You Can’t Edit a Blank Page

Author Jodi Picoult speaks the God’s honest truth here. Another reason I’m writing 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of May. The American Cancer Society issued a challenge to do this very thing I’m doing every day, so I figured to honor Mom, who’s undergoing cancer treatment, and all the others of our friends and family who have been diagnosed and treated for this horrible disease.

Cancer is a chameleon. It invades us without warning sometimes. Sometimes we have the habits that help it grow and take hold; habits like an all red-meat diet, a history of smoking (yes, you can get it from smoking weed, too. Don’t let anyone tell you differently), or simply by having breast tissue that is dense and hard to palpate. Not all the contributing factors are our fault necessarily; you can’t help how breast tissue is, and you can stop smoking, or never start, and make sure you get a colonoscopy, especially if people in your family have been diagnosed with colon/rectal/anal cancer. It could save your life.

The first person I was close to who died from lung cancer was my friend Angie. I met her working at ConAgra. I Recently divorced and newly employed, we met at the copier one day. We started going to lunch, shopping at our noon hour, and met outside work occasionally. She was a single mom who raised her kids, and she was a lot of help as I adjusted to this new life. She was maybe 5 – 6 years older than I, but she was like having a big sister.

She and her boyfriend were in a car accident, and she had considerable pain in her ribs. They blamed it on the accident until an x-ray confirmed it was not. She had a gigantic mass around her ribs; it was between ribs and in chest cavity. It was 1988, the worst year of my life to date. I don’t remember if she had surgery or not; all I remember is I visited her in the hospital and at home as much as I could.

Earlier that year, I was very ill with walking pneumonia. Home from work, in bed. That hardly ever happened. I also was unhappy in the dating relationship I was in for a couple of years. He was difficult to handle, and I saw how demanding he was. My grandma had a stroke, my mom became her caretaker, and was in a home.

Angie died early in the summer, late May. Her daughter’s wedding was the day after her mother’s funeral. That was so hard. I had altered and mended her mother of the bride’s dress. I had just delivered it to her home before she went back into the hospital and never returned home. So very sad.

The grief, for me at 37 years old, was all-consuming. I didn’t know what to do. Another friend of Angie’s, Joyce, worked in the Benefits Department. I worked with her since I was in HR, and also saw her socially with Angie. Joyce was such a guardian angel for me; in my loss, in my life as a single mom, and as a student, finishing her degree. We graduated from Bellevue University in January, 1996; her with her Masters, mine with BS. Good, good friend.

I had scheduled a camping trip with said boyfriend, my kids, and myself to the Black Hills. It was the week after the funeral. I had such fun with my kids; the ex, not so much. He whined the entire time. Not an outdoorsy type. I was distant because of my recent loss. He was angry I wasn’t over it yet, at two weeks.

After returning home, I broke up with him. I knew if he thought I should be over it by two weeks, he wouldn’t get it. No way, I couldn’t commit to someone who was clueless about this subject. I needed time. He wanted it at the speed of light. Impossible, as far as I was concerned.

Bad break-up, Grandma had stroke, and died in September. A week later, my children’s paternal grandfather died. Funeral, dealing with the ex-husband, who was divorcing his second wife. It never ends, does it?

This is more than enough today. I will finish this story tomorrow, 1988, The Worst Year of My Life (so far). Take care until tomorrow.

Masterful Monday

Can that be right? Masterful is defined as imposing one’s will on others. It’s being domineering, imperious, imperative, and peremptory. Huh? It does sound pretty unflattering, even to call Monday. But I don’t mean it in a bad way. My intent is all that matters here, and my intent is good. It’s a good thing. How so?

