Thursday, September 30, 2010

Being Silly

When was the last time that you were completely silly.  Do you remember the last time that you laughed so hard that you thought for a split second that you might lose your life?  Have you ever been completely swept away by a fierce attack of the sillies? 

One thing that I think I have done completely well, when it comes to motherhood, is to impart in my son a strong sense of fun.  We love to be silly together and we both laugh until rendered defenseless by giggles.  It can start with a wide-eyed look from me and he will bust into a grin.  Then I will say something, anything in a silly tone of voice, and we are off to the races.

We live in such a serious world.  You do not have to look far to find sadness.  Some people watch the news every night and in doing so are exposed to a dose of scary, terrible things happening in our world.  I cannot watch the news. I find it so upsetting.  I believe it is important to be aware but not completely plugged in.  If you are a news watcher try a few nights in a row without it and see if you notice a change.

In my earlier days I was a little too serious.  Thank goodness I had a friend that I could be silly with.  My oldest and dearest friend Roxanne.  We can spend an evening together and just roll in laughter.  She has some mighty good stories.  Even better than mine.  She will tell a few and we will laugh until we cant breathe and then recover and then we will repeat.  It feels so good to laugh your guts out.

If you are reading this post and you have no idea what I am talking about then we need to get started on you right away.  You might need to borrow a young child to assist you because probably no adult in your life will be able to help.  Try going to and typing in The Muppet Show, Mahna Mahna and the Snowths.  Watch and learn.  If you don't find this silly, funny and appealing it will be an indicator of how far into serious land you have ventured.

This is a little video of me and my son being silly.  We seem to hit upon a word that to him is funny.  We call it the "word of the day."  In this video the word is Blech!  He finds it hilarious.  I hope it gives  you an attack of the sillies.

You may need to hit pause on the music player in order to be able to hear him laughing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Giving and Receiving

Are you better at giving or receiving?  Are you a cheerful receiver or just a cheerful giver?  I have found in my life that this little theme rears it head from time to time and I have to work on myself.  I like being the giver and I thought I was a decent receiver until all this cancer stuff came around and I am being challenged.

This weekend we went to a huge family get together and I could not wait to see my cousin Matthew and his wife so that I could give them a present.  Mind you, I had already ordered things and had it mailed to them but I was extremely anxious to see them open the gift that my neighbor Marge had sewn for them.  I could hardly contain myself and after they arrived and greeted half of the family my patience wore out and I had Jenn open the gift.

She seemed to be pleased with the gift which pleased me all the more.  There is nothing more satisfying than giving a really marvelous gift.  Fortunately for me, my cousin Matthew's wife is an excellent receiver or she would have sucked all the joy out of my gift giving.  It can be frustrating to be in a position of wanting to give and have the other person roll their eyes, protest and to tell you why they do not deserve your gift.

I heard someone say once that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin.  There has to be a receiver in order for someone to give.  You cannot have one without the other. There is a joyful aspect of giving and there can be one in receiving also if done correctly.  I find, in myself, that sometimes I am a terrible receiver.  I have gotten better with compliments and gifts on my birthday but at times my capacity to receive is stretched.  There are times currently that I am unable to give to myself.  I need help.  I don't like having to rely on those around me for help.

My dear parents have been providing that help and giving in an amazing unceasing manner.  They are loving and strong and determined to bring me through this.  I am feeling frustrated that my strength and my ability to take care of myself and my son is diminishing.  My spirit's feelings are hurt over this.  I want to jump up and help back.  I want to get my mother breakfast instead of the other way around.  I want to reward them for their kindness.  I want a chance to give because, and I feel pouty here, I am tired of receiving.

If you turn to the passage in Acts 20:35 and you read the verses that come before the "it is better to give than receive" in the Bible, you will see that Jesus is not dissing on receiving.  I always thought that He was and this encouraged my unhealthy preference for the giving side.  One commentary on this chapter said this: His parting words, taken from a quote of Jesus’ unrecorded in the gospels, are perfect for all who would minister to God’s people: It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Ministers must be more concerned about what they can give their flock than concerned about what their flock can give them.

It is an ecouragment to give to those who are in need without thought of what you are going to get back.  It is an admonishment to those who are greatly blessed to find those who are not and assist them.  It does not say do not be in the position of being a receiver because that is bad.

I am working through the uncomfortable feelings associated with being in need and being in a position of having to receive.  I need help from my husband, my dad, my mom, my siblings, my friends, and occasionally even my clients.  I have always been so strong and so independent.  It truly is hard for me to be in this position and we are going on a year now.  In order for me to have a victory over my current circumstance I must open my heart and receive the love, the giving and the assistance of others.  I cannot survive this alone.

This is a personal struggle that I no doubt share with others.  I am working on being a cheerful receiver and learning to be satisfied with the paltry smiles and gratitude I am able to offer in return for things I deem to be deserving of so much more.  Feel free to be confrontational with me when I am not doing so well.  It is part of my spiritual growth.  I prefer to learn the lessons quickly and get up to speed hastily as these are lessons that I do not want to repeat or have them drag on.

To my mother and father, who get me endless glasses of water so that I don't have to get up and can conserve my energy, I thank you. To my dad, who takes the baby at night so that I have my best chance to sleep and restore, I am indebted to you. To my sister and brother, who have had to do more cleaning, preparing and getting things ready for me, I thank you and I appreciate you.  To my husband, who has had to become both provider and homemaker, I want you to know that I appreciate you and I am lucky to have you.  You have the double duty of keeping our house clean and caring for a rambunctious child and sick wife.  I want to jump up and have it all done for you so that you can rest or get away but I do not have the strength.  Thanking you seems so incomplete and so lackluster.  I feel angry and a little sad in my desire to make things more in balance.  I am having a moment where I am gritting my teeth.  I do not like this.

I am a work in progress.  In this blog post I have soap boxed, complained and tried to be honest about where I am.  Maybe you could help me figure all this out.  I welcome suggestions and advice regarding my spiritual growth issues.  I really want to be a better person.  Clearly I need to work on being a better receiver.  Please email me at or comment on the blog.  I hate to admit it but I could use your help.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Lobsterman Who Stole My Heart

Every so often you meet someone that you fall in love with.  Not romantic love, in this case, but someone who inspires me, tickles my funny bone and whose stories fill me with a deep admiration that put me at risk of hero worship.  I met someone like that this week.  His name is Danner and he is a Maine lobsterman.

