I send this out to a special friend tonight who made a call to hospice this afternoon.  The man who has been at her side for a life time is slipping away.

The cancer is moving, touching vital organs that can not survive this final assault.

This is the time when HOPE shifts, as it does throughout the battle with cancer.  HOPE is fluid in this world.

Tonight, the HOPE is that this man is at peace.  The HOPE is that he is not in pain.

I know he is loved.  I know his loved ones are with him.

I know how lucky I am to call him a friend.  I hope he knows I'm sending my prayers too.

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What is it about eating and cancer?

As long as Leroy had an appetite I figured he was in a good place with his cancer.   Dinner was a fun time around our house.  We both cooked, although once his cancer returned, he didn't do much in the kitchen, but that didn't mean he stopped looking forward to dinnertime.

We ate a lot of salmon, halibut and sea bass during his chemo time because it agreed with him, gave him a lot of protein and I could sneak in a few veggies if I carefully announced we would be having a salmon Caesar salad for dinner.  And he'd always go for or a side dish of brown rice as long as he could add a little butter on top.  I figured the fish outweighed any of the bad stuff.

He was a long standing member of the 'clean plate club' and I could gage how he felt by how quickly the food on the plate disappeared.

A friend who has a spouse in a serious battle with cancer right now, is measuring her status the exact same way.  His main job as 'care giver' at the moment is getting as many calories as possible into her.  His reports are not filled with many details of her activities, except to say what and how much she is eating.  It's his barometer; how he calculates her progress against this very tough cancer.  He's delighted to report the results of her 'intake.'

Eating equals' living' in cancer world.

Breakfast was a non-starter for Leroy, except for his venti-mocha-non-fat iced latte. It was a daily order, so much so, that when I walked through the door at our local Starbucks, my order was called out automatically.  I can't tell you how many stained T-shirts I still have from failing to notice the extra drops of coffee on the lid of those daily drinks.

Cancer has so many 'markers' as we move through its different phases, especially when our loved ones are fighting a metastatic diagnosis.  Eating is a big marker.

I will always remember the morning when I told Leroy I was off to get his daily coffee fix and he looked up and he said "Not today, thanks."

That was the beginning of a very hard next phase.

 

 

 

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Full Plate

It's only a full plate if you pile on the antioxidants, the fiber, and the super foods like blueberries and broccoli.

Forget the high calories, fat, sugar and salt.

That was the message today at an event I attended where some super doc's spoke to a room full of mostly women about super foods, staying healthy in body and mind; yes what goes into your stomach feeds your brain too, and pushes back on things like cancer, heart attack, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

This was a no nonsense morning on healthy living.

I think most of us, these days, try to eat better.  No one wants to invite cancer or hearth trouble into their body on purpose.  But that's what we do when we consume big amounts of sugar and salt in our diets.  Studies have shown we flirt with these issues if we don't watch what we eat and there's this little thing called exercise and proper rest that factor into our health status too.

If it grows from a plant, it's probably good for you, but if it comes from a plant, it probably isn't....Fresh healthy foods versus processed food from a package...In a nut shell, that's the way the dietician summed up healthy eating vs.  not so healthy eating and that translates in a healthy body.

Of course genetics factor into this equation too.  We can only do so much where that's concerned.

So pile on the kale, berries, salmon and broccoli and do it with a smile on your face!

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A Tribute to Leroy Sievers---

In a world so hard, with days so long

A few good men do come along

Who belly laugh at life's short song

Who give the heart, who step up strong.

 

Leroy Sievers could--and can--

His worthy accolades of man

Inspiring hearts of many a fan

To "Do it now," If ever we can.

 

Conqueror of fear, example to all

Laurie's joy, and great big doll

A short life BUT--like Leroy--TALL

Stepping up to God, accepts the call.

 

Written by my friend Darryl ...Found by me this day after being tucked away for way too long.

 

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I wonder if anyone has ever studied the instant recall of a care giver?

It doesn't matter if your loved one went through a short treatment period or years of therapies, it seems we care givers have photographic minds.  We remember just about everything.

We can recall details that normally would go unnoticed.  The weather, the parking space, the elevator ride, the nurses, the time it took for treatment, standing in line at the pharmacy, seeing familiar faces at the cancer center: all the things that revolve around treatment day.

We also remember drug reactions, sleeping in the car on the way home; you with one eye on the road and one eye on your patient.  We think back on the nights when we stood in the hallway, just a few steps away from the bedroom door and listened to make sure the breathing was steady and even.

We remember the smiles, the groans, the handholding, and the tears.

But then,  there were the days when we forgot to take care of ourselves; we remember that too.

This would be an interesting study.

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Every day….

It's something you do because it might make a difference.  It's the daily trip to the cancer center.

