Long Day, Long Week

It’s Saturday. Glad for the weekend.

I haven’t seen one ball game of Gavin’s for a very long time. Today , I get to see two. 9 and 11. I look forward to it, far more than you can probably believe.

My brothers will look after Mom over the weekend. It works well. They are so easy to work with. The three of us are a good care team.

Last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, was the unofficial summer start. We have had a couple of days hot and humid so far, and we will have many more ahead. It’s time. And I have some baseball to catch up on.

It’s so hard to believe Gavin will be 11 this year. He loves baseball, and I love to watch him play. It’s great. Best fun I’ve had in years.

My oldest played Little League ball. He was a skilful player at 10, just like Gavin. His dad coached, but that was when we separated, and his dad refused to pick him up for practice and games. I had to work until 5 every day, and did not get home in time to take him to practice or play games. His dad wouldn’t since it I filed for divorce. His dad was the coach. My son told me he could forgive his dad for everything else but baseball. I’m so happy my grandson doesn’t have that situation.

The rest of the weekend? I will spend time with the Babe. We haven’t seen each other much this week. We have a lot to catch up on. I feel so lucky to do that. There are a lot of husbands who wouldn’t have it if their wife needed to tend to her mom. Mine knows family is everything and knows we all have only one Mom. I’m a lucky woman.

You know, we have a lot of things to do to finish preparing for summer. I’m so sad there will no longer be a specialty nursery in Gretna who raises seed planted Geraniums for summer and poinsettias for Christmas. I should be able to re-start the geraniums every spring, for as long as I want. It will be wonderful to have those same plants, year after year. Such a keepsake.

We have some things to take care of this weekend; hope you get to enjoy yours. Have a great Saturday! See you tomorrow.

The Day After the Last Treatment

Mom’s treatment ended yesterday. It is a strange feeling already. No cancer doctor appointment until later in the summer. No further testing until labs and scans completed next month. Wow! Now what do we do?

You get so wrapped up in the daily treatments, planning your life around them, and you can’t think further ahead. What will fill your time now?

The Babe and I are lucky. We have plenty to do at home. Yes. Despite living there for 8 years, we never got settled in. Now we have book cases to fill in the lower level, and finding new homes for all the ones I no longer want to keep. I’m going to find the library in Gretna and see if they’re open to donations. And the high school may or may not want books on quilting and sewing. Who knows? The kids may want to learn something old but new to them.

The stats are looking good this month for the blog. We have published nearly 1,314 blogs daily since we started, and we notify 1,097 people each time a new one goes live. Thanks, friends! Let’s keep growing, ok? Help a girl out. Thank you! Share with your friends, your mom, aunt, even your tech savvy grandma. There’s room for men, too. Your secret is safe with me!

As we dive further into the week, take a little time to reconnect with your friends. Just a text, email, or phone call. They’ll love hearing from you. We’re planning on doing the same thing. Get out there, and Live a Great Story!

ACS Challenge-31daysx30 minutes

Over the years, one thing standing out among all the achievements in cancer treatment is fewer people are dying from it. Treatment helps you not only kick cancer, but is also helps you have more birthdays. Some of us might not, I understand that, too.

One thing some people do is procrastinate getting the diagnosis. They don’t want to ruin Christmas, or your birthday, or anniversary, so they put off the visit to the doctor. They delay the scans. Work is always a great excuse. Trust me, if you work for a company with health insurance and/or PTO, you can certainly miss an hour to have this important test. Your life may depend on it. Too blunt?

Sorry, not sorry if it is. The whole point I’ve learned over the years is something ACS hammers home every chance it gets: Early Detection Saves Lives.

Please, get those diagnostic tests.

Some people with cancer the Babe and I know diagnosed early had much better chances of survival after treatments. Some cancers, hard to detect, are advanced staged at diagnosis. The Babe’s ex-wife Sandy was one of these people. We were all friends, and Sandy and I became good friends during her illness. I was home during the day, and when she felt up to it, we’d go to a movie or have lunch during a weekday. I treasure that friendship. She, given 6 months to live, lived a life full of love from her kids and grandkids. And she lived two years longer than expected. She enriched all of our lives. Miss you, my friend.

Sandy’s sister Sharon, diagnosed with the same cancer as Sandy, died the next spring. Their mother died in 1988 from the same cancer. Sad situation all the way around. Sharon’s husband, Lou, began inviting us to have Christmas dinner with him, with the Babe’s daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison and Gavin. It’s become an annual blessing. The Babe worked for Lou at Watkins Concrete Block Co, Inc. until they both retired. A very kind man, with a big heart. Miss them both now.

