Teri Fuller

TeVido BioDevices 3D-Prints Skin And Fat Grafts For Breast Cancer Survivors

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2014 at 9:15 am

Real nipples for #breastcancer patients? This BioTech wants to use one’s own fat and skin cells to create the fat grafts and a nipple that will stay in place, stay alive, and not need to be redone over time.


Finding Gibby–After the Funeral

In cancer, cells gone wild, Uncategorized on April 30, 2014 at 11:10 am


Finding Gibby—After the Funeral

About a week ago, a friend and colleague called me, and with sadness, he said: “I don’t want you to have to read this in an email tomorrow; Gibby died tonight.”

I sat on my couch, closed my eyes, and took a deep, loud belly breath.  “I know you and he became very close,” my friend continued.  “Thank you,” I said—knowing that my friend had done more than he needed to do in calling me that night—for considering my connection with Gibby and honoring my relationship with him.  I wasn’t surprised; I have lost many to cancer since my own diagnosis—and before that, as well—and I can recognize the end game, but I still wished that Gibby hadn’t died.  What I really wished is that Gibby had never developed cancer; that he never had to undergo treatment; that he never had to endure chemotherapy; that he had not had to leave us—not like that.

After Gibby was initially diagnosed with cancer, I saw him at a folk music festival in Geneva, IL—maybe 3 or 4 years ago.  He smiled at me when we came upon each other, and he told me that he was undergoing treatment for cancer.  He knew I had been diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years prior, and because of this:  there was a solidarity between us, and we were both comrades in the war against the disease.  He was optimistic that he would beat the cancer, which was very different than my own approach to the disease.  Because my mother had died of breast cancer when I was four, I was sure I would also die—leaving behind my own daughter, Lily, who was only months old when I was diagnosed.  My mother’s narrative would be my own; of that, I was convinced.  But not for Gibby:  he talked about returning to the community college where we taught; he talked about playing music; he talked about how lucky we were to be enjoying the folk music festival.

After that meeting, our relationship changed—we understood each other, and we shared our stories, our fears, and our ways of dealing with the disease and its equally destructive treatment.  We enjoyed an intimacy that only people who have been diagnosed with cancer can share.

At some point, he and I began to text.  I would check in with him.  He would ask questions about a new chemotherapy that he would be taking.  Even once, he asked me to have crepes with him.  I wasn’t able to meet him that day, and I told him we’d reschedule.  Sadly, we never did.  I should have tried harder to do so; I regret that.

After Gibby began another type of chemotherapy, Taxotere, one that I was very familiar with as  I had taken it when first diagnosed with breast cancer, he faded from life at our community college as my life too.  He posted on his Caring Bridge site and shared major news with the crowds who followed him, and while his posts were upbeat, the posts became fewer and fewer.  It was obvious that as the cancer spread and the methods to control that cancer became more aggressive, Gibby was going away.

Gibby’s funeral was last Sunday.  I went.  I knew the routine of funerals and death. Some people went to show respect and admiration for Gibby; some went to grieve with others feeling sad about the collective loss; and some went to say goodbye and gain closure.  I guess I went for all of those reasons, and I expected Gibby’s funeral to be just like the others I’ve attended.

At first, Gibby’s funeral seemed standard:  there was a line for mourners to visit with Gibby’s widow, Susan; there were tissues scattered around the room for teary visitors; and there was an explosion of black wardrobe.  Even the beginning of the service was routine as someone sang one of Gibby’s favorite songs and others read moving textual passages speaking of life and death, but then something changed.  A man—I don’t know who he was—delivered a most inspiring eulogy.  Usually, at a funeral, the main speaker reiterates what everyone already knows about the deceased and encourages us to achieve closure, but that is not what this man did.  There was no closure at the end of Gibby’s service; instead, there was a call to action—a challenge to live a better life—a life more like Gibby’s.

What’s funny is that this man was doing exactly what Gibby had been doing his whole life:  teaching.  Gibby had taught at our community college for 40 years, and he was the first faculty member to receive Faculty of the Year Award—only the first award among many to follow. I learned that Gibby’s real name was not even Gibby; in fact, he was named Stanley at birth, but Stanley’s father—who owned a club in Chicago—received a shipment of Gibson liquor on the day Stanley was born, so with inspired excitement, the father nicknamed his son “Gibson”, which then changed to Gibby—something that stayed with him his entire life.

I also learned that upon moving into his dream cottage in Geneva, one of the first things that Gibby did was hang a favorite poem upon his wall.  The poem was “The Lake Isle at Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats—a poem, written in 1888, that spoke of nature and beauty and peace and truth.  According to the man delivering the eulogy, Gibby was able to live in two worlds:  the outer world of his reality that afforded pain and pleasure—and the inner world of the poem that afforded serenity and respite.  And just as the narrator of the poem finds that which is natural to be sacred, so too, Gibby found there to be no separation between the secular and sacred in everyday lif–for all was holy.  Gibby possessed a reverence for the world that made him ever-curious.  He traveled.  He photographed.  He read.  He ate.  He listened.  He played.  He talked.  And through it all, he connected with other people.  That’s the thing about Gibby:  he developed substantive connections with others, and that is why he really was someone whom everyone loved.

