Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014; Be Thankful and Mindful

There is no doubt that life is often full of adversity, turmoil, sadness and stress but despite the struggles, I pray that each and every one of you finds something to be thankful for. For those of you with family and friends; take the time to embrace them.

For those of you that have endured a loss, I pray that you find some joy in your memories. I know that the holiday season will be rough, so do the best that you can and be gentle with yourself. For those of us that are in the lives of others that are suffering through the holidays; be kind. Allow them their “moments” and share in their laughter, and their tears.

I have so much to be grateful for that my cup run’eth over; I have an incredible husband, three beautiful children, a wonderful daughter in law and five amazing grandchildren. In addition to my immediate family, I am blessed to still have my dear mother to cherish, my sister and her family, and my brother and his family, a multitude of very dear friends and extended family.

I have friends that I have known most of my life, friends I have met through dancing and my dear CML family; for all of you, I am grateful. I wish you a day full of laughter, thanksgiving and good health!

Be thankful for what you have and mindful of others less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Someone Close to You Dies

This has been a tough year; one filled with loss. I have endured the loss of my father, CML sisters and brothers, a neighbor, and the loss of my dear, childhood friend. While each and every one of these losses has left a hole in my heart, the death of my childhood friend is intangible. It is a loss that I cannot wrap my mind around, so please excuse the likeliness of a post, which bounces all over the board.

I am not certain why I feel compelled to share this raw emotion with the world, other than to shed light on the importance of relationships, and the harsh reality that life always ends in death; always.  I believe that the ultimate decision is in God’s hands, but that doesn't mean I like it, or understand it.

I am fortunate to have a handful of true friends, you know the kind; the ones that you do not speak to everyday, but are always there in your heart; time and distance meaning nothing, as they are a part of your soul, and that is that. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

My childhood friend was all of that and more; he was the one person that has been in my life, for as long as I can remember. We were nine months apart in age, he being the “oldest”, a fact that he reminded me of constantly, until we hit the age of forty! Lol From that point on, I reminded him that he was the oldest! Lol

As life would have it, we shared ours’; our parents were best friends. We shared birthdays and holidays, school days and skipped school days, we shared our inner most secrets, fears and desires. He and I were together when my seven year old sister tragically died in a car accident; we didn't only share happy times, we shared tragic ones, too. Oddly enough it wasn't always what we said to each other, it was often simply the presence of each other, which mattered.

Losing him is like closing a major book in my life; not a chapter, but a book.  It is the book on the shelf that my entire life has been built upon. It is the book, that no matter which chapter I chose to visit, I could share it with him because he has always been there; always. He helped me write that book and he was the only other person on this planet that knew what was written on those pages; we shared and built our lives, side by side.  He was the spine of that book and I never imagined that he would be taken so soon. He was barely 56 years old and I am having a difficult time accepting the fact that even though I will always have our memories, I will no longer have the option of opening my book and revisiting my life, with the one person in the world that was there while it was developing.

Of course, I am fortunate enough to still have my mother, brother, sister and friends, but having a childhood friend without boundaries is a little different, it is that understanding that is gone and will so be missed. I still have so many questions to ask, and experiences to reminisce and contemplate that I am simply heartbroken; as so often is the case: I want one more day!

On the other side of the coin, I am extremely blessed, grateful and happy. I have a wonderful husband that I admire, love and appreciate more than words can say. We have four remarkable children and five amazing grandchildren. I have friends and family that love and support me, and a life that is sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, full and worth living.

 I am discounting none of this, but despite having it all, I still suffer from sadness, and that is OK. 
Sadness and grief are a part of life; an essential part of life. The only way to avoid heartache is to have not experienced joy; to live in a box and allow no one to penetrate your heart. For me, this is not an option and I realize it is because of the life that we shared, the memories that we made, and the time that we spent together growing up, that I am paying the price; the price of heartache for having the privilege, of having someone so special in my life. Without all of the joy, the pain would not be so severe; and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to have such a great partner in crime, to maneuver through childhood and into adulthood with; our friendship will always be cherished.
The most difficult part of losing my dear friend is the reality that we must all face the world without his bright light; his sense of humor and his unrelenting desire to help others. He was not through living and I know in my heart of hearts that God is probably having a difficult time convincing him that he really is where he is meant to be.

My heart not only breaks for me, it breaks for his devoted wife, his parents, his sister and her kids and a sea of friends that he has left behind.

Some things are just so hard to accept......Live, love and make each moment count.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Current PCR; Down, But Still Not Great!

Looking back over the past year, it is not a wonder that my head is reeling and my emotions are all over the board. Last year I was dealing with pain; pain in my hips, feet, back; muscles, joints and nerves. This year I am dealing with a bouncing PCR. I just cannot seem to get it under control; kind of like life.

Last year I had the good fortune of celebrating two negative PCR results. This year I have had PCR results ranging from .432 to .134. I cannot seem to achieve the coveted >.1% to save my soul, despite my maximum 140 mg dosage of Sprycel.

