When Shawna Pierno posted “F* Cancer” as her Facebook status I knew it was because her Mom, Pat had miraculously defied the Doctors and beat the Cancer she wasn’t supposed to survive. Thank you God! I cried with joy when I read the post. I cried for Pat, and cried for Shawna, Bob, Amelia, and for everyone else that loves her. It was a day to celebrate for their entire family.
Slowly, inch by inch, Cancer has crept closer and closer to my life. Not long after Shawna’s famous Facebook post, on a cold and dreary afternoon in January 2010, I learned about another person who was going to have a “Throwdown” with Cancer. A beloved husband, cherished father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, son-in-law, brother-in-law, co-worker and friend to many. In the past I’d thought, the evil conniving Cancer had gotten too close. Stage 4 Throat Cancer gave David Callejas the scare of his life during a routine tonsillectomy. Then, Skin Cancer dared to nestle in next to my Daddy’s only good eye, downright cruel and unforgivable after he’d already triumphed over a heart transplant.
“All these tests look good” said the Nurse Practitioner as she examined my husband Ken. We were starting to breathe a little easier and relax a bit. This wasn’t anything to worry about. It was all smiles and laughter. Until the Doctor came in and brought the news that Ken has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, also known as CLL. “I … ha…have… Leukemia?”...stammered my stunned, crushed, dearly beloved husband. There was NO “I’m sorry,” there were no hugs, there was not any tenderness from Hematologist/Oncologist with Zero Feelings. Just a smile and a nod. I guess this is "all in a days work' for her.
Those first few days we barely spoke. We are both the same when it comes to the scary & sad things in life. It took a few weeks to come back to life and figure out our plan of attack. I immediately thought of Shawna; "F*$# Cancer is right!
We are a team, Ken and I, married now for 25 years. This is quite a mountain WE are going to climb together, a fight we will be fighting together - every step of the way. Thank you again DAVID & KAY MORRISON, for once again being role models for me in this arena!
We needed some private time to plan our course, and find the best treatment facility before sharing it with family and friends. We were blessed and so fortunate to find UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center and become a patient of Dr. Kipps, one of a handful of highly regarded national specialists in the CLL field today. And God Bless him, he has FEELINGS, and he HUGS Ken every time we go in for an office visit. We are in the hands of someone who really cares about PEOPLE. It’s a scary and uncertain time for us, and those hugs say a lot and mean the world. Thank you Dr. Kipps.
We’ve also been looking at our life to see what changes we can make to optimize Ken’s health and reduce his stress levels. It’s a blessing, especially now (!!) that I am a stay at home wife and mother and have supportive, self-sufficient adult-aged children so I can focus 100% of my attention on helping my husband stay healthy. If it means staying home rather than attending events so we get more rest, or so Ken doesn’t have to do more stressful driving in traffic, that’s what we’ll do. I’m a Trainer now. I have to keep my top athlete in fighting form. I have to be selfish for both of us and say NO to a lot right now.
Ken is already in the Ring; gloves on, bravely fighting back. He’s throwing punches and ready, like many of you who have already had to go in, so brave, before he has. My Auntie Ferris Bevins, David Callejas, The Rev. Gwen Ehrenborg, Connie Herrick, Keith Myers, David Morrison, Shawna’s mom Pat, and....Pat, Brian & Emily Saia, and anyone else who is a member of "The Fight Club." There is a dear friend who fights anonymously and wishes not to be listed; I do not forget you.
There are so many I know I have not listed, or have no knowledge of your fight. So, I have a favor to ask. Please use the comment section to tell me about how Cancer has touched your life, or a loved ones life. Tell me how you or your loved one got into the Ring and how you or they fought. Tell me so Ken and I can rejoice with you and be uplifted by your stories of strength, courage, resilience and perseverance.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Roy is just another one of the many terms for the upcoming Jodes-isms Dictionary. The elusive Jodes-isms Dictionary I keep talking about posting and still haven’t finished. I had gone back to work on my Jodes-isms post and was working on the “Roy” definition when I realized it was one of those definitions that went out in so many different directions it left me scratching my head wondering where I’d even began. Potty (also in the Jodes-ism Dictionary) and I call that…What was the question?
