Category Archives: Hugs

Living with Cancer

Today … was like coming home, after a long trip. That’s what true friendships and love are …. it’s like coming home. I was finally able to meet up with some friends today and it was a good day. Good days have been far and few in between this winter.

I find myself trying so hard to be strong. Sometimes, I feel so alone, going through cancer, trying not to be a burden to anyone … but then you let your guard down and realize who truly has your back.

I try to put a big smile on my face but at times, all I want to do is curl up and die. Just give up. But then I find myself lucky enough to spend a couple of hours surrounded by friends and my smile is genuine. I still want to curl up, but not die. Lately, I have been too weak for much. But today was a good day. A day of genuine connection. I felt a part of something. And sometimes, that is all we need. Today was a day of hope and hugs.

People ask me on the bad days what chemo is like, how I am feeling – and although I consider myself articulate, I have a really difficult time explaining it. It’s difficult to describe the forest from the trees, right? Chemotherapy side effects are worse than cancer, that’s for sure. With cancer, most of the time you’d hardly know it if some doctor didn’t tell you. I mean, I was pretty hard up by the time they found it in me, but sometimes cancer can go all the way to stage IV and you’d never know it.

Chemo, on the other hand, you can never forget that. Not for a second. There’s no ignoring chemotherapy. It invades every cell by the end of it. You spend months marinating in a stew of toxic wastes that are out to kill you. And I don’t think that’s overly-dramatic. You try it sometime and see if I’m not right. The exhaustion, the pain, the numbness, the forgetfulness, the vague feelings, the full yet empty stomach, the nausea… so many things, feelings. The exhaustion never totally leaves me, and I can’t stand very long, and today was not really different, except that I felt okay, accepted, no one made me feel bad. I got to sit like a statue and was surrounded by good friends… making new memories. Embracing life…with grace in my step and hope in my heart. Not giving up – on people, nor myself.

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Acrostic…anyone?

Learned a new form of poetry writing…Acrostic: An acrostic poem is one that uses a word written vertically and each letter of the word then acts as the beginning letter for a new line of the poem. Whatever is written using each letter must connect to the subject matter.

Harder than I thought it would be…practicing and determined….

How you flow into my thoughts, for no reason, at times
Uninvited, yet, most welcome where warm smiles begin
Good days or bad, near or far, we’ll share
Sweet moments of embrace whenever our souls stir…♥


“In life and love, expect the unexpected…”

How many of you have seen the movie, “Moonlight Mile”?   This is how I have been feeling all weekend into Monday…”I feel like I have been in a place where nothing’s right, where every moment’s backwards, every sky’s without color, without hope…”…so I am sitting here determined not to play games, waste my time nor anyone else’s – no games, only hope…

Some of the quotes / lines from the movie that resonated with me:
Truth is hard
colors wrong styles wrong
guess its where the good ones live
Where have I been – where I went
I went to a place where is nothing right
where everyone hurts
sky is without color without hope
Every moment is backwards
I tried to come back but I got lost
I thought I found home when I found you
“Dear Bertie, You asked me before where I went. And I want  to tell you. I went to a place where nothing’s right, where every moment’s  backwards, every sky’s without colour, without hope. I tried to come back,  Bertie. But I got lost. And while I was gone, I met you. And I didn’t even have  the courage to realize I was home. A wise friend of mine told me “we all have  our homes”, and now I know it’s true. I hope you get this letter, Bertie. I  figure I got 75 chances. Cause if you do you’ll know that in the end, that’s  where I was. I found home, Bertie. I found you. I hope you can find your’s soon.  Get there – as fast as you can. And write me when you do. Love, Joe.”
“I’m sorry,  I can’t, I can’t do this. It didn’t happen. We loved each other, we broke it  off. If I don’t-Jesus, if I don’t say this now, it’ll never-she’ll never be a  part of this. What are we-what are we doing here? I don’t even-I don’t even know  this guy. She-she didn’t even know this guy. What’s he got to do with her? I  don’t-look, you asked me to bring her in the room, and she’s not here-she’s not.  And whatever happens here, whatever happens to this guy, she’s not here. And the  only way that you’re gonna bring her in here is with the truth. I don’t know-I  don’t know what else to say. You just tell me what to say, and I swear, I’ll  try, but if you want her, you got to keep it honest. You have to understand that  Diana had this thing, this way of bringing out the real in people, not just the  best, you know-their honesty. And I guess she’s doing it again now cause there’s  no way I’d be sitting here saying these things I can’t believe are coming out of  my mouth. It was Diana who finally had the courage. *She* was the one who told  *me* that I didn’t want to go through with it. And I guess she’s-she’s doing it  again, cause all of this-all of this is everything that she wouldn’t want. She  wasn’t a bride-to-be. She wasn’t a victim. She was strong and real and messed up  and wickedly honest, just like her mother. And if I sit here trying to paint it  any other way, I… Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I just-I thought-I thought that if  I could just… paint the pictures that you needed, you know, that… that  somehow… that somehow you’d bring these people some peace, finally, and they’d  have their daughter back, or… But, uh… that’s not how she’d wanna be. The  truth is hard. Sometimes it looks so wrong, you know-the color’s off, the  style’s wrong, but I guess it-I guess it’s where the good one’s live…”
With a head full of snow everything makes sense yet it all eventually crumbles into fragmented BS upon sober self-reflection.  Like a drug, it’s all consuming, self isolating, leading to nowhere fast….avoiding….
Only hope…♥