We’ve known two people diagnosed with kidney cancer. They both underwent kidney removal surgery. Later on, cancer appeared in a nearby location, and the fight was on. The cancer, and other factors, resulted in the loss of another friend. The other person, the Babe’s Mom Liz, had the kidney removed and not more cancer. She passed from complications from MS. Bless her, too. Miss her every day.

For about seven or eight years, it seemed that’s all we knew, one friend after another; lost to cancer.

The loss to our family of my sister-in-law Laura was equally as devastating as the loss of our dad.

Married to my brother Tim, Laura was a sweetheart since kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten. Their lives went different ways, but they remained in touch. Laura married after high school, divorced with one child. She remarried, was pregnant, and her husband died of cancer. Two little children, a girl and a boy.

She wed again, had two more boys, and this husband committed suicide. Dear God, this could be a movie plot. And it’s absolutely true. Alone with four children. My brother re-entered her life.

It was a roller coaster much of the time. They were intent on changing each of their lives, and learning a better way to live and raise the children. After several years of marriage, they diagnosed Laura with oral cancer. Her brother passed from it as well. Now, Laura suffered the same fate.

To help my brother, I spent a lot of time with her. He was trying to work his job, save his time off for when he absolutely needed it, and run the house, keeping track of the kids. Hard enough for two people, much less for one with a day job. She was in and out of the hospital, feeding tube, massive weight loss, chemo and radiation, and she stayed positive. We talked a lot about heaven, God, and forgiveness. She and I were distant over a misunderstanding for a long time. Her illness and my love for my brother helped heal that issue, and I’m grateful for what I learned from her.

Mend your fences, folks. Take it from one who knows. You don’t want to run out of time. Love you, sister! See you in heaven, someday.

Both women added to my life and my understanding of others. So grateful for their friendships and the memories I have with them. Make some memories today. See you tomorrow.

The Worst Year of My Life – Part 2

1988, as we’ve been talking about yesterday and today was the worst year on record for me. So far. You never know. If you didn’t get to read Part 1, click above, and take a minute to read. I’ll wait.

So that brings us up to September, 1988. Several cancer-related deaths of friends, family, and others make for a hard year. And it wasn’t over yet.

Dad retired in July 1988, and was enjoying not going to work, especially on Saturday nights during football season. Before e-mail for photos, etc., if there was a Saturday night game in Lincoln, Nebraska, the film had to be driven up from Lincoln, processed, then printed for the paper on Sunday. They were proud of their color photos of the Huskers.

The delay meant an extra long night for the pressroom. Dad told us about that at a late celebration for Mom’s birthday, at my home with the kids. It was a Saturday night, and the first football game of the season. I’ll never forget hearing him tell us how glad he was to not be working that night.

Dad didn’t feel well for the rest of September. He had an ache in his side. He thought it was a pulled muscle. It seemed to get worse. He found out he had lung cancer on October 20, my oldest son’s birthday. We felt crushed. My kids weren’t seeing their dad much, and Dad was a great male role model to them.

I remember again what Dad said. Let’s wait to worry until we find out what we’re dealing with. Expert advice, but so very hard to do. It’s something we try to do when we learn of another diagnosis, friend, family, or neighbor. Don’t desert your people. Yes, it’s hard, but being isolated because your friends are uncomfortable is not good. They need you, and especially now.

Of all days Dad could of died, it was December 7, 1988. A day of infamy. Absolutely.

There are constant reminders of Dad everywhere that first year. In less than a month, we had the first Christmas and his first birthday (January 1) without him. It was all uphill from there. We were all so sad; this great man who never had a vacation missed his trip of a lifetime. His Blackhawk Division was due to go on a tour of Europe that spring. Seeing the sights they saw as young men in combat.

He’s missed graduations, weddings, births, and other deaths. He was only 64 when he died. So unnecessary. Like most men his age, he was a lifelong smoker. That, and the work environment at a newspaper, probably left lots of stuff in his lungs that were constant irritants. Many of his fellow pressmen also died of lung cancer in the years that followed.

I don’t know if any of you survived years longer than your parent(s) did, but it is a strange feeling. I’m 71 this month; when I was 65, I spent a lot of time thinking about how short Dad’s life was. It seriously robbed him. I know we won’t all live forever, and some folks live longer than others. It’s frightening. It left me with all kinds of unresolved feelings. I think what made it worse since I had kids to comfort, and had no one to comfort me. Loss is so hard when you’re alone.

Cancer played a huge part in the worst year of my life. Big losses in a short time. After Dad died, I had one thing to be grateful for. I didn’t have a self-centered boyfriend to contend with. That was a great blessing. And now, I can look back and see how God makes some changes in your life to help with what is coming. We might not understand it, but He does. And I’m glad.