It was years ago and there were a bunch of us gals riding out to Palm Springs for a girls weekend getaway. We were pretty wound up and had the radio blasting. We’ll call a friend we had along, “Mrs. Mom Gone Wild” because she was always the wild and crazy life of the party…forever the one to have us laughing hysterically. Mom Gone Wild was not letting us down either; she was bouncing around to the music and had even flashed a military convoy. This was obviously a Mom who needed a weekend getaway.
Mom Gone Wild, having so much fun, bounced so hard in her seat that when we hit a rut in the road, went crashing down between the seat and the door, landing on something sharp and obviously quite painful. Up she flew, screaming, a hand shoved into the crack in her fanny yelling, “MY ROY, MY ROY, Oh God, MY ROYYYYYYYYY!” Concerned about her screaming, and seeing her hand in her panties, we weren’t really sure what to do. We didn’t know what “My Roy” meant either.
It took a while for her to calm down (ish), and then we had to translate from her thick southern drawl while she was laughing, crying and stammering….. “Ah hay-yave a bee-yahg paaahl of hay-yam-a-royyyyds, a-yand ahh jus layn-ded on a bee-yahg ole paaaahl of em.” Shall I translate? Mom Gone Wild had car danced like a loon, fallen and landed on her Roy’s. Crack Prunes. Hemorrhoids. The Horror! The poor kid. No wonder she was screaming. If you haven’t ever had a visit from Ole Roy and a bunch of his wrinkled up and swollen cousins, you are so lucky. Even better if you haven’t been dancing around in a car and you unexpectedly fall on your pile of Roy’s and they all take a painful stab. It’s all bad. Men can just translate that into a painful fall onto their um, hmmm trouser…. soldiers.
I’ve had my own initiation with Ole Roy and The Gang so I had an idea of the kind of pain she was going through. The thought of car dancing and crashing onto some sharp car part and landing on Ole Roy and The Gang makes me hyperventilate, so I can outright respect Mom Gone Wild’s hysteria and tears that day.
My formal introduction to Ole Roy started with the birth of my first child Stephanie, and I didn’t even know who or what Roy was. Soon after the birth, a nurse came into my room carrying a frozen latex glove. Yes, The Frozen Hand, fingers and all. It kinda scared me. She said, "Honey, you need to use this." Terrified I shrieked, "Whaaaat? Whyy? I jjjjjjust had a baby! That’ll hurt! And where am I supposed to be putting all those frozen fingers?" The nurse was holding The Frozen Hand and rubbing her head in that way you know a person has a headache. I think they were honestly just tired of me; I’d already been there for 3 days due to pregnancy complications. When I had checked in I’d tried to be the first person to give birth without removing my panties or telling anyone my weight. Now I was being told to put The Frozen Hand, WHERE? I thought these people were a bunch of crazed lunatics.
When I’d checked in to the hospital, I was originally in a shared room and labored with quite a few gals before it was my turn to go to the birthing room. One gal was being checked in and being asked her weight. I’ll never forget wanting to jump off my bed, through the curtain and strangle her with my bare hands when she embarrassedly said, "Oh my gosh, I weigh 140 lbs, I am such a cow!!!!!" Yeah? What a total cow! Made a mental note to hate her forever. If you are out there cow person, MOO! 140 pounds on her delivery date? Poor cow person. I think one of my thighs weighed 140 pounds that day.
