What is normal? If a loved one is battling cancer or any other big disease, you don’t want to miss this post, because the insights you’ll get are invaluable.
My friend, the poet Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, was diagnosed with breast cancer a while back. And as she is one of my most beloved Facebook friends, I followed her journey the whole way. She’s honest about the experience and so I asked her to share what this journey has been like for her. As an amazing poet, she gives us the honest truth, the human truth, the beautiful truth.
Post-normal, What is normal anyway? I used to walk at a fast pace, feeling the movement of my body, exhilarating, elliptical, sensation of true exercise. My legs felt long and lean.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, at first I was numb, I didn’t know exactly how to feel. I became a mind and body tenacious warrior, ready to fight what was attacking my body. I aggressively prepared my body for what it was facing. I stopped eating all white sugar and processed foods. I charted, cataloged, got binders of information, preparing myself for surgery. My inner spirit went in with a fierceness yet becoming a compassionate being embracing myself with love. I had a circle of family and friends supporting me.
I knew exactly what I was wearing when I came home from the hospital after surgery. A pair of comfortable pajamas my best friend Denise bought for me, ready to relax and heal. I was sitting up eating crackers and drinking water when my family walk into my room after surgery. They couldn’t believe how well I looked.
Next was preparing for chemo and radiation. I had my fair share of hitting the wall, including being hospitalized for a low white blood cell count. Nothing really prepared me for post cancer. The scar tissue pain, lymphedema, and then came the joint pain, fatigue and yes, depression and PTSD.
Facebook is a funny thing, I always find the parallel side of me, the one that leans into grace and light and finds my joy in the small and precious moments. Thing is, people take that lovely smiling picture of me and come to a conclusion that I look so good and healthy. My heart rate races with catching for air when I walk fast. It’s a huge chore to clean my house I have to do it in spurts, or I become completely exhausted, but mainly I want to give up. Even taking a shower is a chore.
I am a woman with shortcomings, that I am often critical of, and wonder if others are critical of me. I remember me, and now I am ready to accept the new me. I want to soar with my passion, my writing, my light journey, but my physical being just has to do it at a new pace now. I have to accept me for me, holding myself in a sanctuary of gentleness and compassionate pause. Allow yourself to do the same.
by Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg ©
Image: Kristina Laurendi Havens
The Distance Reached
beauty of my body,
beauty of my soul-
human has its limits,
life spinning life out of control-
the distance reached,
journey spirals through me-
I now shift to stop suddenly upon my path,
out of my body I drift above me-
floating looking down,
I embrace my being-
truth of life spilling out of me,
what now becomes apart of me-
what houses itself inside of me,
brings me to the moment of my scream-
coming down from my cloud now,
I settle upon the tiny universe of me-
what now tries to ravage me,
will not take my soul-
the distance reached,
I now become my power-
folding into the deep of me,
the movement of love-
embraces the whole of me,
now treading the path-
of the many shes,
splitting me open wide-
I finding myself collide,
to what is being delivered to me-
but then I saw you there with me,
sweet kindred trembling she-
my pain is now yours, yours is now mine,
the tears that now spill on our tender embracing-
will bring us to the distance,
our howl, our ache, now our fight-
what now becomes our battle cry,
to remain resilient, vibrant, passionate for our lives.
Author Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg ©
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg is the author of Seasons of the Soul: Transitions and Shifts of Life and a prolific poetess. Maureen’s draws from her human experiences, touching many with her words. She has been published in several poetry anthologies and has her own Facebook page –Heart’s Calling– where she reaches over 4,000 regular readers. Maureen hosts monthly, sacred creative writing circles for women and recites her poetry at many local events. She has 3 adult children and currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois.
Visit her website for more. Buy her beautiful poetry book. And here’s her Facebook page.
Think about the friend who’s grieving the loss of a loved one. Or the other, who has been battling a serious illness.
The holidays may not be very festive for them.
If you’ve got something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, why not be an angel and give someone else something to be thankful for? Some ideas:
If someone’s going through a hard time, reach out. Spend an hour or two with them over coffee or tea. Send a card with a note. Call them on the actual telephone (no texts!)
