Friday, December 14, 2012

Reflections from the Cancer Clinic Waiting Room

As I walk towards the door, I wonder what lies in store. 
12/12/12

Some say this is a lucky one. On my two hour trip to the London cancer clinic today, I listened on CBC as the hosts interviewed some giddy couples who had determined that to be married on the 12th day of the 12th month in the year 2012 was a good sign. Lucky, some said. Exciting, said others. As I glanced at my watch as it neared 12 noon, I wondered myself if this would be a good day for me, too. After all, the numbers aligned on the calendar. Would they soon align on my medical chart and would I be declared 'good to go'?

...Not much has changed here since I last paid a visit in June. Same full reception area. Same complement of medical staff and anxious patients awaiting verdicts, chemotherapy, good news...

   Just as I start thinking about how far London is from Drayton and how none of the faces look familiar, lo and behold, I spot them. A couple of Draytonites. When you bump into someone at the cancer clinic the typical Canadian greeting, how are you? seems a little more invasive than when asking the same question at Timmies or in a retail store. I was sad to hear that prostate cancer was the reason I met my neighbour there.

     Such a lesson. I may live in a small town but that doesn't mean I know everything about everybody. I'm a little sad about that, because I would love to be able to 'help' encourage and offer hope to someone travelling a similar road. And there is a tiny measure of guilt that creeps in when I hear of someone else going through cancer. I am not sure what that is; perhaps a wicked force breathing in my ear quizzing me on why I should be a survivor and someone else not...I have spoken with other cancer survivors about that, and I know it is not uncommon. When this happens I try to give it over to something positive.

     Behind closed doors lurk problems and situations; concerns and heartbreak. I suppose we can't always be privy to everything. I know that I am far from being alone on my journey. We all have different baggage but, ultimately, we all journey the same life path. Thank goodness, with Jesus as the Gatekeeper and Divine Greeter, the path - although sometimes rocky and rough, always leads to an eternal Hope and a ceaseless raison d'ĂȘtre.

     So when I finally get into the examination room and endure the third degree by the wonderfully, professional primary nurse, I get into my less than glamorous gown and wait. I fill my time by writing - a therapeutic and perfect way to spend an interval. Soon my oncologist appears on the scene with a student in tow. We chat. We discuss my psychological health. We weave around all sorts of words; he tells me how good my hair looks (gray and straight - is he crazy?) and we laugh when he tells his attentive student how he has seen me through all the stages of hair! I bemoan the fact that I no longer have chemo curls.

     Finally the 'cancer talk.' He asks questions. I tell him about the 'other lumps.' He checks and charts them and says they seem to be nothing to worry about. I am a lumpy person. He examines more. Then he informs me that 'I am good to go.' He wants to see me again in June. Six month protocol. They leave. I breath a sigh of relief; utter a prayer of thankfulness and dress.

     Next Tuesday is Gilles' turn. I will take my journal and the knowledge that God is in control...

   
In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Thessalonians 5:18

   

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dad

     I know my blog is supposed to be focussed on my journey with ovarian cancer and for the most part I try to do that. But today, I cannot help thinking about Dad. It's getting pretty close to Remembrance Day and so I wanted to honour him in some little way. 
     If I have to make a connection to Dad and ovarian cancer, I can. I recall the morning of my surgery in London. I wanted desperately to see him before I went under the knife, so Gilles, my sweet hubby, took me to Dad's home which was maybe just over a kilometre from the hospital. It was early in the morning - 6:30 - so I wondered if he would even be up. I was so sad when after many tries at the doorbell and knocking, no one answered. I would go to the hospital anyway. I had to. But I was sadly lacking a final hug from my poppa bear. 
     When we arrived at the hospital, imagine my surprise when we entered the waiting room, there was Dad. All 82 years of him, seated on his motorized scooter, wearing his British tweed jacket and fedora. I wept like a baby as he hugged me and said he wanted to see me before I had surgery. I will never forget Dad's act of selflessness that morning. He had left home in the dark on his scooter just so he could be with 'his Dinny,' so he said...I love my dad...


The Royal Marines
 more than just a green beret, it's a state of mind! 


