Curve Balls (it IS October)

Yes, it is October. That time of year when the United States baseball fans’ thoughts turn to the World Series. I guess the title is rather arrogant, since we haven’t ever really invited the world to play. I believe the games start tomorrow, so I’ll say best of luck to the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, this year’s competitors.

You know, curve balls come at us all the time, not just on the baseball field. Everyday life can throw some doozies! My grandson’s autism diagnosis was a curve ball – one that we will always have to deal with. My own son’s birth with multiple health and developmental issues – another permanent curve ball, if you will. Of course, there are the curve balls of our health. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, lupus, leukemia, fibromyalgia, lymphedema, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, and any other illness or even injury that causes a change in the pattern of our daily life can be considered a curve ball. Some are just little ones. Others come at us so hard and so fast that we don’t realize for quite some time what has happened. But, we deal with them as best we can, and like good hitters, make adjustments so that when the next curve ball comes we can knock it out of the park. Then there are the curve balls of life. Little things, big things, whatever they are they change our perspective of our world.

Yesterday started off as just an average Thursday. Two classes, normal day. First curve ball – first class cancelled. The instructor had forewarned us that she had a medical appointment that might cause our class to be cancelled, so it was a tiny curve ball. No big deal – just a slight alteration. The day plugged along at its normal pace, no real surprises. Algebra brought a little frustration to the picture, but not really a curve ball, just a slight change-up (didn’t know I was a baseball fan, did you?). Got home, sat down at the supper table, checked my phone and curve ball number two comes sailing in by way of Facebook – 95 MPH and right in the heart of the strike zone!!!! A lady who had joined one of the cancer groups about a week ago commented on a picture. A picture of one of our fighters who left us a year ago this past June, Becca White. If you check back through my blogs, you will find my blog for Becca, “Making Sense of the Senseless”. Anyway, our new member is none other than Becca’s MOM! This was a good curve ball, I assure you. Because you see, even though we lost our Becca, we have all continued to remember her amazing spirit, and contagious sense of humor, even in the darkest of days. So, in honor of Breast Cancer Month, a picture of Becca was posted, and her mom commented. I had thought when she first joined the group, and talked of her daughter Becca that she had lost to breast cancer, that is was a wild coincidence but the little voice in the back of my mind said “no, that CAN’T be Becca’s mom!” Becca is a common enough name, so I dismissed my little voice. Maybe I won’t be so quick to do that next time. Anyway – Becca’s Mom, I was glad you found us before I knew of the connection – I’m even happier now.

Third curve ball made my day even better – another of our fighters, who has kicked breast cancer to the curb, found out a couple of weeks ago that there were thyroid tumors, and that surgery was indicated. Well, the news came just a couple of hours after the last curve ball that the surgery got it ALL, and that there are no cancerous cells showing up on her tests! WOOHOO! Take that, you insidious rat cancer!

 

So, I’m not asking you to do anything with this blog. Just be on the lookout for those curve balls – they can really make an average day fantabulous!!!!

 

Thanks for your time in reading this – feel free to share if you so desire.

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Feathers

Short post – I have homework I need to do, but this is on my mind.

The words we speak – and the words we write – are ours, until spoken or published. Then, as feathers in a ripped pillow, they scatter as the wind would take them. Have your words hurt another? Have your words been the cause of pain to someone who turned to you for comfort and support? All I can say is before you rip open the pillow, check and see what direction the wind is blowing. You never know where your words – your feathers – will land.

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Why

I wrote this the night Emma passed away, and just realized I forgot to publish it.  MH

One word that has no answer sometimes. Why. Tonight, it has no answer. A beautiful little girl, just 6 years old, has left behind a grieving family, and thousands who prayed for the last two years that the monster that is brain cancer would relinquish its hold on her young life. That was not to be, and tonight, heaven has gained a smile as bright as the sun, a disposition equally as bright.
Cancer doesn’t like the question “why?”. Because it knows the more times that question is asked, the less times we as human beings are going to accept silence as the answer. I never got to meet Princess Emma, except through Facebook. Along with thousands of others, I cheered her triumphs, I shed tears over the set backs, and I prayed. Tonight, with thousands of others, my heart hurts. Tonight, I resolve to be there however I can for those she leaves behind. Her pain is over. For that, I am grateful.
Many of you know that I went to college so that I can learn, and be better able to help families who have to deal with cancer, as well as other life altering illnesses. I go forward, and now I take Emma’s memory with me. Fly high, beautiful.

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Can you drive a manual transmission?

