Monday, January 20, 2014

We Begin Again.....

Choosing Which Direction!
Goshen Prong Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park - January, 2012

I confess upfront that this post has no particular message to convey so it may be all over the place.  To be honest, I have struggled with sitting down to write and I'm not sure why.  I think about it all the time and thoughts swirl in my head throughout the day.  But getting them written down is another thing completely!  Perhaps I should cut myself some slack and remember that my life is unlike its ever been before and my "routine" as I knew it is most likely forever changed.  That's a bit scary and something with which I'm still coming to terms.  I've never been afraid of change, yet when you are in the midst of it with no real picture yet of what the other side is going to look like, that adds an additional element of uncertainty.  I loved your comments on my "Lighten Up" post and find myself repeating that over and over frequently.  There's already been so many vivid lessons on ways I really needed to learn this.  Just wish I could've learned it sooner and wish Bill didn't have to be suffering so much in order for me to learn it.

Speaking of Bill, he began the first of 30 radiation treatments last Thursday which means he will finish around the end of February.  We are beginning to be quite paranoid about any doctor appointment because it always seems to bring more news we don't like.  Thankfully, his doctors are all working together and after consulting with each other, had determined that even though the results of Bill's most recent PET Scan were very good and the chemo had done what it was supposed to, they wanted a add a very low dose of chemo to the radiation treatments in order to be absolutely certain that any rogue cells were eliminated once and for all.  We were assured that the chemo dose was so low he should feel no noticeable side effects.  Let's hope that is the case.  Bill was told that he should be "o.k." for the first couple of weeks of radiation.  He will experience some very nasty side effects unique to receiving radiation to the head and neck area.  We are doing everything possible to try and stay ahead of those and keep him as comfortable as we can.  We both just want this to be over!  

It has been so wonderful to have the Bill I've known and loved for all these years back for the last few weeks.  Neither of us realized how tired and run down he had really become and we wonder how long that tumor had been growing before we found it.  For the last month, he has had energy, enjoyed walking with me and we've spent so much time with friends/family.  He has loved being back in school.  So you can see how difficult it is to think of him having to step backward again in order to finish treatment and then take that huge leap forward.  

As I was looking for a picture for today's post, I had to look backward because I simply have not had my camera in hand.  Truthfully, right now I'm not even sure where it is!   The picture I posted caught my eye because I remember standing at that spot thinking what a perfect illustration of choices.  It would be my guess that those two streams come back together not to far beyond where you can see. That's the general pattern for the rivers in the Smokies.  The point is, you CAN'T see that and you DON'T know.  Our life will come back together.  Bill will finish treatment and we will move on.  In the meantime, I have to choose which path to take.  Do I choose to be afraid of how the treatment will effect him, depressed that this is happening to him at all or angry that it has effected ME so much?  Or do I choose to continue learning how this experience has taught me to "lighten up," reminded me that love and compassion for others is much more important than any personal agenda I might have and feeling gratitude for all the blessings/gifts I've received in the midst of pain and suffering?

Well, here's the deal!  A very tidy blog post would now declare that oh yes, I choose the later.  And I do chose the later!  But I don't mind admitting that I've spent some time on BOTH sides of that picture.  I am human and I love my husband.  I can't bear to watch him suffer physically or emotionally.  There are days when I am afraid, depressed and VERY angry.  I don't think I'd be human if I didn't admit to all those emotions.  

The other thing I noticed in that picture is the island or "oasis" in between those two streams.  I remember well the day I was there and having the conversation with my hiking bud about how wonderful it would be to camp on that island.  How calming it would be to sleep with the sound of that rushing water all around you.  So for now, I'll just say I'm spending time on both sides of that island and am so very thankful for the calm of the "oasis" in the middle which sometimes allows me to simply rest!  

Rest in the knowledge that somewhere up the road in the not two distant future, those streams will converge, we will move forward and all will be well!  

Where are you today?

In the difficult side of the stream, the easy side of the stream or resting on the island?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lighten Up......My Theme For 2014!

Couldn't Resist One More Christmas Picture!
Our Living Room (Can't Believe I Didn't Turn the Fire On)

Although I have always been extremely goal-oriented with an ongoing list of written goals for which I am striving, I've never been one for making New Years resolutions.  I have, however, always loved having "themes" or "mantras" if (and ONLY if) something came to me without much effort.  If I had to think about it or work hard to come up with something, it always seemed forced.  2013 never had much of a theme for me and to be honest, it was a year of struggle almost from the beginning.  I didn't feel well much of the year, wasn't able to hike a lot because of that and although I kept my weight fairly steady, there wasn't much joy in the process. We didn't travel much and I missed that.  Bill was already feeling "tired" and we might should've suspected something was amiss even though he'd checked out perfectly at his annual physical.  Then halfway through the year, my life snowballed, first with the quick decision to buy the condo, our move and then finally, the total shock of Bill's cancer diagnosis.  Looking back over the year, about the only word I can come up with to describe it is chaos.  Yet I find myself looking back over it with gratitude for lessons learned.