      I heard that saying somewhere. It's a slogan about the  British Royal Marines. I wonder if maybe Dad didn't utter those words sometime or maybe I read this catchphrase in his Globe and Laurel Royal Marines magazine somewhere. Wherever I heard it, it actually holds a measure of truth. Even now, 59 years after Dad left the RM 45 Commando ranks, he still has the state of mind of a Royal Marine.

     Another snappy slogan that anyone who knows Dad well has heard a million times:

'Once a Marine, Always, a Marine!'

It's true, too. The sticker on Dad's scooter says so. But not only does the sticker say so, so do the pictures on Dad's wall.

If my mother was still alive I am sure she would have him drawn and quartered for adorning the kitchen and hallway with all his fine military photos and memorabilia. But Dad lives alone now, so his walls are his to adorn. And adorn he does.

Dad, though, does not decorate his walls simply with pictures of yesteryear. They are stories; representations of a life lived according to the military - both good and challenging. Ask Dad about any of the black and white photographs on the wall. Each one will spark a memory; an experience and a story. For anyone who is interested and who would take the time to listen, he will use a plethora of words and his years of experience to relay the story in each one.


Since Mom passed away and Dad moved to Drayton, close to where I hang my hat, I have come to know Dad so much more. I am happy to be able to hear his stories and help him swap and switch his framed 'stories' around whenever he adds something else to the lot on the wall. Dad is 86 now and his memory is excellent. His stories are not always the glory and the honour; many are sad and troubling - although Dad is still loathe to go into any kind of detail of the horror of war. And I think, personally, I don't need to know those details.

There is no way in this world that I will be able to recall the precise setting of each picture nor relay the series of events told in each representation. My memory is just not that good. So I had an an idea. I have started a little journal. I have put a number on the back of each photograph and then the same number appears in the journal. When Dad is ready, he relays the story behind the picture. What an amazing experience that is. To know and to learn so much about my father's past. It's like a little piece of history coming to life right before my eyes.

     One day with a little help from my daughter who is good in the photography department, we can put a book together for our family. We can remember through Dad's eyes, the events that made him into who he is today. I am proud of my poppa. He has been through a lot. He lost his mother when he was only two years old. He enlisted when he was just over 16 years of age. Shortly after that, his father died. So he hasn't had an easy life.

    This week as I don my poppy I will think of Dad and all the other brave men and women who fought, and battled so that generations to come could taste freedom. I will thank God for the gift of life. I will bow my head in prayer for all that I have as a result of many sacrifices of the courageous men and women who lived and fought through the war. I will try to remember to never take anything for granted and I will count Dad in as one of the most treasured blessings in my life.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Bitter-sweet?

          Finally, an appointment. We received the letter today from the hospital informing us that my hubby will be assessed by the haematologist. The definitive diagnosis is leukaemia. That's the bad news. The ray of sunshine that pervades the black cloud, however, is that the sweet man who said 'I do' to me 34 plus years ago, is dealing with the chronic form - chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) they call it. So now we once again wait for the day of the appointment to discover what the experts might say.The so-called good part about CLL is that it is slow and progressive. That is somewhat reassuring. So no chemotherapy or radiation off the bat. We await direction from the wise ones but meanwhile we ['specially me] try to stop playing the what if game. I did it when I battled my own cancer but then God, through a series of experiences and a few special people, showed me that everything would be okay.

     Do y'ever wonder why things happen? I admit that I sometimes do and sometimes I question out loud, but there is just something deep down in the recesses of my soul that whisper that there is something better. This world is merely a gateway to something extraordinary. It's a messed up crazy world we live in and some of the sad, brutal horrible things that happen make me want to curl into a ball and hide.

     I've heard it all.  "If there is a God, why does He let these things happen?" "Why do accidents happen?" "Why do disasters wreak havoc?" "Do you really think that a merciful God would allow babies to die or children to be abused?" "Why do young people shoot each other? Bully? Kill themselves?" Why did God let you both have cancer?"

     We all have our opinions. (Some are quicker to share theirs than others.) I don't have all the answers and I don't believe anyone, no matter how eloquent or sage, can truly have an answer for all the dreadfulness that is part of this world. But just because horror and hardship enter, doesn't mean I can denounce and give up on God. Besides, I don't want a fair-weather God.