I do not want to be a person who regrets not doing things they always wanted to do. I will publish a novel and some children’s books. Before I don’t have the opportunity any more. In order to do that, I need to have my ambitions and my skills and my purpose defined, mapped out, and get with the work. In a way, I’m imposing my will to do this on my ability to procrastinate. I’m making it the most important thing to accomplish in the next couple of years. Seriously. It’s got to be first. The hitch is here: it can’t be more important than spending time with the Babe, our families, our grandkids. Moderation is the key. And work like hell in the block of time I can spend on it every day.

Some Days!

Song of the Day: “I’m Going to Love You Through It,” by Martina McBride. I’ve been the woman waiting for that phone call. I’ve been the woman who hung up and thought, “Shit, now what?” It was terrible calling the Babe at work and telling him. He cried out, “No!” And he said, “I’m on the way home.” I felt terrible telling him on the phone. We always know when each other is upset, by the tone of voice. I couldn’t hide it at all. No, I’ll never play poker.

The month was October. Boy, was I aware of Breast Cancer by the end of the month! My mammogram came back needing an ultrasound. I went to have that done. The radiologist and nurse told me, yes, it’s a definite lump, and I’d need a needle biopsy. All through this, I was thinking about Dan’s ex-wife, Sandy. She was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She had immediate chemo and radiation. We were establishing a friendship, as she was no longer working. I wasn’t either. It was wonderful talking with her about her kids with Dan. We were blessed to be able to be friends.

The Babe went with me to the biopsy. He told them he was going to be in the room with me while they did it. They tried telling him, “You might want to wait outside.” He wouldn’t hear of it. ‘I was in Vietnam, so nothing bothers me.” They talked throughout the whole procedure, and as I placed my right arm above my hand, the Babe took hold of it. He didn’t let go until the doc and nurse left the room. I knew he’d love me through it. There was never any doubt about that.

The doc seemed almost cocky, though. She said the three samples didn’t look like cancer at all. I chose not to believe her. The Babe, however, believed her. So much that he was dumbstruck when the news came. I wanted to scream at her. How could she give us false hope like that? Wow. I hope she never did that again to another woman and her family. I was angry for how hurt the Babe was.

Next step was surgeon, he was quite thorough. The lump(s) were too small to be felt, trust me, everyone tried. To get clean margins, he removed enough tissue that was baseball sized. Ponder that. I’m pretty lopsided, but not bad, didn’t have reconstruction. I was in my late 50s, and I’m so fortunate to be an eleven year survivor. I don’t like the fact the medication added 30 pounds to me while removing all the estrogen from me. I’d had a hysterectomy at 39, so I was already a “quart low.” Or more. I don’t know. It’s not ever been the same, but I’m so grateful to God. Screw the 30 pounds.

Tell Your Much Needed Story

My friend Sandy, mother of the Babe’s children, lost her battle. Her sister also had the same cancer, she is gone now, too. Oral cancer claimed my sister in law, Laura. All around us, it’s been a battlefield. How it picks and chooses is a mystery. Sounds strange, though, I have always felt I would have breast cancer. I don’t know if you’d call it a premonition or not, but I was not surprised at all when I got the call. Hard as it was to tell the Babe, it was the worst to tell my baby brother, Tim, all 6+ feet of him, lean and lanky, tattooed man. He is the kindest person I’ve known. I’m lucky he’s my best friend after the Babe. He was still reeling from his loss.

Somehow, we all made it this far. And we’ll keep going. It’s what’s in the plan for our lives, I believe. Without being cocky myself, I do find it easier to see the signs God gives me. They are everywhere. See if you can tell where your signs are. They are things you would never have considered, they must be acted upon with logical thoughts and plans, not reckless abandon. While it might be God’s plan for us, we have to do our part. Just practice, it will come to you.

Thank you for all your support and reading. You’re giving me a boost that is important. We’re getting closer and closer to that year mark for blogging. It’s kind of fun to look back, and see how the writing has changed, and how many things I discover about WordPress. I’m a work in progress, and it feels so good! Wash up, Mask up, Be Kind, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

“It’s Not Too Late and I’m Not Too Old!