Category Archives: Illness

God’s Wake-up Call

Someone reminded me today that our pains are God’s way to awake us from slumber, inactivity.

Pain from illness can be one of the biggest wake-up calls. Pain is our wake-up call to awaken, to look deeper into ourselves, to adjust the course of our life. I believe God tries to be as gentle as possible, and only if we ignore the call does the pain get stronger. So, my pain is unbearable at times. I hide myself from the world. I know I need to try harder not to hide, disappear, hibernate. I know I need to find my smile each and every day, lighten up, eat better, and yes even exercise (yikes). But who can do any of this when we are in pain?

I came across this quote and it also serves as a reminder of a much needed wake-up call:

“Pain is a spiritual wake-up call showing you that there are oceans you have not yet explored. Step beyond the world you know. Reach for heights that you never thought possible. Go to places you have deemed off limits. This is the time to take off the shell of your past and step into the rich possibilities of your future. God does not give us dreams that we cannot fulfill. If you want to do something great with your life-whether it’s to fall madly in love, become a teacher, be a great parent-if you aspire to do something beyond what you are doing now, this is the time to begin. Trust yourself.” ― Debbie Ford, Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life

One of my favorite actors, Anthony Hopkins portrays one of my favorite writers, C. S. Lewis in the movie ‘Shadowlands’, and in more than one scene we hear “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. Lewis’ full quote:

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

I know God has a purpose for our pain, a reason for our struggles and a reward for our faithfulness. So with grace in our steps, hope in our hearts – let’s not give up!


Mental Health

Today is National Depression Screening Day, ‪Bipolar Awareness Day, and ‪‎World Mental Health Day. I have lived all my life with family members who are manic, depressed, alcoholic dependent, and have extreme personality mood swings, and are most times than not in complete denial. I myself suffer from depression and all too aware. I know sometimes when I look back, I am completely lost. We all need to work together to work on increasing our awareness, acceptance and be more patient. Help eliminate the stigma.

This quote by Spike Milligan resonates with me: ‘It’s a gift and a curse. You get the pain much worse than anybody else, but you see a sunrise much more beautiful than anybody else!’

This is how I feel so many times…You start to wonder if maybe something has come over her and she’s finally coming around. Maybe this is the start of something better, more peace, less tension. You even get a little upset wondering, “Well why can’t she just be like this?” And that’s the part that keeps you sucked in, thinking she can someday rehabilitate her attitude and behaviors toward you after all this time. My expectations were always off track. I felt that I just held onto just hope. But I learned that sometimes it’s that very hope – false hope – that keeps us inappropriately connected. You want what you can’t have – a mom who’s proud of you, a grandma who doesn’t pit people against each other, a sister you can trust. When you can accept the face value of your painful situation instead of the fantasy, it gets easier to live with.

Now that doesn’t mean you alienate yourself from the very people you love but drag you so deep down. Sometimes we just have to be inwardly and outwardly strong, brave, patient. Breathe. Count to ten. Limit the contact. Call once in a while, be around for two hours at Christmas, or have dinner once a month. You may need to set some strong boundaries when they start to treat you poorly. That might mean getting up and leaving their house, hanging up the phone, carefully choose what gatherings you attend, etc. And truthfully, it means setting your expectations pretty low. Casual activity that doesn’t get emotional is ideal, unless they are so destructive you should cut them off completely. Lucky for me I have not had to cut any family member out completely.

Sometimes you can stay around and take it, hoping they would get into a better mood; other times you just have to leave and wait. Pray. Hope. There is always hope. If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it….truer words have not been shared.

“Every day may not be good…but there’s something good in every day”
-Alice Morse Earle

I choose to live my life with awareness, hope, faith, patience, and grace in my step.


Moving forward…

Ever just feel like you are being dragged under…and the only way to get through the day is compartmentalize and just try to go through the motions? I find myself so overwhelmed lately and wanting to give up. But I know I can’t. I won’t allow myself to be fully defeated.

I need to remain strong and unaffected when dealing with the weaknesses and shortcomings of others especially lately. I can’t allow other people’s fears, bad habits, gossip, or envy to harm me. Forging ahead, trying to remain confident and keep my decisive attitude although I have learned this arouses competition or insecurities in others, and I continually find myself subjected to deception and lies from people around me, especially colleagues.

“Pulling through is what people do around here. There is a kind of bravery in their lives that isn’t bravery at all. It is automatic, unflinching, a mix of man and machine, consuming and unquestionable obligation meeting illness move for move in a giant even-steven game of chess – an unending round of something that looks like shadowboxing, though between love and death, which is the shadow? “Everyone admires us for our courage,” says one man. “They have no idea what they’re talking about.”