Danner is a man who has walked through some trials and tribulations and yet is filled with love, humor and a desire to live his life with gusto. He is not shy to tell the story of the loss of his son and how he has fought his way back to a life lived in joy.  He seeks out opportunities to brighten someone's day.  He is a man who smiles widely, loves his family freely, spends his time productively and manages to be an excellent role model on top of all of that.

Today he and his delightful wife Dewey treated me to one of the best days of my life.  I had never been on a lobster boat before and I had certainly never been "fishing" for lobsters before.  It was an amazing day. I love the ocean.  I loved being out on the ocean and he provided me with an education to boot. I held a three pound lobster, a sea urchin, several starfish, and admired a couple different kinds of crabs.

We hauled 45 traps today.  His wife was the sternman, he did the hauling and banding while me, Mom and my sister Tracey did the cheering.  It was fun.  We went late, for my benefit, at 8 am and it rained a bit and was cold but we were cozy behind the glass in the captain's area.  We snacked on blueberry muffins that he cooked up for us fresh this morning made with blueberries from their fields.

Danner told me a lot of stories.  He told me funny ones, sad ones, innovative ones and stories about remodeling.  My favorite story though, was the one that won him first place on my pay it forward honor roll.  You see, every year he makes a special item.  All year every year he watches and waits for God to present him with that special person that will be the recipient of that special gift.  One year, he put his time and attention into a handmade bookcase of fine cherry wood.  Finally, he was inspired to give it to a woman who had blessed him earlier that year.  His eyes sparkle as he tells me that this beautiful bookcase was the only Christmas present that she received that year.  After that, he was hooked.  He puts time and attention into an item that he handcrafts and then he looks for who will receive it.

I loved his unique way that he pays it forward.  I admire how he and his wife have faced hardship and how they choose to craft their life today.  They are an amazing couple.  I hope that this post inspires you to have some fun, to try something new and to be thinking of little ways you can choose to brighten your own day.  I hope that in the brightening of your day you will also figure out ways to add cheer to those in your life known and unknown.
I want to thank you Danner and Dewey for a wonderful time.  I needed a little adventure.  It is easy to see from the pictures that I had a lot of fun.  I appreciate the generous way in which you treated me.  For the rest of you out there that are reading this blog if you see Danner or Dewey give them a big bear hug for me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Pay it Forward Suggestion

I have to confess that I am a very lucky woman.  Raising a child is very hard.  Since my illness my ability to chase after, play with, and tend to my child is severely compromised.  Were it not for my wonderful husband and amazing father I would have slipped into a deep depression.  I always dreamt of the day that I would be a mother and I had such high hopes that I could be a wonderful mother.  I think I am a  good mother but I am forced to leave the heavy lifting to the men in Tan's life.

I often sit in amazement watching my son play.  I do what I can to assist my husband with the daily demands that only a toddler can bring.  When I fall onto the couch exhausted it hits me.  How on earth does a single mother manage?  It is unfathomable to me and the thought that many of them have more than one makes me quake in horror.

If you are accepting my challenge to pay it forward and practice random acts of kindness than I encourage you to steer in the direction of a single mother.  Consider buying an extra gallon of milk at the store and a pound of butter and drop it off to her.  A bag of name brand grocery items that are unexpected would be a welcome treat as she probably buys generic items as she pinches pennies. 

Women who are on food stamps have to purchase toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap, and all other cleaning supplies on their own. These would make nice gifts and help to stretch her budget. I, myself was on food stamps when I was first attending college and working at McDonald's.  It was a blessing to me and I was able to improve my nutrition and quality of life as a result. 

You will not have to look hard to find a single mother who could use some assistance.  Remember that she is not taken care of as well as I am or probably you are.  Those children that she has in tow are the future of our great country.  You could be the rainbow in their rainy day.  I would love to write about you on my blog and tell the story.  Consider what you are already good at and work from there.  If you have a handy husband bribe him into lending his skills to her home while you sit with her and have a quiet moment. I am looking to fill my honor roll and I have a prize to give out.  Plus it just makes this life a little sunnier to the woman who no doubt drops from exhaustion each night bearing this burden alone.. 


The Fishnet in Blue Hill, Maine

If you are anywhere near Blue Hill, Maine you must give the Fishnet a try.  It promises the finest fresh seafood in the area and boy does it deliver.  We have been eating there for years.  The Fishnet was opened in the early 60's and has been owned and operated by the Curtis family for 27 years. When we talk of a visit home the Fishnet is unanimously added to the must visit list by one and all.  I personally go for the shrimp basket as I just love tender Maine shrimp.

It has the take out window pictured here but if that is not your style there is a cute little dining room, additional dining out back and a smattering of picnic tables around the property. 

It is nestled in a cozy corner of Blue Hill, Maine and since Blue Hill is so small you could not miss it if you tried.  When you get close to it my suggestion is to drive defensively as you might notice other automobiles turning suddenly into the parking lot.  You would be wise to follow them.  I know some of you are curious and it might be cruel but I have provided the menu for you to shop from.  When Huy came with me we stopped in here for my lobster and Huy ordered the mussels.
 Dad suggested to Huy that he order "steamahs" but he got confused and ordered steamed mussels which he felt were quite tasty.
You would be hard pressed to find something that was not absolutely delightful.  Even their homemade desserts are quite nice.  My son's first ice cream cone was purchased from the Fishnet.  You can tell from the video that my mother took he was quite surprised that she actually let him eat it himself.  He did a good job for only being 14 months old at the time.                                                                                                       
Whatever the fare, if it is on the menu, the Fishnet will be a pleasing addition to your New England
trip.  Sometimes we joke with ourselves that we plan our vacations by the number of meals rather than the number of days but everyone has to eat, right?