That year taught me a lot about myself. And about life. I’d never want to re-live it.

May 5, 2023 – ACS 31 x 30

Good morning, friends! We are on day 5 of writing 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of May. How’s your world this morning? 

Mom’s not doing too well this morning, so I went over early, and she’s napping. It’s interesting, she didn’t want a recliner/chair to help her stand up. Boy, she’s just loving it now. 

That’s another thing you learn while helping someone who is aging and ill. Change is so difficult. They just want to have some control over something. It’s not unusual for any of us. They’re vulnerable, afraid, and just want something to be the same for them. Don’t we all? 

Those of us who are open to change and consider it necessary may have a hard time dealing with that attitude. From our point of view, sure, it seems to make sense, you’re over 90 years old, you can’t do most things as you used to, limitations are making your world so much smaller. No one likes that. And it happens so quickly.

It’s hard to watch them struggle, and hard to know if they want help with simple things or if they want to do it themselves. A few days ago, Mom told me she was going to do a couple of odd minor tasks. She said, “If I need you, I’ll let you know.” I try to keep it at that level. 

And here’s another it’s hard to believe we saw this moment:

After parking the car at the pickup circle, I brought Mom out in the wheelchair to get her loaded in the car. I parked behind an original 1976 Firebird Trans Am, complete with t-tops, which were off for the beautiful day.

“Does she have hearing aids?” 

“Yes.” We didn’t know what to expect then.

“I’ll wait until you get her in the car to start my car. It’s very loud, and I don’t want to hurt her ears.”

How nice of them! Can you believe it? You can find people blessing one another in unusual ways. Humans are pretty good, after all.

After parking the wheelchair back inside, another elderly person walked out with his family. It was obvious he had hearing aids, too. I smiled to myself. I leaned close to the ladies in the Trans Am and said, “Girls, you could be here for a while.” 

They laughed and told me, “We just said the same thing. I’m going to put it in neutral and roll down to the thru lanes to exit and then fire it up.” She sure knew how to start that baby. It’s rare you find anyone, much less a lady, who knows how to do that. It did my heart proud of all the girls out there. Smooth as silk!

In your journey through life, and not just cancer, things appear each day that are unexpected. We should pay attention if we’re able, and be grateful for the respites, especially during a hard day, or morning, afternoon, or hour. 

And her passenger was picked up in style from her cancer treatment. What a treat, for all of us.

Cancer and My Family, Friends

May 2, 2023

 

I want to thank my cousin Bob A., my friend Kathy K., and my lifelong friend Jan W. for their generous donations to the ACS during my 30-Minute-Daily Writing Challenge. Today, we continue telling the stories of cancer touching lives in our immediate and extended families. Jan’s family has a member just diagnosed. You’re in my prayers. God can work miracles.

Years ago, there was a movie called, “Medicine Man,” which starred Sean Connery, and Lorraine Bracco. We all know of Mr. Connery, and Ms. Bracco was a relative newcomer. She played Karen, Ray Liotta’s wife, in Goodfellas. She did well in this movie, made in 1992. 

The gist of the story was at a remote village in the Amazon, was a tribe who were never around outsiders, only their own people. No plagues, illnesses, or other malaise troubled these fortunate people. 

The catch is there is a plant growing here which will cure cancer. Amazing. The moral dilemma, explains Connery, is whether it is worth introducing this area of the world to mankind with all its disease, troubles, and assorted bad things, to get a supply of a naturally growing plant which will cure cancer. The story is a typical back-and-forth to expose the information to the rest of the world, inviting the press, swindlers, and thoughtless chaps to descend on this pure and peaceful world to what we live with every day in “civilization.” It’s an interesting problem.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were such a thing available somewhere? The American Cancer Society is trying to find a cure without disrupting the peace of the world, society, and the environment. 

They used many improvements in treatment today to help people with the side effects of the treatments, and that is significant progress. I recall my dad asking, “If I could only see what is causing the pain; There’s nothing visible.” That has stuck with me for many years. 

I’ve heard cancer doesn’t cause any pain. It is when the tumors grow large enough to impinge on other organs, bones, tendons, and tissue is when the pain begins. Many times, the cancer has spread by the time they diagnosed it. Other times, as with my breast cancer, there is no pain; I didn’t even have a lump. Believe me, everyone attempted to palpate it. 

My cancer didn’t hurt either. What hurt was the lumpectomy. The tumors were small, and in situ. That means in the milk ducts. It had not spread. What a blessing. To make sure there were good margins, or areas free of the cells that would develop into cancer in a near future, they took a baseball size equivalent of tissue. Locate a baseball and hold it in your hand. It is huge when thought of in this way. 