“Courage requires options,” the man adds.

“There are options,” says a woman with a thick suede headband. “You could give up. You could fall apart.”

“No you can’t. Nobody does. I’ve never seen it,” says the man. “Well, not really fall apart.”
― Lorrie Moore, Birds of America

Love the quote above and the collection of stories is a must read. We all, at certain times in our lives, find ourselves broken. True strength is found in picking up the pieces…and moving forward.


Can Something Good Come From This?

Wow!  I have been busy…between working, dating, volunteering…I am surprised I have found time for sleeping.  But I am happy…happier than I have been for months.  I am so looking forward to my volunteer work with the Ronald McDonald House this coming Thursday.  We have gathered a good team.  I know the impact will be great.  Knowing that even for a second, I can help make a child smile is so rewarding.   Personally, many of you know that I myself have lived with cancer so it means more to me to be a volunteer.  Throughout the years, I have found many ways to give back.  I have loved each and every moment of the many fundraising events that I’ve volunteered at, and making lifetime friends along the way!
I’ve grown very passionate about the work so many provide, such as the Ronald McDonald House and how they lend support to children and their families living with this cancer.   So I am going to remain forever optimistic and hopeful.  I am going to maintain my enthusiasm and get a kick out of putting smiles on children’s faces, and continue to reap the rewards of being a volunteer.

And as much as I want to fall in love again, I have been soooo dreading dating again.   But being out in groups with my support group and my volunteering teams, has introduced me to many like-minded people.  I am truly enjoying spending my time with quality people who know how to give of themselves.  For now, just taking it slow.  Meeting in groups is key.   So volunteering may even help me find my next true love.  Who knew?!

What I am learning is that cancer can take a lot of things but that it could also help me and others realize many more important things.  Cancer gave me focus and determination – to live what life was given to me to the fullest.  It has helped to make me deeper and wider and more impassioned than those who have not had to experience the harsher sides of life.  I learned that the unexpected gift of cancer is an intense appreciation for life.  I found compassion for others where there had been none before, I found strength I didn’t know I had…and I would not trade my experiences for anything. 

No one would volunteer to have cancer. Even though it may seem impossible to imagine at the beginning, most people find the strength to deal with cancer when they or a member of their family become ill.  I see it every day!  Most people cope with the challenges cancer brings one day at a time and come out okay in the end.  Overall, most children’s cancer survivors have a good quality of life and sense of well-being.   Also, after getting through such a challenging experience, many people look back on it and feel that they underwent some positive personal changes as a result of having cancer.  Here’s to continual hope…

It is easy to think of the negative things that come with cancer:  having to be in the hospital, missing out on school, work and social activities with friends, feeling too sick or tired to enjoy life, worrying about the future. During treatment, the time is often spent managing these negative or unpleasant things.  After treatment, looking back on these experiences can challenge the way people and their families think about themselves and their world. Many people begin to see positive changes in themselves as a result of surviving the cancer experience. They feel stronger. Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends may also experience positive changes as a result of someone close to them having cancer. For example, some people say the cancer experience helped them focus on what really matters in life. They say they appreciate life more, have deeper personal relationships with family and friends, and find a stronger sense of spirituality. Others report increased confidence in their ability to handle difficult situations, and more certainty about their priorities; they feel more confident and have new interests and goals. Some people experience a desire to “give back” to others and work to help current and future cancer patients. These people might get involved in organizations like Ronald McDonald’s House that provide resources to cancer patients and families.

So here I am…on my journey to give back…find my way…hoping…♥


Looking for my new normal…

Finally!  Learning where my normal can be found…accepting that cancer doesn’t go away.  For me, cancer isn’t a one-time event…it’s a chronic, on-going, tiresome, confusing time.

Fall…changing seasons – the reason why I love living on the East Coast.  Even though, I can’t do my favorite thing and go hiking, I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to soon before winter comes.  I know I have been depressed some times lately, because I have been feeling like I am stuck —some times I don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen next.  But today I am clearly seeing my glass half full.

So after my workshop last week and my decent news from the doctors, I am accepting that living with cancer is not so much about “getting back to normal” as it is learning what’s normal for me now…today, tomorrow.   Sure, I have had to take time to adjust, re-evaluate…but I have made progress.  I have had to put the gym, zumba and hiking on the back burner; I have had to make some minor changes in the way I eat and drink; and I am finding new sources of emotional support.   Biggest challenge has been trying to fit in cancer treatments into my work schedule.   Also, trying to find ways to date and continue looking for true love.  Cancer is just part of my life now, and I always try to have hope.

