Archive | July 2016

A, B, and C is for Cancer……

Cancer…..probably one of the most frightening words in the English language. By definition it is a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites. The written definition in itself is bone chilling, but this modern example – In the old days, a few generations back, cancer was the Voldemort of illnesses, as in, “he whose name shall not be spoken.”  – makes it sound like a lightning bolt coming down from the very hand of God.

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Exactly one month ago today, we found out that my younger brother has Metastatic Melanoma. This shocking diagnosis followed a chest x-ray to check on a lingering cough that was assumed to be allergy-related. And, as if that news wasn’t devastating enough, upon further scans we were informed that it had the nerve to meander its way up to his brain without being invited to the party!

Fast forward a month, many new doctors/specialists later, and here we are at  KU Medical Center one day after brain surgery. Round One of fighting off “he who’s name shall not be spoken” has been successfully put behind us and we are nervously awaiting the challenges of Round Two.

 Unsurprisingly, in spite of having a portion of his brain extracted, Jeff has managed to keep us on our toes. He has managed to maintain his sense of humor as he wittingly talks to us about his plan of operation for each day (he has even strategically attempted to train the nurses to follow his agenda ). I must add that, being a mere bystander in this whole process, I am amazed at the level of skill, patience, and service that the doctors and nurses have provided! Since this location has become our temporary ‘home away from home’ it has been a blessing to have such an incredible group of medical professionals on our side in this battle.


What are the next steps? Although, the future is still a bit fuzzy in regards to the plan,  Jeff has made huge strides in just two short days.


 On this Thursday, July 28th, he will turn forty-five years young. And this year, we know as in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, we have gained strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which we really stopped to look fear in the face. Each day we are able to say to ourselves, “We lived through this horror (aka: “he whose name shall not be spoken”). We can take the next thing that comes along”. Jeff, my hero, now has the battle scars and the titanium plate to prove it!


With Love,


A Village…. And Some Reflections from the Past

Our journey…. Well, it has differed some as he is six years and one month younger than I, and he is the only sibling that I have. Amazingly,  he always has forgiven me for being ‘me’.

Oh, and when I say ‘me’, I mean I was the one who fed that poor kid my home made mud pies at the farm, role-played bossy teacher on him, dressed him up (enough said there), painted his fingernails, and made him laugh on purpose when I knew he needed to go to the bathroom on a long car trip in Granddad’s new car. As far as labels go in family dynamics, he has always been ‘the laid back one’ – the one who takes on the burden of everyone else’s struggles yet seems to have the humor/backbone/strength to just let it roll off and keep his even-keeled disposition. My label has been ‘the sensitive one’, the one that resists asking uncomfortable questions, tears up at the drop of a hat, and freaks out in a crisis.

Even though he is half a decade younger than I, he is the one that I can say anything to and he will ignore the proper, social etiquette and ask the uncomfortable questions. Not because he is rude or insincere, but because he genuinely knows that in order to build relationships, there can be no barriers. For example,  when I was going through a divorce and I felt so ashamed about my marital failure, he was the one that I could talk to and I knew that it was all going to be okay. Somehow, he knew I had it in me to take on the challenges of single parenthood.

So, what does one do when the one who is even-keeled and laid back is suffering? We have now heard the dreaded ‘c’ word, which to me should require action and answers immediately; yet, we have to wait. We wait for more test results, more doctor visits, more scary news and we pray incessantly. The emotional toll and the lack of control is so mentally invasive as I try to go about the routines of my days.

Therapeutically, I have started sewing to keep my hands busy during any free time that I have.

And then I have sewn some more…

And I will continue to sew and pray while we wait for more news.


******Prayers for Jeff******

With Love,