The wound healed with nary a scar. It’s a beautiful job. Many of the doctors looked and said, “That’s beautiful; er, I mean, it’s a beautiful surgical job.” I had to laugh, and I knew what they meant. I could have opted for reconstruction, but I didn’t care then. At 57 years old, and I didn’t think it was necessary for me. Now, however, fourteen years later, I wonder if I should have had something done. Things oddly shift around after 60. I find the size difference much more noticeable. At my age now, 70, it’s off the table from my perspective. 

9 treatments to go. God, help us get there. See you all tomorrow and thank you for the support and prayers. I appreciate you.

ACS Write-30-Minutes a Day in May

May 1, 2023

Here I am, a blogger, an author, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a creative person who is taking part in a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. I opened the donations with a $25 donation from me. If that’s all we receive, it’s ok with me. What? http://facebook.com/fundraisers If you click on link, sign into your personal Facebook page, then you can find my May 30 Minutes donation page. (allegedly. If you have trouble, please let me know, I’ll get a better link). Thank you.

The ACS has a lot of donations. They will always have full coffers because of the way the disease, this source, this plague, devastates the human body, families, lives, and the way it tries to change attitudes from loving life to cursing it. 

When people lose hope, that’s when cancer wins. No matter the outcome, when people lose their ability to be positive and keep the faith, that’s when cancer wins. Please know it is an unspoken fight the patient and their family are also engaged in. Not just a fight for the body; It’s a battle for your hope, mind, outlook, and future. It’s a battle for your very soul.

I’m thinking of making a daily entry, no matter how long it is, and use it as my blog for each day. I’ve long thought of writing a book for families, on the emotional toll a family experiences. No, I’m no expert, not at all. 

It riddled my life and the Babes with this journey; to walk with people we love and their families through the ends of their battles. Mine began when my dad died of lung cancer in 1988. 

In my family of origin, there are six people. Three of us have had cancer. Dad, Mom (twice), and me. Mom had oral cancer about 20 years ago. She had surgery and no treatment. No recurrence. I had Stage 1 breast cancer, had a lumpectomy and 33 treatments of radiation. Survivor and proud of it. Yet, in the back of my mind, there is a healthy fear it could return. I pray a lot. Now Mom has cancer. We’ll discuss it at a later point, along with my sister-in-law’s death from oral cancer. It was the saddest experience. I miss her. 

It is the same, yet very different every time. Every cancer is decidedly different (and that’s what makes it hard to cure), every cancer patient and their families are different, too. The spirit and souls of these groups are different, too. 

We’ll talk about our friends and family, who shall have their names changed to protect their privacy. There are many triumphs and tragedies. And yes, there is one good thing about cancer. You talk with your family and friends, but only if you want to. No one can make you or them. There is the opportunity to do so. If you die suddenly of a heart attack or in a car accident, you do not have that opportunity. It’s there in front of you. Be brave enough to use it. It is a gift.

This is my first entry, written yesterday, for this month of May, 2023. See you tomorrow.

May Day, 2023

Do they still call May 1 May Day? I wasn’t sure. I never heard of leaving May Baskets for people until I got older.

The focus at my Catholic school/church was Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus. They devoted the entire month to her in prayer, acts of kindness, and event, May Crowning. They placed a flower crown on the statue of Mary on the left altar of the Church. Mr. Severin installed a removable set of stairs with handrailing for a chosen 8th grade girl chosen to do the honors. All the girls wanted to be chosen. Mary Jane Trummer was the one for our class. I was extremely disappointed. Oh well, win some, lose some.

Also at the Catholic school, we learned in Russia; they had a large military parade, flexing their muscles and strength for all the world to see and take note. As a counter, the United States celebrated Law Day. It is a day for celebrating the rule of law in the United States, land of the free, and the home of the brave. We hold many mock trials in courtrooms throughout the country to teach young people how important real justice is.

I’ve mentioned before, I’m taking part in a challenge for the American Cancer Society. I’m writing for 30 minutes a day as part of the challenge. I’m looking forward to doing it as a re-start for me to pick up with my children’s book. It’s been too long!

While announcing the fundraising part of the challenge, one is supposed to invite friends to join or share your info and donate. I went down the list of 259 friends and reflected on how many of them were no longer living. Cancer took many. Too many friends, too many relatives, too many deaths.

I did not invite everyone. I don’t like to bug people; you know? The best thing you could do? Be aware. Get all of your exams as soon as you’re old enough. Colonoscopies are necessary, folks. They’re not as involved as they used to be. All things considered, if you’d like to donate, please do. Invited or not.

