Joy to the World

  • 5 January 2014


It’s no mystery to anyone who knows me that I tend to be a joyful person, to look at the cup as half full. What might be surprising is my going to the hairdresser about a month ago and emerging as an elfish tomboy with a gamine cut. This chick no longer hides behind her hair, now that cancer has cruelly stripped me of the girly-girl image.

The new ‘do shouts boldness and confidence ala Jamie Lee Curtis. I’m no Jamie Lee Curtis, mind you. But I think it’s time to lose the charade of trying to cut a decade off my age when no one is fooled. Plus, who wants to pour Clairol over her scalp when she’s had cancer three times and is living with the Stage IV variety? Haven’t I been exposed to enough chemicals?

I admire Jamie very much, not because she was a shock queen, but because of her spunk and bravery. I haven’t lost friends because of my new look, and that shows the quality of my friendships. In college I might have lost a few if I had had a radical cut, superficial as they were. But now my friends are made of solid-rock material, with a soft center that speaks volumes.

Life continues to be good to me, however you define good. My definition varies dramatically from that of the average American. Good means encountering little chronic pain on a given day, being able to change the bedclothes without much effort and using my Swiffer® mop to good advantage around the house. Dust bunnies don’t make cuddly pets, and spindly spiders only darken my mood. A good life to me also means parties and friends, church and family.

I’d love to make long-term travel arrangements, requiring a different kind of boldness than wearing my hair ultra-short. But these days any plans tend to be shorter-range. Right now I hope to cavort in Hawaii in May, a month not so far away that I would feel uncomfortable making reservations. Thank God for good cancellation policies and travel insurance for the just-in-case scenarios.

Don’t misunderstand me. The targeted therapies I receive in the clinical trial at Stanford are nothing short of a miracle. These meds work overtime to blast any cancer cells lurking in my bones or pleural cavity, just as my Dustbuster® vacuum sucks away those pesky spiders lurking in hidden corners of my precious abode. I trust the drugs to do their duty for a long time. But as an optimistic realist I know that cancer cells can become resistant to any kind of therapy, and they know my body far better than I do.  It’s wise, therefore, to make plans with the understanding that circumstances can change.

In the meantime I forge on into 2014, not having known at this time last year if I would even be around to start watching Season 4 of Downton Abbey. But here I am, anticipating it just like so many Americans who don’t struggle with Stage IV anything.  Life always has uncertainties; I’m just reminded of that more frequently than most. The key is to find joy in the journey.

What do you think will bring you joy in the new year?


  • Renn

    woot woot! Always love to see you blogging and joyful, Jan!
    That clinical trial is the bomb.
    So is your pixie cut.
    Right now I am getting great joy out of a good night’s sleep.
    Ah, the simple things!

  • http://none karen sutherland

    oh, Jan, I was so happy to see this post. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! sounds as though you have entered it with your customary joy and adventuresome spirit. YAY for you!

    that clinical trial – thank goodness for your getting to be in it.

    your new “do” sounds fabulous! so glad it makes you feel that
    it fits you so well – yup, spunk, bravery, confidence and gamine – I LOVE IT!!!

    I will keep fingers crossed that Hawaii is for sure a go.

    sending you much love and light,

    Karen XOXOXOXO

  • jhasak

    Thank you so very much, Karen. Your beautiful comments always make it well worth my while to post. A most happy New Year to you, too, dear one. Take good care and find YOUR adventure in 2014. XOXO

  • jhasak

    Thank you, thank you, Renn! You are such an encouragement to me in ways that go way beyond words. I do need to post more regularly and hope to do so in 2014. It’s worth it just to get these jewels for comments. Enjoy your good night sleep. XOXO

  • Joan

    I am counting on you getting to Hawaii…everyone should try poi at least once in their life! Seriously…there is something wonderfully healing about warm waves to swim in…and something so very exciting over checking one more thing off the bucket list! Go for it!!

  • jhasak

    Thanks so very much, Joan! It’s very exhilarating to think of all the marvelous experiences I can enjoy on this dream vacation. My cousin told me to bring my sketchbook and watercolor pencils, as it’s a lovely place to capture in an art form. And of course, there are the ukuleles to explore! With poi and warm waves, what’s not to like? I so appreciate your encouragement and support! XOX

  • Linda

    Thanks for sharing your entry into 2014, finding joy in the journey as an optimistic realist and watching Downton Abbey as you plan your Hawaii trip. Your post was a good reminder to me and came right when I needed to hear it.