Toward the end, Gibby’s wife asked him why he wasn’t angry at the cancer, and Gibby, it seems, just laughed and smiled.  Cancer didn’t define him, he said.  He kept doing all of the things he loved in life—until he was gone, and so cancer, for him, hadn’t won.  Cancer may have shortened his life, but that only inspired Gibby to put more life into the days he had.  He packed it in.  He would not be shortchanged by the disease.

Since Gibby’s funeral, I’ve been trying to make sense of his death, but what’s different this time is that I am not only processing his absence but also reexamining my life and finding inspiration in Gibby’s.

Even after his death, Gibby is even more present in my thoughts and my actions.  I want Gibby to continue doing what he did best—to teach me and show me how to live a better life.  Today, I will print out Gibby’s favorite poem:  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, and I will frame it and hang it on my wall.  There I will find him standing by the shore—gazing up at a glimmering ceiling of stars.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

~Teri Fuller

Why You REALLY REALLY Need to Read Jen Smith’s 2nd Book: What You Might Not Know–My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient

In breast cancer, cancer, caregiver, cells gone wild, young women breast cancer on June 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm


You should read this book–not because I had the honor of helping Jen Smith write this book but because each of us should seek to understand and support all peoples suffering from advanced cancer–the kind that can’t be cured.  Who, after all, is not affected by metastatic cancer?  Who does not have a relative, a friend, or a coworker who has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer?  And who hasn’t desperately wanted to know more about metastatic cancer to either help ourselves and/or those we love. 

Jen Smith, author of What You Might Not Know:  My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient, lives with a murderer. The killer has ruthlessly taken many of her friends, and forever leaves her wondering if she’ll be next. Her fear for her life is trumped only by her overwhelming concern for her beautiful young son whom she still can’t imagine leaving behind. But she has no choice. Jen has Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer.

In this book, Jen follows up on the triumphs in Learning to Live Legendary with a candid look at life with advanced cancer. She pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to live day-to-day with a terminal diagnosis. You’ll share her fear, her heartbreak, her uncertainty — even her guilt. You’ll even feel the impact of Jen’s disease on her friends and family, as they articulate their own reactions to metastatic cancer. From mothering to grieving to simply freaking out, Jen and her loved ones provide a raw and unflinching look at What You Might Not Know.

Advanced Praise for What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient

Jen’s encouragement to fully experience the human condition and to live while dying is inspiring.

Hollye Jacobs, RN, MS, MSW, Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate, & Writer                                              

Jen Smith is one of those AMAZING people who cares SO MUCH about sharing her story – the good and the bad – to help and empower others in the fight!!  She always keeps a positive attitude, and she is a TRUE INSPIRATION to everyone out there touched by cancer!  Our team loves her – DEARLY!!!!

–Jonny Imerman, Founder, Imerman Angels

We need more women like Jen Smith to educate us about the realities of living with metastatic breast cancer at a young age.

–Jody Schoger, Breast Cancer Survivor, Advocate, and Writer

Exiled to Cancerland, Jen Smith is a brave and reliable guide through tough, heartbreaking terrain.

–Joanna Chapman, Author of Divine Secrets to the Ta-Ta Sisterhood:  Pledging the Pink Sorority                                         

Ordering information

Request a personalized, autographed copy, send $19 ($15 book + $4 shipping) to:
Jen Smith
PO Box 7812
Champaign, IL 61826

Or pay through paypal.  Send $19 to jen@livinglegendary.org

Order on iBookstore ($9.99): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/what-you-might-not-know/id646600706?mt=11

Order on Kindle ($9.99): http://www.amazon.com/What-You-Might-Know-ebook/dp/B00COSHS0Q/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371346647&sr=8-3&keywords=jennifer+smith

Order on Nook ($9.99): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-you-might-not-know-jennifer-smith/1115380469?ean=9781304020857

Heartland Elementary PTO

...Helping Our Children Soar!

Dglassme's Blog

Wouldn't Wish This On My Worst Enemy


Just another WordPress.com site

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of DFW

Theresatamkins1271's Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Breast Cancer Awareness

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Run, Jenn, RUN! (DO IT)

A terrible runner trains for a 5K.

Hidden Dragons

The facets of life facing breast cancer; the passion of the outdoors, dragon boating, running, fitness and wholistic living to empower and encourage others facing doubts and struggles.


Just another WordPress.com site


Just another WordPress.com site

Healthcare Governance Review

Information for better governance in healthcare - Supported by Parkhill - www.parkhill.org.uk

WaldenPhil: Work With Care

Musings on philanthropy by Gwen Walden, Principal of WPA, Inc.


Just another WordPress.com site

Pink Ribbon Life

a private world for breast cancer survivors

%d bloggers like this: