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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.