Anyway to the folks at the Fishnet ...thank you for being part of our favorite vacation memories.  To the folks planning on taking a Maine trip..tell the good people that Susan sent you.  You will not be sorry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How All Homes Should Look - In My Opinion

There is nothing like New England architecture to take my breath away.  I love the little cape style homes with their simple but eye appealing designs.  I don't mean to knock the houses in Colorado but here in Maine homes have a front.  Let me show you what I mean. 

This picture is taken in the shade so you cannot see the beautiful colors of the flowers in front which create a sort of colorful decolletage.  I could add picture after picture of example of other simple and beautiful New England but maybe you should just take a visit to Maine. 

If you visit me in Colorado Springs and are familiar with the homes there you immediately notice one thing about this home.  No garage affixed to the front of the home.  Maybe my beef is with suburbia itself which has to be efficient in its tiny postage stamp lot use but that just seems silly to me.  When you drive up on a home you don't want the only architectural appeal to be a two car garage. 

I love the homes in Maine but the real reason I love this home may have more to do with the occupant.  Fortunately, for me, you cannot make out the lovely lady standing on the porch ready to embrace us.  If you could she would probably not appreciate it unless she was wanting to advertize her particialar choice of bathrobes.   

The occupant of this home is a woman who knows how to love.  She oozes joy and love for life and loved ones out of every pore and attacks life with a zest not often seen. She also knows how to turn an ordinary home into a work of art, keeping in mind that homes should be both beautiful and functional.  The first time my husband saw her home, he fell head over heels in love with Diane and I could not blame him.  Diane has put in this house what is needed, what fits and what is of good quality.  She is an excellent organizer and can put her hands on a bargain in seconds but is equally unafraid to buy the best when that is warranted. 

Diane has a real talent for baking and cooking which was most likely derived from having five sons.  That is a lot of hungry mouths to feed.  She tells stories of how she roasted a turkey every weekend just to keep them fed.  I don't know if she gravitated to a personal celebration of thanksgiving every week or an attitude of gratitude just came natural to her.  Diane, like all of us has had some hard times and she choose to find joy.  Finding joy in life is her personal motto even when it is difficult to find.  It is no doubt that attitude that has turned her into the beautiful woman that she is.  She probably doesn't know how beautiful she is or how beautiful her home looks or how one feels to be with her.

I hope that someday my home will be as beautiful and appealing to spend time in as hers is.  I hope that, like her, I can choose to find joy in my daily circumstances.  Here's to you, my dear Diane, it was so nice to visit you and see your lovely home.  Keep choosing to live in joy, it makes you radiant and teaches the rest of us how to live too.  (You'll be hearing more about Diane and her wonderful husband Skip in a future chapter)


Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Baptist Church of Blue Hill Maine

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the First Baptist Church of Blue Hill, Maine with my mother. This beautiful church was erected in 1817 and stands tall and proud in all of its white splendor both inside and out. You actually feel a sense of reverence as its beauty, significance and historical value hit you, smack dab in the middle of your forehead, upon entering the building.

The congregation greeted us warmly and I was happy to see them. This little group has been faithfully putting in some overtime on their knees for me. I am grateful to them for that and it was good to see them in person and let them know how much I appreciate all that they are doing for me.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this congregation is that they don't feel like strangers from a distant community. They feel like family, even though some of them, I haven't seen in ten years and others I've never met. It is a nice thing to be spend time with a group that love your family and I could feel that love today as we hugged each other and they prayed for me.

There is really something special about New England, it's churches and how they worship. They follow a familiar pattern filled with tradition. I enjoyed singing the doxology, something that is not a prominent fixture in the churches I attend in Colorado. For those of you not familiar with the doxology here it is.

Praise God from Whom all blessings Flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost

It may surprise you to know that these words were written by Thomas Kent in 1674 and are actually the last words of the Hymn, Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun.

This morning we woke in our home on Patton Pond with the loons paddling back and forth. I drank my coffee sweetened with Sweet Italian Creme coffee creamer by Coffee Mate (delicious - try it) while wearing my pajamas in the place where my soul wears pajamas (see earlier post). Then, later this morning, I sang among friends accompanied by a beautiful pipe organ with the back drop only New England can deliver.

Day One of our vacation: Hugely successful and astoundingly satisfying. Spent with friends and loved ones? Most Definitely.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Thoughts About Things That Matter

Living alone in Florida these past few months, connecting by phone calls and email, Skype, Facebook, videos, and photos, I do feel as though I've kept in pretty good contact with my beloveds.  The only things I've missed are hugs, grins, sloppy kisses (from Tan), dirty diapers, lunches out with Paul, and Chicken Schnitzel with Susan (ok, there's a story there for another time).  Let's face it, I've had lots of time for reflection and inventory.  Here are some thoughts about things that matter.

1.  God.  He's real, He cares, He strengthens.  He provides peace if we ask him, direction if we seek him, and comfort if we let Him.   He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

2.  Family.  Well, there's a no-brainer it seems.  But, not so fast.  I hear stories all the time about fractured families, splits, fights, and animosity.  We are blessed with a loving and supportive family but that doesn't just happen.  Those kinds of families are developed one decision at a time, one pat on the back after another, one resolve to forgive again (70 x 7), one hand reaching out to another again, one willing to give more and not count the cost.  Our family reaches back generations to our parents, their parents, extended family, cousins and friends who count us as part of their families too.  It is a rich framework of heritage, tradition, recipes, honor, sorrow, and all of the other details that compose a family.  A family is like a painting with thousands of brushstrokes of all colors and directions that blend into one picture.  You can appreciate its beauty in the macro and enjoy the entire image, or you can inspect the beauty and genius of each individual little swirl of color.   A family is also like a tapestry with a beautiful array of threads and colors weaving a gorgeous pattern, yet turn it over and there are also threads and knots necessary to the piece but not so beautiful as the front that you show the world.  Those threads give the tapestry strength and support however.

3.  Health.  Here's a tough one.  Susan is facing the fight of her life.  She didn't ask for cancer, she doesn't deserve it, and we would like to send it back.  Unfortunately, we are live in these human bodies (for now) and they are prone to sickness and disease.  So at the risk of sounding like your mother, can I just state a few things for all of us?   Don't take your health for granted.  If you smoke - stop.  Eat healthy foods in the right quantities.  Get exercise, enough sleep, use alcohol appropriately.  Drive carefully, wear good shoes, manage stress, laugh often, spend time with friends.  Love extravagantly. 

