In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Renunciation as Compassion

Many of us don't like the word 'renunciation' because we associate it with rejecting things we hold dear, such as our families and enjoyments. Of course, that's not what it means in Buddhism, where it's defined as a wish to abandon suffering, particularly the suffering of future lives. It's a joyful mind.

We're taught that before we can generate compassion for others, we need renunciation for ourself. For our compassion to be grounded, we have to understand the true nature of the world we live in, which is suffering. I was one of those who wanted to jump ahead to compassion for others without generating renunciation for my own suffering.

I've been pondering whether we can bring it back around, so that we think of renunciation as compassion for ourself. That isn't technically correct, but I wonder if it's sometimes helpful to see it that way. (Maybe I've lost track of which mountain I am, This or That, Me or You : ) Heh, heh - I don't think so.)
You could certainly say we want to develop renunciation out of kindness for ourself.

A few years ago when Jindak was leaving her job, transitioning to become a nun, she taught a lunch-time meditation class, I think it was, where she compared renunciation to the last days of work after you've given notice. (This was back in the days when people often left a job for a better one.) If you're conscientious, you're still doing all the tasks you used to, but you're not bothered anymore by the petty criticisms, office politics, and gossip - because you're out of there. That's the feeling of renunciation. It's liberating!

Last Sat we had the Empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. He is one of my favorites - probably the first Buddha I connected to, even more than Buddha Shakyamuni, who was like a kind father; Avalokiteshvara was like a friend.
Richard and I did some traveling in Asia - Japan, China, Hong Kong (when it was a British colony), Thailand - and looking back I think seeing Buddha statues all over helped draw me to Buddhism. In a lot of those places, the Buddha of Compassion is female, so sometimes I used to forget and think of Avalokiteshvara as female.

US Fest Website Live

The website for the US Festival in April now has a lot more info:

Note that registration for on-site accommodation opens at 12 noon EST, Monday March 12.
There's a Torma Workshop afterward with Gen Chönden.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The End Is Near

The end of chemo, that is. Next Tues is my last Taxol chemo, which will complete the 4 scheduled rounds. Hooray!
Today I got the Taxol and am now feeling fine, resting at home.
Last week I got the double-whammy, with Carboplatin and Taxol, which wiped me out over the weekend. Fortunately, I still made it to the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Sat, albeit lying down in the back. Gen Khedrub was very funny, which was great for the many new folks attending and for us old-timers too.

Thank you all very much for your prayers and support. I will try to repay your kindness.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Seeing with your Tongue

MelW told me about this film and article that describe how, with a special device, the blind can see basic shapes through their tongues!
It reminds me of Understanding the Mind on page 38 of the 2007 ed. where it says, "although snakes have no ears and so cannot develop ear awareness, they nevertheless have a special eye sense power that enables them to hear sounds with their eye awareness. ... The eye awareness of a Buddha can see, hear, taste, smell and touch."

Here's the YouTube video:

Here's the Scientific American article, titled "Tasting the Light: Device Lets the Blind 'See' with Their Tongues"; a few excerpts:

"About two million optic nerves are required to transmit visual signals from the retina—the portion of the eye where light information is decoded or translated into nerve pulses—to the brain's primary visual cortex. With BrainPort ... visual data are collected through a small digital video camera ... that sits in the center of a pair of sunglasses worn by the user. Bypassing the eyes, the data are transmitted to a handheld base unit, which is a little larger than a cell phone. This unit houses such features as zoom control, light settings and shock intensity levels as well as a central processing unit (CPU), which converts the digital signal into electrical pulses—replacing the function of the retina.

"From the CPU, the signals are sent to the tongue via a 'lollipop,' an electrode array about nine square centimeters that sits directly on the tongue. Each electrode corresponds to a set of pixels. White pixels yield a strong electrical pulse, whereas black pixels translate into no signal. Densely packed nerves at the tongue surface receive the incoming electrical signals ...
It remains unclear whether the information is then transferred to the brain's visual cortex, where sight information is normally sent, or to its somatosensory cortex, where touch data from the tongue is interpreted.
"... patients have learned how to quickly find doorways and elevator buttons, read letters and numbers, and pick out cups and forks at the dinner table without having to fumble around. 'At first, I was amazed at what the device could do,' he said. One guy started to cry when he saw his first letter.'' "

Monday, February 20, 2012

Creating New Habits

I found this New York Times' article, titled How Companies Learn Your Secrets, very interesting; most of it is about marketing, which I found creepy and disturbing - it made me envy the Swiss Family Robinson and have half a thought about living without credit cards off the grid. But parts were about science and personal exploration of creating healthier habits, which I thought were useful for improving one's formal practice.

