Category Archives: blessings

Finding Your Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

Begin your day with gratitude

Sometimes when we are delivered a blow, like learning that we or a loved one has lung cancer, it is hard to find reasons to be grateful. But, I believe that searching for and finding gratitude, even in the face of adversity, is vital.

MORE…

 

Sing!! Bellow it Out! It’s Good For You!!!

Do you like to sing? Well, guess what? Science says it is good for you to sing.

Benefits of Singing

Prevention magazine lists six ways singing is good for you:

  1. Singing eases your stress and improves your quality of life
  2. It can help you bond
  3. This one is BIG!!! Singing improves immunity in cancer patients!!!
  4. Singing may be good for your heart (it is definitely good for your soul!)
  5. Really? Singing helps curb snoring! (Your significant other may like this!!)
  6. Singing may help people with asthma

Wow! Who knew?

Even though I love it, I am a terrible singer. I used to get such a kick out of my little family when we would be in church. All three of us were singing our hearts out. All on a different key. And none on the same key as the masses. I know our pewmates wished we would just mouth the words!

Usually, that’s just what I do if I am in a crowd. I mouth the words. Even when we are singing happy birthday to someone. I am just so embarrassed that I can’t carry a tune. But, get me alone!!! That’s when the stops come out! I love to belt out songs that mean something to me.

Let’s Share Favorites!

So, the purpose of this blog is not only to inform but to share. I have some favorite songs that I want you to have the opportunity to hear. I hope one or more of them will speak to you like they do to me.

Overcomer

One of the most meaningful songs to me is Mandisa’s “Overcomer.” That’s what we cancer survivors are, right? Overcomers? Take a listen! (And, if you aren’t a cancer patient, there is no doubt in my mind that you are not overcoming challenges of your own. This song works for all of us!)

 

Blessings

Laura Story’s Blessings speaks volumes to me. We don’t have to look far to see blessings in our lives. And, sometimes, what seems to be the worst thing to ever happen to us isn’t.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Lots of people might call me crazy (no offense taken if you do), but I see so many blessings in my life as a result of my cancer diagnosis. I know you are thinking, “You must be kidding.” But, I’m not kidding at all. It isn’t that I wouldn’t rather not have cancer. But, since I do, I have to say, it has brought me many friends and experiences I would have never had otherwise. And, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

It is Well with my Soul

Yes! It IS well with my soul! No matter what happens to my earthly body, I know where my salvation lies! It is great comfort to know that when I take my last breath here, my next will be on Streets of Gold in Heaven.

Casting Crown’s Oh My Soul

The night Casting Crown’s singer Mark Hall was diagnosed with cancer, he sat down and wrote “Oh My Soul.” It is a powerful song. Mark describes the motivation behind the song,

I just sat down on the piano and was looking at the verse where David says, ‘Why so downcast, oh my soul. Put your hope in God.’ So the song is me just having a little argument with myself and giving it to Him.”

God has my cancer, too, Does He have yours?

End of the Beginning

Another favorite song of mine has nothing to do with encouragement or cancer or counting blessings, but I just love this David Phelps (he’s one of my favorite artists) song.

 

There are more songs that speak volumes to me and that I love to belt out, but I will stop here. We’ll do another blog at another time with more songs.

As you can see, the ones that mean the most to me also have a lot to do with my faith. I couldn’t go through this battle without my faith.

What about you? What songs are most meaningful to you? Why? Let me know!

Reuniting with the Grandkids

Dad with Jimmy (8) and Jonah (6)

Starting Over Again and Again

I have started and restarted this entry. It’s hard when there has been a divorce. There are so many emotions. So many hurt feelings. So many sides to a single story.

We adults have been hurt by the divorce and the withholding of the kids. But, who has been hurt the most are the kids. And, I hope we adults can be mature enough to realize that it doesn’t really matter what we think or what we want … what matters is what these two precious children need.

They act grown up, but the reality is that they are not men in little people suits. They are still children. Still little beings in desperate need of love and attention and acceptance. From their mother, from their dad, from their grandparents, and from anyone else who is in their lives at any given time.