I am tired of hiding from people.  I need more people in my life who are proud to be around me.  This has been a very good time for me clearing out the so-called friends, acquaintances in my life.  Although I have lost one friend, I have forgiven and re-connected with two others.  Wow – did I miss them.

So the past two days have been bittersweet…the weather is changing…I have not been able to go into the office, but have managed to do a couple of hours each day of some low energy work.

I can’t wait to wear boots.  I tried wearing boots to work the other day and ended up further injuring my already three broken toes.  Only me!

So yes, today was a good day…some decent news from the doctors for once.  Well sort of…I don’t need treatment for the next two weeks.  Yay!  I will take any good news right about now.  Seriously!

This week had me getting second and third opinions regarding the latest blip in my cancer history.   Who knew my CML could lead to visual disturbances and even more abnormal blood results?!   And these stupid headaches and dizzy spells leading me to be even more of a klutz – have to stop.  My poor broken toes can’t handle much more.  So now instead of walking, I think I will just skip…skip, hum and chew gum…should be challenging.  😉

I am really, really tired of doctors, hospitals, labs, etc.  So taking a much needed break.  After hearing all of my options, I feel much better.  I am at ease now that my brain is not deteriorating – for weeks, I could have sworn I noticed some very scary noticeable changes in my speech and writing – but all the white coats swear its not being affected.  I just need sleep, rest, low stress.  Easy!

So I will continue to write, to vent, to share…and always keep hoping…looking for my new normal.

Looking forward to something wonderful happening soon.  ♥


Living and working…

Ah Mondays always take on different meanings for me.   Today it’s all about will I be able to work during my chemo treatments.  This is where I find strength I didn’t know I had and have to keep adopting my inner Divatude!

I am realizing from chatting to others, many people can work during their chemotherapy treatment.  It depends on the person.  Right now I am having very few noticeable side effects.   Besides being late every once in a while to go in for treatments and being tired, I can work through it.  Other people really need to take a break from the stress of their work life. And I think, in part, the decision is personal one, in addition to a medical one. It is rare for the chemotherapy itself to produce side effects that would make it impossible to keep working.  Sometimes it does — some people have their own reaction, and if so then that needs to be managed — but it isn’t a common thing, and most people can keep working if they want to.  So here I am getting ready to go into work.  

So far, I feel very fortunate to be able to continue working, since it really helps to keep my mind off of my illness and dwelling about my condition.  I still have to tell my boss about my illness but that comes after next week when we can talk face-to-face in Dallas.  But I will keep it a secret from others.  I learned how to actually put some makeup on to hide the dark circles and redness, and will use my clothing to hide the weight changes I am going through.  Right now, the worst looking thing are my nails – they are a mess; breaking off.  They hurt.  I wish I could just wear gloves 24/7 to hide them.  *sigh*

I need to keep reminding myself that all these changes are temporary.   Temporary!

I know all of this sounds shallow but keeping my appearance up is good for my morale.  I would love to hear compliments.  And get some positive attention.  I usually shrink away from that – but am realizing that it will do me some good this time.  It is easy to dwell on how horrible I feel or look when my skin and hair texture is changing, feeling nauseous, and so tired.  So trying to look normal, even having fun with my look really helps.   I am hoping that it also helps people around me who know what I am going through.   If they see me coping and doing ok, maybe they won’t pity me or feel uncomfortable around me.  They will be less afraid of the illness and treatment.   Here’s to hoping…


T’s Pushing people away…again…

Trying really hard not to.  Every time I get sick, start feeling overwhelmed, feeling sorry for myself, I push people away.  I just can’t deal.  Some people make it easy.  My true friends give me the space I need but they won’t allow me to fully disappear.  Thank goodness.  I wish I could take back some things the past two weeks.  But I guess we really don’t get do-overs, do we?!

Yes, a part of me understands why things had to happen this way. I understand the reasons for causing me this pain and anxiety . But mere understanding does not chase away the hurt nor pain.  There are times when life suddenly casts a shadow before us: we suffer for sins we did not even commit, we go through situations we certainly do not deserve to be in. In such times, we have so many questions throbbing at the back of our minds, but the biggest of them all is “WHY?”  “Why ME!?!  Again…”

Pain = Pushed people away = Higher anxiety ~ Cycle?!

I have sadly learned that an answer is not really forthcoming.  I know I will not hear answers to these questions; the pain remains, life stands still, and I can’t do anything but wait ‘til everything’s over, until I can move on again like I used to, when my body didn’t fail me and my heart wasn’t shattered yet into the thousand lonely pieces they broke into.  Here is my most important question, and that is “HOW?”