Here are a few excerpts:
"Luckily, simply understanding how habits work makes them easier to control. Take, for instance, a series of studies conducted a few years ago at Columbia University and the University of Alberta. Researchers wanted to understand how exercise habits emerge. In one project, 256 members of a health-insurance plan were invited to classes stressing the importance of exercise. Half the participants received an extra lesson on the theories of habit formation (the structure of the habit loop) and were asked to identify cues and rewards that might help them develop exercise routines.

The results were dramatic. Over the next four months, those participants who deliberately identified cues and rewards spent twice as much time exercising as their peers. Other studies have yielded similar results. According to another recent paper, if you want to start running in the morning, it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (like always putting on your sneakers before breakfast or leaving your running clothes next to your bed) and a clear reward (like a midday treat or even the sense of accomplishment that comes from ritually recording your miles in a log book). After a while, your brain will start anticipating that reward — craving the treat or the feeling of accomplishment — and there will be a measurable neurological impulse to lace up your jogging shoes each morning.
"... before I even decided to write a book about the science of habit formation, I had another goal: I wanted to lose weight.
I had got into a bad habit of going to the cafeteria every afternoon and eating a chocolate-chip cookie, which contributed to my gaining a few pounds. Eight, to be precise. I put a Post-it note on my computer reading “NO MORE COOKIES.” But every afternoon, I managed to ignore that note, wander to the cafeteria, buy a cookie and eat it while chatting with colleagues. Tomorrow, I always promised myself, I’ll muster the willpower to resist.
Tomorrow, I ate another cookie.

When I started interviewing experts in habit formation, I concluded each interview by asking what I should do. The first step, they said, was to figure out my habit loop. The routine was simple: every afternoon, I walked to the cafeteria, bought a cookie and ate it while chatting with friends.
Next came some less obvious questions: What was the cue? Hunger? Boredom? Low blood sugar? And what was the reward? The taste of the cookie itself? The temporary distraction from my work? The chance to socialize with colleagues?

Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings, but we’re often not conscious of the urges driving our habits in the first place. So one day, when I felt a cookie impulse, I went outside and took a walk instead. The next day, I went to the cafeteria and bought a coffee. The next, I bought an apple and ate it while chatting with friends. You get the idea. I wanted to test different theories regarding what reward I was really craving. Was it hunger? (In which case the apple should have worked.) Was it the desire for a quick burst of energy? (If so, the coffee should suffice.) Or, as turned out to be the answer, was it that after several hours spent focused on work, I wanted to socialize, to make sure I was up to speed on office gossip, and the cookie was just a convenient excuse? When I walked to a colleague’s desk and chatted for a few minutes, it turned out, my cookie urge was gone."

Chain of Non-Fools

There was an article in yesterday's New York Times about a chain of kidney donors. It starts like this:

"Rick Ruzzamenti admits to being a tad impulsive. He traded his Catholicism for Buddhism in a revelatory flash. He married a Vietnamese woman he had only just met. And then a year ago, he decided in an instant to donate his left kidney to a stranger.
In February 2011, the desk clerk at Mr. Ruzzamenti’s yoga studio told him she had recently donated a kidney to an ailing friend she had bumped into at Target. Mr. Ruzzamenti, 44, had never even donated blood, but the story so captivated him that two days later he called Riverside Community Hospital to ask how he might do the same thing."
Until recently, hospitals regularly turned away Good Samaritan donors on the working assumption that they were unstable. That has changed somewhat with experience. But when Rick Ruzzamenti showed up at Riverside Community Hospital asking to give a kidney to anyone in need, he still underwent rounds of psychological screening as well as medical tests. ...
'People think it’s so odd that I’m donating a kidney,' Mr. Ruzzamenti told her. 'I think it’s so odd that they think it’s so odd.'
Despite his occasional surliness, Mr. Ruzzamenti said he felt driven to help others when possible. And as he considered the relative risks and benefits of organ donation, particularly to relieve a whole chain of suffering, it just made so much sense. 'It causes a shift in the world,' he said.

