Monday, November 16, 2009

Darn it!

Hi I am back. So, I thought about this before - if you want to know more about my journey, go all the way back to 2007...
Here is my thought today. There was a lady that came up to me one time in my computer lab and we talked for about an hour. She is a Director here at the University. Well, she had breast cancer 10 years ago.....and now it is back as I found out today. I am mad. I don't think that is right, but it is what we "survivors" always fear, that it'll come back. We talked for another hour ;-) and she will be in my thoughts from today on. And what it really comes down to, no matter what, we appreciate and are grateful for family when it gets to be tough times. Her husband the first time around was not so great, he actually was scared. Now, this time, he is embracing it and helping fight it with eating the right type of foods.

So, for those that think that life goes back to "normal" it really never does, or shall I say, I am lucky that I have not lost the zest for looking at some of the small things in life and have wonderment about other things. There are no right or wrong answers, there are just our journeys.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The last posting...or for now ta ta

I have thought and thought how to end this blog. See, I don't want you to think that cancer got the best of me...and I am no longer here. Lets just say - cancer did get the best of me - or brought out the best of me. It has been such a long journey. I don't know how people do this for years and years.

Starting my third year of school, I am so close to getting towards the goal of PhD. But, everything has been for a reason. See, I do think that if I did not have my program, I would had struggled so hard during this battle. There are a few things that I have learned, the first is that family is so important. For a while, I did not pay attention to this and compromised myself and my relationships. Just as important is to hold close those that support you, really support you for being you. I found that I had given up so much over the last 12 years of "me". I had turned myself into someone that really just cared about making life great from the outside, but on the inside knew I was losing myself. I know that there are many people out there that continue with life as the way it is. For me, thrown in my face were the facts, either I change my situation, or someone else will. During my time of hurt, pain and just plain icky times, I took a hard look at my fellow "spa mates" that sat in the chemo chair next to me or across from me. When I looked, I saw when the chips were down, most people rallied around that spa mate. For me, my nurses rallied around me and made me feel as if this was just another day, just another chemo.

Through this process as you may or may have not noticed that my relationship with my husband suffered. And yes, for the first time I need to come out and say that it did not survive and now I find myself divorced. Because of cancer, no, but it may have happened later down the road. It is best for me and I hold guilt as part of being who I am. No one really does understand when I was crying out for help while on steroids - I was so mean and I know that affects Lilli. I know it and hold guilt for that. As my sister said with "spoiling" my child. Think about how long I felt like shit, so for a short time when I felt good I did spoil her. For that is the truth and maybe now I am having to deal with my actions. I just try to do the best that I can, and sometimes that is not great, but I try.

Cancer, it is still odd that I went through what I did. I have one more surgery to correct the plastic surgery that I had done, the "dog ears" on either side of my stomach. This summer was the first time that I was really happy that I went through the reconstructive surgery and don't have to worry about one of my boobs being gone.

Do I think the cancer will come back - yes I do. I am 44 and do think that my "good" lumpectomy boob at some point will go. But, I am going to try and not think about it. I'll cross that when I cross it. Until then, I am going to live my life as I want to with the idea of being kind.

Where do I go from here? Keep going, one foot infront of the next. Keep on appreciating my family and friends. Continuing being grateful for what I have learned during this journey.

I may pop back in here now and again but I would like to leave you with a poem and posting that my friend sent me.

"I feel like you've been a caterpillar, eating up every bit of strength and wisdom and courage before you went into the you are ready to be the butterfly and fly high in the sky in mind, body, spirit and love. I know I'm sounding very corny, but I really do see you....a monarch butterfly (or a Hot Air Balloon!)"

poem by Raymond Carver when I think about you; it's called Last Fragment.

