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.

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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.

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 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!

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With Love,

sunflower

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,

sunflower

I Can’t Adult Today

At 51 years old, I guess it is about time that I start figuring out what its like to be an adult! I can remember so vividly being a child and wishing that I were a grown-up. It seemed as if I would have to wait an eternity to gain the ‘freedom’ of adulthood.  It didn’t register to me  that with freedom comes responsibilities. Now, at my age, I am still waiting to feel like a grown-up, even though I look like one in the mirror, and I would really like to share the burden of responsibilities with someone else.

This week, I worked with a friend’s daughter painting a dining room table. I remember her as a six-year old and now she has just purchased her first home. I just don’t understand how that happened – in the blink of an eye. And yet, I am still waiting to feel like a grown-up!

I think that she was pleased with how the table turned out even though we ran into a few glitches. It got so hot in the garage that I had to move to Plan B and put everything inside. Thank goodness my husband is a patient man and can deal with a bit of disorder (a.k.a. absolute chaos).

I don’t know, would an adult think it was acceptable to function like this in the living room for over a week?

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I would have to say that it was all worth it – maybe tomorrow I can be an adult!

With Love,

sunflower

—-Praying for JWR—-

 

 

These are a few of my Favorite Things

I absolutely, positively, without a doubt, LOVE SUNFLOWERS! I have a dear teaching friend that helps feed my obsession by driving all over the Texas countryside with me to take pictures of the fields when they are in full bloom. This year, due to the rains we had in early spring, the blooms were exquisite!sunflower 1

Each one is beautifully unique!

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This past weekend, I was able to go on a brief getaway to the coast. It was a great escape from the everyday ‘stuff’ and I couldn’t help but feel a wave of sadness wash over me when driving back home yesterday.

When packing for a beach vacation, it takes a lot of planning. Of course, the no-brainer is to throw in a couple of bathing suits, cover-ups, and flip-flops; but strategically packing the unfinished craft projects that you want to complete can be a bit tricky. On this particular getaway, I had decided that I wanted to sew some canvas bags. I had been buying coordinating fabric for this particular project and was super excited about trying out a pattern I had found online.

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I did tweak the pattern a bit, but for a great step-by-step tutorial on sewing tote bags Amanda from www.crazylittleprojects.com is your gal. I can’t wait to try her messenger bag pattern next.

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Just think of all of the possibilities! Beach Breaks – they’re not just for sand and sun anymore!

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With love,

sunflower

 

 

praying for JWR

The Days that Time Worked in my Favor

At the beginning of any extended vacation time  from work, there is a spring in my step, an unrealistic to-do list of Pinterest projects to try, and a feeling that the world is at my feet because time is on my side. I can easily organize the responsibilities of laundry, cooking, and cleaning with a lighthearted attitude.  I am so sorry  for those that  have not been able to feel that luxury of ‘time’ every once in a while because the opportunity to refresh is so important for one’s health.FullSizeRender (3)

This weekend, my husband surprised me with a road-trip for my birthday and our anniversary. Our definition of road-trip is: get in the car and drive to some undetermined destination.

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We spent two days driving to small towns, roaming around, talking, and laughing. Letting go is good and we both know that we have got to take these mini-vacations more often. We have decided however, that Siri will always travel with us in case we need assistance with gas station locations, hotel choices, and restaurant recommendations (that is a whole other story and one that we will laugh about together for years to come).

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With Love,

Penny

 

 

On the First Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me….

“I really need you to come down and help me with a food drive that we are having at work from 10:00-2:00” Grrr! Those were the words that  my husband said to me on the morning of my first official vacation day. He is such a romantic….literally, my heart just fluttered at his request. So…. in 97 degree heat, we trudged downtown, bagged canned goods, loaded them into vehicles, and delivered them to the local food pantry.

Honestly, it was a great experience, and I enjoyed working alongside with the people that he works with day in and day out. They all gave up their Saturday to participate in this gift of service, which says a lot about their sense of community and loyalty to their employer. I was especially impressed by two high school students that were working at the food pantry . They brought shopping carts out to us and helped us load and unload all of our bagged items. Both of them were so willing to help and truly shared their sense of service with us. In a world where the media portrays the negatives of our society as ‘the norm’, it was so refreshing to see ‘norm’al teenagers working for a cause.

With Love,

sunflower