Anyway, Ole Roy. Sitting there looking at The Frozen Hand really had me scared and Nurse With The Obvious Headache did too. She said my “down there” was a big mess and had I noticed? Had I noticed? Only that sitting was a problem and honestly I was too afraid to look!! She explained I had hemorrhoids (ick!) and episiotomy stitches and lots of swelling and needed to sit on some ice. "So you mean I don't have to stick those frozen fingers……….” I asked in a moment of sheer panic. Suddenly, she wasn’t so grumpy. She started to laugh and said, "No dear, you just need to sit on The Hand.” Only slightly less creepy I decided.
So there we were. Me, my beautiful new baby Stephanie and The Frozen Hand cupping Roy and The Gang and the rest of my “down there’s.” It was weird to think about when people were coming in to visit me. But then, everything was bizarre then. I’d eventually been weighed and very unhappily liberated from my panties. It wasn’t long before another ice toting nurse came into my room (she had normal ice, YAY!). I thought Roy was getting a break from The Hand, but boy was I in for a new surprise. They had a lot of surprises there at Placentia-Linda Hospital, let me tell you. This was a Lactation Nurse and she brings ice to help with breastfeeding. I don’t want to explain where that ice goes. Let me just say OUCH again.
I just kept thinking (& wishing all sorts of bad stuff on) all the people I’d asked about having babies and about all the books I’d read and none of them had warned me properly!! Not a single word about being divested of my panties, nothing about mean Lactation Nurses rubbing ice on the most tender area of my breasts, absolute zero about having to sit on The Frozen Hand, and most definitely…..not one word about the appalling, despicable and agonizingly painful Roy Gang.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Another post on Alex Blackwell’s The BridgeMaker was the question, “What is the kindest thing you have ever done?” Hmmmm. I definitely don’t like to toot my own horn. No, no and another helping of no. I find it so boring; listening to someone talk about how wonderful they are, or about the wonderful things they have done for others. My answer that day was, “Be humble.”
Sometimes not talking about the kind things you do, or have done is a kindness in itself. No one likes a self absorbed person whose only reason for doing kind things is so they can report them to a room full of people. In my mind I’m just thinking (unkindly, oops), “Watch out for your arm, you might hurt it patting yourself on the back!”
My style is talking about what we can do to spread kindness, giving people ideas to inspire them to want to go out into the world and “Be the Change You Want to See in The World,” as Gandhi so eloquently wrote. What does it mean to “Be the Change?” In group settings these days I often hear people talking about one of the same social problems; an overall lack of kindness, manners and respect out in the world today. Talking about it is one thing. If you want something to change, you have to be willing to “Be the Change” and decide you are going to fix it. “Fix it all…by myself,” you are wondering? I know, I know. Breathe. I turn into a dithering loon myself, so I know. How about starting with some thing? Or a few small things each day?
When I decided to make a conscious effort to “Be the Change” I knew I couldn’t do it all or fix it all. But, I hoped my small, independent actions would make a difference in the lives of who I came into contact with, hopefully causing a domino effect and spreading kindness further down the line. I started simply by making sure that every single person I came into contact with was treated with the utmost kindness, dignity and respect. I actually thought I was already doing that, but I decided to really pay attention to my behavior and those around me and “step it up a notch.”
You know, I tout humility and today I think I’m the antithesis of it because for the sake of the blog, I’ve got to go out on a limb and share some of my personal stories. When I’m done writing, I promise to be super extra triple humble again.
I’ve talked about being kind out in the world to those who serve you in my blog, but are you doing it? How are you doing it? What about seeing others being mistreated, the old schoolyard misdeed that you witness and standby without intervening or doing anything about? That’s a category of unkindness and it has to stop too. I’d finally had it with unkindness and decided no one was ever going to be mistreated on my watch again. I was in line at a local store and I could tell the woman in line ahead of me was obviously in a bad mood by the way she was huffing and puffing and shifting from one foot to another. It wasn’t even her turn before she started in on the cashier, spouting off her mouth and speaking unkindly to her. Ok, I was ready. I said, “How dare you. Stop talking to her like that, can’t you see she is trying her best?” Mrs. Snottypants looked at me aghast and said, “WELL! I’m in a hurry, it’s my lunch hour and I only have so much time!” I looked aghast back at Mrs. Snotts and told her, “WELL! You should go shopping when you have enough time to behave properly and treat people kindly!” She mumbled something incoherent and then shut up. Job done. It’s only an example of the kind of stuff we see all the time and we don’t respond. I’m ready now though. These Snottypants people better learn some manners.
