And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall make your path straight.

- Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interesting conversations

This idea of blaming cancer victims for their cancer is more pervasive than I thought. Husband has had several discussions at Cancer Treatment Centers with other patients who, when they went to their homeopath or chiropractor or clergy got blamed for their illness. One woman was even told that her negative feelings toward her mother festered and she let them and,therefore, she gave herself breast cancer. Up to that point all she knew was her mother was the most positive influence in her life. What in the world is she supposed to DO with this new information? Another was told that seeking treatment as she was was WrongWrongWrong so she's, apparently extra bad and extra guilty. Does the healthcare provider who claimed this position have any idea what she is facing without him adding to it with his cheap two cents? Probably not. Bottom line as far as I can tell is, yes, we are responsible for what we put into our bodies and some of our experience including our ability to forgive and find joy, but, for pity's sake, be kind. Doesn't the Hippocratic oath say something about "First, do no harm"?!

Quietly making noise

I find that after this last year I am less inclined to talk. I don' t know if it's acquiring a greater comfort with being quiet or having quiet or it's just that I think what I have to say is less important. It's just mostly my opinion and I made it all up.   Alot of stuff is less important.  What I think; what everyone else thinks of me, certainly. I find myself wearing things I would not have earlier like hats and extravagant fashion. Fun stuff that gloriously has no impact on anything, but adds a bit of joy to my heart and serendipity to the world. (Interestingly enough, I tend to receive loads of compliments when I do step out.) So, I stay quieter and am learning to be still so I hear better... Hear people and, hopefully, hear Him better, too.

What I will talk about is that there is a short list of priceless things life affords us. Most of the rest is, as He said, vanity.

Family. Oh, Lord how gracious you are to give us this abundance.  The birth kind of family as well as the chosen family, even the season of life family- those that come and add to us and then move on .  Love them all and be grateful.

Forgive. No qualifications. You can wreck your mood, your day, your entire life carrying around the burden of unforgiveness. Consider that an apology goes a long way expressed with love and take a shot at letting go of the burden. It's too heavy and useless to keep honoring it by letting it direct your path, if you can move under its weight at all.  Including forgiving yourself. How sad are those that torture themselves and deny themselves happiness mired in self loathing and dragged down by their tired unforgiving hearts.

This means, to me, apologizing to yourself AND graciously and tenderly accepting the apology, too. Don't think there's anything to apologize to yourself for, that it's a silly notion? Try asking yourself. You might be surprised at what comes up. 

Beauty--- especially the kind that's free. Everything that calms your mind or tickles your fancy. Sites that somehow give you hope and reaffirm that God had a plan for us to be happy. I know, without reservation, that beauty feeds my soul.  Actively looking for it is an art, but a skill well worth developing.

Silliness. This is in drastically short supply. Silliness, again, this is my opinion, should be one of the food groups necessary for healthy long life.

I imagine if I thought harder I could come up with more, I could certainly be content with what's here.

Sorry I promised this and forgot to post it... Painkillers have their drawbacks...

I had an interesting request via email, recently... Seems people read the blog I started during cancer treatment and want more. Kind of neat as I fancy my thoughts readable. ...but surprised that they are memorable, too! This was just the encouragement that I needed to introduce a new thought:
People who pontificate on the "why" of cancer might consider the impact of their words on those who have had the misfortune of suffering cancer. I use the word "misfortune" very purposefully. I did not earn my cancer. I was not evil. I did not maintain bad habits with food or inhalants or spend too much time swimming in a cesspool of carcinogens any more than my non-cancer expressing sisters. And, yet, I indeed ended up with one quite large tumor and a systemic involvement that made my chances of recovery dicey, statistically speaking.

