Friends – new & old/near & far

My husband and I went on our first cruise for our honeymoon 15 years ago. Since than we have done more than a dozen, seeing New England and Canada, the Panama Canal, Alaska, the Caribbean Islands, Bermuda and the Mediterranean. Sometimes we do these trips with family and friends, other times it’s just the two of us. We always make new friends during the cruise, occasionally those friendships last well beyond the cruise.

The last few weeks we were able to take a River Cruise on Ama – the Romantic Danube. It was an amazing week of touring and meeting new people. We connected with several other couples but one in particular that we are already making plans to connect with in the not too distant future. Facebook has been wonderful for making it easier to stay connected. The ‘new friends’ that we also connect with on Facebook, we do manage to keep the friendship alive.

My health challenges, have motivated me to connect with many old friends. Making sure to make time just to be together. But it’s also nice making new friends in new places.

I’ve been fortunate in that my work has taken me all over the world and has allowed me the privilege of making friends in so many countries. As I’ve shared my health challenges over the years the outpouring of prayers and positive energy has been phenomenal. I am certain the depth and breadth of healing energy that has been bestowed upon me has aided tremendously in my healing.

I’ve always believed in the power of prayer. Living the proof of those prayers and positive thoughts touches me so deeply I find it difficult to put it into words. Thank you feels inadequate. I’ve been so incredibly moved by the support from so many in so many ways.

Marathon? I Can’t Even Run a Mile

Many years ago I was persuaded to walk a half marathon. As I was training for that I inadvertently discovered a love of running. Slow and steady – but eventually I always cross the finish line. I’d always have trouble hitting a PR because I’d always come across someone struggling. It was always more important to me to help this person experience the joy of completing.

I’d always recall even if we are dead last we are ahead of all those that didn’t even start!

In all I completed 9 marathons and 2 triathlons. And numerous other races.

I had the good fortune to meet an incredible gentleman – Jogging Joe. He had a radio program that was fitness oriented (Let’s Shape Up). He asked me to be his field reporter. It was a blast – every weekend I would enter a race and report on it live. The most memorable being reporting on the Disney Marathon from Cinderella’s Castle.

During one of my radio spots I met the most incredible young lady – Kati Fisher. It’s getting close to 20 years but every time I think of Kati my heart swells. She had been diagnosed with Leukemia and Make- A- Wish had offered her a wish. She suggested they give the wish to someone else. All she really wanted was to go to San Diego to see her TNT team run. Kati did make it to San Diego to cheer the team on. Her dream being that no other child should have to go through what she was going through. Ultimately, she lost the fight but her dream lives on. The TNT runner raised funds to erect a statue for Kati where they meet to train for each marathon.

Years earlier I’d signed on with Team In Training (TNT). They would train you to run a marathon in exchange for raising funds for the Leukemia Society. I found running for TnT so rewarding I did it a second time. The first marathon I ran was the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC.

I’m hoping I still have a marathon in me or at least a half.

During the second brain surgery they had to remove the vestibule to get to the tumor. This has meant having to relearn everything related to balance, including walking.

The first day going out for a walk was terrifying, as far as my brain was concerned, everything in the world was potentially deadly. I started out with the walker and the aid of my physical therapist, gradually moved to the cane. And finally just relying on my own 2 feet.

I had started a bit of running, but was so out of shape that I didn’t get far. I’m back to walking 5 miles a day and most folks in the neighborhood recognize me as the lady that walks every day. A step at a time – I will be a runner again.

Shout Out to the Spouses

As my husband is a few years older than I we had always known at some point I would be his caregiver. Little did we expect it would happen the other way first.

He has been amazing through all of the surgeries; by my side all the way. After we’d transition to home he’d be sure the cabinets were stocked with my post-surgery favorites. He has always been incline to take care of the household tasks, but it feels even more special and caring these days.

We have always travelled. Taking a cruise or two every year; as well as, land locked vacations. Planning the vacations now, seem to focus on create legacy moments, so we each have memories for years to come.