Have you been in a group situation in a restaurant where one person in the group is being particularly rude, condescending or overly demanding of the Server? It’s embarrassing, isn’t it? I’ve been there. Friends and I have discussed this and wondered the best way to handle it. We’ve tried to be the Damage Control Group, be the overly-nice ones to make up for the rude friend in the group. Have you ever, at the end of the meal, slipped a Server extra money to make up for Customer Rudeness the Server had to put up with? I have. This is another situation that needs to stop. We need to politely stop this at the beginning of the meal so the Server doesn’t have to endure this. It’s another form of childish playground taunting that we are all sitting back and watching, doing nothing. We are adults, not on some playground, yet are being bullied, and watching bullying in action by an obnoxious, rude person because we are not standing up to a person and saying, “Hey, enough of your bullying, rude and overly demanding behavior!" The Server doesn’t deserve it, neither do we. Aren't those of us who are making an extra monetary contribution for Customer Rudeness tired of it?
Kindness can be helping to correct unkindness. Helping to correct condescending, rude, and inappropriately demanding behavior. So while you are out spreading kindness, you also need to be a troubadour and help others by correcting them when they are out of line. We need to be teachers. There aren’t enough of us out there. If you are making the commitment to build kindness, you also have to include correcting unkindness by doing something about it when you see it happening. Every single time.
What about when someone treats you poorly, what then? Aren’t you worth being treated like gold? Absolutely, all the time! I demand it in my home and I hope you do too. My circle of friends is small, but it’s that way for a reason. I don’t waste time with people unless they treat me really well. Sometimes family and friends can mistreat you and it’s your job to set the standard for what kind of behavior you will accept from them so they will understand how they are to treat you. As much as I love my family and friends, there have been times I’ve had to sit down and have serious discussions with some of them when they’ve treated me in a way I do not find acceptable. This is never easy, but doing the right thing is often very difficult and requires thought, prayer, patience and strength.
Rather than concentrating on the negative though, it’s much more fun to concentrate on the positive and the ways you can contribute to making the world a kinder, better place. One of my favorite programs which feels to me like the ultimate kind thing you can do while you are alive, is participating in the Organ Donor Program. By having the small pink dot affixed to my driver’s license, I’ve already put into motion a plan, which in the event of my passing donates all my organs to whoever needs them. I hope my organs will save the lives of many people, like the heart of Marcus Quarles whose heart gave my Dad 7 more wonderful years with us. Kindness can be donating your organs and saving lives after you pass away. What a beautiful and inspiring thought. This is the sort of “kind” that I’ll stand on a tabletop and shout it out for the world to hear and pat myself on the back until my arms are black and blue. Go Organ Donor Program. Get your Pink Dot.
So Alex, to answer your question, it’s my Pink Dot.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Recently I got stuck and all the stories I have saved in my blog folder just weren’t what I felt like posting. Nothing was hitting me right. I didn’t even feel like ranting or being funny, can you imagine? I have a whole blog post written about my Nappies coming up and I didn’t even want to post that one, and Nappies are one of my favorite things to wear in the whole world. If you don’t know what Nappies are, it’s just another reason my friend “Feen” says I need to post a Dictionary of Jodes-isms so people will know what the heck I am talking about when I speak. I say a lot of stuff people don’t understand and she thinks some of it deserves explaining. The Jodes-isms post is saved in there too and coming one of these days.
I’ve been sidetracked ever since I discovered a blog called The BridgeMaker, written by Alex Blackwell. He’s got an inspirational blog that has knocked my socks off. One Friday not so long ago he asked for responses on what people had going on that day. I’d finally had enough. He’s so awesome I just responded with something like, “You are so awesome I can’t even think of a thing to write on my own blog.”