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, tofeel myself
Beloved on the earth.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Since there has not been too much going on, I just thought I would write about too much....hear me out on this one. In general, I can consider myself cancer free. That is the good news. And, now I can step into my next few years and breathe a bit. When everything is so raw, I wanted to remember my real feelings about what was going on. I watched a segment of GMA with Robin Roberts, and she described her cancer (as she is now the poster gal for breast cancer) as done and she can put that chapter to rest and move on. My cancer was diagnosed about one month after hers, and we were about the same when it came to treatments, mine was lagging. But here is what I struggle with. And if you are prude - do not read this - but the truth be known, I do not have a nipple, I have a boob that is from fat in my stomach, I have a scar that goes hip to hip and in reality, I do not even think of my "good' boob and having anything wrong with it, until I remember - less than a year ago I had a lumpectomy.

As life starts being "normal" I still stick to me as writing this chapter, and doing my darnedest to close it an move on. I have a feeling that this summer will help with that. As I said, not much going on with me, but one side effect of feeling crappy for some time is that now I tend to over do things. I took 15 hours this semester, 5 classes - most Phd students take 2-3 classes a semester. But no, I had to over do it and on top of it try to juggle all of the craziness a 43 year old has to deal with. Well, for some 43 year olds - they don't have a very very very strong willed daughter...OK, that makes it a bit tougher. Still, I just could do no more at a point and now am trying to keep going. This summer, I'll get back into the swing of my "getting healthy from the core" and trying to deal with my bum knees. I am still convenienced that my tamoxifen has something to do with it.

This summer, I am going to dive a bit more into this happiness thing, it is really just amazing to me and I think that there is really a need to understand where it comes from and how to promote it.

Until then,
Peace be with you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Gratitude for Friendship

This has been a heck of a week for me - I went to Ojo last weekend and really enjoyed it. Not really the warm waters, nor the pedicure, it was that I had the pleasure to spend 2 hours up there and then 2 hours back in the car with a friend. I have not seen this friend in close to a year - and although we email and facebook - there is nothing like shared windshield time. I did have to reflect on how funny it was back in about 1998 when she would come and travel with me - I was so scared to have her in my car (she was my boss and I always feared I was doing something wrong because I loved my job so much....). But it was the ease of the talk from one thing to the next, sometimes not even finishing and back to a different story. And, although we have many of the same professional interests, we never talked about work until we stopped at a Starbucks close to my house. But, even then, it was a fun thing, our lives are parallel again. From that comes what I have written about so many times here, which is that friendship and the ease of authentic friendship. Today I went to lunch with my boss from my internship last summer. She is a real nice person. You know, just really nice. She has accepted a job in Tampa and is moving over the next month or so, we talked for almost 3 hours at lunch. Again, it was the ease and sharing, being excited about the newness of her opportunity. And it occurred to me, through my journey - it has been my friends that I have held onto for dear life. The friends that called me or just dropped a line. And, now looking back, that is the most important which is having the will and the way to reach out when you have to. I am on facebook and have re-connected with some other friends, and to be honest, I allow only certain people in - why - because - and this may sound weird is that I want to have a connection with most of them. So anyhow - I have talked about Steve Porter before - he died last year and was the CEO of IHG when I was there. Why I bring him up is that his was authentic in how he dealt with people - at all levels. So, when I contemplate how I want to live the "rest of my life" I really want to live it. That includes making sure to get the good stuff while I am still here on this planet - not after I am gone. The following is from the facebook page and I'll leave it at that for tonight. Peace be with you.

Steve was an outstanding individual. A man of complete integrity and one of the leading hoteliers of his generation, he was enthusiastic and passionate in everything he did. He was, in every sense, a real ‘people person’ and felt as comfortable in the break room as he did in the Boardroom.
Recent News
Steve Porter to receive the Meetings, Conventions and Exhibitions Industry's Highest HonorSent by Corporate Communications, 24 March 2009 Steve Porter, along with four other meetings, conventions, exhibition and travel industry pioneers will join 97 fellow leaders immortalized in the Convention Industry Council's (CIC) Hall of Leaders. Steve was selected from a group of extraordinary nominees representing the most outstanding leaders and innovators in the industry. The honorees will be inducted at the 2010 Hall of Leaders Gala in January held in conjunction with the Professional Convention Management Association's Annual Meeting.Memorial of Steve PorterThe ceremony took place in the hills high above LA on a bright, sunny day. It was a wonderful setting and a number of people commented that it was a place that truly suited Steve - very impressive and somehow just right.The ceremony was very moving. The minister spoke many kind words to help us remember all that Steve had stood for and what he meant to those who had the privilege to know him. For all of us, however, I am sure it was the few, poignant words spoken by his two sons, Steve Jr. and Charlie that will stay in our minds. They related what their father had meant to them in a number of ways, but both commented that they would always remember Steve’s optimism and words of comfort that he had so often said to them - "don't worry, it will be alright." We will remember Steve for a long time to come, but he left us with fond memories, a great strategy and a strong business that we will move forward.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gratitude thoughts

