I Am Free

I woke up early this morning to a message from a dear friend of mine in the UK. She knew I had my last Radiation treatment, and was expressing her joy. She asked an interesting question. She said, “Are you free”? She meant from Cancer, but there I went to pondering!

None of my doctors will ever come out and tell me, “You are Cancer free.” I guess they can get into a lot of trouble for saying that, but I know my body, and my God, and I am free.

I feel free. My life reflects how free I am, so how free is that?

I found this place on the way home from Radiation last week. There was road construction, and the detour took me here. I had heard of it, but never knew where it was until that detour. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but when I do, it’s gotta be good. I’m pretty much in love with this place, and I get a kick out of the name of the town it’s in called ‘Uhland.’

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Meat case at Bon Ton Market

 

This General Store holds a special place in my heart. My daughter would’t stop there with me because she thought it looked creepy. I drove by here twice a day during Radiation.

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Lytton Springs General Store

I had to stop in just to relay to my daughter if it was creepy or not. It was like stepping back in time. There were men sitting on the bench outside seeing who could tell the bigger lie. They looked at me like I was not from here, but little did they now, I live in the next town over. The woman at the counter inside gave me a warm welcome and asked, “Where are you from?”

I laughed as I walked over to the coffee pot to inspect their brew. She said, “It ain’t no Starbucks, but it’s made with love! I have walked here before just for a cup of that coffee.”

I poured a cup, added creamer, and walked up to the counter to pay. She charged me $1.00, and I went outside to enjoy the sunshine on the front porch. That was, and is the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. I stopped by this morning on the way home from Uhland for a cup.

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Pulling away from the General Store, this is the next thing I see. My daughter was amused that I pulled off the road to take a picture of this sign. Driving home from Radiation, it always gave me great comfort to see it. Just one more mile, and I’ll be home.

The meat from the market went in the fridge, except for the roast. It went into the Crock Pot. While at the market, I spotted some candles that were made by a local woman. I don’t need anymore candles, but she had some wax melts, which I was out of. They were $3.00 a pack, and I chose the scent entitled, ‘Sunkissed.’ I will pay $3.00 all day long to be sunkissed.

I was ready for a cup of tea, and chose one from the cabinet named, “Zen.” Thinking ahead, I chose another one to go with dinner. I had some large, steeping tea bags of, “Pure Peach” that sounded good. They are from Zhi Tea, in Austin, one of my fave tea shops. You fill a pitcher with water, drop the tea bag in and let it steep sitting on the counter. It’s called a cold steep.

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This is what one corner of my kitchen looks like. The rest of it is reasonably clean. The wax warmer with the wax melts went into the bathroom. The bathroom looks like three girls lived here this weekend, but now it smells good. My daughter just said, “This is the best smelling bathroom ever!” She is preparing to take her friend home that spent the weekend.

I hope you are free. To answer my friends question, in more ways than one, I am free.

And It’s Over

It has been a day of celebration for me. No more Cancer, and no more treatment!

Just three more days, and my 30 days of writing will come to an end. God knows I have a thing about 3 days. He always shows me something in that amount of time.

I am curled up on my bed, and sitting on one of my favorite blankets

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Just look at that Mama. It is an awesome cloud of gentle goodness! This is the blanket I took to Chemo with me each week, and wrapped myself in it during the treatment. A friend gave it to me for that reason. She wanted me to have some type of comfort in that uncomfortable position. It gave me great comfort, and still does.

Have you ever met someone online, and hit it off with them immediately? Now, I know some of you probably have some horror stories about that, but I have a few girlfriends I have met through social media, but not in person. It feels like we have known each other forever, but we haven’t. Just kindred souls it would seem.

Today I got to meet one of them face to face. It was my last Radiation treatment, and we met for lunch afterwards. She started my day, celebrating my journey on Facebook, and then she met me in person to continue the celebration. We met at a lovely restaurant, and had the place pretty much to ourselves. We shared an appetizer, and then this happened.

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Before we could decide what to order for lunch, the waitress brought these.

The manager had given us a serving of each one of their desserts. Now, everyone knows I love cake, and I had mentioned that we would be eating cake today, but this?

It is just like God to give me more than I was expecting. It was beautiful sitting there chatting with Seymour, (her pen name) and willingly placing myself in a sugar coma!

My daughter stayed home today while I was away. She did her schooling, and even took a Grammar and Composition test, which I will check once I’m done typing. I have learned to take advantage of the quiet moments. To do things in that moment, that generally flow better, opposed to when there are distractions. The house looks and smells beautiful.

That is what we do. We care for one another, and bring beauty in focus. She cleaned the kitchen, tidied up the house, did her schooling, and probably 100 other little things I have yet to notice. Her best girlfriend is spending the weekend with us, so they are at dinner now. She got pushed for time, and was distressed that her closet had landed on her bed.