  • Catherine

    Good on you for your new hair cut! I’m looking for to Downtown Abby too. With that horrible twist last season, I just cannot imagine what happens next. Except more of the stiff upper lip, I foresee much stiff upper lip.

    Thanks for your post, Jan. It’s always so good to hear from you.

  • jhasak

    Linda, I’m thrilled that the post came at a timely moment for you. It encourages me to keep on the course of writing my thoughts. I do have some downer days; don’t we all? But I try to look for the good (and ignore the bad and the ugly). Thank you so much for your comment, which absolutely warms my heart. XOX

  • jhasak

    Yes, Catherine, they didn’t disappoint us and maintained that stiff upper lip. I forgot that Canadians get the show when we Americans get it–much later than when it aired in Great Britain. I wondered if I’d live long enough to see the next episode after that shocking hanger-on-the-cliff finale last season. It’s so good to be alive, and that’s not a cliche. Thanks a million for your comment; it’s so good to hear from you, too! XOX

  • Ronnie Hughes

    Good to see you dancing into the New Year with such optimism and joy in your life Jan.

    Even though I’m British I’ve never watched Downton. Maybe my upper lip’s not the same as other British people?

  • Beth L. Gainer

    I have joy just reading this post from you. Soooo good to see you blogging again. My wish for you is to have many years of life, joy, family, and friends. Hugs and a great 2014!! xoxo


  • Barbara

    I enjoyed your post so much that I looked back and read scattered posts from your past blogs. I share your diagnosis, your optimistic realism and your hope! I’ve been thinking of getting my hair cut too :) Best of 2014 to you.

  • jhasak

    Ronnie, I’m sure you don’t have that same upper lip, which is a total and unjustified stereotype. You wear your emotions on your sleeve, as is obvious from your wonderful blog. Dancing into the new year is the way to go! Thanks so much for chiming in.

  • Nancy’s Point

    Hi Jan, Reading your post and your comment on mine made my day! You know how to bring me joy! I love your haircut. I saw it on your facebook page. It looks just darling. I am sending you my very best wishes for 2014 and beyond, Jan. Thanks for helping so many others find joy. You’re a true inspiration. Oh, and I watched Downton Abbey last night too. I must admit, I was slightly bored during the season premiere. What about you? I think perhaps my attention span is too short these days though… Hugs to you dear Jan.

  • jhasak

    Thanks, Beth. It’s so encouraging to have such wonderful friends like you. A hearty hug back, and best wishes for an excellent New Year. XOX

  • jhasak

    Thanks for reading my blog, Barbara, and for leaving such an encouraging comment where you share my diagnosis and philosophy. After chemo my hair grew in thicker than it had before. It was nice to have my hair grow back at all, since I’m still on a type of chemo, and a special bonus to see it thicker. You might like the shorter cut, but whatever you decide is, of course, fine. Happy New Year to you, too! XOX

  • jhasak

    Nancy, it’s so nice to hear from you and to be writing again when I feel up to it. So glad I brought you joy, and thanks for the thumbs up on my newly minted hairstyle. Yes, I think the Downton Abbey premiere was a let-down. Maybe you’re right: we have so many other things we can be doing, and the show has lost quite a bit of its initial novelty and intrigue. But life goes on, with plenty of other entertainment options. I wish you, too, a wonderful and productive New Year. XOX

  • Marie

    Oh what a lovely surprise to find you writing again dearest jan xxx

  • Audrey

    How lovely to see your blog Jan. I’m delighted to hear your positivity and plans. It’s heart warming and you are an inspiration to me. As a Brit I chuckle at the Downtown Abbey chat. I watched it, even the Christmas special although I may have nodded off! It’s like a favourite old sweater, comforting, predictable and still very pretty. It’s perfect curl up in front of the fire TV and so unlike reality it’s lovely escapism! It’s strange to think it can connect us all too. Enjoy your plans and I do hope and expect to hear about that trip to Hawaii later in the year. Go well meantime. Audrey xxx

  • jhasak

    Thanks so much, Marie, for your encouragement. It feels so good to be writing once again! XOX

  • jhasak

    Audrey, what a delight to see your comment! Downton Abbey does have that special comforting, almost soporific effect, doesn’t it? And the costumes and scenery are spectacular. There’s a certain dry wit about it, too, that resonates with us all, I suspect. I’ll definitely update everyone on the Hawaiian trip; it’s still a go. It’s great to “hear” your voice. XOX

  • Liz

    Happy new year, Jan – I hope it brings you many happy times. Roll on Hawaii!!!!

  • jhasak

    Thanks, Liz! Happy new year to you, too. Hawaii will be here before I know it. January is more than half gone! XOX