I heard this on Human Kind it was about happiness. I loved it and then I went to go find the link, and behold - you have to pay for it. So, oh well, you just get me saying it. Here is what it comes down to - people that meditate seem to be happier in life. And, the also tend to be good people to be around. When talking about happiness, it is not about the things you have in life, rather, about the life you have. Yes so true. I do think that here in USofA, there is some type of expectation of how things should be with your car, house, life etc. When in reality it is not about things - it is about the here and now. As I was talking to someone the other day we spoke of being healthy from the inside out. Really being healthy in mind and spirit with the body to follow. In by doing things, getting out and seeing the pretty mountains. Sure we choose how we live, and for me, I would rather have a comfortable living than to struggle with the day to day things that make life hard. I am not going to go to a scary part of town just to know the feeling of scary. Life does not have to be that hard.

I am switching subjects here - I have gray hair. Yes I do. So, I think what I'll end up doing is playing with some "streaks" in my hair. See how that works. Trust me - I am not complaining - just saying.

I am really looking forward to my friends birthday. This is my first "girls night" OK - it'll be 1 day and 1 night out. We are heading to Ojo Caliente and I can't wait. It is a place with natural springs to soak in. Try as I might - I am out of shape. I really don't care - I do care - but too late to care. I have never really enjoyed the massage stuff but I do enjoy the manicure and pedicures for sure. And, that is what I am getting. Splurging if you will. Although it is really busy as far as school work, we have been planning this for a long time.

Four Ways to Give Thanks

These simple tips will help you to cultivate gratitude in your daily life.

BY: Catherine Price

Reprinted from Greater Good Magazine, Vol. IV, Issue 1. Used with permission.

Research in positive psychology has identified several ways that practicing gratitude can boost people's health and happiness. Here are four of these research-tested "gratitude interventions."

1. Write a gratitude letter.
Research by Martin Seligman, Christopher Peterson, and others has shown this one to be particularly effective. Write a letter to a mentor, family member, or some other important person in your life whom you've never properly thanked. Deliver it in person. Read it out loud. Bring tissues.

2. Keep a gratitude journal.
Studies by psychologists Michael McCullough, Robert Emmons, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and others have backed up this exercise, which involves keeping a list of things for which you're grateful—anything from your children or spouse to the beauty of the tree outside your window. Doing so helps you focus on the positive things in your life—a practice that's been shown to increase happiness.

3. Savor.
Take the time to notice beauty and pleasures in your daily life. Loyola University psychologist Fred Bryant has shown that savoring positive experiences can heighten your positive responses to them. A key to savoring is what Bryant calls "thanksgiving," or expressing gratitude for the blessings that come your way, large and small.

4. Think outside the box.
It's fairly obvious why we might feel grateful for grandmothers, lovely sunsets, and anything else that has provided comfort or beauty in our lives. But what about thanking the homeless people who come to the shelter where you volunteer? "Individuals who do volunteer work sometimes speak of the benefits they receive from service," writes Robert Emmons in his forthcoming book, Thanks! "Since service to others helped them to find their own inner spirituality, they were grateful for the opportunity to serve." If we look hard enough, he argues, we can find a reason to feel grateful for any relationship—even when someone does us harm, as that person helps us appreciate our own vulnerability. Emmons claims that such highly advanced forms of gratitude may actually increase the level of goodness in the world by inspiring positive acts in ourselves and others.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Today is a day

Trust. Trust is a huge thing. I trust. Let me tell you about trust. Trust is that you can share something on the deepest level and that person has your back. That is trust. I speak of trust because for me, it is essential in everything that I do. Once the trust is gone, it is gone. Very rarely do I give that trust back.

