Saturday, April 30, 2011

First You Cry

Guest Blogger Dianne McInerney

 We who are privileged to know Susan Comeau Nguyen, recognize that she is an amazing woman. She is facing one of life’s most difficult challenges with dignity, aplomb and the wisdom of one who knows many of life’s secrets.  It is no surprise then that she practices so beautifully the art of helping others.  Susan has much to give.  Today, however, I want to talk about another aspect of her arduous battle. That is the demanding, gut-wrenching role of loved ones who must watch terrified from the sidelines, unable to stop the monster from advancing…unable to stop the heart from breaking…unable to make it all go away.

     Just as Susan gives of herself from a heart that has been scarred and made wiser, I too speak from difficult experience.  I was not made to watch my daughter fight cancer.  My war was with a monster of a different color.  During the 1990’s, two of my three daughters were hospitalized with anorexia.   Suzanne, my oldest, started her battle with food at 12 years old.  Sue’s best friend moved away.  She fell into a deep depression that was manifested by turning away from all pleasure, including eating.  Soon her new-found sense of control ran away with itself and my daughter found herself drowning in a problem she could not fix.  We adults in her life cried, agonized, suffered in a way that words can not describe, and eventually sought the therapeutic help that my daughter needed to become whole again.

     During those 8 years my youngest daughter felt alone and out-of-control.  She, too, began to starve herself.   At 18 years old and 5’6” my precious child starved herself down to 71 pounds, was asked to leave her college (for health reasons) and was hospitalized with malnutrition and dehydration.  From my perspective, she for whom I would lay down my own life, was throwing her life away.  Broken and battle-weary, I sought to understand my own feelings in this disaster.  I searched through libraries and book stores trying to find words of wisdom for those who must watch and weep.  There were none.  Finally in desperation I interviewed 100 families slogging through the same mess I was given and wrote the words myself.

     Much to my surprise I found that although these families had their own unique stories to tell, ALL families had several things in common.  And their insights are universal for those of us who are part of our suffering loved-ones journey. 

     The first insight applies to caretakers everywhere.  Take care of yourself!  No matter how impossible it seems to find time for yourself amidst all of the responsibilities your loved-one’s battle causes for you, you must find “YOU TIME.”  If you do not refuel you will not run the race set before you.  The more you are needed, the more you will need to refuel.

    Next, remember to communicate.  Ladies, if your daughter who was once a great pal and talker can no longer share with you, then you develop friendships and communicate your hurts, your fears and your joys there.  Your needs have not changed just because of your new circumstances.  Now more than ever you need to see your needs met.  Most women need to share.   Let that sharing carry you forward.

     Men.  You want to fix things.  After all, you fixed your child’s toys.  You fixed their bicycles.  You made sure to have a college fund.  You provided a safe automobile.  Please understand that you can not fix this.  This monster (whatever the monster may be) is your loved-one’s battle to fight.  That knowledge will make you angry.  It will frustrate you.  It will make you feel like a failure.  But the fact is your warrior needs to hear your heart.  He or she needs to feel your support and encouragement in the battle.  Do you wish you could make it all go away?  Say so.  Do you hate what is happening with a passionate, vengeful hatred?  Tell her.  Your communication will fix broken self esteem and a battle-weary soul.
     Finally, remember faith.  Nothing is hopeless.  Love can grow in wartime.  Lessons can be learned in times that defy your belief.  Cherishing grows deeper, bonds become stronger and life itself becomes more precious as you face the unthinkable.   Pray with all your might but leave your palms open to receive the gifts as you do. And yes, there will be gifts.  Adversity is the pathway to life’s sweetest gifts if we have a heart to understand them.