    I know in my heart God is not the purveyor and perpetrator of wickedness. There is another force beyond our capacity to comprehend, that seeks to destroy.

     For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 

  So we don't waste time bemoaning the fact that another blip on the radar is seemingly steering us off the course of normalcy again. We open the trunk, dig out the armour and once again prepare ourselves for the fiery darts. My dearly beloved is embarking on a journey. He is courageous and ready. I am thankful to be able to travel with him. We don't really know at this point how long the journey will take, but thanks be to God, we do know the destination...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Helping the Homeless





                                  
          Tender Heart Ministries in Greater Toronto

You asked how YOU could help?
…Give a “Jesus Present” this Christmas and Share the love





            Michael Bull Roberts is looking to help 400 homeless and displaced youth on the Toronto streets this winter.  Each needy young person will be given a backpack containing basic necessities to help them make it through the lonely, chilly days.

            Make a young man or woman’s Christmas a little brighter by either giving a cash donation to help purchase items to fill the back packs or by giving a useful gift-card such as Tim Horton’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Walmart, etc.  I am collecting all the items and any cash donations for Michael and then I will send them on to him.

            Please attach your gift card to a Christmas card and send a personal ‘generic’ message of love for the recipient. Some of these kids can’t remember the last time they felt love. Your love gift will make a difference. A thank you letter will be sent to you and your family to share on Christmas Day for any donation or gift. No gift too small.

May God bless you for your generosity.     


(Please respond before December 15th, 2012)

Glynis M. Belec         

519-638-3215;   gbelec@bell.net

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What if...

What if each sunrise heralded a day filled with joy unending? What if people truly loved each other unconditionally? What if pain and suffering were not known to mankind? No more angry, hurtful words. No bitterness, no anger. No more cancer...of the body or spirit...no more crime or disaster; disappointment or despair.  If spoken words were free from callousness and accusation; if power and monetary gain were not the motivation. If acquisition of the biggest and the best were the least desired and trumped by concern for our neighbour - wouldn't that be...uh...heavenly?

Sometimes I wonder why we have to have stress in our life. I think if there was no stress, then we could sample a taste of normalcy. But then I remember stress forces me to [choose to] relinquish control to God. I do that because I have found out so many times in my life how I am not in control.  All through my own cancer journey, I have been reminded about the love & power of God. Here I am, almost four years since my last chemotherapy, looking forward to that grand magic number - 5 years. Just as my anticipated joy looks like it might just come into fruition, another stress lurks in the wings.

A powerful message. Always thankful to Dale for this one! 
Two weeks ago my happy hubby had a bone marrow biopsy. The pattern was the same. Routine physical. Checking out a suspicious abnormality and before we know it, my dearly beloved is now facing the prospect of cancer. Wednesday, we meet with the doctor to get the final diagnosis but it looks like we are dealing with leukaemia.

Yea, it really does seem that joy unending is something we can only experience one heavenly day. Meanwhile we face the music and dance the dance. We are not sure why things always happen but one thing we do know is that God is there and is holding us near. We are choosing to trust and to make the days count. 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Hint of Heaven





This is the day that the Lord hath made; that the Lord hath made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it; and be glad in it!





Okay, I can't help it. I feel like singing and dancing in the streets of Drayton - but I can't possibly give the neighbours something else to talk about. So I will dance in my living room and close the curtains!



     My darling son and his wife got a little surprise a week and a half shy of their due date. Mr. L now has a big brother to love and squeeze. We have another little dumpling to love and to cherish...

Every time I see a new little one, I cannot help but think about Psalm 139:14



Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
      you formed me in my mother's womb.
   I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I'd even lived one day.

[The Message]
    
This surely is the day and I'm loving it!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Cause for Celebration!

My first bald photo back in 2008!
When I first started writing this blog in 2008, I did so with purpose and passion. My original plan was to keep family and friends informed about how life was as a cancer patient. I can't recall who suggested I start blogging about my journey - hence the name (My Journey.) But it surely was a jolly good idea. Tomorrow will be the fourth anniversary of my first blog. My debut post was on Friday, August 1st, 2008. Here is a snippet from the beginning...

