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Friday, August 31, 2012

Words that Wound...

I have carried around the wound for weeks.  Hidden deep.  Buried.  But festering...

Words that were meant to comfort, in some oddly dysfuntional way.  The truth?  They bruised, they hurt, finally they ruptured into anger.

It happened while we were on our recent vacation.  Surrounded by family on all sides, it was, after all, our Big Family Reunion, the first one since Mom had passed away.  We received hugs, and whispers of love, condolences and anguishes uttered at the unfairness of the cancer beast.  Tears and smiles, all were welcome...except one.

She was a distant relative, my age, with a mom of her own.  I stumble to find reason.

She expressed her sympathy first, and then asked about mom's treatment for the cancer.  Unwittingly I fell right into her agenda.  As I mentioned the radiation mom underwent, she nodded.  And then I spoke of the chemotherapy and the harsh side-effects.  She half-smiled as if to take the sting out of her words, and then baldly stated, "Well, you know, it was the chemo that killed her."

Stunned.  Speechless.

My expression must have been suitably horrified.  Which I guess was all the encouragement she needed, for she continued on in this vein for what seemed an eternity.  Blaming the government and the whole established medical community for duping poor innocent patients (like my mom, she said, patting my hand) into poisoning their bodies with the evil, toxic drugs under the guise of "treatment," when there were virtually any number of non-toxic, natural remedies that would have saved mom. 

Conspiracy Theory in Spades.

She rambled on about how the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies were in cohoots to make exorbitant amounts of money on these poisonous treatments, and therefore thwarted any attempt by naturalists to get their message out to cancer patients, even going so far as to imprison these angels of mercy...


I listened for too long, the words shooting like arrows into a soul already grieving searing loss.

In effect, her attempt at sympathy was no more than a rant she wanted to get off her chest.  The words were accusations that we chose to poison mom with the chemotherapy.

I would say that she was utterly callous and insensitive, and yet she was so determined that I understand her theories.  She seemed to truly want to shed light on our terribly lost and misguided ways. 

Still the words left wounds I can't explain.  A hurt so deep, I wanted to call mom and spill it all out.  Hear her voice soothe.  Feel her hands wipe away the tears.

Another valley in the Grief Journey.   Words that Wound.

And spilled over into anger.  When my tongue found traction, it lashed out in pain at her intended platitudes.  In uncharacteristic rudeness I demanded to know where she was while mom was undergoing "treatment."  If she was all-fired up about natural cures and remedies, why didn't she share those ideas with us then?  Spare mom the pain and suffering...   The tirade would have continued had not Leroy's two young nephew burst into the room racing to play their computer games. 

I'm so thankful the boys arrived to still my words.  It was not my intention to repay pain in kind.  I know somewhere in my head, that she didn't mean to hurt me, but the accusation and judgement lay heavy on my heart.  As the boys fussed over who's turn it was on the computer, the moment passed and she and I let the argument go.

Do I believe she's right?  Did the chemotherapy kill mom?  I have wrestled with this for months.  In The Perfect Storm I shared our agonizing thoughts over the path of mom's illness.  Yes, it's obvious that the chemo had debilitating effects on her.  But if not for the cancer she never would have undergone the chemo.  Such a twisted maze...  And were there natural remedies we could have tried?  Perhaps.  And that only increases the anguish.  The What If's...

But the Words that Wound the most are the judgemental opinions of another.  Unnecesary wounding...

There's a story about a dedicated, but harried T-Ball coach.  If you've ever been to a T-ball game you know the score, especially for the first few games of the year.  The tiny players have no clue.  When a batter hits the ball, he might run to third instead of first.  Or a lucky player may catch a ball, but then in the excitement of the catch, forget to throw it to first.

In this particular play, the coach watched with disbelief as a ball was hit and rolled past every player out to the fence. Several players began running after it, and in the process reached the ball at the same time and began fighting over it.  At his wit's end, the coach hollered from the side line, "Same team! Same team!"   The players spun and looked at him.  Then one gave up the struggle while the other threw the ball into second base.

That one-liner speaks volumes.  Not just for T-ball players, but for everyone playing in the game of life.

Same team!  Same team!