     None of us will leave this earth unscarred.  We who love others will all face times of watching our loved ones bear things we never wanted them to bear.  Those who love us will also go through the same thing as we must face our own trials.  It is my prayer that the principles I learned in my hard times will be helpful to you in yours.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Ode to Our Angel

To Our Daughter, Mary

You were born and died on April 26, 1975, 36 years ago today.  I carried you 7.2 months and you weighed 2.2 pounds.  Although we never held you in our arms, you have been in our hearts all these years.  Your Dad and I, Susan and Tracey (your two older sisters) planted a little clump of 4 White Birch trees at our home in your memory, one tree for each of us who loved you and were sad that God took you away so soon.  36 years later those trees are now huge, reaching towards the heavens and growing closer to you every year.  Someday, maybe you can show us around the home you have been living in all these years and we can have a big family reunion. You also have a brother, Scott and now a nephew, Tan.   We all look forward to getting to know you throughout eternity. Happy Birthday!!   We love you.


ps, I hope the other angels throw you a party today

Monday, April 25, 2011

Feeling Good Is The First Step To Living Your Best Life

Reprinted from Mom's new to get your life

Have you ever heard the expression that "what you spend your time doing is who you are"?  What about this expression..."nothing tastes as good as being thin feels"...have you heard that one"?  I have spent a lot of time in the last year and a half thinking about living, weight, and health.  If you are not familiar with my story then I should inform you that I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer in October 2009.

Since that diagnosis, I have had an abundance of time to contemplate a wide variety of subjects and big among them to get my life back.  You see, I didn't want to just be alive, I wanted to live..really live.  For me, really living is squeezing all the juice out of good living and feeling good about myself in the process.  It is really hard to have a lot of enjoyment in your daily living if you don't feel good about yourself.

Over the last year and a half my weight has fluctuated tremendously.  In the begining my weight dropped rapidly as the cancer really took hold.  Then with the first and second round of chemotherapy, steroids, and anti-estrogen medications my weight has begun to climb.  It has been a real emotional roller coaster and my body-image and satisfaction with my appearance has taken a beating.  I want to weigh less but I also want to be healthy.  When you have cancer it is not quite as simple as going on a diet and losing a few pounds.

I have gotten permission to take off some weight if Ido it in a slow and healthy way.  I will keep you informed of my progress by posting on this blog  (  Living my best life means that I am feeling good, looking good and have energy to keep up with my two year old. 

I am inspired by my mother and the recent success and new found excitement she is experiencing.  I have some of that, thank you very much.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Today is the day that we celebrate Jesus Christ being raised from the dead to live again after He was crucified on the cross thereby giving us the gift of salvation.  He came and walked among us but was without sin Himself.  He willingly took on our sins as part of God's plan to redeem us so that we could return to relationship with Him and end the separation. John 3:16- 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.

Easter has always been a favorite holiday of mine because of the hope that it brings and the promise of renewal.  I think I also really enjoyed Easter because it occurs around my bithday. I grew up in Maine which is well known for the long gray winters. Easter ushers in spring, which is a marvelous sight to behold as everything springs back to life in such cheerful ways.

Like spring, I also feel that I have begun to come back to life.  God has truly heard our prayers and as the cancer recedes my body is springing back to life.  Everyday I am making strides back to a feeling of health and vitality.  I am able to work more.  I able to stand long enough to do more cooking and cleaning and even though doing the dishes hurts my back I am growing stronger and stronger.

I want to thank God for allowing me the time that I have and for the future time that He will give me to be with my family and to serve my community.  I want to thank those of you who have so blessed me with your prayers and petitions.  I believe that my good health is a direct result of the petitioning we have agreed upon and have made.  If you look to the right of this post you will see an orange heading for "A Scripture and Prayer Petition for Susan Rebecca" which is a collection of verses and petitions that many of you have been praying over me.

Included in that petition are the following verses:

Jeremiah 29:11-14a
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you…

Mark 11:22-24
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted. “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.”

I leave you then with this verse...

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

I am celebrating Easter today with a glad heart.  I am praising God for my good health and I am thankful to you who have so faithfully prayed for me.  I believe it has made all the difference.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Caregiver becomes the cared for

I have spent a lot of my time as a professional taking care of others.  When I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Psychology and I began working at the Center for Prevention of Domestic Violence.  I worked in the Safehouse for battered women and took care of countless mothers and children.  My passion for caring for others in this capacity went outside the lines multiple times and I have never felt bad about it.

Photo by Jessica Dow
Once in the middle of the night I picked up a woman wearing a hospital issued paper dress who clearly had not eaten in days so I stopped and bought her a meal from a fast food restaurant with my own money.  I could have waited until we got back to the shelter and let her find something in the kitchen but that didn't feel right to me. I remember a two year old girl, the second to youngest of four, whom I cared for while working for hours.  I don't remember her name but I called her Mike because she had a habit of biting another boy about her age who was also in the shelter.  I would put her in a bouncy chair and bounce her with my foot while I worked or turn the fan on high and blast her with bubbles by holding the stick up to the fast moving air (a technique I developed after sore cheeks from blowing).