The good news is that I am now half way through my chemotherapy. This entire cancer issue has changed our lives in a dramatic way. No one ever knows what is around the corner so if I had to offer some advice, it would be to love your family unconditionally...hold them close if you can or make sure you keep in touch; pray and trust God for the big things and the details and talk to Him regularly; pursue your dreams and make sure you forgive with fervor, laugh without restraint and dance whenever your heart wants.

I actually like that advice about forgiving, laughing and dancing. And it's probably something we should do whether afflicted or not.

When I wrote that post I had no clue that I would still be here four years later. I rejoice. God is so good. But you know what? Even if I wasn't here, God would still be good. I am slowly coming to terms that I need to come to terms with life and death. We all live. We all die. I just read in my Bible last evening, in Philippians 1:12 - Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Paul was speaking about how he was going through a difficult situation but he remained strong because it would help further the gospel. Verse 22 goes on to say: If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! Paul knew. He knew that heaven was a better place, but he also felt he had work to do. It's not up to us whether we live or die. Pain and suffering can be a platform to share. That's what I want my life to be.

The butterfly danced in my garden! Perfect symmetry! 
God has taught me much these past four years. He has introduced situations, experiences and moments of realization. He has put special people in my life. He has taught me how to be very still and to trust Him in ALL situations. He has shown mercy and grace. He has chastised and forgiven. I know without a doubt that there is a God. He is mighty to save and desires all of His children - His beloved creation - to come to Him - heavy laden or otherwise.

I took a picture of a butterfly dancing around my garden the other day. As I tried my best to get a good shot, I found myself really focusing on the tiny winged creature. The beauty in the perfectly painted petal wings. The splendid colours and the arrangement of pattern. The attraction of insect to flower. A bee joined the party as I was snapping one picture after another. I watched them both interact and dance around the flower bed. How? I mused. How can anyone say such loveliness is born out of blackness and a big bang of randomness scattered thusly to achieve perfection?

I don't have all the answers. I actually have a million questions. But I choose to believe, to trust, to rejoice, to give thanks and to love. When I do that, I have that perfect peace that really and truly does passeth all understanding.

Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Save a Woman's Life


"Looks like a ridge of tissue and perhaps an accumulation of more tissue around the duct, but I am no doctor."

The technician was gracious. Her reassuring words gave me some measure of sweet relief, although I didn't have any sense of impending doom before I went in for my ultrasound yesterday.

The mammogram a week and a half ago did not show anything untoward so there was no need to step up the battle stations, however the two palpable lumps were a bit of a concern that had to be investigated.

As I tucked the front of my non-glamorous gown in after the ultrasound, the technician said the doctor would read the report, make out his response and then they would get back to me. I am not worried.

When I think back to Miss Casey who did my ultrasound and found the tumours in my ovaries, she did know (she told me that later.) But of course she was not at liberty to say anything. She was the sweetest, kindest first person on my journey of 'discovery' and every time I went back to see her for more 'lump investigations,' we chatted and laughed. As I think back, Casey did not say anything about 'things looking okay' or 'nothing to worry about,' like this gal yesterday. Which was a good thing at the time.  Must be hard for technicians when they really do see something.

 I guess I am a little more attuned now - sometimes a little too much! I tend to be a bit of a lumpy person [benign lipomas here, there and everywhere] but I cannot help being concerned with every lump now, until it is investigated. I think it has something to do with me missing the 'big, real, nasty' ones before. I will be forever on guard.

The news wasn't so good for my friend, however. Her routine mammogram showed something untoward and she was also called back for an ultrasound (she had no palpable lumps or pain) and at 50 years of age, she just thought she would follow the doctor's advice and get things checked out following her physical.

I guess the moral to the story is to never assume. My friend experienced no signs or symptoms. No warning indicators that something may be amiss. No niggling feeling that something isn't quite right. Cancer is like the creeping lion looking for someone to devour  [Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV]
This lovely gal who is now dealing with the diagnosis of breast cancer is also dealing with the good news that things look hopeful for her because she has been caught early. She has a bit of a road to travel, yet all seems manageable at this point. She has to go through the rigours of radiation and they are doing some further testing to see if she might have to undergo chemotherapy. I sure hope not. That is not an easy thing to endure. Been there. But she will endure...her faith will get her through.