Well…..can you? I can, and do, every day. Even in the year 2014, I drive a car that does not have an automatic transmission. It has its challenges. Hills. Yep, But only hills with red lights or stop signs! Traffic. Yep. Your leg can get very, very tired holding the clutch in, shifting from first to second to first to second to first to second to third to first – you get the picture. But overall, driving a car with a manual transmission is fun. I’ll admit, my next car will probably have an automatic. But not because I don’t enjoy driving my stick shift, but because with arthritis, it may not be a good thing in the future, as well as I may have to get a bigger vehicle to accommodate hubby’s wheelchair, and a lift for that chair.

I know – you are reading along, thinking this woman writes about life threatening and life altering illnesses, and she is now extolling the virtues of the old-fashioned manual transmission. Well, hang on, I’ll get there. Back to my original question – can you drive a manual transmission? Many people under the age of 50 will answer that with a no. I have had people comment when I say I drive a stick shift that I must drive an old car, and the answer to that is no, my car is a 2012 model. But if you were in a dire emergency situation, and the only means of transportation available to you was a vehicle with a standard transmission – what would you do? Hmmm?

Think on that for a minute while I go on. I was driving home from school today, and the thought occurred to me – life has a manual transmission. Think about it – every last one of us starts in first gear. For the first year or so, we are trying to figure out how the clutch works. Once we figure it out, the starts can be really jerky, and we can kill the engine and have to start over. Then we shift to second gear. At first the transition isn’t smooth at all. Just like the first few times you shift from first to second, you haven’t quite got the gas/clutch coordination down, and it can be a rough ride. Stopping can be an interesting thing – especially if you forget that you have to depress the clutch, and you stall. Or if the stop is on an incline, and the person behind you gets a tad too close. But we figure it out, and get pretty good at it. We get to where we can even get to third, maybe fourth gear! (my car has six forward speeds – if yours has less, adjust my meaning accordingly). This is about the time we graduate high school. Once we graduate, we discover FIFTH GEAR!!!!! More speed!!!! But we are still accelerating. We still have to stop sometimes and start over, but since we have a good bit of practice now, we don’t stall out hardly at all, but smoothly get right back up to speed. Then, we finish college, and WHAM – SIXTH GEAR!!!!!!! The possibilities are endless. There is not a speed limit we cannot exceed! The world lays at our feet, and we can confidently take our manual transmission over any kind of terrain presented, knowing that after all this time, and all the practice we have, that we can get there no matter what.

So, here we are, cruising along. Sure, there have been those who never got their transmission past second gear, but not us. We are blasting along, pushing our RPM’s just as far as we dare when it happens. OUR CLUTCH GOES OUT!!!!! For those who don’t know, when a clutch goes out, usually if you can get any gear at all, its first. So we head to the mechanic, which for us is the doctor. Maybe its cancer, maybe lupus, maybe arthritis, maybe diabetes, maybe any number of other diseases or conditions. But we have to have our clutch replaced. For some of us, it is an easy thing. In and out in an afternoon, a trip to the pharmacy and we are back on the road. Others have had a little more extensive damage, maybe they drove with the bad clutch a little too long, and have to have other parts fixed as well. But they, too, are soon back on the road of life, maybe not as quickly, but they can still maintain highway speeds. But for some of us, no matter what is tried, the clutch simply can’t be fixed. We are told we have to live with (insert illness here). We have to learn how to drive our car with a messed up clutch. Some people can. They are so good at it that no one would ever guess their clutch has a problem. If they do it long enough, others may question if their clutch was ever messed up in the first place, because it isn’t visible. There are those who are relegated to just first gear, with an occasional trip to second gear. Still moving forward, just very slowly, and some days that taxes the limits of their ability. But they go on as best they can until the transmission simply gives out.

But there is a whole other group out there. As soon as they could, they exchanged their manual transmission for an automatic. With cruise control. They blast through life, cruise set at 80. They laugh at those who still drive a stick shift. But all too often, their automatic transmission just stops with no warning. They are told the only fix is a return to a manual transmission – and they simply do not know how to operate one. Instead of trying to learn, they simply give up. They spend their days bemoaning all that they can no longer do, instead of seeing that if they took advantage of just first gear, there is still so much LIFE out there – illness and all.

So – I ask you again – can you drive a manual transmission? Would you learn if your life depended on it?

 

Thanks for your time in reading this – share if you so desire.

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Advertising

I went to church this morning. Something I don’t do nearly like I should. Fantastic sermon – but one minor point stuck with me. Advertising.