It was a moment of being so utterly impressed I thought my blog served no purpose whatsoever and I should just suggest to anyone who reads my blog to read The BridgeMaker instead. That’s not even jealousy. It’s pure admiration. I wanted to tell everyone I knew to join me in the new wonderful and joyful thing I’d found. Isn’t it great when you come across something fantastic and amazing in your life and you can’t wait to share it with everyone you know?
It was just about that time The BridgeMaker announced his 31 Days of Kindness Project for the month of March 2011. I’ve shared this on Facebook but thought I’d take this opportunity to also share it on my blog as I have the opportunity to go into further detail here. I’ve written on the importance and need for more kindness in my blog but The BridgeMaker is taking it to a whole new level by asking us to make a commitment to perform an act of kindness every single day for the month of March 2011. Alex Blackwell’s hope is that these acts of kindness will become a habit after the 31 days of trying to think of ways to spread kindness each and every day for 31 days. Easy? Sure.
Early in the morning before you even leave your house, kindness can (and should) begin at home. Before you put on your best behavior for your boss, teachers, friends, etc., how about giving some of that at home for your family; the ones who actually deserve it? How about a note in a lunch box that says, “I Love You,” or one on the steering wheel of the car that says, “Drive safe, you are my world.” A lipstick heart in the shower, a post-it heart in a wallet, a funny note written on a piece of his/her fruit with a sharpie. My son especially liked the funny note I wrote on a banana to him. He showed everyone at work and they all said none of their Mom’s had ever written them a note on their banana before. Kindness can be fun.
When my husband gets home from work, I stand up, walk to the door and greet him along with the dogs. Sometimes I jump and pant like I’m a dog. It makes him laugh. I hug him hard, wrap my leg around him in this comical “barnacle” thing we do and make sure he knows how happy I am to see him so he knows he was missed. Kindness can be all sorts of silly stuff that makes you smile.
Am I old fashioned? Sure. I like it. He does too. In fact, he loves it. He loves that I buy all his favorite snacks so that when he comes home ready to chew one of his arms off, there are plenty of snacks to eat before dinner. Do I make his favorite dinners? You bet. The way to Ken’s heart is straight through his tummy, so kindness in his mind is right around the kitchen. I spend a lot of time there. Kindness is knowing what someone loves and always having it for them.
There are a million ways to show kindness. Thank goodness there are 31 days to talk about it since it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. Join me and The BridgeMaker, Alex Blackwell and friends and spend 31 beautiful days spreading kindness each and every day this month. Hopefully you’ll make it a habit too.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama
Sunday, January 23, 2011
“Spell it for me again Mommy,” I said. “A-D-O-P-T-E-D,” my Mom spelled out for about the hundredth time. I loved hearing that word. We had a book in my parent’s room about being adopted and it was one of my favorites.
My brother, sister and I were all adopted as infants. My parents said as soon as they adopted us, they would hold us, cuddle us, and say, “You are adopted, we love you, and you are special.” They wanted us to grow and flourish as adoptees feeling loved, cherished and wanted. We certainly have.
We were lavished with physical affection. The physical bonds they created allowed us to know we always had open arms and laps available to us. We still do. Even when my Dad was sick, I would still climb onto his lap, or tuck in next to him on his hospital bed. When I’ve been sick, my Mom has always been there 24/7, to comfort me, care for me, or just to rub my forehead. She knows just the right way.
Years ago I was at a Dr.’s appointment and he asked me about my family history. I said I didn’t have any available as I was adopted. He stopped, looked up at me and said, “Wow, who’d ever give you away?”
I’d never heard that before. My parents, in all their wisdom had raised the three of us to feel so cherished. No one had given me away, I’d been chosen.
Happy Birthday Mother. I love you and cherish you more deeply than simple words could ever begin to convey.