These two precious souls have been giving out way too many signals that they need more than they are getting from us. We adults must provide what they need. Now. Before we lose them.

Two Weekends in a Row!

After not seeing the children for nearly a year, we were blessed to have them for two weekends in a row during August 2015. If things don’t change between now and Friday, we may luck out and get to see them this coming weekend as well. For their sake and ours, I hope so!

In the meantime, I want to post some memories here. There was so much fun and so much love passed around the past two weekends. It will be good to return here to remember.

When the kids are here, we stay very, very busy. They have lots of requests … and as a doting dad and grandparents, we try to honor as many of them as we are able. They’ve requested a trip to the park. We haven’t fit that in yet. If they come next weekend, maybe we will have a “park day!”

Swim, Swim, Swim

I am not often all that delighted to have a swimming pool. I do love to swim, but it seems it is rarely convenient to do so. So, the pool is a hog of money, chemicals, water, and time without providing much pleasure. But, when the grandkids come to visit, I am so glad we have it. We spend a lot of time out in it – diving, swimming, jumping, playing!

Look at me!! No Floaties!!

 

WATCH!!! Here I go!

 

Grandma – always with a camera!!!

 

 

Barney: Be careful!!!! You’re going to be hurt!!!!

The kids, the adults, and the dogs all have a barrel of fun playing out in the pool. I really didn’t realize quite how much fun Cotton and Barney have until I started looking at the pictures. Nearly every one has at least one of the two dogs in it! Barney is the most likely to appear.

Yesterday, poor Barney boy wore himself out completely because he couldn’t decide where he needed to be to protect everyone! We were not cooperating and all staying in one spot so he ran from one end to the other; from one side to the other. His feet were so sore this morning that he was walking very gingerly.

Barney: Jimmy!!!! Get away!!! He’s going to throw you!!!

 

Barney: Jonah!!!! Be careful!!!! You’re falling into the water!!!!

 

 

Cotton: It’s okay!! I’ll get these splashes.

 

Cotton: There!! I chased it away!!

 

But, we did more than just swim while the boys were visiting. One of the things they wanted to do was take a walk on the nature trail by our house. We weren’t able to do it the first weekend, but we managed to go the second weekend, despite the fact that their daddy was not feeling well at all.

A Walk on the Trail

We all love the nature trail behind the house. It is a lovely place, even during August in Texas when temperatures are as often as not in the 100’s with all-too-high humidity levels. Trees overhang much of the trail, shading the hot, hot sun. I had heard there were many, many copperheads on the trail this year so I had not braved it all summer.

The boys really wanted to go see if the Fernandez Field was still there. Last year, there was a big pile of rocks where they had a lot of fun playing. They wanted to play there again if it was still there.

 

 

 

Well, the pile of rocks was much smaller this year than last. But, it was still there. So, they marked the pile as theirs and then made themselves a bed. It doesn’t take much to make kids happy! And, if the kids are happy, the adults are happy!!

And … so are the dogs!!! Cotton, Barney and Chloe were in heaven during the walk. They had their boys here and they were on the nature trail – one of their favorite places. They did a lot of smiling!

 

 

 

We walked to the end of the trail, where there was yet another photo op!! The kids are very patient with Grandma and her camera. Or, so I thought. I did notice during edit that there weren’t as many smiles as I thought there were while I was shooting the pictures. Oh well…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids found sticks along the trail that reminded them of pistols and shotguns. We all had our hands full with the found treasures. When I went out to water my plants this morning, I carried away an armful of sticks off of the glider in the backyard, remembering what fun the kids had with them while we were on the trail. Strangely, as soon as we reached home, the sticks became just that – sticks. No more playing with them.

Agility

I didn’t get any pictures, except on my phone, while we were at the DAWG agility field. We all got up early and made it to the field. On the first weekend, Jimmy got the opportunity to run Cupcake, a friend’s dog. He did an excellent job, but something has intimated him so he wasn’t interested in trying again this past weekend.

Nevertheless, everyone was glad to be out at the field. Both weekends, we had milk, donuts, and lots of fun!

On the way home from agility on the first weekend, Jonah asked if we could go out to eat. At first, I said no, but then I asked him where it was he wanted to go to eat. He responded with, “McDonalds.”