Another thought - doing the right thing for the right reasons. Here is what I heard today in my business class, talking about doing the right things and the right times. So, it got me wondering what I do. Throughout the last few years, even before my cancer, I started on a journey of figuring out how to be kind. Not the, be kind to a person one time, but really to be kind and have a kind heart. I think I already to have a kind heart, but years of competitive business, makes some of us a bit hardened. So, a person can pull back and then decide to be more of the person that they want to be. Kindness is not so far from me, but yet - I need to be reminded that it is a part of me and needs to be even moreso. Round and round this post goes and where it'll stop, nobody knows.

I just read that my cousin has to go through chemo. That sucks and brings back many memories for me. 6 rounds, that is not too bad, but still, that is a long haul in the short term. Although I know that she can do this - it is still hard. And it is personal. We all go through it differently. I'll be grabbing some of my scarves that I have left and sending them on to her. My emotion when I read that from her was anger. It really is anger that she has cancer and she is young. She will beat it, but it will be a heck of a journey. She also will one up me. She goes through radiation. Thank heavens I never had to do that. With my skin, could you imagine I would be red blotchy all over.

So - there are random thoughts from me today. The thoughts that are in my head, most don't make it here to the blog, they stay in my head.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The power of a hug.  An authentic hug.  This is what I felt and witnessed today.  The exchange was between a professor and a student.  I did not know what the relationship was, but the energy that I felt - the true sense of being an authentic person to person, human to human and the joy that they shared when they saw each other was great.  The amazing part is that the older person (professor) most likely had no idea of the impact she had on other people.  Amazing stuff if you take the time to just stand back and observe.  

Everyday little things.  So, my insurance is going to change.  The good news is that the insurance is back to what it was before.  Great news for Lilli's doc!  Can't wait to see her.  Then as the conversation turned to me, oh my - am I going to have to change to a new oncologist?  That is a heavy thing that I have never felt before.  As the words were coming out of my mouth, my husband said "I have to change too" - and I guess daggers could be see shooting off the car ceiling.  I answered - "Have you had cancer and oncologist that you would see on a weekly basis?".  I have never been really good with zingers - can't think on my feet and I am really a reflective learner - have to think about thinking about something. ;-)  Alas, my cancer center takes the new insurance and I am very happy.  No more stress about that - onto other stressors.  

I wrote something down on Sunday and forgot it at work - so I am paraphrasing.  What was said is that we are the agents of change and not victims.  When we see that we are the ones that need change - and not being a victim, that is the true sense of transformation.  Funny thing, as I was listening, and they were talking about transformation - I could only think - you have part of it correct - I have learned so much about transformation, triggers, journeys and the like.

Kids say the funniest things.  So, don't tell anyone, just between us, on my Iphone I have all different songs.  In my crappy car I have an adaptor - tape that I plug in so my phone works in the speakers.  Anyway - we crank up Pink, Sheryl Crow, Lily Allen and Mamma Mia.  Bowling for Soup "Greatest Day" gets us rocking in the morning.  And, above all, I play the air drums.  Who needs guitar hero when you can rock out with a 4 year old.  Dance like no one is looking, hell, sing like no one cares.  You know why - I don't care if you see me air drumming.  Sorry that you can be in the car with me!  Oh - Lilli says that I must be 1000 years old......nice!

Enough for one day.  So "how are you doing today" fine I say....fine - that is my mom's word....I feel 75% physically and about 110% mentally.  Somewhere in the middle is "fine".  Today I feel empowered and really am grateful for what I know is today.  Tomorrow, that is another day.  Another day to say "look, it is our lucky day - we see a balloon!".

Peace be with you.