If one cancer patient decides on traditional medical treatment and another decides on alternative care, the bottom line is that we're all on the Same Team.

Striving to find wholeness and healing.

Judgemental opinions, devisive posturing, and critical ranting do nothing but hurt the cause.  We are, after all, on the Same Team...

Elizabeth Edwards struggled and lost her fight with breast cancer this past year.  In an early interview, she wisely noted that, "The strength to fight the cancer is inside each of us... each one chooses the course that is best for them."

Each cancer journey is unique, the nightmare part withstanding.  To those struggling with what's right, what course of treatment, or which direction to turn, remember that we are all pulling for your healing.  Find the course, the path that is right for you.  And never, never, let the critical opinions of others sway you. 

May you always find strength in the fact that you are part of a much larger team.  A team that is fighting hard for a cure.   We are all on the Same Team!   One day soon, it will be the Winning Team!

My Love Always, Jane

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Feathers of Fall

There are the usual signs that Fall's coming...

brilliant colors adorning the landscape
and bright yellow buses announcing the return of school!
Here on the farm, Fall gently floats to ground in beautiful, colorful gifts of fluff!
As daylight shortens, and evenings grow cooler, our Peacocks begin their annual molt.  Each morning as we head out for our chores, we find the signs of Fall Feather Bounty.  We love our Peacock family and delight in their antics, but we are simply enchanted by Mr. Peacock's regal train.  Gorgeous and lush. Reason enough for him to be Proud and Cocky.  He's handsome and he knows it!
But beware. Pride goes before the Fall...
As Fall nears, how the Proud are humbled!
And what a gift he leaves for us...
Fall is coming...Preparing us for Winter
And then Spring!
Don't worry, he'll be back and better than ever!
Graced by the Feathers of Fall this day...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cat Scat!

Our Foxy visitor has been getting braver...

One day it's the windmill garden

The next it's right outside our back door!

Over the past couple of weeks, she has been spotted prowling the farm a little too regularly with a rather predatory gleam in her eye.  This Happy Goat-Herder is getting concerned.  As is Mama Peacock and her babies!

But what to do?   As a rule, I am not a mean-spirited, gun-toting farm-girl.  Well, ok, but it was a really BIG snake.  This Foxy lady has a family to raise, and kids will make you do all kinds of crazy things.  Like throw caution to the wind and rub shoulders with the enemy...

She just doesn't know how crafty this enemy is!  I remembered that the Boyd Big Cat Sanctuary is just down the road.  I called them up for some suggestions.  They are a non-profit animal sanctuary for lions, tigers and bears (oh my).  Unfortunately they don't take in fox.  No exceptions.  Not even for this adorable little family...

But the receptionist told me they have a wonderful natural repellant that works great for pesky wildlife.

I immediately drove over and got a pail...

of Tiger Poop!

Big Cat Scat.  The best Organic Repellant that nature has to offer.  Did not know this was a marketable item.

Well, then, it seems my life has just been reduced to spreading tiger poop around the 100 degree plus weather...

Does it get much better?!

Amazingly, it appears to be working!

At least on Casey the barn cat.  The smell of tiger poop definitely does not appeal!  Praying that little Miss Fox thinks we've hired Tony the Tiger to patrol our borders!

Hope your day is filled abundant with friendly visitors and no crap!

                                                     Always, Jane

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Undone by Bedsheets

Not too long ago, I showed up at Dad's for lunch and found him standing, hands on hips, looking at a wrinkled pile of bed sheets on the dining table with a disgusted look on his face.  Frustration spilled out as he grabbed a corner of the clean white sheets and tried, unsuccessfully to fold them into a neat stack.

"How did Mom ever fold these things?"  the words wavered between exasperation and a grief that bubbled up unexpectedly this sunny summer day.

How is it that 6 months have come and gone and our hearts are pierced with grief over bedsheets? Of all things?

We miss her in the kitchen...around the the dining room table...lounging in her favorite hugs...smiling at our birthday parties...picking up the phone for daily the scent of her perfume wafting off the dresser...

But bedsheets?  Really, they're just pieces of linen.  They've been washed a dozen times since she's slept between their silken softness. 

On this Grief Journey, we are finding that somedays it doesn't take much to trigger the missing...