Each day I light a candle for my friend. I love candles. I love what the light symbolizes. When I see that candle burning quietly on my counter, I think of my friend and I am reminded to pray for her. I am reminded of the Light of the World. [When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."John 8:12

I will keep this candle burning for my friend for as long as needed. Some may call it silly, but to me it is symbolic. Far too many women have died from breast or other gynaecological cancers. It's my reminder. We need to help make sure women are aware and alerted to the importance of an annual physical. No woman should have to die an early death because of this hideous, creeping, devouring disease - cancer. 

I rejoice that my friend was caught early. 

I pray that mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughters, nieces...everywhere will be alerted to the importance of early detection.

This little light of mine; I'm gonna' let it shine...
  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Facing the Music...


Wednesday, I return. Six months has passed since I last visited the Cancer Clinic but this week I make that two hour trek back to London to find out what's next. Not sure if I am all alone with these mixed feelings, but I am heading west with trepidation. I wonder. I wonder why, in the first place this happened. I wonder why  it is looking like things are going well in the survivor department for me but it did not for Becky (who was thirty with a little boy and she died from ovarian cancer) . I wonder what it is in my feeble mind that make me not able to stop thinking about cancer. Every lump; every bump; every elevated blood pressure causes me to consider that cancer may once again be rearing its ugly head. So tomorrow, I go for physical at my local clinic to check out these issues. My doctor who originally found my cancer will declare me fit and well. My medical expert will tell me that I am just imagining the worst and anticipating the negative. She will tell me that my high blood pressure is hereditary and that soon it will resolve itself. My time has not come for I feel I have yet still work to do.
So I will give my head a shake. I will trust God and I will focus on his plan to see me through once again. Dr. S...are you ready for my questions, my probing, my crazy,disjointed questions...?

God is so good....He really is so good to me!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

God Is In My Head

We were heading home when out of the blue, my darling little grandson said it.
"Grandma and Mom, God is in my head."
We both gulped. My daughter was driving and I noticed her hands grip the steering wheel a little tighter. One never knows what the little munchkins might say, but when it comes to 'God things,' I am intrigued.
"So, what does God look like?" Mommy asked.
"Well, He is wearing a Boston Jersey, 'cause He knows I like Boston" that sweet little monkey replied. We laughed.
"What is God saying to you?" It was my turn to interrogate.
"He tells me that he loves me and that he really likes it when I do well at stuff."
I wanted to climb into the back seat with my 6 year old Mr. T, hold him and never let him go. His descriptions and comments continued and, although I cannot remember the exact words, it turns out God wanted to play with my grandson [again] and when He plays, He plays fair.

Call it imagination and child's play. I prefer to call it communing and soul stirring. Miss J. - my granddaughter, who did not have the privilege of meeting my sweet Momma in this earth, told us a while ago that she actually did talk to her in heaven. She wouldn't tell us any more than that. Only that she knew her.

I choose to believe these little ones. Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 10:14-16: "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upo n them, and blessed them."

They know something we don't...

If only we could find that 'child-like' mind once again. Instead of being bombarded by the world and all its negativity, wouldn't it be nice have 'God in our head?'

It's been a lovely, simple mother's day, free from obligation and stress [and I get to do it all over again with my gorgeous son and his family next week]. How blessed am I?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Do I Write?

(First published on Inscribe Christian Writer's Fellowship Blog)
                                         

1.  Why do I get up each morning? 

Some days are diamonds some days are stone

Some time the hard times won’t leave me alone...The wonderful part about daybreak is that I know not what awaits me once I poke my head out of the covers. Most mornings my wonderful hubby wakes me up with a steaming cup of Tetley's. I then mentally review my to-do list and then remind myself that my day depends on my attitude - I can make it or break it. I get up each morning because I haven't finished yet...

2.  Why do I write?
      I always loved composition in school. I wrote songs with my sisters when we lived in Scotland. My teacher told me I should always do my very best in English. It would help me in everything. Thanks Mrs. McLeod.

3.  What motivates me?
      My hubby has worked hard all his life. He often took on extra jobs to help cover the cost of being who we were. We homeschooled our wonderful kiddos and laughed more than we cried. We had more than a few challenges and hiccups but God was with us every dance step of the way. I told my happy hubby that one day he could retire and I will follow my dream to write...write...write...fulltime [and make some money, too.]