The statement was made about watching people in public who wear t-shirts, and how what the shirts say also say a lot about the person wearing them. But the one shirt that stuck with the speaker also stuck with me. “Don’t listen to what I say, watch what I do”. In the context of religion, and behaving in a way that would glorify Christ, this shirt makes sense. But my mind being what it is, I have been turning this around all afternoon.

“Don’t listen to what I say, watch what I do”. Let us put this in practice.

“I have terminal cancer, watch me go to dinner with my family”.

“I have a terminal brain tumor, watch me have a beer with a friend”.

“I have spinal stenosis, watch me pick up my grandson”.

“I have rheumatoid arthritis, watch me go camping for a week with my husband”.

“I have diabetes, watch me order a sugared dessert”.

“I am such a compassionate person, watch me cuss out the lady who parked in the handicapped spot who doesn’t meet my definition of handicapped”.

“I’m praying for you, watch me tell my friends how you are only sick because you are such a horrid person”.

“Don’t listen to what I say, watch what I do.” Okay. But why should the fact that one has a terminal illness mean the only way they can act is sick? Have you ever been sick for a long time – had a chronic condition? You get TIRED of being sick. You are more than willing to pay later for a brief respite – a short period of “normal”. Maybe that cancer patient knows that there is a really good chance that this will be the last meal out with his or her family – ever. Maybe that man having the been truly has nothing to lose. Maybe the person picking up his or her grandson knows that there may be a day in the future when that will no longer even be an option. Maybe the person with RA just wants a week without the pain and all the “I can’t’s” being in the spotlight. Maybe that diabetic has great control of his or her sugar, and deserves this one splurge. But I have to stop there. You see, all these examples can be misconstrued. These actions can be misunderstood. Before I address the last two, let me say right here – there are no cut and dried rules to terminal or chronic illness anymore!!!!! For those with any terminal or chronic condition, the new rule is “if you feel up to it, take advantage of every opportunity”!!!!! So for all those who will read these words that have to deal with the day-to-day of a life changing, life threatening condition, I say LIVE!

Now to the last two. I am a very forgiving person, but your actions speak louder than your words in these cases. Compassionate people do not judge. Compassionate people do not assume. Compassionate people do not do for others for any other reason than they feel it is what is the right thing to do!!!! So don’t insult my intelligence by telling me how compassionate you are, and then acting like the most judgemental, uncaring, inconsiderate jerk on the face of the planet! On the other front, if you are a person who believes in a higher power, God, whatever you term it, let me put this bluntly. I have never heard of a religion that has at its head an entity that condones gossip and backstabbing. Oh, and people do not get sick because they are horrid.

Am I a tad perturbed? You bet. Always. Because there are far too many people who are suffering – and far too many who are going through the motions of helping them, and actually not doing a damn thing.  So next time someone tells you they have an “invisible” illness – don’t diminish their life by putting expectations on how they should look, act, or what they should or should not do. Next time you see that young lady who looks perfectly healthy get out of the car in the handicapped spot, don’t judge her by her “advertisement” of health. Be a compassionate person – this world has enough pain and hate, it doesn’t need an extra contribution in that direction.

 

Thanks for your time in reading this. Feel free to share if you want to.

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Tomorrow.

We have all said it. “I’ll do it tomorrow.” “We will go tomorrow.” Well, what if you aren’t granted tomorrow. What if today is the last tomorrow you will have? I can hear you now, this woman has finally cracked, she has finally gone off the deep end from trying to do too much. No, I haven’t. Reality has stepped in and rang the wake up bell. Again.
I scroll through Facebook almost every day. Some days I’m on there quite a bit. But this afternoon, a post telling of the passing of a high school and junior high acquaintance caught my eye. Okay, it did more than that. It totally slapped me. It was my Ice Bucket Challenge with words. Seriously. He posted on Facebook on FRIDAY. Never a post about feeling poorly, hospital stays, nothing. Just nothing. Just gone.
You know, its hard to say goodbye to those who leave us. I always inwardly smile at the phrase “gone too soon”, because honestly, aren’t we all? Think about it, have you ever said “oh, good, it was time for he/she to die”? But when it is just like that, just that sudden, it shakes our very foundation. When someone has been ill, we have this little voice that begins to prepare us. When a loved one reaches a certain age, we begin to have that slight expectation in the back of our mind. But as we age, our perspective on dying changes. As we age, those who are dying are no longer of the older generation: they are our friends, our classmates, our spouses. There are still those of the older generation for me, for now. But it becomes increasingly more apparent that it isn’t that long until I am the older generation.
So, here I sit. Typing away when I should be getting ready for another week at college. I have a reason. I am challenging myself. There is no tomorrow now. It is time. I can no longer put off getting in better shape. I can no longer give myself excuses. Because, as I posted on my Facebook page, I want to read posts, many years in the future about how we (being my friends and family) lived a full life. I sure don’t want anyone posting about me being “gone too soon”.
Thank you for your time in reading this. Please feel free to share.

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Compassion

Sometimes I shouldn’t read what shows up in the text box before I start typing. “What’s on my mind?” Hmmmmm. It’s very easy to say what’s on my mind. Compassion. The meaning: “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”.  I truly think this world needs to re-learn this definition, and put it into practice. Watch the news for five minutes – and tell me that you don’t feel some sort of sorrow about the events in the Middle East; the death of a young race car driver; the latest child forgotten in a hot car. Granted, you may feel anger. You may feel irritation. You may feel impatience at seeing news that you think doesn’t remotely have an impact on your daily life. But do you feel compassion? Do you feel sympathy for those who have had to bury their children because of the acts of others? Do you shed a silent tear thinking of the families that will never again be whole? Do you add a name to your prayers at night that those left behind to pick up the pieces may find some comfort somehow, somewhere? I have to believe that most people are touched by something or someone in some way that they feel compassion. But, there are times when I question my own beliefs.

What makes me question what I know, you might ask. Well, that is the reason behind this. I see the same news stories you do every day. I see posts on Facebook. I see the cruel, unfeeling comments; the nearly inhuman response to the suffering of other human beings. “I hope he rots in hell” “He deserved to die” “I hope he never recovers from his guilt” “He/She should be locked up forever” “The parents should be locked in a hot car like they left their baby”. I can go on. I am sure I don’t have to. You have seen them too. People who post prayers and well wishes, followed by the most heartless, cruel things you can possibly imagine.

These are a tip of the iceberg. I’m not going to write a book about this – my previous blogs go over my feelings on judgement, sympathy, support. This is a simple challenge. Do you have compassion? Not when its convenient, but every day, even for those you don’t approve of or like? Well?

Thanks for the time in reading this – share if you so desire.

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Some cancer isn’t physical

Not much on my mind today – but there are so many things going on in the world right now!

Those of you who have been with me for the past 13 months know how I feel about cancer. You know just how I feel about awareness for all major illness that makes one person treat another differently. Well, I just have this one thought today. In the Middle East, there are rockets being fired, troops being deployed, children being killed – for what? Because of differences. Seriously – that’s what it boils down to. Differences of belief, differences of opinion, differences of ethnicity – whatever. Differences. I am not making light of this – please don’t tear me a new one. I know it is far more complex, and that the reasons also vary based on your take on the situation. I am over-simplifying here – it is based on differences.

There was an airplane shot from the sky today in Russia. Not sure why yet – but I bet if you simplify that situation far enough it boils down to the same thing – differences.

152 years ago, the United States of America began a great Civil War. Thousands were killed. Simplified reason – you got it, differences.

Thousands of members of the Jewish race were killed in Germany between 1937 and 1945. Simplified reason – yep, that dang D word again – Differences.

Some Americans used to have to use separate bathrooms and ride in the back of busses, among other things. Why? Differences.

Now the big tie in. What makes a cancer cell different from a healthy cell? Differences. Overly simplified – yes, definitely. But its the TRUTH! What makes my husband diabetic and me not? DIFFERENCES!!!!! What makes me have gray hair and others of my age maintain the hair color they were born with? DIFFERENCES!!! We can play this game all week!!!!

It all boils down to differences. Each and every single person on this planet is different. The reasons are innumerable. We hear all the time how people want equality. Well, my simple thought for the day is this – We will NEVER see equality until we learn to look past the DIFFERENCES.

Just a thought – what do YOU think?

Thanks for your time in reading this. Please feel free to share. I’m not shy. 🙂

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Godspeed, Steven

The world lost a young man today. A family lost an integral part. Steven had beaten cancer – but his body couldn’t withstand another fight.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight as they search for the answers that simply are not there. As they look for a way to put one foot in front of the other.

We MUST fund research. We MUST end this. Cancer and its ramifications reach far and wide. This could be your son, your grandson, your classmate, your friend. There are so many unanswered questions, so much that is yet not understood. But I know this – cancer will never win. Never. It may continue to try – but it will never win. Steven showed us all that. Fly high, Angel. Watch over those you leave behind – and thank you for letting so many of us take your journey with you.

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Independence

This is one of those heartbreaking and yet uplifting blogs. Anna Terrill has such a way of telling the rest of her fathers story, and hers as well.

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