After she left, I went into her room, and hung everything up. Then I lit a candle and closed the door. When she walks into her bedroom, her bed will look inviting, and her room will smell like the peach candle. We do this type thing for each other all the time, and I love it.

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This is her mug, but I borrowed it for today. It’s holding one of my favorite red teas, and I brought it to the bedroom to enjoy in closing. Thank you for sitting here, and sharing in my day of celebration. The Cancer treatment is over, but thank God the journey continues.

It’s Almost Over

A year changes you a lot. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, the lump in my left breast was so painful, I could hardly breathe. Fast forward to this moment. I have one more Radiation treatment left. That lump is not there anymore, and this Breast Cancer Journey is ending.

Every ending has a new beginning. Sitting here at my laptop, I’m not certain what that looks like, but I know it will come. My daily routine will have a hole to be filled.

My daughter didn’t sleep well lastnight because Numi was in her room. She wouldn’t settle down, and go to sleep like she normally does in the hallway, so tonight Numi will have different sleeping arrangements made for her. A good night’s sleep is very important. It sets the tone for the following day, and tomorrow is a day of celebration.

There were parts of this journey that taught me to celebrate something as simple as breathing. I couldn’t have coffee during Chemo, but today I am savoring a cup of freshly ground drip. Each day is a celebration. It has taken time, but it’s almost over.

Let Things Happen

It’s interesting when we let things happen.

I don’t know why, and I never know when, but they always do. I have learned to not make things happen. To not force that square peg into a round hole anymore. When things happen, I pause and know it’s going to be for my good.

Walking into Radiation this morning, I was feeling a lot of emotions. This is my last week, and I only have two more treatments. I didn’t choose this Cancer path, but it’s been an incredible journey. The people who have come into my life because of it will be forever in my heart. My technicians said they are happy for me, but will miss me. I feel the same.

It was a beautiful drive home.

The sky was mesmerizing, and I was gazing at it thinking, “Only God could make a sky like that.” I made a mental note to stop at the post office to pick up a package that was delivered yesterday. It is a red, silicone honey dipper with a stainless steel handle. My daughter had bought a beautiful jar of honey a couple of weeks ago, not knowing this would be needed. One thing leads to another.

Pulling into the post office parking lot, I see my daughter’s car, and her getting out of it. We started laughing at the irony of both of us having the same idea. I backed out of the parking lot, and headed home.

She pulled in a short amount of time afterwards, and I waited as she unloaded her car. First came Numi, who came galloping across the yard when she saw me. Then I watched my daughters arms and hands fill up holding mail and, and to my delight, our favorite coffee. She had gone to Lockhart before the post office.

She had already told me she was making brunch. Around here, we don’t do three meals a day. We do brunch, and graze on healthy snacks until dinner. Here is a pic of our brunch.

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We sit down and eat every meal together. It should look like a special occasion in my opinion, and each meal does. There has not been a paper napkin in our home in years.

My radiologists asked me this morning, “What are your plans for today?” I responded, “No plans. I’m just going to let things happen.” That within itself is a very good plan.

Find a Home

I didn’t really wanna write today. This is Day 20 of challenging myself to write everyday for 30 days. It comes very easily for me now, but as you can see, I waited all day to do it!

I woke up this morning physically tired. It’s not unusual for a Friday because I just had 5 straights days of driving back and forth to Radiation. It’s a 45 minute drive there, and back, for a 15 minute appointment. Today, I slowed way down, and took some time for myself.

Yesterday, I thought more coffee was the answer to get me through the day. After leaving Radiation, I drove to one of my favorite coffee shops downtown. Beside the coffee shop is one of my favorite shops. It’s owned by a mother, and daughter, and they have some of the prettiest things! They have a floral department in the back, so I popped in there first.

I have become friends with the mother, and she knows all about my Breast Cancer Journey. We talked, and got caught up on each others life.

By now, I am standing in front of the cooler gazing at the flowers. I asked about the purple Hydrangeas, but she wasn’t sure they would last long. There were three of them, and one had started to wilt, so the others would too.

She said, “They might last a day.” I told her I would take them and love them for today.

She opened the cooler, and pulled them out. We walked over to the counter where I was ready to pay her for them, but no. She handed them to me with a wink and a big smile.

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I leaned over the counter, gave her a hug and whispered in her ear, “I love you!”

She responded with the same, and I made my way over to the coffee shop. I brought them home, cut the stems short, and put them in water. By the look of them, I knew they would be pretty for at least one day, but I wasn’t sure if any longer than that.