4.  Why do I write?

      Words are like gossamer silk. Every thread delicately intertwines to create a web of words. As I write from my heart, I pray I will touch the hearts of others and my desire is that my soul words please the heart of God.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phillipians 4:8

5.  What is life? Life might very well be defined as the absence of death. But it is so much more. When I see my little grandbabies discover their world; when I hear the infectious laughter of an infant; when I realize the gifts God has bestowed upon His people and then see His people use those gifts for His glory; when I see medical miracles; learn that we are having another grandchild; hear the laughter of children; hear the laughter of adults; see the compassion of individuals; see and experience family; watch a frustrated student have an 'aha' moment; when I feel a hug; hear a kind word; have an opportunity to share what I have; realize the responsibility of being a parent, a grandparent, a wife, a friend...then I start to know what life is!

6. Why do I write?
     When I write what I know the words flow. The obsession to fill a page with words consumes my mind and soul. When writing opportunities are absent, my mind stays on God trusting Him to guide me into perfect timing to share my heart.

7.  What discourages me?
     Watching televised news exemplifies the sinful, fallen world. I wonder why we do to each other that which denegrates, maligns, defames and destroys? Rejection; amber alerts for stolen children; cruel words; misuse of power; greed for that which we are not entitled; carelessness of heart. Thankfully, the tiny Babe was sent to remind us of why we exist; to deliver; to offer hope; to save.

8.  Why do I write?
     My idea file overflows. There are ideas for articles, books, devotions, stories floating around in my mind constantly. I am overwhelmed with what to do with these words. So I write.
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

9.  What is my favourite Scripture?
      Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

10.  Why do I write?
       The act of writing causes my brain to settle and focus. If my writing is all task and focussed solely on deadline, I can tell. If my writing flows because I have acknowledged God as the giver of all gifts and then taken the time to be still, I sense a better connection and a calmness in my soul.

11. Why am I thankful?

      All I need do is look around. All I need do is remind myself Who is beautifully in control. All I need do is think back to times of turmoil and distress; joy and celebration...and then I remember.

12. Why do I write?
      I always believed in God. The God of my past was there for my convenience, though - when I was sad, troubled, upset. Then my heart became hungry for something greater than my own words. God led me to a place and showed me the Light. My soul was stirred.  I found ways to express myself via the written word.

13.  What will I do with the rest of my life?
        What is the rest of my life? There's a country song "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw.  I'm not too sure about the skydiving, the rocky mountain climbing or going two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chew. But I do like the part about loving deeper,  speaking sweeter  and giving forgiveness I'd been denyin'...
We might think we have the inside scoop on our days but I never felt those tumours growing.

14.  Why do I write?
        There's  nothing like walking a mile in someone's sandals, they say. When I extract both the toxins and the precious jewels from my life I find people who say they understand why I write. They can relate; they want to hear my stories; I want to hear theirs.   

 
15.  What scares me?

      What if I lose my way? What if I lose my mind? What if I lose my salvation?


 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 

16. Why do I write? 
      There is something particularly calming and thrilling when I get to spend significant hours partaking in the art of writing. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I get to dig out my ancient ledger and enter - by hand - the latest project. I tried keeping track of my submissions on the computer and everyone tells me that that is the correct thing to do. I do have a program or two that I can use but for some silly reason I keep going back to my oversize forest green ledger. It feels like a reward when I write by hand in this great book. 

17.  How do I measure success?
       Sure I want to be a successful writer. I guess the key is defining successful? Perhaps credibility will be determined if I make x number of dollars or sell x number of copies. But true success for me will be measured by a degree of satisfaction gleaned from knowing someone has been encouraged, educated, confronted, consoled, motivated, entertained, challenged, inspired, comforted, cheered, stirred by my stories.

18.  Why do I write?  
       Every time I teach the alphabet to my students, my mind boggles. How can 26 little letters come together to create over 600,000 words? We are quick to teach the alphabet to our charges but are we equally as quick to teach them how to love and respect words? 
       Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

19.   Should I dance like no one is watching?
       Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen? ~Friedrich Nietzsche

 
20.  Why do I write?
       Just as my heart beats in perfect harmony within the rhythm section of God's orchestra, my passion for the craft pulsates perfectly as I wait upon the Lord for inspiration.  