Send pretty flowers.
Send one of our affordable gift packages for healing or grief. They’re on sale though Dec. 1. Use checkout code HOL1 for the large package and code HOL2 for the regular size to get the discount. Or a thoughtful mala bracelet on sale for $7 until midnight tonight with code BF and after that, still on sale, for $9 with code HOL3.
Donate money to a charity that helps those in need or to someone’s GoFundMe.
Buy some Target or Walmart gift cards and deliver them to a domestic abuse shelter, because when families leave they often leave quickly, without anything, including underwear or even shoes.
Donate food at your grocery store.
Bring old towels and blankets to your local animal shelter along with bags or cans of unopened food. Call first to see what they need.
Adopt an older pet that needs a home.
It’s easy to be an angel. It feels good. And if someone does something angelic for you, pay it forward in some way. Keep the chain of love coming. Because that’s all it is. Love. LOVE. Please feel free to share your angel ideas in Comments below!
If you’re not well or if you’re grieving, the holidays can be tough. They can be a reminder of what you’ve lost: a loved one, mobility, freedom, a pet, energy, health. Watching others sing joyous Noel can be tough this time of year. A thoughtful, helpful gift can make all the difference.
With that in mind, A Healing Spirit is offering a major holiday gift sale through Dec. 1. Remember: shipping of our gift packages are always free in the US and discounted to Canada, Australia and Europe. If you’d like us to ship directly to the recipient, we’ll include your message on our gift card.
THOUGHTFUL GIFTS THAT PROVIDE GENTLE SUPPORT
Our large gift packages–both our condolence gift and the gift for those who are battling a serious disease–are available through Dec 1 for a sale price of $30. That’s nearly $5 off regular price. At checkout, enter the code HOL1
Our regular sized gift packages for both healing and condolence are on sale through Dec 1 for only $15 —another savings of almost $5. At checkout, use the code HOL2 and remember, your message on our card.
Except for our online subscriptions, which are ALSO on sale with the code NEW1 and you can find them HERE.
The lovely mala beads are on sale through Dec 1 for only $9 -yes, about $5 off. Just enter the code HOL3 on checkout. A sweet stocking stuffer.
These pretty sandalwood mala bracelets are on sale now for only $9.
The malas –Buddhist prayer beads– are strung on elastic so the bracelets truly fit any wrist well without awkward excess.
Small enough for a stocking stuffer and nice enough for a primary gift.
They’re not only pretty bracelets, but useful, too. Consider them like rosary beads for meditation, prayer and leading a mindful life.
Sale ends Dec 1 so order yours now here with the checkout code HOL3 .
So many issues as far as oncology is concerned: treatment, support, truth, more.
If you are a support person or loved one of someone with cancer, I hope you’ll read this piece by an oncology nurse I met through my other blog.
Cancer treatment can be brutal. I’ve been in infusion rooms, it’s obvious. So it’s easy to miss that progress has been made in chemo and other treatment. I know I missed it entirely.
Don’t get me wrong: still brutal. In a few decades people are going to say “Can you believe they used to POISON people to treat cancer?”
But Victoria’s insights gave me a little different angle. A look back, if you will, by someone who knows oncology in a way I don’t.
I’ve also read a lot about whether patients should be told “everything” or just “what they want to hear,” so I was interested in feedback from a professional who’s been with these patients. And I also believe she provides helpful input to those who are looking to be of service.
By Victoria E.
Back in 1984 when I graduated from college with my nursing degree I had no idea in what direction my career would go. I started out on a medical-surgical floor, moved from there to the operating room. I loved the OR. I hurt my knee skiing and had to be on light duty for awhile and the slowest paced OR room was the urology room so I did urology till I left the OR. I went through a number of positions until I ended up in Columbus, Oh at the cancer hospital.
I got the position due to my experience with urology. They needed a nurse that could do the different urologic procedures for cancer patients. In this clinic, I worked with mostly men, we took care of a lot of prostate cancer patients, bladder cancer, and some kidney cancer. I also got floated to other areas of the clinic so I worked with every type of cancer.
