Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Cancer Cannot Do

Nelson-Atkins Sculpture Garden

What Cancer Cannot Do Author: Unknown

Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

For whatever reason, my experiences with cancer this past year have kept coming to the front of my mind these four days off.  It irritates me - I think I should just be kicking back and enjoying my break from work.

But I am aware, as I have not been for some time, of the band of nothing across my front that used to be my chest.  The muscles are tight, and it feels as if I were cold, though I am not.

As I clipped my shattered nails short again this morning - one of the side effects of Tamoxifen is that it can make your nails brittle - I found it a lot ironic.  I bit my nails for most of my life; quit for good only a couple of years ago.  And now, I have to keep them almost as short as they were back when I was biting them.

Tamoxifen can also cause fatigue, which makes me wonder how much of the tiredness I battle is still recovery from the surgery (which now seems to have been AGES ago), and how much is the drug.  My sense is that the drug isn't awful, but it's still a slow drain on my energy.  One I still need to come to terms with.

I'm trying to swing my awareness around; I don't like dwelling on the things that bring me down.  (One of my favorite quotes, author also unknown; at least to me:  Avoid those who have bought into negativity.  They have an uncanny ability to also sell it.)  The aftermath of my cancer leaves a mess to clean up, but I can do it, if I just keep at it.  I've gotten past harder troubles in my life, I will make it past this.  Especially if I remember the words of wisdom above.  My thanks to the unknown author.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Thanksgiving Dinner 2007
In the spirit of the season, I am thankful:

That the nasty cancer that so disrupted my fun has had its existence even more nastily disrupted.  There are no remaining traces of it in my system.  I am on Tamoxifen for another four years and four months (who's counting?), but it could have been so much worse.  I'm counting this one done.  and good riddance.

For the outpouring of support that helped me through the hard parts.  I got cards and calls and visits and meals and prayers - so many let me know they love me.  I still get a bit misty eyed when I think about it.  especially since there were a number of years where I was convinced I was unlovable.

For people who spend a lot of time and effort on landscaping and decorating their houses for the holidays.  I do so getting to enjoy the benefits of all their hard work.

For my children - always and always.  They are among the brightest lights in my life.  And for that new baby, now 16 months old - it makes my heart go pitty-pat, just to think of her.

For people who reach out in kindness to others, just because.

As Robert Frost said:  "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

For home and for family.  For the nieces and nephews who still haven't quite forgiven me for selling my house out from under them, but love me anyways.  For sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, in- and out- and almost-in-laws, all willing, when I call (sometimes on short notice), to welcome me and take me in. 

For lights that brighten the darkness, and furnaces that keep the cold at bay.

For friends.  I couldn't make it without them.

For all the good things, and some of the trials (for they have taught me much, even though I don't often appreciate the teachings at the time), for laughter and tears both.

For leaves of gold and red and orange that glow with an inner light on the grayest of fall days - a visible sign of the Beauty that Is, if we but take the time to notice it.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Operation Creep Out: Success.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Late this summer, our Wifi vendor got a bit busy and called in a friend of his to help resolve some problems we were having with our new internet setup.

Justin was in and out of the office for several weeks (it took him a bit, but he did find and fix our main network issue), and one day happened to wear in a shirt with an Antarctica EMT crew logo on it.  Since Kate was going down in November, I asked him about it, and it turns out, in one of his other lives, he's part of the EMT crew down at McMurdo Station there.  He's gone down each of the last several years for the winter (summer, there), and was planning to go down again this year.

Immediately, my mind began to hatch a plot.  How funny would it be, if, while Kate was wandering around the station in Antarctica, one of the far corners of the world, some complete stranger met up with her and asked her how her mother was doing at Cristo Rey?  It would totally mess with her mind.

I asked Justin if he was in on the scheme, and he was with me in a moment.  (Did I mention he's a bright young man?)  He left to go down there at the beginning of October.  Kate arrived earlier this week.  It's not a real big place, so it only took a couple of days for him to run into her.

His report:  Operation Creep Your Daughter Out was a resounding success!

Have I ever mentioned that one of my favorite parts of being a parent is that you get to mess with them just a little?  I'm still laughing. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I Wanna be a Bear

Black Bear, Omaha Zoo
If you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months.  I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid.  I could deal with that, too.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You get to swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.  I could WAY deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up grumpy.  He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup.  I wanna be a bear.
-- Author Unknown

I think it's the time of year.  Hibernating always sounds pretty good to me come the start of November.  There is less light each day, and I've never cared for getting up before sunrise.  Even less so this year.  I get up, but I REALLY don't wanna.

On the plus side, I had enough energy this weekend to complete a couple of my fifteen minute tasks.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  There's this little something that needs doing.  Every time you look at it, you think, I should take a few minutes and get that done.  But then, you procrastinate, and don't do it again today, and the next thing you know, it's been sitting undone for 4-6 months.  Finally, it bugs you enough that you do it, and you find it took about fifteen minutes to finish, and you think, "why didn't I just take time and DO IT six months ago?"  Those tasks.  (I finished two of them.  I'm quite proud of myself.)

I talked to a friend of mine in New Jersey yesterday.  He said it looks like a disaster zone out there.  He was waiting in line for gas.  The good news is that he was the sixth car in line.  The bad news was that the tanker wasn't due for another three hours, and he'd already been waiting an hour.  Yowza!  It's the little stories which bring home to me the scope of the devastation of the storm.  Four hours for gas?  In New Jersey?  Where no one goes anywhere without climbing in their car?  Now, that's bad.  My prayers reach to all those who suffered serious damage in the storm; who are without homes and cars.  Especially for those who don't have insurance...

It makes me scared.  What damage have we wrought to the world around us that these once-in-a-lifetime storms are happening once every five years?  I just hope it's not too late to change course, and that we will have the courage to make the hard choices necessary to make the change.