Love, is why I write...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Celebrating Life...Wondering...



Four years ago today, I received the diagnosis from my doctor.
"The news is not good," were the few words she uttered. "It's ovarian cancer..."

I felt the air being sucked out of my soul. I can't actually say that my life flashed before me, though, although it does sound dramatic and reasonable. But I remember feeling a sudden need to be held. God, as usual, was on the job for I had opted to go alone to the doctor's, thinking she would be telling me something minor was untoward and I was stepping kicking and screaming into menopause.

Gilles was the first person to know about my cancer. He is always the first to know. Thirty four years later - and he still has my back.

I recall the sick feeling as we prepared to tell Amanda and Trevor. All I could think of was my beautiful family and how I suddenly felt as if I was being ripped away from my babies.

Lest I start revisiting that moment, I will recall with jubilant joy, how God has taught me well through my cancer journey, and over these four years of remission.

I have seen the faces of pure caring. I have received kindness and compassion that I never imagined. I have learned that relationship is so much more than task and the trivial, is just that - unimportant. I help when I can and sometimes when I feel I cannot. Others did it for me. It's the least I can do to pay it forward.

I, admittedly, do struggle with cancer guilt. I don't know if that is an oddity or whether it would be classified in the big psychology tome as a 'normal' response to surviving a terminal disease. Today I learned that a woman who is not so blessed, lucky, fortunate (what do we call it?) is slowly succumbing to cancer. I will be seeing her this weekend as we host our big fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope. She wants to join us (as she has done for the past four years) and she wants to scrapbook and laugh and relax with 99 other rootin' tootin' cowgals for the cause. We are overjoyed that she is coming but I cannot help battling the guilt of living while she is dying.

But we will show her a wonderful, Wild West good time and we will help her rejoice in the moment - that's another thing I learned on my journey - life is fleeting so now is the time to celebrate.




I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy4:7



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 10 - Dear...

In this challenge, I am supposed to write a letter to myself at 16 years of age. Here we go...

Dear 16 Year Old Me: 

I'm so sorry. I know you had so many plans and dreams and you planned on a very long and healthy life. I didn't mean to disappoint you nor did I intend to create such a time of turmoil in 2008. Often times when things went wrong, I have said 'no one to blame but myself...' I am still trying to get my head around that and am trying to figure out what I did wrong in my life or what bad choices I made that gave me cancer. Guilt is not something I want to savour, but something in my head gnaws occaisionally.

They say that ovarian cancer is hereditary. No one that I know of in my family had it. Do I blame it on those times when I stupidly lay out in the hot son cooking my skin just so I could get a nice tan? Was it the talcum powder I used? I read somewhere that increased talcum use might be a contributor to ovarian cancers.I read the other day, too, that taller people are more susceptible - such a hokey claim if you ask me. I'm 5' 6".  Supposedly those who don't have children and those who did not breast feed are more likely to be an ovarian cancer candidate. I have two children and breast fed them both until they were close to a year old. Was I being punished for being a dumb teenager? I don't believe God works like that...why am I telling you this, anyway?

I guess maybe I want to remind you that if you get a chance, pay a little less attention to the unimportant and put special emphasis on what truly is meaningful:

- love your family no matter what
- show unconditional love at every opportunity
- love God with your mind, heart and soul
- share Jesus
- help when you can
- share your things, your money, your love, your smile (you never know how good your timing just might be!)
- take a moment to reflect on the sunshine
- give thanks
- pray
- tell someone every day that you love them (and mean it)
- go out of your way to help someone (every day, if you can)
- give or find ways to help raise money for something near and dear to you
- keep a journal or a record somewhere, of your thoughts
- laugh
- cry
- laugh again
- forgive
- pursue your dream with passion
- give your life to the Lord
- dedicate your life to making your corner of the world a better place
- read and relax
- listen to music
- share the good things
- learn a new language - the love language...
- give thanks to God for his mercy endures forever
- pray again
- trust God

Wondering - is my advice my regret...? Hmmm...