I could entertain you for hours with stories of clients I have cared for over the years.  I am proud of the many people that I have helped.  Caring for people became a badge of honor and a big part of my identity.  I suppose that caring for people was part of my comfort zone because I can honestly say that I was pretty uncomfortable changing positions.  I would work a good 60 hours a week and eat food on the run because I enjoyed my work so much.  At times I wonder if these unhealthy habits contributed in part or might have been responsible for my health issue now.

When first faced with becoming a care receiver I had to grit my teeth laying in bed in pain at the thought of being waited on.  It hurt every independent fiber in my body to rely on others to care for my baby and assist me with the activities of daily living.  My stubborn little self spent many an hour thirsty or hungry because I did not want to impose on my family members.  I know that my parents love me and would move heaven and earth to help me.  It was never a burden in their eyes bringing me food, getting me a drink, or doing anything else to help me.

I cannot say the same about my husband.  My cancer diagnosis and loss of independence invoked a spirit of fear in him.  Taking sole care of the baby during the day along with the very real possibility of raising him without me was overwhelming to him.  He had a real problem with getting me food or something to drink.  He was afraid that I would become accustomed to being waited on and then expect this of him for the rest of our marriage.  I know it sounds horrible.  I just need to remind you that cancer is a family crisis that affects everyone in the family and everyone reacts differently in crisis.

In my husband's case as I began to improve and was able to do more and more things for myself his helpfulness increased.  He accepted that my requests for help were based on my need and that when I didn't need help I didn't ask for help.  We have had many conversations about his reactions to my illness and he is not proud of his behavior.  At times he still struggles with how to give me emotional support.

Today my situation is greatly improved.  I am able to cook, to do more cleaning around the house, and to work a lot more weekly therapy appointments.  I still get very tired and my ability to walk around and move easily deteriorates each night to the extent that I have been active that day.

I do not know if Breast Cancer arrived to teach me spiritual lessons but I think it would be hard to have this experience and not gain wisdom.  I have blogged before about the fact that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin.  You simply cannot have one without the other.  I am peeling back more layers of learning on how to ask for help in my life and how to receive gracefully.  I feel like a sulky girl who hates math class.  I am not enjoying these lessons.  Well heck, I have never enjoyed these lesson on receiving.  Some of them have been pretty harsh.  I had gotten pretty good, nearly expert level in the short game but when the game lasted for years rather than hours, days or a few weeks, I found myself cast back to beginner level.

I am interested on how you have handled this lesson  in your life.  Please comment or put together your own blog on the topic.

I am honored that you have taken the time to read this post and my blog.  Thank you.


PS:  No husbands were harmed in the writing of this blog

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?

When a person has cancer good news can get a little thin.  Especially when we are talking good news that pertains to health.  Last month I was quite thrilled to find that my tumor markers were down to 241 (remember that below 36 is normal).  Today I was even more thrilled to learn that they have gone down even further to 196.

It is important to note here that tumor markers are not to be used to determine if you have cancer as it is not considered reliable. Also rather than alter the course of treatment based on one reading, it is preferable to take a series of readings in an effort to note if the numbers are increasing or decreasing.  They may refer to this as a "serial measurement" and the overall trend will give your Doctor a better idea of what is happening with your illness.

Following chemotherapy I began to take the oral anti-estrogen Aromasin.  I am now taking the generic form of that called Exemestane.  I did not hold much hope that this oral form of medication would help as I have been a couple of different anti-estrogen pills and my tumor markers rose to the point that I needed chemotherapy.  In addition to Exemestane I also take a sleep medication and Gabapentin to help control the symptoms of menopause like the bad headaches that were disturbing my sleep.

One of my very generous clients sells Juice Plus Brand Vitamins and gave me a supply because she was convinced that this would help me.  She claimed that it would do wonders for my health and assist me in combating fatigue.  I was rather skeptical but I can honestly say that I feel quite wonderful and noticeably better when I take the vitamins then when I do not.  I know that there are a lot of products out there and a lot of people pushing them.  I think that this is worth looking into so check them out.  If you are interested then shoot me an email and I will give you my client's website. 