Woman’s Best Friend…♥

I am in a very emotional state today – over tired, lack of sleep – I have not stopped crying  since early this morning at 5am when I had to leave my poor Chili dog home alone feeling poorly since I had to come into work.  Makes me sick to see him so listless, staring up at me.  And this brings up so many feelings…makes me realize that he won’t live forever and how I felt when I had to put his older brother down two years ago.  Still so raw.   I can’t even write this without tears streaming down my face.

I know that there are some people that won’t understand this post. People that have never loved a dog like a family member and people that look at dogs as nothing more than pets. But for those who have loved a dog like I have, I know you will understand this.   Please bear with me here as I feel a need to write this down as a form of therapy for myself and it’s my small attempt at a tribute for the most incredible dog that I have ever known. My emotions and thoughts are over the place so this might not even come out as coherent but I’m going to do my best.

I had not started this blog when I had to put my Cairn Terrier, Scruffy, down in 2009. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I still miss him like crazy on most days.  If I didn’t already have Chili, my Boston Terrier,  I don’t think I would want another dog again because I hate the thought of losing him too already and he’s only 7.   So hard to go through the pain and loss.   But these couple of years, I am SO glad that I’ve had Chili with me.  He’s been great at giving me comfort and helping me remember why animals bring so much joy into our lives. I’m a dog person through and through. And even though it’s hard and painful to think about them getting older and passing away, the time spent with them is so worth it in the end.  It’s hard loving these little animals that sneak their way into your hearts but at the same time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I truly believe they were put on earth to bring us joy and companionship and I’m happy that I am still able to see that the benefits far outweigh the heartache.

I’m not writing this for a pity party, but I have this story inside of me and today it’s coming out for whatever reasons.  It’s a story that defines me and how we all grieve and seek comfort in different ways.

The year I decided to get Scruffy, was a very lonely, bleak time for me. I was trying to finish college, but I learned I was back out of remission, and trying to concentrate in class, be a normal young lady, thinking of guys, makeup and dates wasn’t working.   Dealing with the realization that I could die was too much for me.  And while this story is one of the most monumental times in my life, it’s not about my illness solely nor about my struggles graduating college.  It’s about the one who got me through that time.  Everything and mostly everyone seemed so trivial compared to what I was going through and what really mattered.  Looking back on that moment all these years later, I know that it was him who picked me.  Scruffy was everything I needed during that time and more.