3.   Peace.  See #'s 1,2 and 3 above.  That's about it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Be Heroic

I love to watch movies. I like the feel good kind. You know, the ones where someone needs help and gets the help. Someone heroic comes along and notices a need and then risks life and limb to provide that help. In the movies that person always rushes in, does exactly the right thing and never hesitates for a moment.

If only being heroic in real life could be so simple. I get to work with soldiers. I have gotten to hear some real life accounts of the men in women in uniform acting in a truly heroic manner. I have listened to them tell stories of close calls, failed attempts and the times when they beat the odds. The largest correlating factor in all those stories is fear. Being heroic never equals acting without fear. I have heard that courage is being scared out of your mind but doing the right thing anyway.

Having cancer has not made me any braver. It has not made me a hero and I certainly cannot say there has been no fear. If anything, cancer has made me more cautious. I am a little more nervous about coming into contact with ill people or wearing myself out too much. I am a little afraid of going back in a wheel chair or being hospitalized again. I think fear always come with the unknown. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to face it after I had already seen my share of scary situations and had already forced myself to keep moving through them. It was good practice.

I am not scared because I have cancer. I have had to look down the barrel of some unpleasant things like bone marrow biopsies, surgery, and needles. I have not wanted to participate in those things but I didn't like the alternative. I have to confess, liking movies as I do, I often hear Patrick Swayze say "pain don't hurt" from one of his movies when facing a situation like that. It is a Hollywood Heroic thing to say that makes absolutely no sense and is from a movie, that wasn't one of his best but I like it. It reminds me that I can take it. Heck ya, I say to myself, I have guts all day, bring it on.

I guess one of the things in this life we can all be assured of is that we will have a chance to be heroic. We will have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Whether it be to parent a child, be-friend someone, or assist a stranger in their time of need someday we will be called on. When the time presents itself to you it will come with a certain degree of fear but don't let that stop you.

Keep these verses in mind because they will help steady you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." John 14:27

"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Mathew 11:28-30

Monday, September 13, 2010

What to do with bad days.

I have bad days now and then. I do. My feelings get hurt, I get discouraged, and some days nothing seems to go right. I do not have a lot of those days but they exist. Some days life just seems to feel like kicking my pants with a foot that doesn't get tired right away.

I am often asked for advice on what to do when a day like this presents itself. I suggest you do what I do when I find myself in this kind of predicament. I cry my eyes out. I grieve what needs to be grieved. I hurt over what I feel hurt about. I mope and drag around as much as I can because I want to get those feelings out. Unfortunately these events never last long enough for me to obtain ice cream and eat it in large quantities. It also does not transpire often enough for me to consider a preemptive strike and have ice cream on hand.

Anyway, back to getting out the feelings. I am not about to let any of those feelings take root, rot or have a chance to fester. Once your house is clean and in order ( all issues have been properly dealt with) than the sad and crying your eyes out phase is a short-lived event.

Once you have cried all your tears you will feel yourself springing back to life. For me, I can never make this last more than a day due to the pre-cleaned house condition, in which, I live. If you find that this is not true for you re-think whether or not there are issues to deal with

Have your cry. Do a real bang up hysterical, shuddering with each sob, job of it and move on. Upon completion, I recommend calling your girlfriends and making plans or putting in your favorite movie. Hang a sign on the refrigerator letting your husband know that the coast is clear. They do not always know how to interpret such an event and may think it is their fault. (In some cases it may be their fault so in these situations skip the sign on the refrigerator step. I am joking...sort of. )

With enough practice you will know what the correct formula is to tidy up and get back out there for you. Be efficient about this process. Why prolong it? Life is too much fun. Life cannot, however, be fun all the time. You are going to have some bad days. Some times we just need the release of crying. Crying when you need to can be very healing and will keep the low key blues away. That is when you feel kinda down but you cannot put your finger on why.

If you are on the upswing and are just getting over having a bad day. Here are some cool verses to help you with the process. I hope that you find them as inspirational as I do.

"For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37

"But he said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pain is Pain is Pain

Today I was on the phone with an old friend of the family. Though she is not much of a techy she admitted that she tuned into the blog last night and read nearly all of it. She then said the phrase we have been hearing over and over from a lot of you. "I would have commented but I didn't know what to say." Now this friend is a woman who works as a nurse in Oncology. This just goes to show you that being around people affected by cancer is not something you get used to and it doesn't give you a leg up on "what to say".

Her family is having some painful emotional struggles right now and she was loathe to share them with me. I was trying to listen and offer her some support. I desire nothing more to have a mutually supportive relationship with her and her family. This friend stated that she enjoyed the blog, she laughed, she cried and she felt better about her own situation. That was what she said but it wasn't the truth. The truth was that she was using the fact that I have cancer to invalidate her feelings and her own pain.

Pain is pain. I have a story that I tell my clients. I told the story to her and now I am going to tell it to you. Imagine that you are in the hospital with a broken leg. Not a simple break but a very serious broken leg. As you lay there in pain moaning and groaning you look over and notice someone else being brought into the room. When the hospital staff get this person settled you immediately realize that they have just had their leg amputated. Seeing that their situation is worse than yours does not make your leg hurt any less. They are in pain and you are pain. Your pain is your pain. Your pain is important to God no matter how you may try to trivialize it.

Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

God does not triage. Our prayers to God are not heard in the order in which they are received. We are not distributed according to some level of urgency with some of his children taking priority over others. I am being prayed for by a lot of people but I am not monopolizing His time.

You are my friend so please come here, sit by me, let's hold hands and squeeze them. I want to see your face. I want to hug you and press my cheek against your cheek. I want to help you carry in the groceries. I want to experience being around you. I don't want to wait for a "good day". You are important to me and I want to be with you.

Lets talk about what is going on in your life. I want to hear and comfort you during the good, the bad, the ugly. I want you to comfort me also. Lets be in a relationship with each other and lets makes sure the we both get a turn.

Can we do that? Are you willing to accept that my cancer does not diminish your needs, struggles, and pain. We can make room to talk about both. You get equal billing. I am your friend and we take turns because we love each other. Please note that I am asking this from all of you not just my dear old family friend.