I am still whoop whooping about my tumor markers reaching a new low.  You might be able to hear me from where you are.


A Pay It Forward Opportunity– OK City Police Officer Chad Peery

Written by Karen Kingsbury
Originally posted on Facebook.  Reposted with permission

Want your name in one of my books? Want to help a paralyzed Oklahoma City police officer? I know you do, because you're my friends and I love you all!!

Okay, then once again, friends, we have the chance to pull together for a very great cause.

On Valentine’s Day of this year, Oklahoma City police officer Chad Peery was off duty having dinner with his father at a downtown restaurant, when three men in the back of the establishment began causing a commotion. The owner requested help in having the three leave the building. Chad was off-duty, but he was an officer, brave and ready to help 24-7. Tragically, as Chad escorted the men to the door, they turned on him. He was badly beaten and left paralyzed by the incident.

While the three men await trial, Chad is in rehab every day, all day, learning to live without the use of his legs and arms. Chad is married, and father to four children age 9, 7, 6 and 3. The citizens of Oklahoma City are pulling together to help Chad and his family, but he is in desperate need of money to make his home handicapped accessible and to purchase a special van.

Here’s where we come in.

I’d like to make Chad Peery a character in one of my books through my Forever in Fiction program. Our goal? To raise $100,000 for the Peery family.

If you will make a donation of $200 or more to the Chad Peery Fund, people on his team will give me your name, and I will place your name in the acknowledgments of the book where Chad Peery will be Forever in Fiction. I will present the link for donation in the next week or so. That gives you, your family, your work group or church group or school group time to come up with $200 so that your name or group name can be placed in my book ... time to think of ways to help Officer Peery and his family.

If $200 is a bit much for you, here’s the challenge: Come together as a work group or with other families or neighborhoods, join forces with the members of your Sunday School class or your club or team. Rally the students at your school. Give the $200 as a group and your group’s name will be mentioned in the acknowledgments same as it will be if you donate as an individual. You may also donate the $200 in memory of someone. You will have the chance to make that designation clear when you donate.

Friends, this is an extraordinary opportunity to show the world what the readers of Life-Changing Fiction ™ are capable of, how we can come together in faith, and with Christ’s love help out a man who represents all those who serve our country.

Chad Peery is a hero.

Please, friends, let’s show him our appreciation and meet this goal together. My amazing publisher Zondervan is allowing me 500 spots in the acknowledgments of that book – which will release in 2012. You have until July 1 to make your donation.

Thanks so much, friends. I love how we can make a difference together, changing lives and bringing glory to God. Love you all!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Boo Boo Bunny

My son will be two years old on April 20 and I am so shocked by this.  I feel more than a bit saddened by how quickly the time has passed because I was sick for much of it.  I remember thinking that the pain in my back was simply a result of the baby getting bigger and my being out of shape.  That was in late September and I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer a few weeks later.

In the short 24 months of his life I have spent 10 of those months on chemotherapy.  Six months of his life I was unable to lift him up because the cancer caused a compression fracture in my back.  I do not even know how many months I have been hardly able to walk.  I do know that at least 12 of his 24 months I have been worthless due to fatigue after 6 pm at night.  From the very day that I came home from the hospital following my cancer diagnosis I have only spent a handful of nights sleeping next to him.

If I wanted to, I could sink into a pool of self pity or burn with ferocious anger over the enormous price I have paid on cancer's behalf.  Instead, I am going to make a conscious choice to have an attitude of praise that I can be here to celebrate this momentous occasion of his second birthday.  I have had many an opportunity to cuddle with him and watch videos or movies on the very laptop I am using to write this blog post.  A very thoughtful gift to me from my doting mother who wished she could be here in person to entertain us instead.

