About Me

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I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin & a best friend. I am a poet, a lawyer & a survivor. I've learned that God will give you a second chance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Again


At the end of 2012 I decided not to make New Year resolutions, but rather to look at what I want to accomplish in 2013 and set monthly goals. One of the things I’ll be doing in 2013 is the Avon Walk. This year the team is headed to San Francisco in September. So, my goal for January was to walk one mile per day, six days a week (on my treadmill). I accomplished that goal; even walking “further” on some days. However, in my quest to meet that challenge and, yes, be that good, I strained my left heel. It started bothering me in week four, and I believe I added to the strain by pushing some limits with various yoga poses and some tai chi.
For February I set a goal of walking 7.5 miles per week; a little bit more than January’s goal. I managed to walk a mile a day the first week of February, but by week two it was clear that I needed to take a break. I needed to rest my heel and well, heal. After a few days off the treadmill, with the aid of an ankle ace bandage made by Dr. Scholl’s and some new gel inserts made by the same good doctor I tried again only to realize I really needed a full week off from training. I tried again with a half mile one day and a half mile a few days later. No good.
This seems to happen every time I set out to “train” for an event. I know I’m not an athlete, but I can’t imagine that others have these problems. Or maybe they do, and I just never hear about them. I sometimes question myself. Why do I always seem to get hurt? Why do I have to take things so slowly? Why is the “training schedule” too much for my body? Or is it just me? Do others have similar experiences? Are they able to work through the strain? All I know is that it is time to rethink my pace and not get discouraged with negative self-talk.
So I took last week completely off from the treadmill and did some yoga a few days. I found a wonderful video entitled “Sunrise Yoga” on YouTube. Doing the same practice over and over makes it easy to really learn the routine. Plus I have a good gauge of how I’m doing; where I’m making progress. I’m also realizing how tight my hamstrings and calves have become.
Today my heel feels good; almost 100 percent. Of course I want to get right back on that treadmill, but I’ve decided that my heel needs to feel this way for a day or two before I jump back into it. So I’ve set a new goal. Beginning March 1, I am going to walk a half mile every day, six days a week. No more. And see how that feels.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mary Anne Radmacher: Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow.” That is what I will do. I will try again tomorrow; starting March 1st.
 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Storytelling

My father was an artist. He painted before I was born. My mother still has several of his paintings. Growing up it was a thrill if we could get him to draw for us; usually just something simple in pen on scraps of paper. While I was in high school he wrote poetry. He became published, and even won some regional awards. My brother is an artist. He paints. And writes. My sister is an artist. She draws, paints, and creates beautiful pottery. I even have a piece. My mother is a storyteller, and a local legend for her storytelling and acting. She’s also the author of a published children’s picture book. It seems that being an artist is in my blood and DNA.

I often wondered how it was that I got left out of all this talent. My painting was limited to paint-by-numbers. I was in the high school drama club and band but it wasn’t like our school was winning any national awards for our abilities. And even if they did, I was not the one who stole the show. My best friends did; they were hysterically funny in Kiss Me Kate.
I use the word “wondered” in the past tense because as I’ve grown older I have realized that I have my own talents; my own artistic creations. I have created some beautiful counted-cross stitch pieces and I knit. Granted, both of these are similar to paint-by-number. There is a pattern with specific instructions that allow me to create. However, I also write. Sometimes in prose. See The Ice Cream Stand or Princess Julianna.

When I was in law school my study group met on-line every Saturday. There were times that we would struggle with a concept or rule statement and I would find myself reading examples from our casebook or hornbook to illustrate what we needed to learn. Eventually, I started making up stories to make the point. My classmates encouraged my examples. It was kind of fun. Plus, it is also the way I learn.
And here, on this blog, I share my story. While my story is not fiction or a fairy tale, it doesn’t have to be in order to be a storyteller. The best stories come from the heart; even fiction. If you have the time, watch this video, please do. It’s about telling your story with your whole heart.



If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on FaceBook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Comment Circle

I recently joined a Comment Circle. The idea behind it is to make a commitment to read the blog posts of other members of the group and comment on at least two posts each week. This Comment Circle was established with a time limit of twelve weeks. I believe we are at the end of week eleven. I made the commitment for a couple of reasons. One, my good friend (we’ve known each other for over 25 years) is the one who organized it. And two, one of my goals for 2013 is to write at least once a week. I figure making a promise to a friend is a good way to keep me focused. It was a bit slow getting started – my first post was at the end of week one.

This week I haven’t written anything. When I think about the possible reasons why I realize I have no excuse. I certainly had time. And there are still plenty of things I want to share. However, I believe my lack of motivation comes from having poured out my heart over the past few weeks. As I wrote in my last post, one of the most difficult things I do is write this blog.
This has been a quiet week, but it has also been reflective. I still have many posts yet to be written. Yes, I have a “to write” folder. So instead of another piece of my journey, I share with you a bit of hope that is special to me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Courage

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage: Middle English corage; from the Latin cor, meaning heart. Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

One of the most difficult things I do is write this blog. Not because I lack courage. I started this blog because I wanted to tell my story. Some pieces are easy to write. Others are painful. But it is also too painful to keep it inside, so I write. Many posts take days, even weeks to write. Several of them were written a few years ago and it is only now that I can dust them off, polish them up, and share them with the world. Or at least my readers.