Perhaps, he said, there was some influence from a Tibetan meditation he had practiced when he was first drawn to Buddhism six years ago. It is known as Tonglen. “You think of the pain someone’s in, and imagine you take it from them and give them back good,” he said.

Mr. Ruzzamenti said he was in a position to donate only because the economy had dried up so much of his work. He was essentially unemployed and could take time off to recuperate. The 30 kidney recipients, he observed dryly, could 'all thank the recession.'"

I also found this comment notable:
"After John A. Clark of Sarasota, Fla., got a transplant on Sept. 28 at Tampa General Hospital, his wife, Rebecca, faced a 68-day wait before it was her turn to keep the chain going. Ms. Clark said that it crossed her mind to back out, but that she swatted away the temptation.
'I believe in karma,' Ms. Clark said, and that would have been some really bad karma. There was somebody out there who needed my kidney.' ”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Not Your Grandmother's Hearing Aids

Well actually I hope they are - today's high-tech hearing aids are a great improvement over the big, beige "bananas" of old, I'm told. The older ones were analog and amplified every sound, whereas the newer ones are digital and programmable, which means the audiologist can customize them for your  needs and hearing profile.

I'm reporting from my latest health-related adventure; skip this post if you're looking for Dharma. Consider this a public-service announcement; we will shortly return to the usual programming.

Getting a hearing aid is pretty complicated, and it's not easy to find good information. This is by far the best advice I found, by a longtime wearer named Karen McGrane:

Backtracking to give you my story...
Monday I had a hearing test and separate consultations with an otologist and an audiologist. The graph from the test was shaped like a cliff: low tones were normal, but higher tones fell sharply into the moderately severe range. I was surprised at how bad it was. The otologist advised me that my hearing loss from the Cisplatin and whole-brain radiation was probably permanent, which makes the decision to get a hearing aid more straightforward. I knew my hearing was getting worse but thought it would improve after I was done with chemo, as it had in the past.

My oncologist had suggested I skip my previous treatment until I saw the audiologist - because even Taxol could damage my hearing and because my CA-125 dropped 30 points in a month (to 15, safely within the normal range), so it wasn't critical that I get chemo then. The otologist said it was fine to go ahead with the chemo this week, but then my white count was too low. For a lot of patients, the only thing worse than getting chemo is not getting it, but I don't mind the break.

I'm happy with my high-end loaner hearing aids (HA). I wish all problems could be so easily remedied with technology, if only it wasn't so expensive. HAs cost $2,500 - $5,000 for a pair, and few insurance plans contribute anything toward the cost; mine is no exception. As McGrane put it, "Wearing hearing aids is just like wearing glasses, except for the part where they cost as much as a used car and you wear them inside your head." Because of the electronics in the HA, I have to keep reminding myself not to wear them in the shower : )

It seems crazy that there's no financial help. Given that good hearing aids can really improve your quality of life, I feel for everyone who would get one if they were cheaper, or would have a better one if they could afford it. In my dream world, Medicare and Medicaid and regular health insurance would at least "go halfsies" on them.

I have a follow-up appointment with the same "audie" (audiologist) to talk more about different models and am also getting a consultation at a non-profit called the Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center, which was recommended by my classmate RobL after his mother got hers there. The consultation is free, and you can return your hearing aids after a 2-month trial; the first place had a 1-month trial; I saw that other places have fees if you return them within the trial phase.

