ONE WORD FOR 2022

As you look back at the year 2022, what one word comes to your mind? What did you experience?

My one word is SAD. Though a sad year, it filled me with more love.

As I reflect on the past year, it is hard to remember anything before the month of June. The sudden and unexpected death of our son-in-law impacted me quite deeply. Jimmy was young, vibrant, always smiling, giving, positive, and loving. He was a specimen of perfect health. Yet, he died of a sudden massive heart attack.

My beloved Aunt Arleigh left this earth in her 90s. I first met her when I was 12 years old and knew I wanted to be just like her. She always smiled, laughed, and had wonderful advice for an immature teenager. She was an actress and worked at Capitol Records. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hf0T0IecP50

I said farewell to several of my cancer sisters. Each of these ladies impacted me in a special way: their laughter, enthusiasm, love, gratitude, spiritual beliefs, smiles, and their tears. I am all the more motivated to spread the word about any of the GYN cancers.

I have moved from sad to grateful. Though I miss each of these people, I reflect more on how blessed I am to have had them in my life.

BOOKS ARE FRIENDS STORIES ARE LESSONS

My grandmother introduced me to books when I was a little girl. Her small apartment was filled with books which she called her friends. She always asked me what I learned from the story. Reading stories with the mindset of “what am I learning?” was very helpful in making decisions throughout my life.

D.L. Finn’s poetry in Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul is a book I read in 2019. However, because it was so beautiful and powerful even now I often open the pages randomly and gain some peace and joy.

In this short story, Mountain Laurel Christmas, the lesson that fame and fortune do not bring happiness is taught. The author, Jan Sikes, brings the important message that only family can fill a heart with love.

Is money the answer to happiness? When it comes to love, do age differences matter? These are questions central to the short story I’ll Be Right Back, by Maura Beth Brennan.

No Such Luck, by Staci Troilo, is a story of a young woman who returns to her hometown after a significant absence. A short story with a powerful message of the importance of choices, people, and events from which we can learn.

Happy Reading! May each book enrich your life.

GIFTS OF 2022

THIS BLOG IS IN MEMORY OF SO MANY WHO HAVE PASSED ON TO THEIR NEXT LIFE, DIMENSION, OR ADVENTURE…THEY EACH TAUGHT ME SO MUCH. THEIR LIVES ARE THE GREATEST GIFTS I RECEIVED IN 2022.

My 3 gifts from 2022: are no further loss of eyesight, celebrating and appreciating my life and those who have passed before me, and living my life’s purpose each moment.

EYESIGHT

A GIFT SO SPECIAL
FADING, BLURRING, SENSITIVE
TOO PRECIOUS TO LOSE

LIFE



INHALE, EXHALE, BREATHE
LIFE FORCE FLOWING IN AND OUT
 A NEW LIFE BEGINS
WHEN SOULS SOAR TO THE HEAVENS
OUR LOSS WE GRIEVE THEY LIVE ON


PURPOSE



TO LIVE FULL OF JOY
TO BRING JOY TO ALL OTHERS
A PURPOSEFUL LIFE
EXTEND YOUR HAND, GIVE YOUR HEART
LOVE RETURNED A JOYFUL LIFE

MY WISH FOR YOU IS THAT 2023, BRINGS YOU JOY, GOOD HEALTH, PURPOSE, AND LOVE. EACH DAY, EACH BREATH, AND EACH MOMENT IS A GIFT AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING JOY TO OTHERS.

Christmas Gifts

In ancient Rome, from December 17 to 23, a festival called Saturnalia was celebrated with a sacrifice, banquets, and gift-giving. It was a time of giving thanks to the god of agriculture, Saturn. Extravagant gifts were in contradiction to the spirit of Saturn, so the lowliest, silliest, or mundane gift was considered the best.

In 312 AD, the Roman emperor, Constantine, converted to Christianity. The gift giving as represented by the magi gradually replaced the gifts from plain to the best or richest. Nickolas of Myra was known for his love of giving gifts. After his death, he was named Saint Nicholas, the saint of gift-giving. As Christianity spread across Europe, various traditions and interpretations emerged including the story of Santa Claus.

When one gives gifts from the heart, there is a natural benefit to the giver: the heart is healthier, stress is reduced, and endorphins are released. The giver does not expect anything in return.

Wishing you each a blessed Christmas.

Christmas Ornaments

Have you wondered where and how the tradition of decorating Christmas trees came from? According to the Old World Christmas website, the tradition started in 723 while Saint Boniface was traveling through Germany, he met a group of people who were dancing around a decorated oak tree. They were preparing to sacrifice a baby in the name of Thor (a pagan god).

He was angry and very upset. He copped down the oak tree proclaiming the act in the name of Jesus Christ. When the oak tree fell, legend states it revealed a small fir tree. The priest explained to the astonished group that the fir tree is a symbol of the one true God. Its leaves are forever green and will not die. The needles point to heaven. The evergreen trees were then brought into the homes and decorated in the name of Jesus.

The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes, and pastries shaped in the form of stars, hearts, or flowers. Glass-blown ornaments were added in the mid-1500s.

Many people put a star or angel on the top of the tree, Lights are added as symbols that Jesus is the light of the world and the star that led the three Wisemen to Bethlehem.

christmastreeworld.co.uk(opens in a new tab)

Families have favorite ornaments that have special stories or meanings. We had three stars of red, white, and blue that were hung next to each other in honor of our WWII veterans.

Our exchange student from Switzerland was surprised that we decorated our tree 1-2 weeks before Christmas. His family always decorated on Christmas Eve and used lit candles. (They never had a fire)!

What ornaments have special meaning for you? Are there special traditions you follow when decorating the tree? Please share your stories.

Christmas Trees

Why do we have Christmas trees at this time of year? How did this tradition start?

In ancient times, before Christianity, many people believed that those plants that remained green during the winter protected them from evil spirits. It was a common belief that the sun was a god who became ill and weak causing cold and dark days to remind them that the sun god would soon be well.

In the early history of Egypt, the sun god, Ra, had a hawk for his head and a bright sphere in his crown. The people used green palm fronds during the winter solstice to celebrate life’s triumph over death.

The anticipated return of green farms and orchards in early Roman times was celebrated by decorating their homes with evergreen boughs.

In northern Europe, the Celts and Scandinavians celebrated everlasting life by decorating their temples with the greenery of evergreens.

From a cancer patient: On that Chemo Christmas Eve of 2014, I made room for that sparse little tree in our portrait because no matter how crappy I felt, I wanted to capture the promise it symbolized in the moment — it’s cold and dark out now, but green survives. I will survive…Even during my personal season of darkness, I never stopped searching for the smallest hint of green in a world with cancer — and with that green, a promise of life. https://www.froedtert.com/stories/together/o-chemo-christmas-tree

Please read this article about a man who helps cancer patients get free trees for Christmas. https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/news/2020/09/16/christmas-trees-to-help-cancer-patients

According to Dr. Jill Sidebottom of NC State University, there is no higher risk for cancer for those living in or near the forests of NC. In fact, cancer rates in NC mountain counties are for the most part lower than other counties in North Carolina. This has been true since the 1990s. Read more at: https://christmastrees.ces.ncsu.edu/faq-health-concerns/

When you decorate your home with a tree, wreaths, and garland, think about the promise of new life, healing, crops, and sunshine that evergreens have represented for thousands of years. Due to the arctic blast affecting most of the continental USA, we need the warmth, smells, and promises of Christmas trees and garlands.

THANKSGIVING & CANCER

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SENT OUT YESTERDAY. HOWEVER, THE MESSAGE IS PERFECT FOR EVERYDAY.