From a very early age he has been a very exuberant child and a major jokster.  He loves to laugh and be silly.  He also loves to cuddle and is finally getting generous about handing out some sweet kisses with a smack on the end.  He is a big fan of Toy Story movies and he loves to be outside.  Every night when he gets to my Dad's house he has to go on a walk about.  He likes to check out the car and the mailbox and climb the hill by the pool.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Bunny


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Following This Blog

We are averaging about 100 hits a day on this blog.  I am so thrilled every time I check the stats.  If you regularly tune in to read the blog and have not already done so....please consider becoming a follower.  As always feel free to comment and if you have some topics you would like me to blog about please email me at  I am always interested in hearing from would be guest bloggers so if you have something you want to write please send that to me as well.  

Thanks for reading!


Friday, April 15, 2011

A Prayer of Serenity for Shelly

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.  ~Albert Schweitzer

If a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there is anything you can do.  Think up something appropriate and do it.  ~Edgar Watson Howe

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.  ~Elisabeth Foley

I have been thinking about making an effort to connect and re-connect the friends and the very sculptors of who I am.  Friendship is an investment that you make in assisting a person on their pursuit of who they are.

I found myself lucky enough to spend a delightful evening with a good friend.  Our paths do not cross very often but I am glad for the time when they do.  She is a breath of fresh air.  She is animated.  She is witty.  I love her creativity and her view on things.  I am so drawn to her and have been since I first saw her.  For me, it falls nothing short of hero worship and I feel silly about it.  I want a Shelly superhero doll for my dresser.

I have had the opportunity to be there for her at times and she has returned the favor.  Tonight she was in the Springs and I was able to pick her up and spend time with her.  When I arrived, she was aghast that I am having an issue with cancer.  She does not tune in to Facebook as frequently as others and had missed the postings.  She had so many questions for me but I wanted to hear about her.

My dear Shelly is in pain and we talked openly about it.  She cried openly.  I could see that her blazing light from before has dimmed a little.  Her countenance was not as brilliant as it usually is.  Life has given her a serious of strategic blows from those close to her.  I grew concerned for her and then I learned that new light bulbs are being suggested to her and she is in the process of transitioning to her next big thing.

Shelly, you are an amazing woman and I know that you will find triumph over this situation but it will have to come to you and through you. I do not think it was a coincidence that we spoke of leaders and followers.  I think it is your turn to be led.  I think you will have a miracle and that God will show himself to you in a very powerful way.  I believe that you will first need to get out of the way.  Allow.  Adjust.  Be open.

I liked hearing about this chapter of transition.  I cannot wait to read the next.  You will keep me posted ...won't you?

Your Buddy, Susan

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daffodil Days

Last year around this time I was finishing up my first round of chemotherapy and one of those days was brightened considerably by Daffodil days.  If you have not heard of this you should check it out.  Apparently it is a time honored tradition by the American Cancer Society and is heralded as their flagship event.

As part of a fund raising event in spring Daffodil's are given to contributors who in turn give them to those affected by cancer as a symbol of hope.  I was quite surprised to receive a little bundle of closed Daffodil's from Rocky Mountain Cancer and from an anonymous donor which I took home and put in water.  The next day they opened and were quite beautiful both for their sunny yellow charm and for their message of hope.

If you would like to participate in this event please note that they take orders in January, February and early March and then deliver them late March.  Daffodils are typically one of the first flowers of spring which is why they are chosen to represent hope.  The proceeds go toward research in the hopes of a future without cancer.
I never knew this about Daffodils and what they symbolize until last year.  For me, Daffodils always reminded me of my mother and when I see them in spring I think of her. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Adventure With Dad

I received several calls from my father wanting to get together since it was my birthday this past Friday.  We thought it would be nice to have lunch or dinner together.  I had to work a lot of appointments Thursday and Friday but I suggested that we have an adventure on Saturday.  I had a specific one in mind.  Dad is the sort of person that is always up for an adventure and he can make it a lot of fun.

One day I was poking around facebook and saw an advertisement for tiny houses and since I love tumbleweed houses by Jay Shaffer, I checked it out.  Someone was selling a very nice tumbleweed house for $12,000 on It was quite pretty and exactly what I imagine I might like.  I began thinking that it might be fun to have a nice little cabin to visit as a weekend get away place. (Not to say that I have any money these days to invest in cabins and real estate but I figured it doesn't hurt to check things out)

The more I thought about it, the more I poked around and came across a few small lots for sale at a very small price around one thousand dollars each.  I knew it was a nice drive and since it was located near Florissant, Colorado it seemed like a good location because there is a lot to do in that area.  Anyhow, it was the perfect scenario for an adventure so off we went.  Dad really enjoyed the sights, especially since he loved all things cowboy as a kid and along the way he kept singing cowboy songs. We met up with the man who was selling the lots and we joined him in his vehicle and he drove us to them.