I am continuing my test drive, trying out different conditions: noisy restaurant, group discussion in a big room, etc. As I mentioned in a previous post, I watched Downton Abbey, because I tried watching it before and couldn't understand the English accents; with the hearing aids, I could understand almost everything. We signed up again for Netflix disks in the mail so that I could make use of subtitles, which aren't available when Netflix streams English movies to your TV, but it's nice not to be so dependent on subtitles for movies in my native language.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Some Other Dude"

Kadam Morten at a Fall Festival review last year explained that we don't need to feel bad or guilty about our negative karma, because it was created by "some other dude or dudette."
Isn't that great? (I heard that some of the English folks attending were stunned, asking each other, "Did he really say 'dude' in a teaching?")
Because most of our karma comes from actions we performed in previous lives, it is as though some other person created them. And yet it is our responsibility to clean them up.
The karma "they" created is in our mental continuum, and if we want to stop our suffering, we are the ones who need to get rid of it.
In some senses, it was us, but a version of us who's gone. Kadam Morten explained that it's like the scars and tattoos we carry from our reckless teenage years.
Although it's very important that we don't identify too much with the person who did them, there is a connection - a former self, almost like an ancestor.

For me it's helpful to think of parallels between genetics and karma. Before scientists gained the ability to decode the genome, even ordinary people believed we inherited traits from our parents, who in turn inherited them from their parents, and so on, back through generations. We didn't know the mechanism, but we knew there was an association.
Karma is like that. I think part of the reason we don't believe in it is that we don't know the mechanism. (Even though in a lot of cases, we're happy to use things we don't understand - like cell phones, for one. We could simply use the law of karma, but we're skeptical, so we pretend we need logical, scientific explanations for everything.)

Buddha teaches that virtuous actions bring about happiness in the future, when those seed-like imprints in our subtle mind ripen; conversely, non-virtuous actions bring about suffering in the future, when the conditions for those seeds to sprout come together.
By the way, if we keep watering the bad seed, it will continue to grow. That's why in the case of unhappiness, it's so important to know how to turn off the water. For example, when someone insults us, we can choose to retaliate, but in the long term that's only going to make the situation worse. But that's a whole 'nother post.

What is the ramification of believing in karma? You have to be on your good behavior.
If we want to be a decent person, don't we want to do that anyway? Don't you want to help others, or at least not harm them?

In Modern Buddhism Geshe-la explains that one key reason for believing in karma is to "prevent future suffering." Karma is "such good news" as Gen-la Dekyong would say. I'm so happy that there's a mechanism to reduce and finally stop all suffering.
I'd rather be on the hook for my past misdeeds, knowing I can clean them up, than believe that everything that happens to me is random and completely out of my control, and therefore my suffering will never cease.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

At Your Service

Today I am on the meditation Exchanging Self with Other. Before I began my formal practice, in addition to reading that section in The New Meditation Handbook, I read a bit of Meaningful to Behold because it's what we're studying in class and the strong language really moves my mind. In it Geshe-la says, "Considering ourself to be the servant of others, we must employ ourself in their benefit." To be even more blunt, Shantideva says, addressing himself, "You don't belong to me any more; I have sold you to others. You are working for them now, so don't be discouraged and get on with it." To make things worse, I told myself I'd been sold to the lowest bidder, to heap further humiliation on top of indignity.
I contemplated being a servant. There isn't an option to do whatever you feel like doing - you spend your day serving others.
Of course, the person I most want to serve is my Guru, because he serves all beings. (Sorry if you thought I was going to shine your shoes - that's a lower priority.) To me serving him means trying to help out my Dharma Center, as well as trying to become a better disciple through my studies and meditations.

Test-driving my loaner hearing aids, last night I watched the first episode of the PBS show Downton Abbey, which has been compared to the old show Upstairs, Downstairs, because it also features a rich English household and their servants. In meditation, I was imagining what it be like to be one of the servants. You take orders from others and have no say in the matter. They live downstairs, below; they are lowly beings.
In one scene, the servants comment on being surrounded by things that don't belong to them - belongings that are someone else's. I thought to myself, "Don't be-longing for those things that aren't yours ; )" What if I had that servant's attitude? I have to clean these material objects, and make use of them, but I don't have to think of them as mine.
Even better if you can stop longing for things that aren't going to make you happy anyway.