It's the daily trip to the radiation oncology floor.

You make the trip, but it's really HOPE that's driving you.   Some come from many miles away, even "states" away because you believe in the care. You believe. Period.

It's a daily treatment that brings you here.  Many days, you sit and wait for your turn to get radiation: back-ups do happen.   Sometimes the machine breaks down and the travel and anticipation of the treatment is for naught.

Usually the radiation takes just a few minutes but it requires a daily appointment, highly regulated and targeted to kill the cancer but not the healthy tissue.

The daily visits take a lot out of the patient and care giver, but they are necessary and if you've been on this path, you tell yourself that you'll rest later, this is where you need to be today.

It's been seven years(exactly) and even now, I remember those days with such clarity.   Radiation was our last attempt at slowing down the spread.  We had a standing morning appointment and we parked on the third level every day for weeks.

Every day.....

 

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Cancer and celebrities is the combination that puts this disease on page one.

Rita Wilson, the actress wife of actor Tom Hanks is the latest to hear the words "You have cancer."  She was urged by a friend, the report says, after getting an 'all clear' on a mammogram, to get a second opinion.  What resulted from seeing another doctor and as she put it, "my gut told me that was the thing to do," was a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

The message was strong and the reaction equally as strong.  Women from all over the country have responded with their own stories and others have just said thank you for the good advice.

Ms. Wilson put these words in a post today; "...a second opinion is necessary and vital.  Not just by another doctor but by another pathologist."

There can never be too much guidance when it comes to cancer.

Hopefully Rita Wilson will continue to share her experience as she heals and begins her road back to health.  Healing from that kind of surgery takes time and adjustments.  This could be her moment to step off the Broadway stage for a time and step into a different spotlight where an entirely new audience awaits her arrival.

 

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I bet it's been at least three months since I've seen him walking his dogs up and down the street. He's always been a friendly man with a warm smile and gentleness about him.

He loves his two dogs too.  He carries treats in his pocket, so if they slow down to sniff the grass or to say "Hello" to some one like me, they quickly turn to their "dad" for a treat. He plays the tough master for a minute, but these two know it's only an act and a dog biscuit is in their immediate future.

That was then and this is now.  NOW he walks his pals very early in the morning and only sometimes, depending on how his wife is feeling.

Yes, cancer has entered  her life, so it's entered his life too. The strain from this life change is obvious. He's tired.  The care giver takes on a certain look.

She's in treatment now and the chemo is hard and they have decided to fight this fight with a few friends for support, but the circle is small and closed.  Privacy is their cloak of protection.  It's a change from what their former lives were all about.

Living in cancer world doesn't give us many choices, we just put our heads down and "fight the fight."  Losing control of our lives, the way we used to live, is one of the biggest complaints that come with this new world.  So making the decision to close ranks and share the battle with just a few is a big decision.  It says "I'm taking control of what I can and this is one choice I can make."  Privacy rules....sharing takes a back seat.

We all do it differently.  We all have our reasons for doing it differently.  It's in our control.

What isn't, is how this disease changes us all.

 

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I've heard it from so many women who also check the box next to the word "widow" that they are challenged when it comes to handling the "big" stuff.

I'm not talking about paying the gardener or calling a plumber, although many wives do leave that to their husbands to handle.

In our household Leroy was always worried that he'd come home on any given night and find the doors off the hinges and some part of the house involved in a DIY (Do It Yourself) project.  That's why early on in our relationship, he mandated the "no power tools for Laurie....EVER, rule."

When it came to big purchases, business matters, legal things, we were in it together.  And I can tell you I share in what these other widows are feeling: it's hard to sit across the table in a law office, or talk to a home financing officer or even gather all the tax material, much less make major decisions about the kids college plans.  There you are, sitting by yourself.  Just you and for most of us, we are thinking about what our spouses would have contributed to the meeting.  We bring them with us. Of course, we don't mention that to anyone because that would make us sound a little odd, so we keep that part to ourselves.

It doesn't matter how many years you've been a widow either.

We just miss that solid, sure voice that says "There's a man in the room, and he's with me, and we're in this together."

Just another "widow's challenge" on any given day.

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Every once in a while a day comes around that is beyond wonderful.

Today is that kind of day.

The sun is out.  The sky is blue and clear and it's in the mid-70's. There are buds on the cherry trees.  My first daffodil bloomed and it's dancing in the breeze.

And the baseball season begins with a full schedule of games today.  There is something about the season starting that makes things right.

A friend of mine is an avid baseball fan.  He also happens to be the care giver to his cancer stricken wife.  Baseball is the steady, calming force in his upside down world.  The strikes and balls and rhythm of the game give him a "normal" now.  He's in a better frame of mind now that his season of baseball has wrapped its arms around him.

Today is that kind of day.

 

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