Well … I know the food is not all that healthy, but the kids love to go there to play. So, once we took Cotton home, we packed it up and headed to McDonalds.

 

 

I didn’t manage to get all that many great photos, but the kids had a lot of fun. They played in the tunnels with one another and with the other kids who came and went for at least an hour. It was a nice, cool place to play and they got lots of exercise.

Since the McDonalds they enjoy most is near Kohls, we went over there after playtime to see if we could find a couple of outfits for them to start school in. It was tax-free weekend so there were plenty of people shopping, but we managed to find some cute clothes without too much effort. Each boy also ended up with a new stuffed toy to take home to remind them of the time they spent with us.

Hoping for One More Weekend

The ex-wife has said that the boys can return this coming weekend. I hope she doesn’t change her mind. It is for the good of both young boys and my son … and for grandma and grandpa …. for them to visit. They need to know how much they are loved. No matter how much time passes. Some things stay the same. Especially, our love for them.

Blessings

You have to look for your blessings where you can … and I know you guys will think I am weird, but this lung cancer made it possible for me to retire. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is not to have to go to work any longer. I have had to work one or two jobs since I turned 20. I am loving every second of not having to do that any longer!

Another HUGE blessing is that the treatment I am on (clinical trial for immunotherapy drug) is wonderful. Here I am … Stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer patient … nearly 1-1/2 years after diagnosis … still doing fantastic!!! The tumors are still there, but they are just sitting in the same spot as they were when we discovered them. They haven’t grown or multiplied or spread. Hallelujah and Praise God!

The immunotherapy is the best thing since sliced bread. It doesn’t make you sick or tired and before I started getting it I was sick and tired of being sick and tired!! The hardest part of getting it is spending a long half day at the hospital getting an infusion every two weeks. Lucky me and lucky cancer patients everywhere … the company is or will soon be seeking FDA approval. From what I know, none of the patients who are participating at the clinic where I go has had terribly adverse side effects and I think everyone is doing quite well in the fight against their cancer.

I am so glad that I found UT Southwestern. Some people told me that they felt like it was a huge and cold institution that didn’t care about patients except as numbers in science experiments. Well, that’s far from true. The girls behind the desk know you, the aides who take you from place to place know you, the nurses, physician’s assistants, researchers, and doctors all know you as a person. I always feel like I am seeing friends when I go. Which is a good thing since treatments occur every two weeks.

My life is so full. Every single day is packed with things that I love to do. In the past, my days were full, but they were full of work-type activities. I worked at my 8-5 job and then I came home and took care of SchoolGrants, the business that God blessed me with since 1999. I let it go a couple of years ago and that was quite a liberating feeling! It still is. It was my passion for a long, long time but I burned myself completely out.

Once you receive a cancer diagnosis, I don’t think the fact that you have cancer (or had cancer if you are fortunate enough to beat it) ever leaves your mind. I never go through a day that I do not remember quite well that I have cancer. It impacts my thought processes. On the other hand, some days I can’t believe the diagnosis is correct. How can I be so sick when I’m so healthy??!!!

Which brings to mind more praises! Week after week, month after month, my blood tests come back perfect. We do thorough blood analyses before every single treatment and every time, my tests are perfect. My doctor is amazed. He said that less than 1% of cancer patients are as fortunate. It isn’t just my blood tests that come back perfect, so do my blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature readings! How can I not call myself lucky? LUCKY!! or, more appropriately, BLESSED. Totally.

Here’s another way I am blessed. Insurance. Oh my gosh. Fighting cancer is expensive. Ridiculously so. What do people who don’t have insurance do? I really don’t know. I’m glad I don’t have to find out.

I have been on some cancer sites lately that are sort of like support groups or something. I have never felt the need for a support group but I like to go to these online groups and offer support to those just learning they have cancer. I want them to know that a horrible diagnosis that scares the living daylights out of you may truly not be the end of the world at all.