In the beginning of MTB we were studying the section about the Benefits of Bodhichitta, which is "the motivation to achieve full enlightenment in order to be most effective in helping others out of their suffering." One of the benefits is that all of our wishes will be fulfilled. Gen Khedrub explained that this means our Bodhisattva wishes, because our ordinary wishes cannot be fulfilled. Isn't that brilliant? They can't be fulfilled because they're endless. Worldly desires are never satiated. There's the story of the ancient king who was not satisfied with conquering the whole earth; he had to possess other realms too - and still wasn't happy. When you look at many of today's celebrities, it's easy to see that it's not just an ancient phenomenon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raising the Floor

I know that it's normal for my meditation practice to have ups and downs. Hopefully the overall trajectory is upward.
Sometimes I think I need  to focus more on raising the floor of my formal practice and not worrying about raising the roof: On the days when my mind is at its worst - in  a rut, in a ditch, in the basement - I will still do x, y and z. It feels as though if I can do that, the roof will go up by itself, and I will make progress.
Gen Khedrub uses the term "non-negotiable," which I find very helpful.
Gen-la Dekyong joked in Vancouver that we get inspired when we go to Celebrations and Festivals and renew our commitment to ourself to practice, no matter what. Then a lot of "what" happens, and our practice nose-dives ... again.

Commitments help. Because we don't generally like that word, we're told that commitments are not like heavy baggage. I think of them like guardrails, keeping me on track. I make them when I'm in my right mind so that when I'm in my wrong mind, they prevent me from ending up in a ditch or worse.

Signing up to be responsible for a puja is one way to make sure you go. I remember having to commit to being at Quick Path once a week, because invariably when 6am arrived, my self-cherishing would convince me it would be much nicer to stay in bed. Joining Foundation Program or Teacher Training Program, with their attendance requirements, have a similar effect.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Gen-la D Teaching at US Festival

When I first looked at the webpage for the US Festival, Gen-la Kunsang was going to be the main Teacher. Although I am very fond of her, I have a closer connection with Gen-la Dekyong, who was my Resident Teacher for 9 months (hmm ... what does that length of time make you think of?) and did my first Vajrayogini close retreat under her guidance.
Gen-la K is warm and friendly - she really embodies the teachings about compassion and love. One recent Summer Festival I had a volunteer job sitting at a post; she walked by after a tsog puja and asked me if she could get me anything! She was already the Deputy Spiritual Director at that point! I also saw a lot of her in the dining marquees, chatting with students. Her teachings have a very international feel, in that she make comments on the police in Mexico (you don't go to them for any kind of refuge) and explains idioms in other languages.
I'm going anyway, no matter who the Teacher is, but admit to being very happy to hear Gen-la D teach again, especially after hearing her sublime teachings in Vancouver. I hope that many others are inspired to attend.
So far, the site has only the most basic info - dates, subject and Teacher - with the promise of more details to come mid-month.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Karma Bowl-A-Rama

Our sister center in Olympia is have a fun-raising fundraiser. Here's part of the description:
Each team member collects sponsorship for strikes, spares, or any amount as you can. The
day of the tournament you may buy as many strikes, spares and ‘Do-Overs!’ (gutter balls)
you can with donations (all’s fair for World Peace :) ...
There are various creative prizes, including a cooking class, for best team name.

If you'd like to generate some good karma, feel free to send a check of any amount to:

Olympia Mahayana Buddhist Center
211 Legion Way SW
Olympia, WA 98501

Or just rejoice!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Closed Loop

While I was meditating today, I got an image of a chain of elephants, each one using its trunk to hold the tail of the elephant in front of it. I don't know where that image came from - I don't think I've ever seen it in my life. It sounds like something they train circus elephants to do. Anyway, as I was mentally repeating, "I must use my life to practice Dharma," this elephant image suggested to me to try to keep a link between the last word "Dharma" and the first word "I," so that my mind didn't wander off in other directions. I went from imagining the elephants in a chain, to the words in a chain, then to the words as a circle. I told myself it was a closed loop, which meant it was less possible for my mind to get distracted elsewhere. I found that helpful.

I imagine at some point, you lose the words and your mind just becomes the determination, but I never hear meditators talk about this, and I don't really know. I'm doing well if I can hold onto the words and keep paying attention to their meaning

It occurred to me that worry can be like this - there's some (unwanted) phrase that keeps repeating itself in your head.
When I worry, I find it easier to change the object of worry than to simply drop the worrying. For example, if I start to worry about running out of money, I keep the feeling but substitute a Dharma thought, such as being reborn as a pig. For some reason that switch is easier for me to make.
I read that "worrying is like praying for something you don't want." : )

Funny Karma

Or rather, not funny karma.
It happened again at class last night, as it had at a few Dharma teachings in Vancouver: Whenever some Teachers said something funny, I couldn't hear it - I could only hear the straight Dharma! (But I think I was able to hear everything Gen-la Dekyong said, including the humorous bits.) There must be something many of us do when delivering a joke that puts it out of my hearing range - I think we tend to drop our voices.
When I see the hearing specialist on the 13th, can I complain of my humor loss?