The Pearl of Great Price

Susan’s foray into the world of cancer treatment has clearly changed our whole family dynamic. A year ago this week, Paul and I were innocently planning a birthday weekend adventure on Anna Maria Island here in Florida and the biggest decision we were facing was where to have lunch. That now seems like a lifetime ago. When we got the call that Susan was being admitted to the hospital in mid-October and we left immediately for Colorado, our lives changed, our priorities were shifted, and our life-focus was redirected – permanently.
Now, you might be thinking that I am referring to sad, bad, and negative things (and there are some). Nope. I am referring to wonderful, joyful, and glorious things that have been a direct result of time well spent in Colorado. Chief among them is the new and improved relationships that we have forged with Susan’s family, and especially between Grampy and Tan Michael Paul Nguyen.

Because Susan needed so much hands-on help those first few months, Paul elected to stay behind and provide that. He became one of Tan’s caregivers, diaper changers, and playmates. We called him ‘manny’ (not nanny). Paul is in our opinion, the most wonderful grandfather a child ever had. He takes such joy in every aspect of the baby’s life and patiently attends to every need. Paul has always had a whimsical, playful approach to life and this golden opportunity to invest deeply in another child’s formative early years is not lost on him. If Tan wants to read books for two hours, they read books for that long. If he wants to go for a walk, play in the sprinklers, kiss the neighborhood dogs, eat strawberries, play with toys, play hide-n-seek, peek-a-boo, watch videos, whatever it is, Grampy is more than happy to attend. Tan gets the best and most choice offerings of strictly organic food from Whole Foods, designer made oatmeal each morning, and a daily bath time ritual with bubbles, toys, and a liberal dosing of lotion afterwards. Then he gets a clean outfit picked out to show off his good looks and cuteness. Paul’s reward is kisses, smiles, snuggles, and the trust of an adorable little boy and his parents.

The Bible teaches about ‘the pearl of great price” [Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matt 13:45 ].

We just know that everything we have lost or sold does not come close to the value of what we have gained this year. Blessings upon blessings, gifts upon gifts, all through a route none of us would have ever chosen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tan Nguyen

A Message From A Friend

Hi – I am a friend and coworker of your Mother. I just wanted you to know that you are being prayed for on a daily basis. In our office we have an 8 by 10 picture of your son, compliments of Becky. His picture reminds us of you and his sweet smile gives us a smile. I read a couple journal entries you wrote. Very insightful and courageous! I am impressed with your openness and honesty. Hardwood floors are beautiful but the spurs on my heels cry out for plush, soft carpet! Enjoy them! You are in my prayers and in my heart….Jeanne 

PS.  This am I woke up at 2 am for the first time in weeks. I simply could not go back to sleep and so I prayed for everyone I knew …including you and your mother!

Jeanne Pooser, Winter Haven, Florida

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honesty is Still The Best Policy

I had dinner tonight with good friends Kate and Charley. They are also golfing buddies, Kate and I did a little rollerblading, we swim (or float) from time to time, and enjoy hanging out. They also throw the best Christmas Eve party in the park and I will surely miss that this year. Katie made an interesting observation tonight and one that rang in my head as others have said the same thing. I was telling her that we appreciated her blog comments and she confessed that the comments were often hard to write. "I am so afraid to say the wrong thing" she said. My sisters have mentioned the same sentiment - "no one knows what to say.” Well, I sure can appreciate that because I feel the same way myself. It is especially hard since Susan is a trained and experienced counselor so she knows how to see below the surface, read between the lines, and interpret non-verbal body language. She knows when someone is spinning the situation to make her feel better or minimizing the seriousness or potential impact, or just avoiding.

So, here's a word of guidance for all of us, please just be honest and candid. If something you read touches you, makes you cry or laugh, gives you hope or causes you to appreciate that sunset or friend or spouse, then say so. There are no rules, there is no formula, and there is no right or wrong answer or response. Don't spend time wondering if you said it wrong, too open or closed up; too sappy or not enough, too humorous or too discouraging. You get the idea and here is the point. Susan has always had a HUGE need to make a difference, to shine a light, to take someone by the hand and guide them to a better place. This blog gives her a medium to reach into places that have never been open before and she is asking that we respond because that is what every counselor expects and wants. She needs to know HOW she is making a difference no matter how small. Her mobility is somewhat limited due to fatigue and pain now so she spends most evenings resting in bed, watching movies, buying and selling on Craig's list and surfing the web (simultaneously). This blog is one of her windows on the world, a real connection to you and something that brings her joy and energy.

I thank you for how you all have reached out to her, edified her, encouraged her and loved her. I feel that she has become your daughter too. You have all cried real tears, prayed fervent prayers, thought good thoughts and fasted with commitment. So, thanks for your comments and all you have written. Just let it fly and don't be afraid of saying the wrong thing. At this stage of the game, the only wrong thing is the one that is left unsaid, because your words are written vitamins, your prayers are spiritual chemo, and your thoughts are healing tonic to her and us. We love and appreciate you all.

Home is where you hang your hat?

Home is where you hang your hat? Nonsense. Rubbish. Definitely not. Nope.
(A Double Rainbow over Patten Pond, graciously supplied by our beloved Turners)
Home is where your pulse quickens at the sight of it. Home is where your eyes delight in the viewing of it. Home is your answer when asked where you are from. Home is where your soul feels like it is wearing pajamas.

Home for me is Maine. Tonight as I was fussing at my husband (hey, it happens) I declared that I was leaving in two weeks. He looks at his watch and informs me I am leaving in one week. Gulp. I am both panic stricken with all I have to do before I leave and energized with the excitement of it.

Have you ever smelled the crisp ocean air? You probably have, but every cell in your body doesn't breathe an audible sigh of relief, I'll bet, like mine does. I've often said that the only down side to Colorado is that it lacks the ocean (although we do have a marina-if you don't believe me..look it up).

We will do what all folks do upon entering the holy ground of one's birth, we will eat all of our favorite foods until our bellies cry out for mercy. Despite the recommendations against it, we will eat lobster. I will have to have tender Maine shrimp, my personal favorite. If you think you have eaten shrimp, but have never tasted this delicacy you have not lived, my friend. That, I am sorry to say, is a statement made from the painstaking education hard won over years of tedious research and is not, in any way conjecture.