Only God knows what knocked my health to the ground. For some reason (still waiting on that answer) I just got the opportunity to experience the misfortune of having a big dangerous growth invade my temple garden. Sometimes noxious invasive weeds take hold in a well-tended garden. Do you blame the garden? Can you totally place blame on the gardener? In previous postings ( I have claimed my right to health by listing all the health smart things I do. The good food and mind work and exercise and chiropractic and acupuncture, and abstenance from obvious no-no's. So, why DID I get cancer? And, frankly, who are you to contend that I got it from something I did or did not do?

I got insulted by this accusation at a seminar on health, for Pete's sake! How many people spend their weekends at seminars on health? Well, I do and, while at this one, I listened to a well respected doctor intimate, by his discourse, that if you did "X,Y, and Z" you wouldn't get cancer. That's what he said. He, therefore, was saying that I did not do "X,Y, and Z". I know I did. I was there eating those dark geen leafies and standing on my head. I seriously doubt that he set out to insult me. I certainly didn't expect to get insulted, but, there you are.

And here I am, suggesting to you that you might just consider that people who develop cancer didn't earn it. Actually, from my perspective, I feel as though I am serving time for a crime I didn't commit. I might also say that at sentencing I was given a specific penalty, but had the rug pulled out from under me when I was informed that time could be added on to my sentence -at random- or (and I mean this in the most literal sense) be given a death sentence later on. So, for future reference, I would prefer not to get kicked by an observer while I am down here trying to pick up my life and rebuild my burned out temple and make it beautiful and useful, again. God is taking care of me and I am hopeful and determined but, if you don't mind, have some consideration, please.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A letter to Howard from a friend

Hey Howard,

Great to hear from you. I think the last time we spoke was in Miami - I know we've both done a lot of living since then. I can't remember the last time I had a good cigar, but, whenever I do, I think fondly of you.

I knew that your wife was fighting cancer so, from one cancer husband to another, you have my sympathies. It's a hard slog and I wish you and your wife the best in dealing with it. It's very hard and very real. Thankfully, Elizabeth is also improving, although each checkup scan could always make things go horribly wrong (again). Through this, I've learned to be much more present than I ever was and I'm sure the experience has had a similar effect on you. Few things are as effective as the word "cancer" to remind you of how short your stay is on this little planet and that, perhaps, one should go about enjoying every last minute of it before being flung off.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The CONTINUING Adventures of Isabel

My favorite poet, Ogden Nash, wrote a great poem about Isabel and how she met and subdued an enormous bear, a pirate, and a witch. While I can highly recommend the original, I am very very partial to Claire's contribution to Isabel's continuing adventures:

Isabel came across an evil ball of cancer,
It was intrusive, it multiplied and it was quite a bad dancer.
The cancer was sickly, the cancer was greedy,
...The cancer had plans that were hostile and seedy.
I’ll take over your body! The cancer blustered,
I’ll make you fearful and your family flustered!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took her vitamins and she talked to God a lot
And Isabel, effortlessly, reduced the cancer to snot.
I am having a good day. I'm having more and more of them. Still hurt. Still taking pain meds. AND I am driving and getting around and I am getting stronger. Even had lunch with my BFF, Carla, today. Last week I got to accompany my husband to Cozumel, Mexico to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and stay at the hotel where we honeymooned. Didn't even get wet. Slept. Ate. Watched water. It was excellent! Howard was wonderful to me and it was one of my favorite all-time vacations.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Waiting Game

I don't have anything to report about the ultrasound. No news is...? I did realize that I've left out the results of the pathology report they did of the tissues they removed. NO CANCER. Wow. I get to type "No cancer". You may find me repetitive, but, please understand, this is a joy and a hope and faith realized. God is Good. La, la, la No Cancer, No Cancer, la, la, la!

So, instead of test results, I have a story:
When I was in the hospital, the second day after surgery, it was determined that I should get up and walk around. I was ready to oblige and carefully maneuvered my feet to the floor, sat up, stood (a bit wobbly, but pretty sound), and with Claire and all my tubes and hoses attached, stepped away from the bed and stopped. I was about to join the unenviable club of people who flashed people while wearing a hospital gown! The nurse started to laugh and said something to the effect of, "Oh, people will start sticking dollars back there!" To which, Claire and I, simultaneously responded with, "No, we wouldn't do any of that for less than a 20!" Now, that's funny!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Everything Came Out Alright...

