Archive | May, 2011

Dogology

29 May

Our dog Ranger is back in the house. Yes. I know. He’s an outside dog. A fact that is impossible to forget as the smell of wet-dog over takes the house. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad smell. Just saying that it’s almost always better when left outside.

It all started when my family and I were eating pizza and watching “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” All of a sudden, Ranger started throwing himself up against our living room windows. He had a wild look in his eyes and he was panting like a crazy dog. We wondered if he had somehow gotten poisoned or perhaps stung by bees.

But no. It seems that Ranger was simply predicting the weather.

Already wet and muddy from the day’s rainstorm, Ranger was telling us that this storm was piddly compared to a bigger and much more ferocious storm that was most surely on its way.

The kids were concerned. They felt sure that Ranger was way too scared to sit this one out alone in his dog house. And so they brought Ranger’s dirty travel crate into my clean house and put the frightened dog in it. Almost instantly, Ranger settled down. Within moments, we could hear his soft snores. We resumed watching the movie.

And then the storm hit. A powerful downpour of rain, hail, wind, thunder and lightning.

Ranger snoozed right through the whole thing. Isn’t that amazing? Sometimes I feel a lot like Ranger. Storms come into my life and I get myself all in a frenzy. But I know that if I can just get close to my Heavenly Father, everything will be okay. Oblivious to the storm raging outside, I can safely snooze in His comforting and peaceful presence.

Just like Ranger.

How to Help

18 May

When a friend is diagnosed with breast cancer, it seems that everyone wants to help, but no one knows what to do. When I first found out I had cancer, people kept asking me – What can I do for you? And I would just shrug my shoulders. Because unless they could make the whole nightmare go away, I had no idea what they could possibly do to help.

I am so grateful for the friends who came up with a variety of kind ways to make life more bearable for me. Their thoughtfulness gave a huge boost to my emotional health and helped me heal.

Here are a few ideas on how to help a friend who is dealing with breast cancer:

 

  • Supply lots of hugs. Gently, please, as the chest, arm, and back area can become tender from treatment.

 

  • Respect her privacy. She may not be comfortable having the news of her diagnosis broadcast throughout the social network. On the other hand, she may need your help letting a few people know what she’s facing.

 

  • Deliver flowers. Whether they’re from your garden or your favorite florist, fresh flowers provide something pleasant in an otherwise unpleasant situation.

 

  • Bring meals. Think comfort foods – creamy potato soup, chicken & rice casserole, vanilla pudding — which are easy on the stomach.

 

  • Send care packages. Consider a pretty mug & a supply of healthy green tea (good for fighting breast cancer); mild soaps, lip balm & lotions; or magazines, a book of sudoku puzzles & a light-hearted novel.

 

  • If she has young children, offer to care for them for an afternoon or two. Take them to play at the park, to see a movie, or out for ice cream cones.

 

I believe that friends are precious gifts from a loving Heavenly Father who anticipates and understands our needs better than we ever could. Friends can touch our lives in such incredible ways, can’t they? And let’s face it, sometimes we all need a little help from our friends.

A New Shade of Pink

11 May

Four times a year, the Idaho Press Tribune publishes a magazine insert called Today’s Woman. This wonderful magazine highlights various articles of interest to the women in our community. The most recent edition was published on Mother’s Day.

No one was more surprised than I was when the editor decided to feature my story on the cover. I’d like to share that story with you. It’s called A New Shade of Pink.

~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~

 

We’re all survivors of one thing or another, aren’t we? I survived breast cancer.

When I turned forty, I went in for my very first mammogram. It was just routine. I had no lump, no pain, no symptoms whatsoever — but I soon found out that I did have breast cancer. It was invasive and we had not caught it early. That was pretty much my worst birthday ever, but if I hadn’t gotten that mammogram, it probably would have been my last.

I spent the next year undergoing four major surgeries and trying to survive. Then I got hit by a truck. Really. And just as I was starting to get back on my feet, I watched my wonderful father die. From cancer.

During that time, I so badly wanted to develop a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad attitude. I wanted to say bad words. Lots of them. And I wanted to stomp my foot and scream and throw the mother of all tantrums. Those of you who’ve had first-hand experience with this awful disease know what I’m talking about.

But that’s not the best way to survive.

With cancer, all the attention is focused on caring for the body. That’s a good thing, except that it then becomes so easy to neglect the damage that cancer insists upon doing to our emotional and spiritual health.

Determined not to let that happen, I made up my mind to adopt a positive attitude. I simply chose to look on the bright side of a really awful situation. I like to call it a spiritual makeover. It wasn’t easy. But, with the help of family and friends, I was able to find some good in the midst of all the bad.

Along the way, I learned a few things. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be; that God’s love can penetrate even the darkest night; that people are capable of amazing acts of compassion; and that a kind word from a stranger could touch my heart.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is that surviving is not just about escaping death. It’s about having the faith to accept the gift of each new day we’re given, choosing to embrace our lives and to enjoy every precious moment.

Those of us who can do that, call ourselves survivors.

In Sickness and in Health

6 May

Last week my husband Dan and I attended a breast cancer survivor banquet hosted by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It was called “The Power of Pink.” As you can likely imagine, pink was the dominate color at that banquet – pink carpet, pink balloons, pink table cloths – even the dress code was pink. That was all okay with me. Surprisingly, pink is still my favorite color.

The guest speaker for the event was Geralyn Lucas, author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy. Geralyn came all the way from New York to speak to us. I found it interesting to see her in person because when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I had read her book.

The highlight of the evening for me was when Geralyn asked the men to stand. I imagine a few of them felt a bit out-of-place at such a feminine event. Perhaps some felt self-conscious wearing their pink ties and pink shirts. But Geralyn insisted, and so throughout the huge room, they all stood up.

Not all men stand by their women through breast cancer. It’s a horrible journey. Even for the spouse. Especially for the spouse. But those who do stand by their women, are truly amazing. They, too, are survivors of the journey. And so last week, we recognized and honored these men, the ones who have faithfully stood by their women in sickness and in health.