The big difference between when I started at the clinic and when I retired was the advances made in cancer treatment. In 1991 when I started at the clinic people came in for their treatments on gurneys by ambulance and in wheelchairs, by the time I retired in 2015 people would come in on their lunch hour from work. Yes, there is still a lot of IV chemotherapy given but instead of every week some folks get treatment every three weeks, they have a portable IV so they can get treatment at home and there is chemo that comes in pill form. The world of cancer changed in 24 years.
Every diagnosis is an individual diagnosis, no two people react the same to the diagnosis or the treatment. Family and friends react differently than the patient. Faith played a large part with some patients and their families. You had patients who heard their diagnosis and took it up on themselves to learn everything there was to know regarding the diagnosis and treatment. And folks who wanted to know as little as possible and just wanted to do what ever the doctor offered.
Patients that wanted to be informed would search out everything there was to know and a lot of times knew more at some point than the nurses did. These patients would arrive with a briefcase full of information, they would know every treatment that was available and every clinical trial and where the trials were being offered.
It was hard sometimes to determine which patients/family wanted to know it all and who just wanted the minimum. The patients that didn’t let cancer become their life seemed happier. These patients continued celebrating the holidays, they visited friends and family they took their vacations.
Cancer in this day is not an automatic death sentence but there is cancer that has fewer treatment options or is harder to treat. And some cancer becomes more active as time passes. It was always so hard when a patient was told that everything that could be done had been. This usually meant the patient would no longer come in to see the doctor. We formed relationships with our patients and we might have been seeing them for a year or more. The nurses have special relationships with a patient, we answered the questions that they felt would just tie up the doctors time.
Most patients are not good about asking for help. And a spouse or other family member may be over whelmed with all that has to be done.and they aren’t comfortable asking for help either. If you are a patients, think about what you might want someone to do for you, pick up groceries, cook a meal, pick up prescriptions, drive them to appointments– there is any number of things that need to be done… (note from Carol: if you are a loved one, be proactive in offering specific services, such as those Victoria mentions.)
Remembering that the patient is still able to make decisions and can function as the adult they are is very important. Sometimes family and friends think they are helping by treating a patient like they are invalid or can no longer function as they always have, this does a disservice to the patient.
Here’s a little about Victoria:
I am 67 and my second husband and I have been married for 12 years. Between us, we have 5 children, 8 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandsons. I went to college and nursing school in 1981. My daughter was in junior high and my son in high school. I graduated from college the week before my son graduated high school. My nursing career included working on a medical-surgical unit, the operating room, the recovery room and for a number of years I worked for an insurance company. After a divorce, I moved from WV to Ohio where I was a staff nurse at the cancer hospital, I retired from there in Nov. 2015. Now I blog with my daughter about whatever crosses our minds HERE. My husband and I travel often around the USA and back and forth to WV to visit family.
Are miracles real?
Dr. Wayne Dyer believed that nothing is impossible.
Consider that for just a moment.
Dr. Dyer observed that there may be things we encounter on our spiritual (life) journey that surprise and puzzle us.
And wrote extensively about his belief that we should open ourselves up to all possibilities and realize that nothing is impossible.
And to tap into our highest selves and the power he believed we possess to manifest our hearts’ desire.
Now, I’m guilty of being afraid to think positively, afraid I’ll “jinx” the situation. Sometimes my worry gets the upper hand. My anxiety. My fear of the worst, whatever that is.
When that happens I remind myself of Wayne Dyer’s fervent belief in manifesting. About his faith that nothing is impossible with God, just as the New Testament said.
That affirmations CAN work. And do.
Wayne Dyer died unexpectedly in 2015. He’d had leukemia in 2009 but had a healing with John of God, which he described in detail to Oprah and on his blog.
After his death, his children released the autopsy results. No sign of leukemia at all in his body. He died of a heart attack.
Nothing is impossible.
Here is Dr. Dyer’s inspirational memoir. Yes, affiliate link.