If it's possible, gather with family and friends and have  peaceful Holidays.

 

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We don't even know we have it, until we need it and then we're so happy to have it.

HOPE

When you think about HOPE and cancer the two are inseparable.

Before cancer, life is really a daily lesson.  We don't think about HOPE very much unless there's something out of the ordinary that is a part of our day.  Maybe we're up for a promotion and we HOPE we get it.  Maybe one of our kids' is in a school play and we HOPE he/she does well.  But we don't sit around and HOPE for a decent salad at lunch or getting out of the office on time.

So we don't call on our HOPE very often if our lives are fairly normal.

Cancer changes that in an instant.  Nano-seconds have we hear "YOU have cancer,"  where ever HOPE lives inside us, it presents itself in waves of emotion. When we cry after hearing we have cancer, HOPE is in those tears.  When we hug a loved one for support, HOPE is wrapped in that embrace.  At night, when we are wide awake thinking about what the future holds, HOPE is the link to that future.

When just hours before, we really hadn't thought about HOPE and the role it plays in our lives.

It allows us to BELIEVE, BE ASSURED and above all, MAKE PLANS....all feelings, cancer tries it's best to destroy.

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Poems for healing is the way the article described them.  It caught my attention, especially when I read that Natasha Josefowitz had written these poems after losing her husband of 35 years.

He died of cancer.

The name of this book is "Living Without the One You Cannot Live Without"

This series of poems, almost 100 of them, begin at diagnosis.

Josefowitz has written many books, she's hosted her own radio show, written columns, but this book sounds like it hits home.  In fact she said she wrote it after feeling "alienated despite her best intentions to put on a smiling face wherever she went."  This according to a recent review of the book.

This poem is from that recent review:

LOST in the PERIPHERY

After my husband died

I was no longer

the center of anyone's life

nor is anyone

the center of mine

family and friends

are supportive and comforting

but they are peripheral

as I am peripheral

in their lives

they can continue

without me

as I am supposed

to continue

without him

without the one person

I cannot live without

It sounds to me like these poems, may have started out as a self help exercise to smooth the way through the author's grieving process.  We've all discovered our own ways of making the best out of that uncomfortable passage.

What I have discovered through all of this; It is an ongoing journey.  There is only "healing," but never "healed."

 

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There are a lot of columns and blogs and books out there to help you through a loss.

There are experts who have studied and trained for many years and I don't doubt for a minute that their expertise is a valuable tool to many who find themselves dealing with the death of a loved one.  I've connected with many who are in the middle of their cancer battle and they find it helpful to visit a psychologist regularly, just to vent.  They talk out their frustrations over having lost control of their lives.  The care givers do the same.  They talk about how life has changed for them.  The 'normal' that once was, is no more.

Then there's a place like this.

We've walked this road.  Our 'talk' is the talk of the experience and there is no replacing that.   Any advice we give, comes from our days living in cancer world.  Even if it's not advice, just sharing or venting, we do it with the backing of the knowledge of having been there.

This family of "Our Cancer" experts amazes me every day; using the right words, telling the right stories and 'lifting' when 'lifting' is the only thing that will help.

That's why I think the 'experts' need to take a page from the 'experienced.'

Until it happens to YOU....

 

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Leroy looked into the future many times in his cancer journey.

When he first heard the words, "You have cancer," he wondered if he should buy a new shirt, new shoes or new slacks, ever again.  Why bother, he thought, he had cancer.

When the 'Harry Potter' books came out, he powered through the first two, but his cancer was making a move when the release of the third book was announced and he wondered about being here to read it.  He was one of the first to order it and read it in one sitting.  The future was now.

We were forced to look to the future because of his cancer and got busy with advanced directives, wills, and all the things that come with a terminal diagnosis.

One of the hardest parts of looking ahead, was the part about 'us.'  Our plans for the future were doused by this brutal disease burning through him.

Cancer is a future crusher.

I'm thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is no longer with us.  Cancer; Leukemia took his life a couple of years ago.  We were sitting on a couch talking, looking ahead and he was allowing himself an emotional moment. He saw his son, a budding baseball player, showing all the signs of maturing into a great young man.  And his daughter, a couple of years older, just on the cusp of blossoming into a beautiful young woman.  Would he be here to see the new chapters of their lives unfold?  As much as he wanted to keep that hope alive, he knew better.

But this Dad's dreams of the future are today's realities.  He was right about both his kids.  They are growing and moving on and tasting life as they should.  His daughter is  super-smart and college bound and his son is a solid student and super athlete.