My latest test result was slightly better than the one before at .19, down from .28. I am trying to give my blood the benefit of the doubt by factoring into the equation that I was off of Sprycel, for seven days, due to a mild case of pneumonia, during that time. I will see my oncologist on the 19th of December and will have another PCR test, and I guess we shall go from there. I am praying another drop, preferably below the .1% mark.

On the upside, the increased dose of 140 mg of Sprycel seems to have alleviated all of my pain symptoms! Within the first five days of starting the higher dose, my pain disappeared; while I still suffer from fatigue and minor pleural effusion, I am now able to go about my day, relatively pain free; this makes for a much more enjoyable life. This pain free existence is the main reason that I am reluctant to switch medications. The fear of the “unknown” verses the facts of the “known” are a mental struggle that I try not to engage in. I know that if my PCR does not continue to drop, that a change may be in order, but for now, I am sticking with the plan.

The PCR roller coaster of life continues….But I will never give up hope!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Life is Precious: Make Time for What is Important!

Last night, right before bed my daughter shared a special gift with me. It was not wrapped in a pretty package, and was not something that I could hold, eat, wear or look at, yet it was a precious gift; a gift that makes your eyes fill with tears and your heart swell with love and gratitude. Gratitude for time well spent and a gift that will be forever held in my heart.

As many of you may remember, Joe and I had the privilege of home-schooling our ten year old grandson; for one semester. It was something that he had been begging his mother to do and something that we felt would be a “once in a lifetime” experience for all of us. It wasn't always easy, and I was often exhausted and exasperated, but knowing how much it meant to him; it was worth it.
In my opinion, there is nothing more important than relationships. Investing time and effort into our children’s and grandchildren’s lives’, as well as our own, is priceless. Life is meant to be lived and to be shared and we will be remembered for the memories that we created, not by the things that we own, or the vehicles that we drove.

The gift of time is not something that can be replaced with electronic devices or toys and as parents and grandparents we only have a short window of time in which to nurture, guide and enrich our children. It is our “job” to give our children the tools that they will need to be prepared to build the best life that they can, for themselves and their own children. I am honored to have been able to allow a little boy the experience to be able to write the following paper for an assignment that was “An Important Time in His Life.”

In Jack’s own words:
It was the year 2012. I was 9 years old, and my baby brother was almost one year old. At the time, I disliked him because he was annoying. Because of so, I preferred to stay in my room, or go outside more, to try and avoid him. A few months later, it was December. I got sick of going to public school, so I begged my mom for days to home school me. But one day she had finally said yes.

I was so happy, I started jumping with joy. But instead of home schooling me herself, she said my grandparents would in Idaho. I was even more happy, but I realized, I had to say goodbye to all my friends and family for 6 months. I had made the decision, and decided I would  go. A month later, it was January, my birthday had just passed, and it was time to say goodbye. Once I did, I was excited to finally go. Later, once I got there, I was picked up, and taken to their house. Once I got there, I realized that where I was, was nothing like what I had ever seen before in California. It was beautiful, I was blown away of what was before me. The whole neighborhood was even called "Osprey".

The view of my front porch was like watching God's front yard. What nature was in front of me there was a "V shape" of two mountains close to each other. One had many trees and another had less. For the neighborhood it's self was outstanding. Instead of flatland on a street, this whole neighborhood, was on a mountain. That's right, a whole mountain. for a road, there was a trail that marked tracks for a road, no concrete, just dirt. People owned horses, and the neighborhood was even bumpy, with small hills, my backyard led to a hiking trail, and there were no street lights, no light pollution, and at night, there is only one noise that we hear. The most astonishing, most unique feature about this place, is the fact that we have in Osprey, Elk. Every single night, there are always elk. We always hear them calling, their footsteps, and even when they eat grass. This whole neighborhood struck my heart with wonders. I never wanted to go back home. This was my home.

While I was there, I made two friends. they were both nice, and I still contact them today. During winter we had to stack wood because it was snowy. All was great though.

Throughout the months, I was doing great in home school. I was going through it very fast, I knew it would end well. On May 21st, I had finished my year, I hadn't but to believe it. I was so amazed at the fact that being homeschooled, in such a beautiful place, would help me finish early.

But eventually, It was time, I had to leave. I was trying to find a good way to convince my grandparents to stay but, it wouldn't work. I had to say goodbye to everything there. It was so hard, but I did. When I got back, I saw why I was so surprised of Idaho, why it was so difficult to believe. It was because where I live now, is not peaceful, not beautiful, and not settling. No elk, no peace, and no relaxing. Here in South California, I seem to feel sad, depressed, and lonely. With my friends gone, I don't have to many others to contact, and get together with. School hits me the most though. Which is why I think of Idaho as the one place to go after a long, exhausting, period of school.

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Bricks for the Brave!!