When I saw them this morning, they were more beautiful than yesterday! They had perked up and in full bloom! They just needed to find a home.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~Alexander Den Heijer~

The Cone Down

A pretty sight for me is this red tea in a pink mug. It’s cold and rainy here in Texas, and I am back at my farmhouse. I learned today that Radiation is going to get better tomorrow.

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Radiation is better than Chemo. Thanks to Chemo, I guage life’s upsets upon it. If something happens that is disturbing, and going to take some walking through, I ask myself, “Is it as bad as Chemo?” Nope. I haven’t found anything as bad as Chemo.

Tomorrow at Radiation, they begin my cone down. I’m excited because the radiation will no longer be pointed at my chest. It is already looking quite lobster like, so no more burn.

For these final few sessions, they pinpoint an area about the size of a quarter, where the lump used to be. This is the left side of my breast, up under the armpit. They will zap me right there in that spot, and after 8 more zappos, it will be over! That is called a cone down.

I have met an amzing group of women at Radiation. It’s worth going just to bond with them each day. They were intrigued to discover I write, and looked up my Blog. Those sweet souls asked if they could refer other patients to it. I am humbled and honored.

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We do life together, and so did the women at Chemo, but I was usually unconscious within minutes at Chemo. Those women took care of me when I couldn’t. They still hold a space in my heart, but Radiation is nothing like Chemo.

You walk in, and you walk out. You drive yourself there and back, and you don’t feel the urge to take a nap as soon as you get home.

Every part of this journey has held me exactly where I needed to be.

I am so grateful to have had this journey, but I’m also excited that it’s almost complete. If you or someone you love is going through Cancer, just know, Chemo is the worst part in my opinion. It does getter better, and so do you.

One More Day

I am going to post two Blogs today. It doesn’t happen often, but I have another one in me. If you are reading this, you may want to read the one from this morning, “Which Way Home.” A change of events occurred after posting that one, and I got my one more day.

Note to self. Do not let the dog outside as you’re loading up your truck.

Mr. Smith has a Min Pin, (miniature Doberman Pincher), that decided to race out the door as soon as I opened it. I didn’t think too much about it because he usually comes back in a few minutes. Once I finished loading my truck, I noticed the time was moving closer to my Radiation appointment, and he hadn’t returned. I was going to have to go look for him.

My left breast has a deep burn going on after 21 treatments. I started putting pure Aloe Vera on it yesterday, and thought, it would be nice to have one more day to keep it covered in Aloe. Thanks to Mr. Smith’s dog, I got my one more day. He came home an hour later.

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There was one thing I wanted to do while Smith was at work. To clean up my room.

Smith gave me this room to enjoy as I write, and tinker with stained glass. It got covered up with boxes from Christmas, and the table was full. I love this room and the view! By taking one more day to soothe my soul, I would also have it to heal my burned boob. I took a shower, put on Aloe , my Yoga pants, a comfortable t-shirt, and walked into the room.

I tore down all the empty boxes, and have them ready to be picked up. Then it was time to organize all this glass. Smith’s grandmother used to work with glass, and I am blessed to have all her leftover pieces. The tool caddy needed to be put together completely, so I did that as well. While looking at what I had in the caddy, I realized two things I would need.

While doing a Google search for the items, I felt my heart prompting me to look through the box of glass. Pulling out all of the pieces, and getting down to the bottom of the box. There is where I found the items I needed. The tool caddy is complete, and the room is cleaned, and organized. Sometimes the body and soul just need that one more day.

Which Way Home

I started writing a Blog lastnight, but again didn’t publish it. With this 30 day challenge, I’m learning I can write anytime of day. Mama always said, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” Well, in my mind there is nothing publish worthy after 9:00 pm.

This is what’s happening in real-time. I’m sitting at the dining room table at Smith’s house, listening to my favorite CD, drinking coffee from a red mug, and looking out the sliding glass doors at the lake. It rained lastnight, and brought in fog, so the lake is not visible yet. I know the lake is there, but I cannot physically see it yet.

This reminds me of this path of life we’re on. We know we have one, but we can only see so far ahead. God gives us just enough light for the step we’re on. We take a step, and there is more light, but just enough for that step. Sitting here this morning, I wish to see more steps.

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You can see how bright the light is over the lake. The sun is trying to burn away the fog, and restore a visual of what’s there. God is in that ball of fire. He wants us to trust Him even when we cannot see very far ahead. To enjoy the present moment, but keep stepping.

Some ducks swam across the lake, as I made more coffee, and ate a piece of chocolate covered caramel. It would seem I’m on a path with many detours, but they all lead back to my  heart. During the week I am in my little farmhouse, sharing a life with my daughter.

The weekends, I’m usually at the lake with Smith. He is a Chef, and normally has to work on Saturday’s. He’s at work right now, and there is a void where his presence is absent. If he was here, I can see him sitting on the couch trying to find some football on TV. My laptop and I would move to another room and continue writing in a more serene space.