I will spend time with family. Not the ones that have been grafted in but the actual, looking like me, same gene pool, family. We will laugh, tell stories about each other and to each other, and for good measure eat some family food favorites. I think we have elected an Italian food theme and I intend to make one or two of my famous cheesecakes. I hate to toot my own horn ( is that the definition of blog?) but I used to have a cheesecake making business. I have probably just outed myself and will have to come out of retirement, when those who live here find out about this, but I can make a good cheesecake.

In Maine I will see the sights that my eyes never grow tired of. I spent the first part of my life in Central Maine, outside of Augusta, in China, Maine. I joke now, that this is probably where I developed my taste for Asian men. You do know that I am married to a Vietnamese man who makes me very happy so it all probably originated here. Anyway, I will need to see the blue of China Lake, I just have to.

I will sleep under the stars, not blotted out by city lights, in the crisp fall evenings of fabulous New England. In Surry, Maine on Patten Pond where my parents' home is, I will fall asleep to the croaking of bull frogs that sound rather like the belching of old men. I will wake each morning, among the first Americans, to greet the newly risen sun. I so look forward to sitting on the screened porch and sipping my coffee, breathing a sigh of pure contentment, while basking in the glorious feeling of being home.

Now, I have hung my hat in many places, both in and out of this great country but there is only one place that I call home. I bet you have a place like that also. Have you been there recently? For those of you fortunate enough to live in the very place where your soul wears pajamas, I can only imagine how incredibly lucky you must feel. Sigh. It must be nice.

Watching the Moon

Telephone rings

Becky: Hello

Voice:  Mrs Comeau, this is Joyce, the secretary at Emmanual Christian School. I’ve been asked to call you and set up a conference with you and your husband. We have a problem that we need to discuss regarding Susan.

Becky: what’s going on?

Joyce: Well, it’s been reported that on the cheerleaders’ van on the way back from the basketball game last night, Susan was observed MOONING the other bus out the back window.


Well, we got the distinct impression that the Christian school did not condone mooning incidents, but they did condone a week of in-house detention in the hopes of correcting this character flaw. It was a pretty deep-seated character flaw however. As a two year old, Susan literally stopped traffic on High Street in Fairfield Maine when she and her little neighbor friend proudly rode their tricycles down the middle of the street, stark naked. If that song is correct that tequila makes your clothes fall off, I think Susan needs to avoid those margaritas she occasionally indulges in. She could be in big trouble….especially if she’s out in the public.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Short Remodeling Update

Today the Horizontal Bamboo Flooring in Natural Finish ( was received and brought safely home.

I was able to sell the couch and have sold the TV stand. I also got an offer and promise to buy on the computer desk in the living room. Huy ordered the TV wall mount but we have yet to receive that in the mail.

I have promised the bookcase to Dad, therefore, I have nearly emptied all of the furniture out of the living room. Huy and I have picked out couches that we like to replace the furniture with upon completion of the hardwood floors. If you care to see them you may go to and go to fabric sofas. We like the Charlize Converta couch and love seat.

I have also picked out paint colors and a nice carpet from Lowe's.

I do not know if anyone is interested in these boring details but if you are here is the update.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Living Versus Existing

When you find yourself lying on your back, energy depleted, and unsure how many days you have left: it hits you. Am I living my life or am I existing? Things that seemed so important in the past seem like a ghastly waste of my energy now. Long gone are the weeks when I pull 50-60 hours of work and grab a bite to eat on the run from a fast food joint.

Now, I find that I am contemplating the wisdom of French women who eat only high quality food, dine in a leisurely and luxurious pace and fill the accompanying seats with cherished loved ones. My days are growing shorter as I find myself in bed earlier and earlier. My desire to spend time on activities that are not meaningful seems less and less appealing.

Why eat waxy, cheap Easter chocolate when you could be eating Godiva or Ghiradelli? It seems silly doesn't it? This is a metaphor not send me chocolate! I am taking a look at my time usage and seeing how it fits in the living versus existing measurement tool.

I have an urge to hug and hold those that I love. I want to be silly and giggle with my baby. I want to drench my eyes in the gorgeous, natural canvas that God has created. While we are crying out to God for a miracle I want to ensure that my days are spent in pursuit of a life well lived. I want to live a life to tell stories about in my old age. I plan for some of those nursing-home stories to be provocative and jaw dropping.

I want to cause a ruckus and inflict belly laughs on those listening.  I want to inspire and bring folks to tears. I believe my best story, though, will be about how I looked cancer in the face and beat the odds. I want talk about how the referee started the countdown and I was not finished yet.

Until then folks, I am planning to live life full bore and rack up the stories.  I want the legacy of my life to be far from the existing spectrum. Most of all though, I want all of you to be able to say the same about your lives.


Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Hard to Keep a Good Woman Down

It has been an honor and is actually very humbling to see the response this blog is getting by friends old and new, near and far. (who came up with the word 'blog' and what on earth does it mean?). Some of you have had the opportunity to get to know Susan first-hand, and others are meeting her for the first time. From your comments and emails, her father and I can see that you appreciate her for the unique and lovely person she is. She is now, always has been, and always will be, an upbeat optimist who attacks life with enthusiasm and good humor. Would you like a first hand account of one example?