The view was quite stunning and the area had some nice history.  He had a news article written in the year 1896 describing this development which boasted a great many things that were not true but added to the intrigue.  Unfortunately, I would need a 4 wheel drive vehicle if I decided to buy a lot because my car would not make it in without a bit of risk.  That was strike one.  Strike two and three came as I learned that no electricity would be available now or probably ever and neither would water without drilling my own well.  These lots are owned by folks who really enjoy roughing it and truly like to camp.  I am more of an RV kind of a girl because I like refrigeration and running water as well as real bathroom facilities.

Still, the idea of a little piece of land to play on with the baby had its appeal especially if we could find one that offered a lot of trees.  Along the drive we saw newly born calves being licked by their mothers, horses and even deer.  The mountain views were spectacular and there were even some streams and nice looking ponds.  We imagined picnicking on the tables with my son and letting him experience the country.  That is ranch country and we mused about what names we would pick out if we ever got so lucky.  I think we agreed on the Triple B Ranch because we call my son the Boo Boo Bunny. 

All in all, it will no doubt be a long time before I am in a financial position to make this particular dream a reality but I can tell you it sure made for a nice adventure.  I think when you have a dream you should take some real life action steps toward pursuing it and see what is out there.  Window shopping is an important aspect of dream planning. 

Happy Adventuring Folks!!


Friday, April 8, 2011


Your father and I remember so well the day you were born, and how much joy you brought to our lives then and always.  You were born with a smile on your face and a sparkle in your eyes and nothing has taken them away.  We have watched you grow in stature and wisdom and have seen with pride the impact you have made on the lives of so many people.  You have always been blessed and burdened with a compassionate heart.  When you were a small child and we had to discipline you, a simple frown from us would cause you to repent (I wish that were true when you were a teenager).  When we had to discipline your siblings, you were always the one to burst into tears first. 

You are a special and wonderful person and we are so blessed that God placed you into our arms first.  ps, thanks for Tan Nguyen too.  We never realized our lives were incomplete but we can't imagine life without that little guy to brighten up things up now.  We love you.  Mom and Dad

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Trip Of A Lifetime

When was the last time that you took a week, spent it in a gorgeous location and felt your way through it without planning a moment?  I just recently spent a week in Cancun, Mexico with my best friend Roxanne and we had a blast. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in October 2009 and since then I have not had the energy to travel alone or without a wheelchair.

Fajitas..Senior Frogs
Yes, I am happy to say that I was able to manage all the walking in the airports, retrieve my luggage and then get all the way through immigration and customs and out to where Roxanne was waiting to help me to the car.  Was I worn out?  Absolutely, but I did all right and the reward at the end was amazing.  Honestly, I cannot say if I was more delighted by the beautiful scenery or by the fact that I felt like a normal woman enjoying my life.

In fact, I think that feeling normal is the biggest craving a person with cancer may have.  Cancer can really slow you down and limit or eliminate a lot of activities.  The fatigue can be so consuming that at times I have had to retire for the evening at 6 pm.  This can have a dramatic impact on your social life and your ability to maintain relationships. My relationship with Roxanne has stood the test of time and she is very understanding of my limitations.  
Susan and Roxanne

The really terrific thing about Roxanne is that we can have fun doing absolutely nothing.  We tell each other funny stories and when we run out of new material we revert back to stories we have laughed about in the past and laugh again.  Vacationing with her along with Cancun as a back drop was a very enjoyable experience.  We ate terrific food.  We lazed around on the beach.  We even swam with the dolphins and thereby completed a life long dream.

There were a couple of moments were I felt like a teenager again on a sleep over with no bigger problems than whether or not a particular boy liked me.  Therein lies the magic of having a close friend and keeping her for years and years.  Back in the day, Roxanne and I had lots of adventures, shared a bunch of pivotal life changing experiences and spent plenty of time crying on each other's shoulders.  Spending an entire week with her having fun and feeling like a teenage girl again is an experience I intend to repeat as often as I can.  It helped me reconnect with my core self (the before cancer Susan) and to re-charge my batteries.