Over these past months, Pat, mom's dear friend, has made it her mission to come every other week and help Dad wash and change the sheets.  None of us realized what a gift that was.  Until she was out of town traveling and Dad attempted the chore solo.  I arrived on the tail end of his endeavor...

And it was either laugh or cry.  Dad was effectively rolling the sheets into a ball of rumpled wrinkles with each twist of his hand. 

So, we stopped.  And we agreed mom was a saint.  Our smiles tremble.  Hands, not steady reach for the corners, one more time.  And then together we managed to fold the monstrous King-Size sheets into a pile that even Martha Stewart could be proud of!

And as we trip over each other and twist the sheets first one way, then the other, our smiles get real.

"Mom would be laughing at us." he says.  I nod.  Then I snicker when my end is even and his is too long.  He smiles bigger.  And my heart pain eases.   We can do this...

We proudly carry the neat stack to the linen closet and...

set it beside the pile of tan sheets that look like someone rolled them into a rumpled, wrinkly ball.

I look at Dad, he shrugs his shoulders and said,  "Maybe Pat needs to take some lessons from us..."

Somehow, we're making it through one day, one chore, one heartache at a time.  Missing Mom is a daily valley we are learning to navigate.  Some days we find that the shadow valley is filled with the sunshine of her memories, and other times the shadows darken the beauty and leave us clinging to Grace only by Faith...

And still, the Promise holds true:

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

I always thought that this verse was meant to be a comfort for the one nearing death.  I'm learning anew thru this grief journey, this heart-aching missing, that we are walking thru that valley of the shadow of her death.   And yet, He is here with us.  His rod protects.  His staff guides.  His Presence comforts.

Bringing the Sonshine of Beauty into the Shadow Valley. 

And we can smile.

That's Grace for Today, Bedsheets and All... Jane

Monday, August 6, 2012

Starving the Cancer Out

Could something as simple as a change in diet really make a difference in the pancreatic cancer fight?

I'm not sure, but there's a growing tide of interest in the Ketogenic Diet.   As you can read in this link, the ketogenic diet is not for the faint of heart.  Removing all sugar, carbohydrates and fruit from your diet is severe in the extreme.


If it worked?  Can you imagine?  If a diet could slow or even stop the progression of the disease?

Mom suffered thru the harsh realities of radiation and chemotherapy.  I think she could have handled the deprivation of sugar... that seems like a walk in the park compared to the brutal side-effects of the current traditional therapies. 

And yet, I'm always cautious.  Claims that seem to good to be true... And so, I invite you to visit with Martin.  He's an amazing gentleman, husband and father.  He also just happens to have pancreatic cancer.  He is documenting his journey on a blog called Fighting Pancreatic Cancer.   And fighting he is.  With all that is at his disposal.  One of his weapons is the Ketogenic Diet.  If you are at all interested in this diet, I encourage you to read through some of his experiences here and here.

As you can see, Martin is using the diet in conjunction with many traditional medical treatments.  This is the premise behind a new study at The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa.  This clinical trial is currently recruiting participants.  They are seeking to answer the question: 

"Can a ketogenic diet exploit a fundamental flaw in cancer cell metabolism and increase the effectiveness of treatment for non-small cell lung and pancreatic cancer? They are working off the premise that relative to normal cells, cancer cells require more glucose to overcome a defect in their mitochondrial metabolism. The high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet deprives cancer cells of glucose and forces them to rely on their flawed mitochondrial metabolism. This causes oxidative stress in the cancer cells and appears to make them more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation. This clinical trial has been funded to investigate whether this diet can improve outcomes for patients with these cancers."

 As always, I strongly encourage you to talk with your healthcare provider or oncologist before leaping into a new diet.  But if you are even a tiny bit interested...

Seriously, have we got anything to lose? 

Except possibly those loathsome cancer cells...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chihuly at Night

It's true!  Chihuly is even more Magnificent at night!!!

And a beautiful way to end this quiet weekend...

A walk in the gardens in the cool of evening.
Senses tantilized with sound and color and fragrance.

Praying you have been touched  this weekend
with moments of beauty
that lift the soul...

My Love, Jane