In November 2008, our family embarked on a Carnival Cruise together from the Port of Tampa. Everyone flew to our home in Florida and we enjoyed a few days of swimming, biking, and recreational cooking together before our 5 day cruise. It was the usual western Caribbean itinerary of Grand Cayman, Cozumel and so on. We also planned to take a day trip to the Mayan Ruins in Cozumel as that was one of Tracey's goals in life and a big interest of hers.
Now, keep in mind that at this point, Susan was about 4-5 months pregnant with our precious little grandson (and monster) Tan. So on the day of the Mayan ruin trip, we enjoyed the usual enormous breakfast and left the cruise ship for the excursion. We were subsequently loaded onto a small vessel with seating for about 100 people, and we set off across the bay. The boat seemed to go about 100 miles an hour, wildly crashing through the choppy waves, careening toward our destination. We held on for dear life, salt spray splashing up at us, people juggling drinks and food as they tried to move around the boat and stay on their feet. It was a wild ride and lasted about an hour. 55 minutes into it, with the pier in sight, I realized Susan had turned an interesting shade of green, and had that familiar look on her face that I knew so well. Her eyes sort of bug out and her mouth twists sideways in a cute little grimace. It was all over. By that I mean, it was all over the boat, all over the deck, all over Susan. Tracey took one look at her and made her own beeline up and over the back of the bench in a furious scramble to miss being hit. So there we were, somewhere in Mexico, and Susan was just covered in vomit - totally and completely.
We all got off the boat and keep in mind that we had to keep up with the rest of the tour, but somehow she managed to find a bathroom and stripped off. Have you ever been in a bathroom in a tourist town in Mexico? If your answer is no, then I recommend that you cross this off your bucket list and forget it. Anyway, speaking spanish she quickly bought a tee-shirt to replace the soggy and smelly one that was soaking in the filthy sink, and put her Capri's back on after being rinsed out in that same sink. They were soaking, dripping wet. We then piled into a bus for a 90 minute ride to the ruins. Have you ever been in a tour bus all day in Mexico with someone who has just tossed their cookies? Same recommendation as above, forget it.
Needless to say, we got the distinct impression that people were avoiding us all day. Can't imagine why. Here's the point. Through it all, Susan never once complained, fussed, or otherwise had a spoiled day. Quite the opposite, she and we had a great time exploring and spending time in Mexico. There is no such thing as a bad day for her, and she scored a souvenir tee-shirt that she still has. Susan's good humor and ability to laugh at herself when things go wrong is a remarkable life lesson for each of us.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

If You Are Scared For Me & Want To Do Something

I talked to one of my best friends today. I haven't talked to her in awhile and when she found out how I was doing (my tumor markers hitting 949) she began to cry. We have a great relationship her and I and we tell each other the truth. She admitted that she was scared for me. Me telling her that I wasn't scared didn't help. I had to threaten her with... if she didn't stop crying then I would start crying and then we would be in a fine mess.

Jill is my reality check friend and we talk at a gut honest level. She wants to help and like so many of you have expressed she doesn't know what to do. She knows that it is a lot for me to work, be a mother, and take care of my health so she hasn't wanted to take up some of my time by squirming her way in. (see Jill at

Jill asked about my pain. Having worked in hospice she knows that bone pain is a deep pain that is not touched easily by the strong medications I have been given. She wondered out loud if I take them and how I am managing. The truth is I am in pain but not all the time. I am not even in pain every day. When I get really tired my spine aches. Today, one of my toes hurt bad for about five minutes. Honestly, I am not suffering with very much pain. Jill and I made plans for me to drink more margaritas. She suggested wine but I have never developed a taste for it. She asked me what happens when I drink wine and my response was, "I make funny faces." Frozen margaritas are a nice treat and I made a shopping list for myself in my head of the ingredients I am missing.

She said that she wonders how she would feel if she were me and the thought is so scary and depressing that she can't go there. She doesn't think that she could go to work in pain. I told her she sure would. I work as a counselor and yes, sometimes as I sit in my chair I am in some pain. I love what I do. It is an honor to make a difference in people's lives and it is how I serve. If I am in pain, I would be in pain at home or I could go and try to make a difference. Honestly folks, you would all make the same choice. I am sure of it.

We talked about the blog and how much I am enjoying it. I winced a little at this as her and I started a blog and I found myself too busy to help out. Jill is so sweet to me and suggested that I have a lot to say on this one. She promised to read it. I promised in my head to be a better person.

Jill asked about how I was staying happy these days and I told her that I am planning a big remodel project, I am planning trips to take with my family, and (I didn't tell her this) I am dreaming of the baby girl that I will one day hold in my arms named Mai.

I am blessed to have so many friends, a dynamic family and now so many readers of this blog. I know that you are scared for me and want to do something so I will make you a list. If you want to help here are some ideas for you.

1. Pray for me and ask others to pray for me.
2. Read my blog, post comments on it and share my blog with as many people as you can.
3. Buy me Coach purses...actually just kidding on that one. I am just making sure that you are paying attention. (Please don't, I have a very small house and I really was kidding.)
4. Reconnect with people that you love and love on them.
5. Pay it forward with random acts of kindness and then email me at to tell me what you did. The more creative the better. If you really wow me than I will send you a present. No, it will not be a Coach from my collection. Geez what a bunch of blood-sucking weasels!
6. Send me remodel ideas for making the most of out small spaces.
7. Tell me about fabulous trips that you have taken and make a case for why I should include that on my list.

I want you all to know that yes I do get scared but I choose not to stay scared. No, I do not get angry. I know that some of you feel angry for me but I wish that you wouldn't. Ok, point of clarification. I get angry a lot. If you know me then you have seen me angry. I do not feel any anger concerning the fact that I have cancer.

If any of you have questions please email me and ask them. You can ask me gross medical questions, psychological ..are you in denial questions, any type of questions are welcome. If you have suggestions on more items to add to my list feel free to let me know. I will post an addendum.

Also if you notice I have forgotten punctuation and you can get to me before my mother does there will be an additional prize. Be hasty! I tend to drive her crazy.

I love you all. I love you for caring. You don't have to do anything big. You don't even have to do it for me. Do it for someone you find in need and then you can share that with me if you like. It will feel like an extension of my own arms and it will put a smile on my face.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why Did I Get Cancer?

Tonight I got the news that my tumor markers are at 949 up from 658 on 8-26. I have been asked repeatedly why I got cancer. You see, some people believe that disease manifests from unresolved emotional conflict. Perhaps there is someone I am refusing to forgive and that is why I have cancer. Others have mentioned that since it is breast cancer it is an issue with my femininity, or I have experienced a lack of nurturing in my life, and others suggest mother issues.

As a mental health EMDR therapist I have seen physical symptoms clear when you address the trauma, so I so I am willing to concede that some of this might have merit. There has also been a whisper that maybe there is something God needs to teach me through this and develop my spiritual life. Is my job to be Job?