I am told that I am an inspiration. I did not plan to be an inspiration. Sometimes just doing; just being who I am touches a life in a way that I could not even imagine. When I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer I had about six weeks left of law school. It did not occur to me that this would be the time to quit. It was only six weeks; I needed to finish. So I put my head down and plowed ahead. I finished the paper I was writing for my elective. I did all of the assignments required for my Capstone class. What I did not realize was that I had become quiet in class and in the on-line Yahoo Groups. (The days before Facebook). When I finally disclosed my diagnosis to my classmates I had several say, “We were worried about you. We wondered why you had become so quiet.”

After completing my law school studies, I studied for the bar exam.* I went to graduation. At the time, it did not feel like I was courageous. It felt like I was stubborn. I wasn’t going to let cancer defeat me. I wasn’t going to let chemotherapy and a bald head keep me from fulfilling my dream of graduating from law school. And I certainly wasn’t going to let this thing, this disease, keep me from graduating with my class. Over the years I have heard from classmates and others at our graduation just what my attendance meant to them. It brings tears to my eyes when my friends share their version, their perspective of our graduation ceremony.  I had no idea what a powerful statement I made by showing up.

It has been a slow process coming to terms with my diagnosis and what it means. I began researching breast cancer about six months after my diagnosis. It was then that I learned of the different types, as well as the fact that there are different identifications within the types. First there is staging. Then there are tests for hormone receptor involvement. And a test for the Her2 protein. Surgery involves finding out if lymph nodes are involved. Beyond that, the doctors will determine the grade of the tumor, which gives an additional level of information on just how aggressive the cancer is. There is a lot that goes into a final diagnosis and ultimate treatment plan.

Knowledge is both powerful and frightening. It is scary because it told me exactly what had gone wrong within my body. It is chilling to learn that my tumor is rare and aggressive. It is encouraging that it was Stage I (no lymph node involvement), but alarming to know that it was Grade 3. But knowing these things is powerful. I have the knowledge of my diagnosis, and there is nothing to change what happened. However, with this knowledge I can take control of my life by living a healthier lifestyle and being aware of changes in my body. I am fortunate because triple negative breast cancer has a high rate of recurrence in the 36-48 months after diagnosis and I made it past the four year mark.

Also, I am able to share my knowledge with others. My friends have connected me with their friends and family members who are facing the unknown that is breast cancer. I share my story to encourage others. While I know that my story brings hope to those who are struggling I am also aware of this truth: cancer kills. Breast cancer comes back, even with an early stage diagnosis. Mine is a story of healing and hope, and I want to bring that hope to others. But I am also here to share knowledge, provide support, and give my love to those who are facing the very scary, very real unknown. So I will continue to tell the story of who I am with my whole heart.


March 1, 2008

 

*I did not pass the February exam, but I passed when I took it again in July.

 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Equipping the Called

I received my undergraduate degree from Gordon College. Gordon is a private, four year Christian liberal arts college on the North Shore of Massachusetts. It started out as a Bible and Missionary Training school in Boston. When I attended, there was still an emphasis on missions, and you could major in Biblical Studies. I have always been fascinated by people who are “called” to become missionaries. Though the one thing I know about myself is that I do not have that calling. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted to do while I was in college. And there were plenty of opportunities to do short-term mission trips. What fascinates me are the people who are called into this ministry.

My friends, Steve and Pam Hill, are missionaries in South Africa. I love them dearly. Pam and I were part of a close-knit group of friends when we were young adults. Ever since I have known them the Hills wanted to go to Africa as missionaries. And they went. Every time I think of them there is a small tug of envy in my heart. Not because I want to be a missionary, but because I want to be like them. I want to “be called” so strongly that there is no doubt in my mind or heart that I am doing the right thing with my life. Missionaries are my perfect example of living God’s will.
As much as being a missionary fascinates me, it also scares me. How can anybody do what they do? And then I remember: God does not call the equipped. He equips the called. It is this response, this answer to God’s calling that tugs at my heart.
After diagnosis and treatment I learned of the American Cancer Society Fundraiser Spin for Hope. (It is now named Pedal to End Cancer). I heard about it at my athletic club and decided that I wanted to participate. I did in 2010 and was the second top fundraiser from my athletic club. It was an amazing experience and I have often thought about participating again. It is always held the first Sunday in March.
However, even after treatment I could never imagine participating in a “walk,” let alone anything that took more than a day. I’m not sure why, but maybe I was afraid of walking long distances whereas riding a stationary bike is pretty safe. As I wrote in my initial post The Reluctant Survivor, I was the one always willing to sponsor. It was when my school mate and friend called to ask if I’d be interested in doing a fundraising walk in memory of our friend that my heart answered “yes” before my brain could close my mouth. During the weeks that followed I often found myself questioning my ability. I would often think, “What have I gotten myself into?” And I would wonder if there was a way out.
I trained, to the best of my ability, for that first walk. It was painful. There were injuries. But the biggest hurdle was the emotional one. The one where I was full of doubts; doubts about my physical ability. The fear of an unknown walk, in an unknown city. I was pretty sure I had said yes to something that was impossible, at least for me. It was then I would feel that tug on my heart and would remember that God does not call the equipped. And I would find myself saying to God, “Well, you better equip me.”
Even today as I begin “training” for the 2013 Avon Walk I am struck by the fact that I am not equipped. I am not an athlete. I walked 30 miles on my treadmill during the month of January. I have been slowed down by a minor injury to my left heel, so I will not be walking 30 miles during the month of February. However, there are other things I can do, such as weight training and yoga, to prepare for a marathon walk. As unequipped as I am, God continues to equip this walker who was called.