I think I might do my30 minutes and the blog in the morning, before the day gets away from me. Subject to change, of course. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs and get some things done. Amen!

This is a great month! The Babe and I have birthdays two days apart, and we celebrate Mother’s Day. We also observe the national holiday of Memorial Day. It will be a busy month as well.

Have a great May Day today and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!

Here we are, at the last Saturday in April, 2023.

The past four months have passed in a quick blink of an eye. How does this happen?

We passed Mom’s 17th treatment of 28 today. That has sped by, too. Some days, she’s so tired of the hustle (she is 93, after all), but she doesn’t get too grumpy. I try to make her laugh about something from we were all at home. Usually she does. It’s good she isn’t all doom and gloom. Whatever she thinks while she’s alone, I have no idea. I’ve told her she doesn’t have to hide it, she needs to talk. Oddly enough, she does. It’s taken a bit, and she volunteers things, which is new for her. I’m grateful for that. She’s finally let me in a little. It’s finally happened. God is, indeed, good.

Do you ever watch Dateline on Friday nights? Aren’t there just a lot of people to be afraid of? That’s one way to think. And yes, there are people whom we should approach with caution. I don’t believe most folks are like that, though. I have to keep the positive thought the world is more good than bad.

I’m planning today and tomorrow what I’m using for my project to write 30 minutes a day to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. They issued a challenge for the Month of May, and I thought it was perfect. I want to concentrate on my children’s book during the next month. The second item of importance is my novel, I stopped working on at a certain part of the story which is close to something in my life. It’s hard, but ends happily, just like it did in real life.

The trouble sometimes with writing is we have ideas for so many stories, it’s hard to settle on one to work on. I have an idea for a book about the friends we knew at the VFW; I also have many ideas for a story about families dealing with cancer.

At times, I think there is a common theme with ideas I have for stories; and they all include a big element of sadness in them. Does that mean I’m a downer? Are my ideas only sad? Or are they good resources for teaching others how to deal with real-life situations? I hope they become resources for helping families in time of trouble.

Many of the people I’ve talked to about my kids book have told me they could have used something like it for them, their kids, and everyone involved when they’ve had a loss. This is encouraging. My primary goal is to not only to write well; I want to write well in a way that helps people. Help can be help with a real-life problem or enjoyment or escape in good fiction.

I think there was nothing about grief when my dad died in 1988. I know my family didn’t grieve in a healthy way. None of us did. After the Babe and I married in 1998, we were lucky to be involved in Stephens Ministry. We were introduced to healthy ways to grieve, to walk with someone through their life changes, grief, and the like. It changed our lives and our outlook. All those contacts are treasured friends today. And we’re grateful for all of it.

Here’s hoping we all have a great Saturday. And we’ll see each other tomorrow, too. Be safe out there.

Another Tuesday in April

Today is the last Tuesday in April, 2023. Where has 1/3 of the year gone? My gosh, we have been through a lot so far. The blog is going great. Over 1085 followers, and it’s still early in the year.

The biggest thing is Mom is dealing with cancer. She had her 13th radiation/chemo treatment yesterday. This is where it becomes more painful; the tissue breaks down and is sore. It’s not the greatest thing, being blind and unable to do any self-checks of skin or the area. She is relying solely on the radiation team to help her. Her choice, and that’s ok.

Mom is nearly half finished with her treatments. She is looking forward to being finished, and is on track to do that on time. The Radiology Oncologist has said if she’s too tired, she can take a day off, but to keep going as much as she can. She is very tired, and has accepted she will be tired and must rest during the day. She is building rest into her schedule.

Matthew McConaughey advertised a live training session on his new venture, “The Art of Livin’.” I watched the first hour of it today, and McConuaghey shares ten points to work on, ten comments that make us think. It was good, so good, I’d recomment everyone watch it. Especially if you want to make changes and improvements in your life. It is worth a listen. And a making a list.

Starting May 1, I’m beginning a challenge from the American Cancer Society. The challenge is to write for 30 minutes a day, each day during May. Pledges are made to the American Cancer Society in your name. I decided to join the challenge because of six of us in our household, my father died of cancer, Mom had cancer once and now has it again, and I’ve been diagnosed and treated successfully. I’m proud and blessed to be a breast cancer survivor. God’s been good to me. I can certainly give back so others can be saved. I’ll activate the fundraising page on Facebook in the next couple days. Anything will be deeply appreciated. Thank you in advance, for your support.

Have a great day, this last Tuesday in April. Be safe out there, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.