I suppose I've left this unwritten long enough, but I've been pritnear useless and somewhat "distracted" until just recently. I had surgery on August 4. Decided if I was on pain meds I might as well be on them for more than one issue (irradiated intestines and stomach were one, surgery the additional). I was fortunate to have one of the five top Oncological surgeons, Dr. Pierre Greeff, as my doctor. He gave me the prettiest smiley face scar you would ever want to see (horizontal, thank you) and laughed when my body started spitting out the staples. He was happy to see my body "rejecting" them as he put it, took the remaining 18 out, and just taped me shut. He'll tell you I didn't like him much at first, but I certainly adore him, now!

One big concern that was handled by pushing the date was that Claire and Holly could be here. Claire used a massive wad of her flex time and Holly, bless her heart, used her vacation time to come to Tulsa to meet my increasing need. Claire spent every night but one of the six sleeping on a pull out chair bed contraption while I was in hospital and I will always be in awe of her generosity and good-natured constant care for me. The nurses were in love with her, too, for the same reason, and allowed her free access to the Special Care Unit facilities, including the Sonic ice on steroids machine and the Oh So Fabulous heated blanket closet. (Claire and I both had fun with our nurses. CTCA picks winners.) Somehow, my daughter knew what I wanted before I wanted it and way before I asked for it. I'm not sure she slept more than 15 minutes at a time because, if I was awake, she was awake. She was such a God-send! She says I raised her right. She's an accelerated learner, I say. She would be the most incredible personal assistant. She'd be the most incredible anything-she-wants-to-be.

Miss Holly arrived the same day I was allowed to come home. That she used her only multi-day vacation in over a year to be with me will ALWAYS impress me. She gave up R and R for the "opportunity" to watch me in, probably, the worst, most unrelenting pain of my life. I had some trouble with my kidneys and had to go back and have tests done. The surgery was pretty extensive and there was a lot of additional scar tissue removed from surrounding organs so it's not a surprise there was extra pain. We think that time is all that's necessary, but I'll go back, soon, for another ultrasound to make sure the obstruction and the stasis has reconciled. I'm much improved, no doubt because Holly's hugs are healing and I am, as a direct result, healing. I just wish could have taken some of them on account...

Howard has been doing his best to fill in after the girls' departure. Not that he doesn't already have a full plate, but, he comes home when he can during the day and makes sure I eat whatever I want every night. I've been heavily into hamburgers (I pitch half the bun, of course) and Taco Bueno Muchacos and Indian food. I know! And McCalesters' pot roast potato. They are all comfort food, I suppose. Even when I couldn't manage anything else hot, I could eat a pot roast potato and I think it's because it is something like what my mother has made on a regular basis my whole life which, I guess, is the definition of comfort food. The Curry? I don't know what makes that comfort food but it just IS. And, yes, I'm allowing myself more foods, now. The compulsion to eat only certified healthy foods has abated, somewhat. I'm just following His lead.

A couple days ago while sitting on my bed, pretending I wasn't in pain, I had an epiphany. There I was, sitting on my bed, eating an organic peanut butter and jelly on Spelt english muffin, listening to my dog breathe and watching an actress over act in a Lifetime movie. There I was. I AM! I'm here! I'm here! I get to Stay and Play! Grace and Mercy are mine. Thank you, God, forevermore. I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and GOD IS WITH ME. He continues to comfort me. My cup runneth over!

Speaking of Comfort, thank you all for checking in on me. Thank you for the flowers, food, and the rides to appointments, and the phone and FB messages. And, especially, your prayers! You comfort me as God is taking care of me. My cup runneth over.