It is funny to hear all the theories and to hear what they say about cancer. One friend said, "you are so nice and you have never hurt people so how did you get cancer." "Only mean people should get cancer." While others see cancer as an enemy, and so they make war with cancer. The proclaim how they "hate" cancer and they march against it.

There are those still that look for the answers in nutrition and point to an unhealthy diet as the cause. Certainly there must be some merit in this as cancer and other illness' have risen. They seek control and safety through the careful management of diet and personal habits.

I ask my clients this question "what do you believe happens when you die?"   The answer is, you get to go to heaven and commune with the Creator. The best part of heaven, besides the Father, is that there is no sickness, no sadness and no negativity. It is an occupational hazard to occupy time and live here on earth. Simply being on earth and not in heaven means that we are at risk. We were not promised a life of ease and free of strife here on the beautiful planet we call home.

Did I eat too unhealthy of a diet? Am I holding a grudge, and was there wounding somewhere in my life from someone? Oh maybe. I have not the time nor the desire to probe very far into all that. I don't think that the purpose of my life is to learn how to overcome eating donuts.

The bottom line is this....Salvation is not obtained through works. You cannot be good enough, self-controlling enough, or self introspective enough to be safe on a planet where we all are going to die. You cannot hold back the tide and you cannot avoid all harm. We don't live on a planet where if you are good you get only good, and if you are bad, only evil, and negative comes your way.  Did I deserve cancer?   If I behave good enough will I be spared? It doesn't work that way.

In earthly life we have very little control.  I suggest that we focus on what we can do.  We can control our attitude. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to do the best job that we can with whatever life throws at us. We can live our life in love, rather than in hate, at war, or fighting against and with our eyes solidly on the prize. We can hold our heads up and keep going.

Salvation is obtained by confessing our sins to God. We need to pray and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and to teach us how to be in relationship with him. We need to accept the gift he gave us when he died for our sins and we need to remember the miracle of how he defeated death.  He is preparing a wonderful place for us to all be together in once we vacate this life and these bodies.

When you stop and think about all that has happened and all that will happen, is there really any reason to waste time and energy on the hows and whys?  I certainly don't feel the need to be angry or sad for long when I think about all that I have now, and all that I have to look forward to.

Why did I get cancer?   Shucks, I don't know.   But I know this, I plan to squeeze as much life, love and opportunity out of this life, and then the one on the other side.   Who is with me?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Psalm 30 Thanksgiving for Deliverance From Death

Psalm 30:1-5

I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast lifted me up, and hast not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried out to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me.

O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name.

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.

I just wanted to share these verses for those of you who are praying. God's word is filled with promises that he does not want his children to be afflicted, to be sick or to die in sickness. God is a good father who wants His children to be well.

That not only is a promise for me but for you. It is not meant for only serious illness' but for every illness and includes even afflictions of the heart. If you are feeling sad, depressed, stressed, overwhelmed or are suffering with a serious illness remember Psalm 30.

I hope your day is filled with pleasant surprises, smiles and blessings.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Coach Purse Addiction


Thanks for outing me on the blog regarding my newly developed taste for fine purses made by Coach. 

I had a client, whom we will refer to as Client X, felt that she was taking advantage of my time and energy and wished that she could find some way to repay me.  I told her to "get over it" as I was happy with the amount I was being paid for sessions (part of the problem was that we were doing multiple sessions weekly and I can only charge her insurance 1 time per week so I was charging her the normal "co-pay" for the additional sessions).  Since she could not get past it I suggested she tip me from time to time to ease her conscious or try to "get over it." 

One day I received an email from her asking if the "tip" could be in the form of a Coach purse.  At the time I thought that this was utterly ridiculous and was quite happy with my purse that Huy bought me in Vietnam when he was courting me.  I continued to think it over and asked her if she really needed to feel better and stated several times that it was unnecessary.  She stated that she planned to get rid of it anyway and it would do her a big favor.  So I relented.  Huge mistake.  Hold on while I check my email and find out when this was exactly.

OK folks, it is worse than I thought as this occurred in the beginning of June.  It is now September and I am sad to say that multiple Coach purses, wallets, briefcase and business tote later, it is pretty solidly set in.  Shortly after she gave me the purse, I looked on and saw how much they are. Then I went to Florida and Mom presented me with the brown beauty (that I so deftly slipped in my suitcase).  All of this I was able to take in stride until Courtney ( Coach purse aficionado) recognized them as Coach and fussed over them and the rest they say is history.

I try to tell myself that it all stems out of my need to focus on something positive but the sheer totality of this addiction is staggering.  Jimmy has found me some real major bargains in her weekend travels and I have scored some beauties in my Craigslist career.  It is hopeless.  Even now as I write I am itching to check Craigslist for Coach purses.  I shake my head at myself.

They say that confession is good for the soul and perhaps confession to this blog audience and having people ask me if I have bought any lately will help me to stop.  I sincerely doubt it and secretly hope it doesn't, but we will see.  I put it to you like this....Is there anything wrong with having fabulous purses?  Is there anything wrong with a little self-indulgence?  Ok, as a therapist I know that too much self-indulgence is not good but I am grasping at straws here.  I Love Coach.  There, I said it.  Call me a blood sucking weasel but I stand behind my decision to accept the gift from my mother and the right to delight in fabulous purses.  I am a girl!!!


An Email Message From a Beloved Friend

(either you guys will post them or I will!!!)

Subject: Your Journey
Just want you to know how inspirational your blog is. I put it on my facebook and a lot of people are following her story. Susan handles all of this with such grace and dignity. She has an inner peace and joy that is absolutely amazing. My words for heal are:
That is what healing does. Susan has done so much good and is capable of helping so many more people, I can't help but think that God, in all his mercy, will send us a miracle. Please keep writing!

You said it Jimmy.  She is one remarkable woman and I am so proud to call her daughter and best friend.  (and "blood-sucking weasel" which is what she calls herself when she finds herself the receipent of fine gifts and treasures (like my Coach purse).   She tries to pretend "it is too much" all the while it is deftly slipped into her suitcase.   Oh, she has us figured out and plays her hand very well indeed).  Now why can't she figure out that weasels don't suck blood?