Hope and Fear


As we near the end of October, the official month of Breast Cancer Awareness, please pause to remember the many woman and men who are affected by this condition. https://siteman.wustl.edu/treatment/cancer-types/breast-cancer/risk-prevention-and-

Breast cancer in America is the most common type of cancer diagnosis, second only to skin cancer, among women. Over the course of their lifetimes, about 1 in 8 will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Among American men, the odds are about 1 in 1,000 of being diagnosed with breast cancer. https://www.bcrfcure.org/breast-cancer-statistics Yet, thanks in part to the October month of Breast Cancer Awareness, education has increased, and research funds have continued to rise allowing improved quality of lives. Today, breast cancer is often treated as a Chronic Condition. Women and men live longer lives and are often cured!

I cannot begin to put myself in the shoes of someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know how it feels to stare the unknown devil in the face or to wonder about my tomorrows. But, I do know the fear of the possibility. I know too, how it feels to lose someone to this disease. The sorrow and deep absence of a loved who is no longer with us. The pain and struggle of children whose mother disappears forever.

Many years ago, a friend of mine, a former college roommate was diagnosed at a very young age. Thankfully, she was cured! https://www.bcrfcure.org/ Today, she happily lives and works in the same town she grew up in, the one where she raised her son from toddler to young adulthood. She lives productively, giving back to the community, thankful to be alive each and every day.

In the years between, I’ve brushed the arm or touched the hand of many others who have lived with breast cancer. I saw the fear in the glass of their eyes while feeling hope through the warmth of their skin. With cancer, hope and fear seem to coincide.

Like every woman should, I practice a monthly self-breast exam. Still, I was surprised when my doctor discovered a lump during my last annual physical. It was about the size of a small green pea, she said. The size that rolls around your plate next to roast beef and mashed potatoes during a family dinner. Although I had a normal mammogram a few months earlier, my doctor smiled cautiously while scheduling another.

During the next few weeks, I followed my doctor’s orders by having a second mammogram. The technician performed it before asking the radiologist to do yet another. I was taken into the next room where an ultrasound depicted even better pictures. To my relief, everything was determined to be normal and they sent me on my way.

About a week later, while driving my cell phone rang. The speaker blared from the seat next to me, “Your doctor would like you to see a breast specialist.” Shaken, I pulled into a parking lot where I was able to jot down a name and address. Upon returning to my office, I looked up the doctor’s referral. My computer screen highlighted the words, Cancer Surgeon. Air left the whole of my inside. Quickly, like a bright red balloon floating across a western sky only to land atop a desert green cactus. “P.O.P!”

Sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, I absorbed palatable emotions as each new person stepped through the door or waited for their name to be called aloud. Some women were alone while others held hands of supportive boyfriends or husbands. Arms of chairs were clutched tighter with knuckles turning white. Smiles of strained were seen here or there while ears listened to gentle whispers. Occasionally tired heads lay on soft shoulders for comfort. Arms all around. A sisterhood was felt between women who had never met before. Bonding and empathy. Soon, each one would be pronounced cancer free, or they would begin one of the most difficult journeys of their lives.

Fear and Hope….

*After the “Breast Specialist” examined me and reviewed all of my records, I received fantastic news, “Cancer Free!” Still, I don’t take anything for granted. I will continue to do monthly self-breast exams, see my personal physician regularly, and never miss an annual mammogram screening. They are proven to be one of our best defenses in the world of early breast cancer detection. So if you are a woman, especially over forty, schedule a mammogram today. Please don’t wait until tomorrow.

 

 

Are You Seeking Purpose In Life?


At any given moment, our inner emotions palpitate, leaving us with an ambiance of the unknown, scattered. What is our purpose in life? We may seek joy and fulfillment through random paths, hoping to make positive impacts on the lives of others. A legacy of sorts, lasting long after we are gone. We wish to touch the soul of a single person. One or two, three or four…maybe more. Those who are tall or little ones so very small.

Our earthly map is shrouded, consisting of paths winding round and round, meandering through peaks and valleys, climbing up and down. Or, it may be akin to the sea with waves rolling atop a current, cresting at high tide when all seems on our side. The point is, nothing is black and white, yes or no, wrong or right.

When looking for purpose in life, seek splashes of color scattered among the otherwise mundane. Chances are it’s right before your eyes.

*photos courtesy of Google Chrome

The Gift of Life


 

3d-abstract_other_glorious-day_38750Organ Transplants…The Gift of Life

I promise this post won’t be filled with quoted statistics to bore you. I have no desire to waste your time with troubling news. I simply wish to write from my heart in order to share something good and positive. Something that changes lives. Something that you can even do. Do you believe me?

Last week, one of my younger cousins, a fraternal twin, and a member of my great big extended family, underwent a liver transplant due to a heredity condition. He lived with this rare, hidden Chronic Condition for years without a single problem. Indeed, he was not even aware of it until it reared its ugly head. Unfortunately, many Chronic Conditions are like this…..

A couple of years ago, subtle changes whispered from deep within my cousin’s unseen walls, nagging him until he needed to find out what they were. Shockingly, he lived with a heredity liver disease. Doctor’s tried many things to keep his liver running smoothly. For a while, things seemed to work. In fact, my cousin lived with his Chronic Condition for quite some time. But, in the end, a liver transplant was his only option.

My cousin has a big family, a loving wife together with grown children who are graduating from college. Others are getting married and starting life anew. My cousin wants to be a part of this. It’s his family, after all! While on the national transplant list, together, they hoped and prayed and waited. Finally, in the wee hours of last Tuesday morning, words came they all had prayed for. “We have the perfect match for you!”

A week ago today. In spite of thirteen hours of surgery not without complications, followed by more surgery, my cousin’s new liver is functioning exactly the way it should be! A miracle to me. His skin is pink again and he smiles with thankfulness at all life has to offer. He wouldn’t trade a single second of yesterday, today, or tomorrow for what the future may hold. To hold the hands of his wife or children sitting by his side are gifts beyond measure. A single kiss from their lips or gentle brushes of fingertips wiping away tears of happiness are blessings from God.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my cousin’s donor family, to pray for them together with their lost loved one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unselfishness during an unspeakable time of grief and pain. You’ve given our family the Gift of Life.

To all of those who are reading this post, please consider signing the back of your driver’s license, allowing donation of your organs. Speak to your loved ones to let them know of your wishes in advance. It’s a simple thing really. A signature on a blank line with the ink of a pen. And yet, it’s the most unselfish thing you’ll ever do.

Think about it. To give someone…not just one person in the whole of this world, but an entire extended family, a second chance to live their lives. Yes, The Gift of Life!

Thank you.

*photo courtesy of Google Chrome

Peace


Whoever you are in all of this world

I wish for you comfort without worry

Safety with warmth and freedom from fear

Faces to love, voices to hear and hands to hold dear

Bright stars in the sky to light your way here

And love deep within to sense you are home.

From My Family to Yours, Wishing You A Very Happy Holiday with A Peaceful New Year.