He isn't here for their "future" at least not physically, but he's in their hearts forever.  And that's not something cancer can ever crush.

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Dennis and Gary, Judie's friends, are mourning the loss of their wives to cancer.

I got an email from a friend who is trying to digest the news that her Mom has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She's having surgery in a few days.

And here I was, thrilled with the stories of three cancer patients who had some how managed to beat back the beast and live...live...live.

And just when the world starts to steady itself, cancer unhinges that axis and away we go, spinning out of control because of three little words, "YOU have cancer."

From the beginning to the end; It seems it always comes out an unbalanced ledger.

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Pulling the covers over your head; Sound familiar?

How many times have you wanted to do that after a loss from cancer.  Those were the words a friend used this morning when he was describing how he's been feeling after the loss of his Dad.   It's been a few months now and he's definitely feeling a little less heavy around the heart, but it's still so hard.

He calls it anxiety.  I call it the black magic of grief.

You're fine one minute and then it's as if some one has cast a spell over your heart and this feeling of dread overcomes you.  The sadness is pervasive, spreading like a think coat of oil through your body.

He has taken to pulling the covers over his head, waiting for the coldness to pass.  I told him to walk, swim, put on some headsets and listen to music; anything to help push through the spell.

Grief has to run its course but we can't let it find a permanent place in our hearts.  That's where life is supposed to thrive.

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The hits just keep coming; The cancer hits.

It's always a good day when cancer takes an uppercut and today is one of those days.

Not one, not two, but three great reports came sliding onto my email over night.

One friend's MRI and PET scans revealed shrinkage of a tumor in the brain and his other cancer is putting on a disappearing act on his liver.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Friend number two got the news that a newly discovered mass in a breast, and she is a former breast cancer patient, was biopsied and it's just a mass...no cancer. No new chemo needed, no new radiation needed.  Resume speed and live.

Friend number three is the real miracle.  From a terminal diagnosis, she is now looking in the mirror and seeing a cancer free person.  Multiple meds, multiple clinical trials, in fact her medical team threw everything they had at her and it has worked.

These are the days that make me feel like research and treatment for so many kinds of cancers has really taken a step forward.

Does it also make me feel a little sad that those steps hadn't been taken a few years ago, when maybe, just maybe, they could have made a difference in some one who lived in this house? Sure....but I also know that that some one paid it forward, and helped those discoveries come to life.

So cancer was 0 for 3 today.  I'm liking those numbers.

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Why does it work for some?  Why doesn't it work for others?

Cancer treatment is such a mystery.

I have a friend who has been at death's door from her cancer so many times; she started with conventional chemotherapy so long ago, I can't remember what year it was.  When that failed, her team of doctors gave her a choice of starting on a clinical trial or going with a plan B of chemo and radiation.  She decided to go with the clinical trial.  She qualified for the trial and it worked....for a long time, then it didn't.  So back to the drawing board and another trial seemed to fit her case and she joined that trial.

This has been her life now for many years and she just recently started another trial and her latest scans have proved worthy of the move.  Her doctor told her she is a cancer mystery.  More like a cancer miracle in my book.  Her scans showed no evidence of disease:NED!

So she's turned in her pain pump for an airline ticket and is now planning a Spring trip to a beautiful beach.

Nothing wrong with this decision, but how did this happen and why did this happen?  Her doctor's can't really give her an explanation, at least not a medical one.  It just worked.  It just worked for her.

The mystery of success in cancer world is not to be messed with....some times it's better to just whisper "Thank you" and find that beach.

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Most of us take life for granted.

We just do.  We have busy lives.  We get swept up in the every day running around of doing "stuff" and we just don't stop to realize we're not appreciating the days of our lives.

So, when do we get it? When does it hit us like a brick that we've ignored all this precious time?

Sometimes the "light goes on" thanks to a special moment or event in our lives.  A graduation, a particularly special birthday or maybe a family member or friend you're very close to celebrates a milestone in their life.

Then, there is of course, living in the sphere of cancer.  Whether you're the patient or the care giver, living with cancer awakens a place deep inside your soul, that screams "Do you get it NOW?"

'Getting it' may not come to you until the cancer has taken away the big reason you're now different, but that's OK too.

It may take you through the healing of your loss, to come out the other end and realize how important each day is; how important it is to see life differently.

Or maybe you're one of the lucky ones.  You got it as soon as the words "You have cancer" resonated in the room.

The point is.....sooner or later, we all need to "get it."

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