I'm going to take my "pocket talker" to the day course tomorrow to see if it helps. (It's a small amplifier unit that comes with a small microphone, an extendable cord and a jack for headphones.) I learned about it from a Sangha friend whose Mom uses one, in addition to her hearing aid.

He Sounds Like Gen-la

I was reading an article today in the local newspaper about a local doctor who goes to Africa to treat victims of civil strife and illness. Here's the key excerpt:
Over the course of five days, he would help as many as he could, treating bombing victims, as well as those afflicted with illnesses such as malaria and dysentery.
It all stands in stark contrast to his everyday life as a family doctor who treats mostly elderly patients. Yet, he insists that there isn't much of a difference between the two.
"I can go from one theater to another. It's just nicer and cleaner here," Kelley said. "From a medical standpoint, pain is pain. Suffering is suffering."
It reminded me of when Gen-la Dekyong was asked to  move from Seattle to New York City. Such different places, most of us think; but Gen-la said they're very similar: full of suffering people.

Likewise, in Vancouver she encouraged us to see what we share with everyone we see or think about, whether we know them or not: We all have the wish for lasting happiness. Recognizing that commonality helps us care about others; we're connected because we're all in essentially the same situation.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Am the Tortoise

In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, I would cast myself as the Tortoise. I like to think of that character from Aesop's fable, because in other contexts I am simply slow, even pokey - without the sense that it has any redeeming qualities. “Slowly does it every time!” Tortoise said.
Or as Gen-la said at the last teaching on Medicine Buddha, we want a practice like the Fraser (the big river that runs near Vancouver), flowing steadily, not a practice like a waterfall. Some day I'd like my spiritual practice to be like the Columbia, the mighty river that  flows through Washington State, becoming the border with Oregon before flowing to the Pacific. If you've been going to a Dharma Center for a while, I'm sure you've seen practitioners who gush enthusiastically about Buddhism and then disappear after a few months. So sad.

There are a lot of analogies in Buddhism about gardening: For example, we plant seeds that will ripen as Dharma realizations. Milarepa encouraged us to be "Dharma farmers":
You are a farmer of this life,
But I am a farmer of future lives.
If you examine carefully, you will see
Who receives more benefit.
Sometimes we push too hard - and push ourselves right off the path. It's like tugging upward at a small sprout, and inadvertently pulling it out of the ground.

I tend to be lazy, so cancer has been good for my spiritual practice - it's been giving me a kick in the pants, pushing me to get a move on - adding a bit of Hare's urgency. Not that I would wish cancer on anyone. But it is a constant reminder that I don't have forever. I love that Dharma has taught me how to make use of everything that comes my way, and how to turn things that are normally thought of as bad into something good. Which is also an emptiness teaching - the situation is not inherently anything - it's what your mind makes of it. More on that some other time; in the meantime, I highly recommend reading Eight Steps to Happiness.

Like a Snow Day

Just a quick health update: Yesterday I was scheduled for chemo, but my oncologist recommended skipping it because he's concerned about my hearing loss - he wants me to get my hearing test first, and the earliest I could schedule is Feb 13. Because I scored so well on my last test (the blood test that measures my tumor marker), there was no great need for chemo this week. Next week is a regularly scheduled break from chemo. So I got a day off - like the snow days we experienced last month in Seattle, it's not a bad thing.
I am confident that my hearing will get better now that I am off the Cisplatin chemo, but appreciate my doctor's concern. He said there is a risk of irreparable loss and that even the Taxol chemo can cause some damage to the auditory nerve - although it's less famous for that than the Cis.
When I mentioned this latest development to my classmate DebV, she recommended I learn sign language, which I think it a great idea no matter what happens. Deb taught me how to say, "thank you."
Imagine that I am saying this to you.