Monday, August 23, 2021


 The nausea and vomiting have returned, along with a fear that I’ll start throwing up blood like I did when my liver failed—and that things will get worse. “I don’t want to lose my ability to talk and sing,” I finally told Mike while waiting for scan results. The results would determine if I needed radiation on my neck and throat.

“You just need to stay positive,” Mike said even though I’ve caught him crying when the kids weren’t around and he thought I’d fallen asleep. My chest physically hurt as I listened to him, knowing he needed anything but for me to acknowledge that I’d heard him—my larger than life man—in the throes of despair. I knew then that the fear had finally gotten to him. It’s the same thing that’ll eat me faster than cancer if I let it.

To combat this, I’ve been attending three different churches that aren’t even the same religion. Thanks to Zoom one is in Hollywood, New York, and Pocatello, Idaho. Each initial service shocked me because (thanks to friends) they’re praying for me. My name runs across display screens, and it lines bulletins. It’s so humbling—this absolute kindness—hard to fathom. And I figure, why not “up my chances,” right?! The more prayers the better. Last December, I even sent a letter to some Brazilian monks! They didn’t respond, but hey, at least I tried.

“I feel like I’m breaking,” I told Mike that night. “When is it too much? I just don’t know if I can do radiation again. Plus, if I lose my voice, I can’t nag you.”

Mike broke out laughing and smiled. “Elisa, you should see what’s on your nightstand.”

So I went into our bedroom and found a letter with international stamps on it. With anxious hands, I opened the envelope. After eight months, the monks had actually written back—in Portuguese! 

It took forever, but I finally typed most of the words into Google Translate. They explained that the monks had done a remote spiritual “operation” on me in July and that I would see the results soon.

“You will win,” the translation read. “Do not be discouraged, persist a little longer. Do not cultivate pessimism. Focus on doing good. Forget the suggestions of destructive fear. Keep going even while avoiding the shadow of your own mistakes. Advance even through tears.”

My phone dinged, interrupting my thoughts; the scan results were in. I could read the virtual report or wait to hear directly from the doctor at my next appointment. I clicked “review test results”—because patience is a virtue I lack. And as I waited for the file to load, I thought of all the prayers and support from so many people….

Mike entered the room. “The results are in,” I said, and he sat down by me.

I read as soon as the words surfaced on my phone. “The tumors remain the same—stable except for the tumor in my neck…” My voice shook, not even sounding like my own.

“Yeah?” Mike implored.

I dropped my phone on the bed and started sobbing. “The tumor in my neck…is shrinking.”

We hugged each other so tightly. We’re still not free and clear, but this is a start. Other than my brain tumor’s response to radiation, this is the first sign that the infusions are working. For me, this is the first tangible sign of hope.