You might think, “I do not want to read or hear about cancer when this is a season of joy, family, food, and gratefulness. THOSE ARE THE VERY REASONS WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CANCER AS WE PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

Wishing you each a blessed Thanksgiving filled with love, compassion, peace, and gratitude.

CARE PARTNERS

When providing care when someone is ill can be overwhelming. This is a presentation on three such roles: caregivers, caretakers, or care partners. These are strictly my definitions based on my own experience as a nurse, mother, wife, and patient.

To me, a caregiver is someone who gives care based on what he or she thinks the person needs or wants. This is a common definition and is often performed by nurses and medical staff personnel. Outside the medical community, the caregiver provides basic help in the home and tends to the personal needs of the patient (bathing, walking, exercising, cooking, etc.).

One who is a caretaker (not at the cemetery), provides care based strictly on what he or she thinks the patient wants or needs. Time for a bath, go for a walk, you must eat this, take these pills, and so forth.

At the beginning of my cancer journey, Jim was a caretaker. Based on my personality, I wanted a caregiver. We talked and he understood and became the best caregiver any person could want or need.

November 2008

Over the past 14 years, he has moved into the role of a care partner. Such people give care based on what the patient says or needs, and what is most helpful and safe. They listen to the patient. They share their thoughts about what is needed and wanted, coming to a decision that is best for the loved one. They are truly partners.

The important lesson to be learned when a loved one needs care is to provide safety and loving care. It is vitally important to encourage their independence…do not enable them. The goal should always be encouraging healthy choices, independence, and full recovery.

Learn more in my book, Outshine, An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research.

FACEBOOK: WHY I LEFT IT.

I have deleted my account on Facebook for a variety of reasons. It was not an easy decision, but one I do not regret. Here is a little history:

  • Facebook was launched on October 28, 2003, under the name Facemash.
  • Then it was relaunched as The Facebook on February 4, 2004.
  • It was founded by Mark Zuckerman and his friends at Harvard University.
  • Initially intended for only Harvard students.
  • In September 2006, it was open to everyone with an email and to those at least 13 years old.
  • The original purpose was to help college students connect with one another.
  • Today it has 2.5 billion users.

The disadvantages or cons of FB:

  • Some people are addicted to it.
  • Others are on FB during their work schedules.
  • An easy target for viruses
  • High incidence of identity theft
  • It can lead to antisocial behavior
  • Can put a strain on a relationship

The number of scams, bullying, stalking, and harassment is frightening. Once a photo, statement, or threat is posted, it is there forever. Too often, the lives of young people have been damaged or driven to suicide.

My small voice will not change the FB mania and its control worldwide. I may well lose contact with potential followers of this blog, readers of my books, or happenings with family and friends.

I plan to stay in touch with family and friends through emails, this blog, and phone calls. Safer, friendlier, and no risk of identity theft.

STORMS OF LIFE

The storms of life can occur in many forms: an unexpected death, a life-threatening diagnosis, or a natural disaster. When any of these events occur, we are often like a ship in a storm with our sails and rudder unused.

We struggle with such questions as:

  • Why me?
  • How will I get through this?
  • Can anyone help me?
  • Where is God?

Our son-in-law died unexpectedly at the young age of 59. Though he was the specimen of perfect health, he was unaware his heart was dangerously in need of surgery.

The storm of cancer has been in my life for 14 years, ebbing and flowing with intensity. My lessons are the same: taking good care of my body and living in the moment with love.

These events and the devastating hurricane Ian did prompt me to look at my life. How have I reached out to others? Have I been judgmental? Have I been prejudicial? Have I lived in the moment with love?

Lessons:

  1. Gratitude…shows us that real joy can come in the midst of the hardest time.
  2. Family & friends…storms bring. people closer together
  3. Change behaviors…be more patient, understanding, humble, loving, etc.
  4. Storms show us who we are and about those around us.
  5. New strengths can be developed
  6. Storms remind us of what is truly important.

As we face various storms, we may well need to adjust the sails and steady the rudder. We can be better, stronger, and more loving.