men tend to want to “fix” things and move on)…women want to talk about their problems and not fix anything. Maybe I have higher testosterone levels than the average woman because (especially post cancer) I can’t stand to hear … what I call endless complaining.

Granted there are times in our lives that complaining is warranted, but it appears to me that most of the time the one complaining is really gossiping about another person’s behavior. I believe we are all responsible for our own actions. I cannot control someone else’s behavior BUT I can control how I do or do not respond to it. At the moment, my response is to avoid.

There is someone in particular I am having a tough time with now. To be honest she has had a “prickly” personality since I have known her. But she seems to have gotten worse or maybe I just have a lower tolerance for bullshit. To be honest she has had a legitimate reason for some complaining … 9 months ago her partner died and then she lost her house…but at the same time she has become quite “nasty”… The word “pleasant” would never be used to describe her… if you get my drift. Her legitimate complaints have turned into water cooler gossip about people I have never met. And anyone who tries to help her…like selling her house, is met with angry resistance.

My dilemma now is to figure out a way to address my feelings to her. I understand about empathy quite well, but at the same time, it is imperative for me to keep my stress levels at bay. We all know that stress lowers the immune system and I need to keep mine as strong as humanly possible.  She wants me to visit this week and I do not want to go…the times we do see each other or via phone conversations she complains the entire time… or if I do get a word in…she interrupts me. I find myself thoroughly pissed off and that is not a healthy relationship.

Someone pointed out to me that my activism is probably causing me stress as well, but I don’t see it that way… activism is problem solving, even if it’s only making others aware of a situation. Complaining about the behavior of others, especially when it has no direct effect on the person complaining is, in my opinion…petty bullshit…and I no longer have time for that. What I would like to figure out is how to express that to my friend (and I say that term loosely) before I get angry with her… oh wait… I am angry with her, but I do believe in giving people chances instead of just throwing her away. She was one of the people who stopped by to help out when I was getting treatment, so I know she isn’t a total “bitch” but these days I have to look very hard.

Empathy is good and all but I am looking for positive advice or solutions, otherwise I am just complaining and I hate that.