His daughter gave us a map to stick pins in all the places we’ve been. We’ve been and seen so many fabulous places. Antarctica being the only continent left. That one is being saved while I heal. The current trips he plans are based on my somewhat limited mobility. Each day it gets better but some of the trips have been pushed into the future when I will be able to enjoy them more.

He had planned a trip to Cancun to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Between radiation and surgery that had to be postponed. To top it off the surgery was scheduled for our actual anniversary. Knowing the aggressive nature of the cancer we opted to postpone celebrating and spend it in the hospital.

A week and a half later we got the results – the margins were clean – I was cancer free!

The date of the surgery is considered the cancer free date. Reflecting on it, that is an amazing anniversary gift.

He’s encouraged me to spend time with my children and siblings, recognizing they need time with me also.

My daughters’ husbands have been great about supporting my daughters through all of this, both in terms of supporting their wanting to be with me and with connecting with me as a person.

Cancer sucks – but it definitely has brought us closer as a family.

Dr Bea

The Ultimate Legacy

I am the very proud mother of two amazing women. Much of their lives it was just the three of us, as their dad and I went our separate ways when they were still very young.

As I was facing the initial surgery, it became very important to let them know how proud I was of them. I had complete faith in the doctors, but stuff happens. The surgery I was scheduled for was considered ‘routine’ brain surgery. Hmm. Not sure routine and brain surgery go in the same sentence, especially when discussing my brain. But I digress…

The surgery was schedule for January and my younger daughter was getting married in March. The doctor fully expected I would dance at her wedding. And dance I did. The ceremony was spectacular – held at two bed & breakfasts in Banff Canada. It was a small, intimate affair with friends and family. They had written their own vows leaving everyone simultaneously laughing and crying. The music, the food, the atmosphere were all perfect.

Most of the sharing and planning was done virtually as she lives in Germany. The one piece we did get together for was wedding dress shopping! Her sister and I flew to London where the three of us spent the weekend trying on dresses and bonding. She looked absolutely stunning in her gown.

The following December we all gathered midmonth to celebrate Christmas at her sister’s house near Detroit and she shared even more exciting news. She was pregnant – due in August. This would be the tenth grandbaby but my first biological. I love all the step grandchildren but there is something exhilarating about your baby having a baby. Most of our sharing is via electronic media. It certainly helps narrow the distance.

Come Christmas Day my older daughter called with her own surprise. Her boyfriend and his children had proposed. The coming year would see a new baby and a wedding. Again because of distance most of the sharing and planning were electronic.

The baby came in August without complication. A beautiful baby girl that I shall always be honored to have as my namesake.

The wedding in October was on the beach in Hilton Head (a favorite place of mine). Even the cancer diagnosis a few days before the wedding couldn’t put a damper on things. The wedding was beautiful down to every last detail.

As a mother I could not be more proud of these two women. They are power houses in their professions, incredible mothers, and understand the importance of communication in a relationship. Thus, they are most certainly my ultimate legacy.

Dr Bea

The Upside of Cancer

Since the initial cancer diagnosis, I have never doubted that we would get it all. This was one of those nuisance things, not something that could potentially be fatal.

I was driving to a client site with a colleague and said to him, “The upside of cancer…” He paused my thought to say, “You are the only person I know that can say ‘the upside of cancer’ and it be believable.”

We’ll need to back up for just a moment. When the soft tissue cancer was found in my back, I was waiting to begin radiation to remove the remnants of a brain tumor. The last surgery I’d had on the brain tumor had left half of my face paralyzed due to nerve damage and we were allowing time for that to heal as much as possible before starting radiation.

The healing from the facial paralysis had slowed down and I was getting antsy to be done with treatment. I was thinking it was time to move forward with the radiation. The concern has been that once we start the radiation, that will be the end of the healing of the paralysis.

Malignant cancer trumps benign brain tumor. The brain tumor treatment would be put on hold until the cancer was gone. As of Feb 28 it is gone and my face has healed more than my doctors or I had ever thought possible. Now, we’re just giving my back a little time to heal, then we shall start talking next steps.

Dr Bea