I hope that the next trip we take will be one where I will have a glorious head of hair that I can fuss over and style and not have to cover for fear of a scalp burn.  Incidentally, I found the Lycra swim cap on for a very reasonable price.  It is soft and stretchy rather than rubbery so it was very easy to put on and wear comfortably though not designed for keeping you dry.

I also hope that you will seriously consider a little get away with your family or a close friend because we all need a break from our lives.  Be sure and bring your bucket list so you can cross off some real good items and make some great memories.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sometimes the answer is no.

We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.  ~Oswald Chambers

God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.  ~Author Unknown

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sand to Snow

Nancy P writes.."Look there is Hope" regarding her photo
It truly is remarkable that one may touch the sand in Mexico in the morning and then later on that same day, courtesy of air travel, put my feet on the ground in Colorado. Even more mind boggling to be barefoot in the white sand in the morning and then to think how Roxanne must have felt looking at a foot of newly fallen snow when she arrived home in Maine that evening. Yesterday, I was surprised to look out my window and see the large snowflakes of a spring snowstorm.  What a contrast!

Life is full of remarkable contrast if you would only take the time to look for it.  Amazing, mind boggling, heart inspiring contrast that I think is wonderfully depicted in this flower picture. Life is beautiful and strong willed and absolutely intent on surviving.  It pushes through obstacles, grows atop of them and seems to "figure it out" endlessly in nature.  This snow and this flower are close to my heart, but not in the way that you might think.  I love these pictures as I find them inspirational and because I used to live in the house where these pictures were taken.
Cluster of Trees planted by
my family in memoriam
This beautiful clump of birch trees adorn the front of an old home in China, Maine.  I lived there and we planted them together as a family and whenever we can, we drive by to see how well the trees look and to catch a sight of the home.  Planting this tree was a way to take pain and transform it into something beautiful.

The home was sold but the memories remain and we cherish that clump of trees.  I live away in another state and yet to see these pictures posted  on the facebook page of a friend touches me and brings to my mind these contrasts both in the pictures and in my life.  I find that contrast is an ever present part of life.  Health and youth contrasted by sickness and the threat of death.  Connection with old and dear friends while other friends newer and more local grow distant.

Important things coming to a close and other things exciting and promising about to commence.

That is the richness of life because you cannot often have one thing without the other.  Music would not be music if not for the silences, it would then only be noise.  Spring is here, but would we find it so beautiful without the experience of winter?

Life is precious.  It tastes sweeter to me now.  I have achieved many small victories on this portion of my journey and I will be forever grateful that God has brought me to this point, but to be clear, cancer provided the necessary contrast which enables me to feel how blessed I truly am.  I am touched by things that I never noticed before and I feel a deep sense of gratitude.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

There is no place like home

view from our room
Yesterday evening I got home around 8 pm after traveling all day coming home from a week in Cancun, Mexico.  The process of coming home began at 6 am, packing up, checking out, going to the airport, returning the rental car, hopping on a shuttle, checking baggage, security, waiting for flight, the flight, immigration, customs, re-check baggage, shuttle to gate, second flight and finally being greeted and kissed by my son, who is almost two years old.

At the end of it all, climbing into my very cozy bed for a well deserved rest and cuddle seemed like a huge reward.  Huy had succeeded in finding some Blue Bell pistachio almond ice cream, a rare find in Colorado, and we all watched Toy Story 3, in bed, while eating it.  Of course there was a mini meltdown from a tired two year old who thought for a minute that he was not getting ice cream.  I drew the line at letting him eat it with his hands and then all was well.

Cancun was an amazing experience.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and spending that time with Roxanne.  We saw some beautiful sights, lounged on the beach, enjoyed some delicious food, and even swam with the dolphins.  I will be blogging much more about my enjoyable time in Cancun later. For now, let me just say that it is so nice to have a break from one's ordinary routine but there is nothing more pleasurable, in my opinion, than coming back and feeling the sigh of relief to be home.  There is no feeling like the feeling of clean sheets on your own cozy bed.  There is also no greater joy than to have the sweet smelling head of your baby on your shoulder with your husband cuddled in on the other side.