Those people who get the diagnosis and decide right away that they’ll just go with palliative care distress me. No one thought I had a lot of time left but I was determined to make the best of what time I did have. My life has slowly evolved to something that it wasn’t when I was diagnosed. For instance, I do not participate in all of the same events, like agility training and competing, that I was consumed with prior to learning I was battling lung cancer. But my life is full. Every single minute of it! I am as happy as can be. Each day ends with me thinking that I needed more hours to get everything done that I wanted to get done that day. Amazing.

Those who just give up are missing out on so much. None of us have tomorrow promised to us, so we should all appreciate each and every hour that we are given. I just wish that those who choose not to fight their cancer would reconsider. At least I wish they would try to get into a test study so that the doctors can research the effects of more treatments. It might or might not help them but it surely might help someone else down the road. I’ve never been a hand-wringer. I don’t guess I understand  those who are.

Well, I planned to post a lot of pictures here and discuss some of my recent activities, but I’m really beat. Today was treatment day and it was a long day. I’ll come back before too long and post some lovely pictures I’ve had the opportunity to capture over the last few weeks and months.

Until then, take care and thank God for another day!

I’ll leave you with two of my most favorite blessings:

My lovely Cotton. She’s doing some birdwatching here. I’ll be posting pictures from our bird watching in the near future.

Barney. My heart and soul. 

The Weekend

Well, this blog seems to focus mainly just on cancer. But my life isn’t just about cancer. Not by any stretch of the imagination! I actually probably cram more into life every day than I did before I was diagnosed. Now, it seems that life may more finite than I imagined. (In reality, life is finite for all of us! And only God knows when He’ll call each of us home so the logic is suspect, but nevertheless, there it is!) I tend to cram my weekends and holidays as full as I can get them with as much fun as possible!

The Dallas Arboretum

Yesterday, my best friend from the 4th grade, Patti, and I spent the day together. Patti came to pick me up and off we went to the Dallas Arboretum. We attended a breakfast for new members and then we wandered through the gardens until it got too warm.

Speaking of which … we have been blessed with very cool weather in mid-August in Dallas, TX. Highs have been in the low 90’s with lows in the 60’s. Unheard of around here where August usually brings us highs in the 100’s and lows in the mid-80’s.

I didn’t take my good camera with me, but had my little point and shoot. Always. It rides in my purse! Just in case I need it. (Unfortunately, I can’t always get it out quickly enough to capture what I want to preserve. Like the day when I was going to work and a rat came running out of plants on the median of the road. By the time I got the camera pulled out, he had run back into the plants…)

Here are a few of the pictures that were taken:

 

We really had a good time together. We always do. Laughing and carrying on … life is fun when we’re out and about.

I love the Arboretum too – lots of water features, beautiful flowers and landscaping, interesting people to watch… I am really glad we joined. Don’t the pictures just make you smile? The quality isn’t great – my little “purse camera” leaves a bit to be desired – by you can get the gist of some of what we saw!

Shopping with the Grandkids

Sunday afternoon was spent shopping with my daughter-in-law and grandkids. It is time to buy new school clothes! I arrived at Kohl’s where Sara and the kids were already shopping. My youngest grandson is Jonah, who turned 4 in May. He came running to give me a hug … and then said, “But Grandma!!! I wanted you to bring your camera with you!!!” Lucky for him, I had my purse camera!!! Fully recharged!

Jonah is 4 and goes to daycare. Jimmy is six and is entering first grade, while Jonathan is 11 and going into middle school. WHAT???? When did my babies grow up … middle school already??? Incredible!!!

Don’t you just suppose that other people who were shopping at Kohls today thought I was a crazy old woman? I can honestly say that I do not believe I have ever seen anyone following a bunch of kids around with their point-and-shoot camera at the ready!! 🙂  But, that’s okay! The kids love to have their picture taken and I love looking back at them!

Do you notice a common theme? We were there for school clothes shopping but most of the pictures were taken in the toy section!! The kids begged for toys while their mom was deciding what they would be wearing to school when it starts in a couple of weeks.

Jonah was the cutest. He asked if he could have some toys. I told him no because we were there to buy school clothes today. (Outfitting three boys is expensive!!! There was no more money for toys!) Jonah was not satisfied with that response. After all, he told me, he isn’t in school yet so he could spend his money on toys instead of clothes!!