As the year drew to a close, I found myself saying one thing to myself over and over at the strangest times over the weirdest things.  In one of those light-bulb moments, I realized that "lighten up" was going to my "theme" for 2014.  During the long, dark days of Bill's chemo treatments when he was so sick, my thoughts often turned to how often I stress over things which all of a sudden became very unimportant.  My needs and wants became very simple.  In fact, I only had one.  "Please make my husband well."  How much I weighed, what I ate, whether or not I ate sugar, how much money we had, where it was invested, when we would retire, where we'd travel next year, what I was going to wear to my niece's wedding, why the tire pressure light was on in my car, whether I had 10,000 steps that day or not, why wouldn't our house sell, yada, yada, get the picture!  Sadly, I could go on and on and on.  Many times I'd come out of a fog, shake my head and just simply say to myself, "lighten up!"

As time went on and there began to be better days for Bill, I'd start thinking those same thoughts with a bit more clarity.  You see, I do believe all those things are important and life does require us to live responsibly and plan for our futures.  But I also believe that for me, personally, way too much time, energy and effort was being put into some of those things when it could be much better used elsewhere.  Some of those things were coming between me, my relationships with others and even more importantly, my ability to love others unconditionally.  

So this year is going to be my year to "lighten up!"  My mind is swirling with ideas that will be challenging, but combined with other things happening in my/our life, will also (if properly and sacrificially applied) make me a better person.  Over the next several posts, I'm going to break down some of the areas in which I intend to "lighten up" and share my thoughts with you in the hopes that you'll have some ideas to share with me in return.  I'm excited and ready to write!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


First Baptist Church, Lebanon, TN - December 14, 2013

This was the scene from the balcony of the church about one hour prior to the wedding ceremony of my niece.  It was quiet, peaceful and one of the most beautiful settings I'd experienced in a long time.  Bill and I simply "sat" with our thoughts, emotions, fears and excitement.  For so many weeks prior to the wedding, we had no idea if we'd even be able to be there, so we also sat there with tears of joy and thanksgiving.  The ceremony was simple, elegant and perfect.  She was a beautiful bride and we couldn't be prouder of her.  We are so thankful that she chose to attend the University of Tennessee for her undergrad studies and now is in her second year of Vet School also at UT.  We will have her here for another couple of years and secretly wish she might join a Vet Practice locally so we can keep her forever.
 Aunt Sharon, Uncle Bill and Niece April
December 14, 2013

Not the greatest picture in the world of Bill and me....I think our weariness shows both in our posture and our faces.  Bill was less than three weeks out from his last chemo treatment and the trip wore him out, but like I said, we were just thankful to be there!

December 14, 2013

I wanted you to see this picture so you could see our other niece, April's younger sister, of whom we are equally proud, plus my gorgeous sister and brother-in-law!  April honored me by asking to wear MY wedding veil and I thought it worked perfectly with her dress.  It has been almost 37 years since that veil was worn the first time!

We had a wonderful Christmas!  Bill's strength has returned slowly, but steadily.  We have taken full advantage of our first holiday season in the condo by entertaining small groups several times and hosting my family's Christmas celebration.  It has been just what we both needed - precious time surrounded by friends and family.  

The New Year rolled in quietly and peacefully.  I am not the least bit embarrassed to tell you we were both sound asleep at the stroke of midnight.  We spent yesterday taking down Christmas decorations, talking about the challenges we faced in 2013 and making plans for 2014 which will also begin with more challenges.  

Bill had his post-Chemo PET Scan this past Monday and we will meet with his Radiation Oncologist next Tuesday to discuss results and determine where we go from here.  We are told that radiation is in his future no matter what the scan tells us "as a precaution!"  He is not looking forward to that, but in his usual fashion, is facing it head on and doing everything he can NOW to pave the way by being as healthy as he can.  He is eating well and gaining weight.  I am reading everything I can get my hands on about what he will be able to eat while undergoing radiation and how I can help him be creative in getting calories in his body!  

We are just so very, very ready for this to be in his past and he be given a clean slate!  We've already spent many hours discussing what we will do with this clean slate and how we will be different.  I'll be sharing some of our thoughts in upcoming posts!  In the meantime, I hope that each of you are looking forward to 2014 with anticipation and remembering 2013 more for what you gained than what you lost!

Thanks So Much for Continuing to Read Gains and Losses!
Your Support Has Meant the World To Me!