gardening and cancer


yes, i know.  it’s so beautiful in my little brooklyn backyard.  from the wet, muddy pit that it was about 22 years ago when i first moved in to the beautiful quirky yard filled with roses, basil and burgeoning tomatoes and cucumbers not to mention overgrown patches of irises – my backyard is our own little oasis.  when i was just out of treatment – 5 years ago this summer – i wasn’t up for much.  i remember walking down the street in park slope, brooklyn near my work, and seeing a beautiful flowering vine.  it wasn’t clematis…which are vines i have many of against the fences.  i bought it immediately and sometime in the next week, planted it near the foot of my climbing yellow roses.   i don’t remember much of that summer but i remember sitting on the back rocker just watching my garden and thinking that so few people took the time to sit in their garden.   late that fall, i finally looked up the vine that i planted and, much to my horror, found out that the red trumpet vine that i had purchased and planted was deemed to be one of the most invasive vines around…it would take over and strangle all else.  without a moment’s hesitation, i went to my yard, dug up the vine, and discarded it. 

last week, i took time out from a busy work schedule to delay heading into the office – i gave myself an hour in the cool morning to get down on my knees and really focus on weeding out a patch of the garden.  one by one i plucked out the usual offenders…the rain had made them easy to grab so that their roots came out – giving me hope that i was winning the weeding game.  then i looked over and stared.  there it was.  at the foot of the yellow climbing roses…the telltale green vine that said that my excavation 4.5 years earlier was a fool’s errand.  invasive vine.  it seemed the very definition of invasive.  it was still there.  and growing.  and probably spreading.  and i started crying.  in my own garden.  a cruel reminder that you never know that what you think has been taken out of  you isn’t still growing.  i hate cancer.   i’ve gone back into my garden … but it took a few days.  i hate cancer. 



7 Responses to gardening and cancer

  1. Awwww. I’m so sorry that you felt vulnerable-if just for a short time-in your beautiful garden. Enjoy it and everything in it, including the wonder of life and the anticipation of harvest. Xox

  2. Kathleen Rosenberg says:

    What a touching and scary analogy. I, too, finished treatment five years ago in May, just a few months ahead of you. Good for you for getting back in your garden and rooting out that trumpet vine.

    We can’t change all the soil in our yards, but we can make our bodies and minds more inhospitable to cancer cells by choosing the foods we eat, the thoughts we think, the exercise we give our bodies. All of these things can and do make a difference!

    Wishing us both excellent health and all happiness!

  3. Marion says:

    It’s such a fine line between remembering and trying to forget…just when you think you are comfortable something triggers. They say you are cured but will you ever forget? It’s always there-haunting your memory.

    Every day we should try to “smell the roses” but you have to make a concerted effort to do that and try to feel happy. One day at a time. One month at a time. One year at a time. 5 years….wow….that is a reason to shed happy tears.

    Wishing you nothing but happy tears forever.


  4. Liliana says:

    I send you hugs and best wishes.

    Your writing is honest and beautiful.
    Best to you and your beautiful garden.

  5. What wisdom and insight comes to us through our gardens. I had a major philosophical event over pruning a New Dawn rose to the ground…found the courage from there to start re-inventing my life. Thanks for sharing the gifts (even hard ones) that your garden has given you. PS I freakin hate cancer, too.

  6. Kathryn J says:

    When I visited Brooklyn it was all snow and slush. I hope someday to see your oasis.

    I am sorry that there was pain about this trumpet vine. You are amazing and the world needs you too much to let that cancer be as invasive as the trumpet vine!


  7. David Haas says:

    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

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