I wish I could really describe what he meant to me but I don’t think I will ever be able to adequately talk about my best friend during the hardest part of my life. He became my companion and a true friend more than just a dog; he was there with me through everything.   When I went to Seattle for 6 months for a clinical study, he was allowed to be with me.  When I discovered my love for hiking, he was with me.  When I went out to alfresco dining, he was always at my feet…at dog-friendly restaurants.  He slept next to me at night, he kept me laughing and happy for the first time in a long time, and he gave me a reason to be excited when I came home from school and the hospital instead of to an empty apt. He brought life back into me and I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time without him.  I never felt lonely with Scruffy anymore, because wherever I was, he was always by my side.   And now with just Chili, I don’t feel alone neither.   I brought Chili home one day when he was only 3 months old and about to get destroyed and Scruffy was already 12 years old.  Scruffy never became jealous – on the contrary – he welcomed his new little sick brother with open paws – sharing his bed and toys…just not his food.  Scruffy loved to eat!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end…that day came when I made the hardest decision I have ever had to make to put my best friend down.  Scruffy had been showing signs of aging for the last few years and I knew it was just a matter of time for him.  I couldn’t bear seeing him suffer anymore. After living in denial about his health those last few months, I was forced to confront it.  After a lot of talking, crying and prayer I knew I couldn’t deny any longer that my full-of-life puppy had turned into an old dog and it was only for my own selfish reasons to keep him alive any longer.

As I stood next to him in the vet’s room, I put my arms around him one last time and began whispering in his ear. His tail slowly wagged back and forth as I petted him and I spoke softly so only he could hear. I thanked him for being the best dog I could ask for, I thanked him for crawling into my lap 16 years ago, and for tugging at my hert strings; I thanked him for every way he had ever loved me and most important – I thanked him for bringing me back to life.

There was one night not so long ago, that I remember so well and probably the memory that I will always think of how both of my dogs have impacted my life…it was the first holidays without Scruffy, and I put up the Christmas tree and then went to bed in tears, recalling how much Scruffy would love laying under the tree.  And that night Chili jumped on the bed when he heard me crying in the dark. I pulled back the covers to let him in; he laid down by my side, put his head on the pillow next to mine and just stayed there while I cried my eyes out. I put both of my arms around him for a tight hug and he would lick my face from time to time and stayed awake with me until I finally fell asleep a few hours later. It was one of the most touching nights with him and a night that I had never appreciated him more.  He just seemed to know when I needed him most and never failed to be there for me…Scruffy taught him well.

Sometimes I feel guilty but no matter how much I love Chili {and I really do love him}, he will never be my Scruffy.   Chili is my baby but Scruffy was my best friend…♥

There is a favorite quote of mine from the movie, “Marley and Me” that will always make me think of Scruffy:

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley  Scruffy taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness, and above all else, unwavering loyalty.”

Oh my Scruffy, you were the best of the best and there will never be another like you.   Thank you for teaching Chili and I how to love and live again.  ♥

My Chili Dog

My serious Chili Dog

The Ortiz Brothers
My Boys

My Best Friend


The power of hugs, smiles, quiet…

Last week was one of the hardest for me at my new job.  Its going on a month since I have started this job and being the new girl has been more difficult than I imagined….trying to fit in, learn new procedures, new faces, new names, etc.  Exhausting.  A little daunting.  All making me a little sad.  And here it is Sunday afternoon already and I am getting a little anxious.  *sigh*

One day last week, after a long commute after work, I was on my way home, and ran into an old friend, neighbor, a ‘what if’ person, gave me a hug…and I could not breathe…and I think it took me a few days to realize that I missed being hugged.  The simple power of a hug…who knew?!  It was a little happiness in an unexpected hug!  “Everybody needs a hug.  It changes your metabolism”  ~Leo Buscaglia

In the past when people tried to hug me, I always found myself to be awkward, boxed in, distancing myself – never fully embracing the other person nor the idea of the hug itself.  But I don’t want to be so closed off.  I want more hugs, I think no?  😉

I tend to be the type of person who is a loner; I get quiet, go inside of myself, guarding against hurt.  I tend to go inside, needing one-on-one time with myself to figure things out, put things in perspective.  I do struggle to put myself out there, but I won’t stop trying.

How do I choose to be happy before anything good happens to make me feel happy?  Ever hear of the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh?  “Smile five times a day for no good reason.”  Smiling actually produces a biological effect in your body. It sends chemicals racing around your body and actually lifts your spirits. Try this today. Then, every day this week, smile five times a day for no good reason.  Do it standing in the shower. Do it walking down the street, or working at your desk. For no good reason, just break into a smile. Watch your mood change, even though nothing in your exterior has shifted.  Can’t hurt.  This is my goal this week, especially at work.

So in daily struggle to stay true to myself, find some balance, and keep edging myself out of this box of depression, I am going to seek the universal medicines in the forms of hugs, smiles, and quiet…♥


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