Love and light…

My heart was heavy today as a dear friend was air lifted to another hospital. She is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator. It’s never a good time for this, but it’s 10 days before Christmas Eve. Whenever anyone is struggling or hurting, she always sends prayers of love and light. This time she is the one in need of the prayers.

She is a beautiful, radiant woman with a heart larger than most people can comprehend. She has an angelic and comforting aura. She believes in the power of prayer, the presence of angels and the benefit of a good hug. We had to drive 200 miles away to find out that we lived in the same area. We met on a retreat and have been friends ever since.

Today, I lit some candles for her and said many prayers… prayers for complete and total healing, prayers for her family, prayers for her care team. It’s a helpless feeling when you can’t make someone better – it’s out of my hands, out of my control. All I can do is pray for her and offer assistance for her family. When one person is sick, it throws the rhythm off of the whole family. She is for sure an orchestra leader, like many moms. She needs our prayers and some help with the baton while her body rests and heals.

I don’t have an inspirational message this week. I don’t have a quirky story or a picture of my chickens. Instead, I have a request… I ask you to say a prayer for my friend, and any who are struggling right now. If you’re not one who prays, think loving/caring thoughts and fully healed lungs.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. Take a big deep breath for those who cannot & give your loved ones an extra squeeze.

When life gives you a billboard sign…

Sometimes I forget to pause. I get so busy with work, kids’ stuff, planning, cooking, folding, running that I forget to pause. Anyone else? I’m always planning ahead (at work and at life). I take for granted unlimited tomorrow’s and keep thinking about what we will do for the weekend, when we will travel for the holidays, what I have left to do, to bake, to clean, to wrap etc.

Then I get a sign as big as a billboard “Slow Down!” I got my booster shot on Friday, and had plans to clean, get the rest of the Christmas stuff up, and do some baking over the weekend. None of that happened. I rested. A lot. It took until Monday around 4pm before I felt human again. I feel like I lost 2 weeks in just a weekend. But you know what? Work got along fine without me for a day. My family didn’t go hungry and the baking can wait for another day.

Every now and then, if I don’t take time to rest, my body forces me to. This time, I tried not to fight it. It’s frustrating as a “control freak” to have to rest. It feels so unproductive to not be doing/planning/running. My spouse values work. Yep But rest is necessary. We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we sometimes forget to enjoy it. This year, we had one less son helping with the tree. He will be working most of break, so I hope to enjoy the time we have together.

My holiday cards aren’t ordered yet and I’m contemplating not doing them at all. Most of the people I send to have already seen my pictures on Facebook and we never got family pictures taken. Maybe New Year cards will be better. We’ll see. We have the same number of days in December as we always do. I hope you’re able to find the time to rest a little too before your body screams to “Slow Down!”

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Wishing you a peaceful holiday season, abundant health and good holiday cheer. Thanks for being with me on my journey!

Lucky 7…

Lucky 7? Lucky might not be the right word. 7 years ago, I went in for a routine mammogram, just after my 41st birthday. You don’t want them to call after a mammogram, but they called. “We need you to come in for an ultrasound so we can see things better. I’m sure it’s fine…” (Awkward ultrasound with small talk.) “It’s probably just a cyst or dense tissue. You’re young. Don’t worry.” Went back to work, attempted not to worry. Didn’t tell many people about the appointment or concerns.

My memory is a little foggy from 7 years ago but I’m pretty sure they did an MRI then biopsy. “We are going to need you to come in for an MRI. It’s probably dense tissue but we need to make sure.” The machine was cold and hard (laying on my stomach), it made whirrs and clicks for a long time. It showed 2 areas of concern instead of 1. Biopsy confirmed stage 1 for one spot and pre-cancer for the other. Invasive ductal carcinoma. Later tests would reveal it was estrogen/progesterone positive, not genetically related.

7 years ago, I had 16 appointments for the month of December alone. I struggled to say the words out loud. “I have cancer.” 7 years ago, my world flipped upside down. 7 years ago began the waiting, genetic testing, waiting, lumpectomy & lymph node removal, waiting, tumor classification, waiting, radiation, waiting, (broken foot- not related), hysterectomy & healing. 7 years ago, I was lucky we found it early. (Until my son researched and found out that early stages often have recurrence.) So far, I have been cancer free for 6.5 years. I’m getting closer to the 10 year mark.

So why keep bringing it up? It doesn’t completely go away for me. I’m healed, right? I’m good now. I’m ok. It doesn’t define me but it did reshape me in more ways than one. It also makes me more keenly aware of health issues. Which makes me feel like a hypochondriac. In the back of my mind I wonder what the ailment means, yet trying to reinforce that I’m healthy. I didn’t know I had a tumor growing when I went in 7 years ago. That part always kind of gets to me. I still think we need to be advocates for our own health. It’s unfortunate when people get ignored.

I dealt with a lot of guilt around it. Guilt for how I handled things with my kids, my husband, my family & my friends. Guilt about extra weight that increased my risks… guilt about the time I spent away from work.. guilt about the time my mind spent away from work while I was physically there… guilt for the birth control (increased risks), guilt for the fertility treatments (even though they said that wasn’t a factor), then guilt for that also because I wouldn’t change a thing to have my two boys. Guilt that I didn’t have enough saved to cover cancer treatment. Later came survivor guilt – when I met other young women with cancer, with families, with loved ones they soon left behind.

We all have our own journey. Mine included cancer. The cancer that made me appreciate things more, the cancer that made me a little more spontaneous, the cancer that connected me to a bunch of strangers, the cancer that brought me back to writing. We never know all of what someone else goes through. There is usually more to the story & it’s not always one they want to share.

As I savor the pumpkin cheesecake from my 48th birthday, I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I’ll be reflecting on the last 7 years, thankful to be able to share my journey. Thankful for another birthday.