He would come and find me periodically, and make himself known. I can feel him walk into the room, and he may touch me, but he wouldn’t disturb my writing. He enjoys that I write, and encourages me with that. He also tolerates being the subject from time to time.

The sun is becoming brighter as I finish up this Blog. It will be time to start repacking my things, load up my truck, and head to Radiation. Today will be #22 out of 30 treatments.

I was tempted to call and cancel today’s appointment, but that would just prolong the inevitable. Once Radiation is complete, I will have more options. My daughter is staying with her Dad until tomorrow, so it’s very tempting to stay one more day here at the lake.

I used to know where home is. Over time of driving back and forth, I’m not really sure anymore which house is home. For some time now, when I return to the little farmhouse, and walk inside, it feels like a house. My daughter gets there, and it feels more like home, but there is still a void. I find myself each day looking forward to going back to the lake.

Smith is the most patient man I have ever met. He has been waiting for me to decide when to bring all these paths together as one big path, and the three of us to live this life together. Home is where your heart is, and today it’s in this lake house, but getting ready to leave once again. I believe it’s time for me and my heart to decide, which way is home.

 

Humble and Kind

I woke up this morning thinking of these words. Humble and kind. They go hand in hand. When I stay humble, kindness  seems to pour out of me. I learned this lesson the hard way years ago.

Then of course, living in Texas, these words reminded me of a Tim McGraw song.

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“When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you. When the work you put in is realized. Let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind.” Do you have a dream you’re dreamin’?

My dream is for people to feel loved. To encourage them through whatever life is throwing their way. I have to believe by starting this Blog in 2014, God will use it to reach people. To let them know that life is a beautiful thing, even when it doesn’t look, or feel very beautiful.

I believe it’s easy to get wrapped up in the likes, follows, and numbers attached to it all. This was a struggle of mine, because I like statistics, but numbers are not always accurate. What about the silent numbers. The people who are in so much pain, that silence is all they have.

I have been touched by those people, so I know they are there. They won’t hit ‘like’, or make a comment, but they breathe in what you’re saying. I’ve received private messages from these wounded souls, and I treasure those messages. The souls without a number attached.

My week has not been pretty. Having frozen water pipes over the weekend, and then running out of gas were unexpected events, but both those things could be easily fixed, with time. I want you to know, that whatever you’re going through will be fixed with time.

As I say this to you, I am also saying it to myself. My left breast is burning from the radiation.

I pointed this out to one of my radiation technicians yesterday, and she said it was normal with where I am on this journey. I have reached my limit with the radiation, so my skin will stay burned until it’s over.

A couple of weeks, after my last treatment, it will go back to normal. This translates to me that I have two more weeks of feeling the burn, but it will end.

We live in an “I want it now”, society. It’s funny how the lessons show up quickly, but the good things take time. I have spent a lot of time on this Breast Cancer Journey, but so have the people around me. The pace is slow, and is physically and emotionally stretching, but I’m gonna take my own sweet time. Even through the frustration, I will stay humble and kind.

Together in Stillness

Last Friday, a friend asked what I had planned for the weekend. If I had anything productive, as in getting a lot done. The weekends are well spent replenishing my soul.

I try and get everything I want to accomplish, completed during the week. I have a couple of things left to do this week, so today is my last day to get them done. Otherwise, they fall over onto next weeks to-do list.

That is never fun. A new week should have new accomplishments. That is how I gauge moving forward in life. Get it done and move on.

 

Friday also means final Radiation treatment for the week. I get two days off, and my skin needs that. Yesterday, I noticed I was getting a slight burn by it. I had to increase the lotion.

What does Friday mean to you?

I hope it’s not just another day, because they truly are special. It’s the wind down of the week, and the anticipation of the weekend. If my daughter is home, we do something fun. One of our favorite brunch restaurants is only open on the weekend, so maybe we go there.

If she goes to see her father, I spend time on me. Catching up on my reading, and learning new things, or just relaxing in the stillness of the moment. I encourage you to do whatever replenishes your soul. Whether it’s alone, or with loved ones.

If my daughter was 5 years old again, and I knew what I know now, our weekends would have been much different. I used to work right through them, whether it being house chores, or actual business. I never stopped. Today, I would sit on the floor with her, and play a game, or build a Lego kingdom. I would slow down the pace and enjoy the weekend.

This is what we’ve done for the past 4 years, and I am blessed by it. We slowed the pace of life to match our heartbeat. Yesterday, she spent alone time in her room, just caring for her tender soul. I spent a large part of the day sitting on her bed, just to be there. Self care doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Sometimes it’s two hearts sitting together in stillness.