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Cancer Changed Me

cancerchangedme

Hope ~ Strength ~ Power ~ Belief ~ Courage ~ Honor ~ Determination

I have been told that cancer changed me.  Indeed, it wasn’t said it in the nicest of ways.  In fact, it was taken as a disparaging comment and I was appalled by the off-hand comment.  My first reaction was to defend myself at the time, to show how cancer didn’t change me.  But I left well-enough alone and decided to say nothing.  However, I was hurt by the retort.

Had cancer really changed me?

The question mulled in my head for days and many sleepless nights, more than I’d like to admit, but it’s true.  I’ve written how cancer changes you enough times in this blog to know that the reality is – YES, cancer changes most of us.  It has to, or we wouldn’t still be here.  For we have seen into the yawning mouth of our own demise, endured the most feared emotions and have come out of it alive, so far.  Looking at your own potential death does change you.

It makes you more aware for the most part.  Some of us now see with finite definition that life is short and there are no guarantees how much time we have on this earth.  We become grateful for the beauty in nature, for the simple pleasures that kindness brings and for a real, loving hug which can cure many ills.  We look to connect with others more because we know what it’s like to feel alone.  We share our stories, encourage each other and find the courage to be who we authentically are!  We smile when we are tired.  We work hard to overcome obstacles and to be there for others, even when we feel depleted.  We take that extra moment to smile and to enjoy goodness when it comes into our lives.  We are grateful for the support that we have been given and we look to support others to continue the flow of goodness.  We share tips to help others and happily receive tips to make our lives easier.

We know that all the money in the world, with all the frivolities are fleeting and really don’t mean a damn when death comes knocking at our door.  It’s that silence between ourselves and our maker (or our beliefs) in the quiet of the night that counts.  It’s regarding peace within as a precious gift, time spent with loved ones and a centered calm in which to retreat when life becomes hard.  It’s the voice within the stillness which speaks of love, gratitude, peace with ourselves and others and God.

Yes, cancer changed me.  That’s for sure.  Perhaps it was the misunderstanding of me that caused this person to spout the ‘dig’ as I took it.  Sometimes it takes a loss for us to be humble and perhaps there will be people who simply never understand.  And that’s ok with me.

I am me, authentically me.  I make mistakes, I ask for forgiveness and I forgive.  I choose to live in a state of peace within when I can, but I am always evolving, ever growing and yet, trying to do all things with love.  I intend to do my best, at any given moment, but I’m human.  I’m a work in progress.  Aren’t we all?

What’s precious to me in my life is love, kindness and connections and I strive every day to live with those three precious gems in my life.  Cancer made me a better person by giving me so many lessons in my life.  I’ve learned so much from cancer, even though I never wanted to endure that disease.  Looking back on my life, I realize that I am who I am today because of cancer.  Even if others don’t understand me, it’s ok now.  I’m at peace and I’m ever grateful for the peace within me.

Shine On!

xo

Smooth Seas

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A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sometimes we wonder why hard times fall on us.  We blame karma, bad luck, ourselves or others for the sad times.  We can’t understand why or how bad things happen to good people.  Have you ever felt this way?

I love the quote above as it makes sense to me.  Sadly I agree that in good seas, we don’t have to practice what we preach.  It is only when the storms arise that we must walk our talk and talk our walk or however that quote goes.  You know what I mean, don’t you?

During stormy seas, we realize who our true friends are and who we can count on.  Unexpected friendships can arise and we may even be surprised by who reaches out in kindness…and who doesn’t.   We may even finally realize who supports us and who doesn’t, as words without actions are simply words.

Kindness goes a long way, especially when you are hurting.  Being a warm, safe haven for someone is a precious gift, especially during stormy seas.  I want to thank those who have helped me over the years, the ones whose kindness never waned and whose support I felt even in my darkest hours.

Shine On!

xo

Begin Again

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A friend gave me a magnet awhile back in anticipation for all of the changes that were in store for my future.  At the time, I didn’t want to Begin Again as it was daunting for me to think about all that would be changed.  Regardless of how much I didn’t want the changes, they happened anyway, out of my control.  Instead of accepting that my life would dramatically change in all ways – divorce, moving, financially, health-wise, etc., I fought like a tigress to remain in that stagnant limbo of wanting no change, all while change happened anyway.

Finally, I surrendered.

Broken, exhausted and drained, I surrendered.

It’s not that I didn’t agree that the changes were imminent and necessary.  It was that I was fearful of how I would continue on in this uncharted territory for my journey and the journey of my children, for it wasn’t where I wanted to be.  But when I stopped fighting against the rising tide and began to doggy paddle to keep afloat, I received help through the transition.  Angels disguised as friends and strangers reached out to me with kindness.  I began to see the future as a new chapter in my life, a new book on which to write my story and a fresh clean slate which I controlled (for the most part) of how I am the captain of my own life’s ship.

I began planning what had to be done and like a sergeant, began the transition with what I hoped would be military precision.  But alas, I may have had a plethora of military family members, but precision has not been a characteristic blessing unto me.  And so it was, I surrendered.  I did my best daily, fell asleep on my pillow with a bone tired body and rose up the next morning to do it all again.  And finally, it was accomplished, through the help of my angelic human angels.

Now we begin again, in a new home with new challenges.  Regardless, I have surrendered what was and I embrace what is and I plan for what I would like to be.  To Begin Again requires letting go of the past and staying in a peaceful present and allowing a hopeful future to blossom, petal by petal.

I am grateful for the peace within now.  Although transitions are often fraught with wiggles and compromises, I knowingly stand with peace in my heart, grateful for the lessons and learning which have come with the experiences I’ve endured.  I’ve learned so much about people, about myself and about love.  Life lessons have been tough at times, but well-worth the growth that came out of them.  Sure, it’s easy in hindsight to feel this way, but I guess I wanted to share with you so that you can remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  We just have to keep walking towards the light.

I’m here for you if you are going through any transitions as I’ve been through a bunch of different ones:  cancer, multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation, divorce, selling a house, finding the right rental, starting over at 50, death of family, family with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, etc.  If you need a friend, here I am, with my arms wide open for a hug.

Shine On!

xo

 

 

Recipe for Enduring Breast Cancer

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In order to survive Breast Cancer (and any other illness, tragedy, trauma) it’s necessary to collect all of your essential ingredients in order to endure the situation at hand.  A great dose of support is also needed as back up when your ingredients run low and you need a refill.  A quick jog to the store won’t suffice.  You need a team, a village, to count on and that’s where the internet, blogs, websites and support groups can wield a mighty sword to help you combat your ills.

A hefty dose of the above helps:

Hope

Strength

Power

Belief

Courage

Honor

Determination

In addition to a heavy handed sprinkling of

Humor, Love, Presence and Support.

Which is all fine and good as words, but how do you go about stockpiling these main ingredients when you’ve just been blindsided by your diagnosis and news?  I wish I could say it is easy, but it’s not.  That’s where your determination comes in.  You have to set your own mind to believing that you have the courage, the strength, the hope, and the inner power to endure.

You have all of this inside ~ you simply have to tap into it.  You must do the work.  There’s no way around it.  It is your mind that needs to have its power harnessed to heal your life.  Humor, love, presence and support may come from the outside from which you can receive the stores from others.  But you my friend, must believe that you are ready and worthy to battle and must prepare your mind, heart and soul to overcome the obstacles that are placed before you.

So how do you do this?  You harness your mind by feeding it positive thinking.  You eradicate negativity from your life, like removing rose petals from a rose, you gently pluck the negative thoughts from your heart and in place, you add the essence of the rose ~ the inner beauty and strength that comes from a rose simply being a rose.

Is this making any sense to you?  Do you need concrete examples?  Are you thinking I’m too pie in the sky for you?  Too Pollyanna and yippy skippy?  Not down to Earth enough?

Watch for it.  In the meantime, you need to get yourself ready.  Enjoy this day.  Get outside and look up to the sky.  Breathe.  Take 3 minutes to just listen to the wind, feel the earth under your feet and reconnect with nature.  Find a bit of inner and outer peace in being present.  You don’t have to do it for long.   Just feel the peace.

I’m holding  your hand.  You’ve got a friend in me.  Take your time.  Allow the grief and the healing to come to you and welcome it with your arms open wide.  You can do this!

Shine On!

xo

What Is Strength?

strongestpeople

“The strongest people are not those

who show strength in front of us,

but those who win battles

we know nothing about.”
~ Anonymous

Happy Saturday!

Shine On!

xo

 

It Takes Courage to Be A Caregiver

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To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart,

and sing it to them when they have forgotten.*

The movie Still Alice haunts me to my core and yet every time I watch it, I glean more insight and my heart breaks open a bit more.  And still, I continue to watch it when I am alone.  Why, you may ask?  Why would you make yourself sad intentionally?  Isn’t it hard enough to experience your family enduring the road that Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia have put us on?  And the answer is yes.

But, I search for answers.  I find power within when I allow myself to feel each character’s pain.  It may sound funny to you, but I can relate to Alice, to her husband, to her daughters, all in different times in my life, and at times, simultaneously.  My compassion for the characters and for my family members increases every time I watch the movie.

I am compassionate and I love deeply.  This is who I am.  I need to understand how to best serve my family and how to best serve myself.  I have an ache in my core which carries my courage to push me to accept the unacceptable and to hold that precious gift of time, of making memories that may never stay and of holding the hands and hearts with those who at some point, may never remember who I am nor who they are.  It’s like I hold a flickering candle which I desperately protect in my soul.  I hold my candle in the darkness, like a beacon, hoping for that twinge of awareness, even if it is only for a moment.  I will feel like I did my best.  For I can’t give up on them or on myself.

I grieve in the quiet moments of solitude for them and for myself.  I call daily, visit monthly and spend hours making sure all their needs are met.  I do it with love and compassion and courage for it’s hard.  But it’s necessary and I make myself do those things that are necessary even when I want to turn away from the truth.

I learned long ago from cancer, that our lives are constantly changing and that we need to find a new normal with each and every experience.  We either choose to grow with the experience or we choose to stagnate.  We can turn our backs on the experience or we can move out of our comfort zones to find the courage to accept what we deem unacceptable and take baby steps towards a new normal.

I choose courage.  To look at my life with gratitude.  To be grateful for the opportunity to help my family.  To be kinder to myself, more patient and more present.  To sing the song in my heart and to have the courage to shine my heartlight even in the darkest night.  Come join me…take my hand and let’s sing and…

Shine On!

xo

*Photo credit:  FB Alzheimer’s Awareness

Cancer Connections

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You gain strength, courage, and confidence

by every experience in which you really stop

to look fear in the face.

You are able to say to yourself,

“I lived through this horror.

I can take the next thing that comes along.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sitting in the oncologist office waiting room, I had some time to look around at all the other people there waiting patiently for their names to be called.  I’ve done this before and I seem to do it every time I’m there.  I smile at the others in the room, because I figure if you are here, then we’ve got a connection.  Because let’s face it, there are plenty of other places to sit in this big ole world and I bet you wouldn’t choose the oncology waiting room to hang out in if you didn’t need to be there.  Or if your loved one didn’t need to be there.

Cancer evens us out.  Strange to say, right?  But I find that those of us who have endured cancer find it easier to simply connect with someone else who has been in the same boat.  It’s that common ground that we search for when we connect with someone else.  By simply being in the same doctor’s office, we can pretty much bet we’ve got or had the Big C and we’re hoping to get better and stay healthy.

Cancer isn’t choosy.  It doesn’t discriminate between races or genders.  Old or young, it matters not.  It comes in changing the lives of its patients and those who surround them.  Cancer bonds people.  Cancer breaks people down.  Cancer divides. Cancer unifies.  Cancer conquers some people and yet, there are others who conquer cancer.  It’s an equal-opportunity disease for which there’s no cure, yet.

Cancer connects people in ways that they might not necessarily connect.  The fear of death and the horror of cancer treatments, etc.  give you a bird’s eye view of what you are truly made of and there’s no place for sissy’s with cancer.  No matter with whom you talk, we’ve all had sleepless nights filled with worry and repeatedly question at every tumor marker test, if cancer has returned.  Many of us have endured surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, blood tests, needles, being poked and prodded by countless professionals and staff.  We’ve lost our hair, body parts and our dignity.  But I’ve learned that we don’t lose our loving hearts, nor our need for comfort or our precious souls to cancer.   It’s given me a new outlook on life.  Sure cancer has weakened parts of my life, but it also strengthened me.  It’s given me lessons on human nature that I would have never understood had I not endured the cancer.  It’s made me appreciate the little things and be unafraid of dying.  It’s changed my life in good and bad ways, but I try to concentrate on the good in my life at every turn.

What has cancer done in your life?

Shine On!

xo