How do I deal with my feelings of brokenness? How to continue moving forward? Where is my smile again?  Like many people, I’ve been through dark and painful moments in my life as well, moments I wanted to skip, moments when what I really wanted the most is to have my own time machine so I can either go back where I was happy, or fast forward anywhere in the future where I can find myself again. But no machine like that has ever been invented yet, and the only way to move from the terrible place where I stand is to continue going through the dark tunnel ahead that will lead me towards the new beginning I’m looking forward to.   *sigh*  I know once I do what the doctors suggest, I will be back on my journey.  But am I really ready?!

Sending an apology to my friends…out into the universe… I don’t mean to push you away.

I don’t have a fear of intimacy.  I don’t fear someone seeing the real me (well maybe this minute since my eyes hurt from crying).  I don’t fear someone might leave me.  I don’t fear that I might get hurt.  I recently met someone who I feel sabotaged their relationships, by allowing fear push people away.  I felt like it was the good old, “I’m gonna get you before you get me” syndrome, where someone behaves poorly to drive the other person away or just flat out breaks-up for no real good reason.  I have also seen people who sabotage themselves by consistently looking for things to fight about, to be jealous about or to be critical of.

But that’s not me – today I am admitting that I am pushing some people away because I have this inane belief that they can’t handle my life.  My uncertainty.  My getting sick.  My honesty.

So I am trying so hard to find and hold onto…accept, challenge, patience, love, strength, don’t dwell, learn, pray, laugh, cry, believe…keep breathing…hoping…

I don’t plan too far ahead…too much expectation, too much disappointment, too much illusion.  I tend to live from day to day.  Mostly it’s from moment to moment…gets me to the next step.  Pain is pain and suffering is suffering. There is no magic pill or any kind of painkiller that we can take to prevent us from feeling our hurts. We have to bear it head on and cling to the thought that things will definitely change for the better.  “I have deep sorrow today, and an unclear vision of the future. But nobody ever died of loneliness – only of hopelessness! As long as I have hope, no problem is ever too difficult, no night ever so dark that it can prevent the rising of another day!”

Can joy still exist even in my sorrows?!

Yes – although right this second, as I write this I am not fully embracing this but I do believe that joy and sorrow can definitely exist at the same time.  Someone deep down, I know I am going to get through this current hurdle.   Somewhere in my heart, there is a chamber of joy that has remained intact, untouched, forever guiding me in me most troublesome days and paths.  Faith, hope, loving myself…protects me and my happiness.

I didn’t realize the power of a secret I’ve been keeping. I didn’t notice the constant weight hanging on my shoulders. I didn’t realize the enormity of it all until I let it out today and now again via this post and I feel like I am slowly learning how to breathe again.

It’s nice to put trust into someone who speaks in “when’s” and not “if’s.” It’s nice to know that, despite how heavy and deep and painful a secret may be, there’s at least one person who’s willing to accept what you’ve told them and be honest when they tell you, “it’s not okay…but you’re going to be.”  Thank you – you know who you are….my rock, my sanity.  And ♥mm♥ is there too – even with September 11 fast approaching and my sadness hitting an all time high.  Talk about timing!

I have allowed some wrong people in my life this year, as well as learning to cherish the right people.  Still learning.  I think I will continue to look at most things as though they are my first time, as though it will be my last.  I will continue to pray, smile, and love!


Tuesday Tears…

Tuesdays should be off limits for bad news.  No?!   I wonder if people dread the doctors as much as I do.  You would think I would be so used to them by now.  But no, never.  Talk about anxiety.  I swear I experience “white coat syndrome” – a phenomenon in which people exhibit elevated blood pressure in a clinical setting but not in other settings.   It is believed that this is due to the anxiety some people experience during a clinic visit.  Yup!  That’s me.  I usually experience social anxiety – but my blood pressure doesn’t usually elevate.

So bad news…I was sort of expecting it, but still hard to accept.  I am crying myself out so then tomorrow I can move forward with a new plan to stay healthy.

I am no longer allowing my past dictate my future. nor allowing my being sick a lot define me or rob me of feeling beautiful and being productive.

Nope.  Not Again.

I will always find small ways to create and enjoy moments.  I will continue to dress stylish despite my weight gain; I will get my hair done and skip lunch.  *sigh* I will cut back on the Pepsi and drink more water.

For years, I was doing so much for other people that I had started to neglect myself. I am finally once again putting myself at the top of the priority list.  Adopting the right attitude…maybe even of that of a “Divatude”…although not sure if I can pull that off.  🙂

Learning to focus on the beautiful moments and not dwell on the hardships, especially the challenging painful days that lie ahead. Grateful for all the blessings and opportunities.  May they keep coming…♥


%d bloggers like this: