“Procedure” on Friday morning

Not to fill your inboxes this week, but here I am again.

This time, I’m here to ask for prayers and positive thoughts for my “procedure” on Friday morning.

I’m set for a 6:00 a.m. arrive, 7:30 procedure time, to have stents placed in both ureters. I will be under general anesthesia, which alone makes me nervous. The tumors around the site give all of us (including the surgeon) pause, but I’m hopeful that they can work between those. I have to actively keep my thoughts on the positive. Luckily, I’ve had lots of practice with this. And a good medical team on board.

Thank you for any good wishes and visualizations and spiritual support that you can send my way. I appreciate your being there with me.

Love and blessings,
Marie

 

Making connections

I met Kathy when I was about 20 years old. I always liked her, and we traveled in the same circles, but we never socialized one-on-one.

Time passed and I grew distant from the friends who connected Kathy and me, so I didn’t see her or hear about her life.

A couple years ago, maybe one or two, we reconnected. Though I don’t remember exactly how, I suspect that Facebook was involved. And I don’t remember how or why I told her my story, but she started to pray for me. And then, she had her prayer group praying for me.

You know how I am about prayer and its power. I was incredibly touched (and still am), and felt so much closer to her, even more than 30 years ago.

Recently she told me that she would be coming to Needham, a town relatively close to where I live. We made loose plans to get together.

Then life intervened and my schedule got crazy. I only had a sliver of time, so I suggested that I meet her at the airport for a quick hug and hello. She said no. She already arranged transportation and wouldn’t give me her airline or flight number, but I did know her arrival time.

No problem – I used to travel frequently and I can figure this out! I did have a bit of uncertainty – I wasn’t even sure that she would be flying in from Pittsburgh. But I kept picturing how fun it would be to see her and decided I would take the chance.

After driving to the airport (and figuring out parking – the lot was full!) I headed inside to wait. I brought a book to pass the time but I realized that I was too excited to read. Plus, I had to watch two escalators to make sure that I didn’t miss her, though I shouldn’t have worried. You couldn’t miss the influx of Pittsburgh Steelers apparel. (In case you aren’t familiar, Pittsburghers love our Steelers clothing, and one can purchase, and wear, a Pittsburgh Steelers outfit for every occasion.)

Pretty soon, there she was! We immediately recognized each other and then talked for so long that the limo driver called her cell phone to track her down. It was such a high to see her again, and I’m just sorry that we didn’t get a picture together!

This feeling is so fabulous that I want everyone to feel it! I hope you get a chance to connect with someone, whether you just met them, see them all the time, or haven’t seen them in 25 years. And thank you, always, for being connected with me. It makes this path immensely more positive to travel.

Love,
Marie

 

One day, one moment, one prayer at a time

Your attitude, positive thoughts and prayers impact my life in a huge way, as I was reminded this past weekend.

Last week’s chemo went as chemo goes, bringing many of the usual side effects and a few bonus surprises. Luckily, by Saturday, I was on the upswing so my husband and I took the kids to find a Christmas tree.

As we walked among the trees, I was suddenly transported back in time. Six years ago, right before Christmas, I was diagnosed with cancer, healing from surgery (and sepsis) and about to start chemotherapy for the first time. Not only did the diagnosis unsettle everything I thought to be true in my life (i.e., that I could take good health for granted and actually make plans for the future), the treatment schedule upended our personal plans to spend the holidays with my family in Pittsburgh. In addition, I had already shipped all the gifts “from Santa” to Pittsburgh, and I was too overwhelmed to shop again for our one- and four-year-old boys, both of whom still enthusiastically believed in Santa Claus. I feared that would be my last Christmas with them, and it looked like it might be a disappointment all around.

But on this day, in 2013, wandering among the trees in the city lot, listening to my boys yell happily to each other and watching my husband measure various balsams and firs, I felt immensely grateful to be living and making preparations to celebrate another Christmas together.

After driving our tree home, I needed a rest so we draped ourselves over the sofa and watched Frosty the Snowman. Years ago, my psyche was filled with the words “…and we’ll have some fun now before I melt away.” (You can read about that here.)

This time, despite being tired, a different set of Frosty’s words slid happily into my heart:

“I’m all livin’! I AM alive! What a neat thing to happen to a nice guy like me!”

I was feeling lighter and coming out from under the chemo cloud.

On Sunday morning, due a confluence of circumstances, I went to church without the boys, and to a Mass at a church that I didn’t plan to attend. The priest began his homily talking about his seven-year-old niece and her dying father. Not an easy topic for me, but I hung in there while he made his way to his point. After that, he began to tell a story about a “dying stage 3 colon cancer patient.”

Those words put all my cells on high alert. As a stage 4 colorectal cancer patient, I don’t think of stage 3 as dying. In fact, I know both stage 3 AND stage 4 patients who are now cancer-free, so I don’t really think of either as dying. I thanked God that my kids weren’t there to hear this.

As the priest continued speaking, I went into fight or flight.

Because I was at that Mass and that church on a fluke, and because I strongly believe in the power of coincidence, I considered staying. Maybe God had a message for me if I waited.

The instant that thought occurred to me, it felt wrong. I didn’t need to stay and absorb another negative assumption that this man had to share. I needed to leave, and leave right then. Every fiber in my body said that was the right thing to do.

Mulling over this experience afterwards, I realized that I am both accustomed to people being supportive and focusing on what is possible, and that I rely on it. I can’t even let other viewpoints into my energy field.

Hearing those words and tone from this priest reminded me that there are still people who equate cancer with death, and I am lucky they aren’t in my circle. It reminded me that I am most fortunate to know that, not only can someone live with cancer, one can actually gain a different lease on life as well as get rid of cancer altogether. It reminded me that I am infinitely fortunate to know people who share that experience and / or perspective.

Maybe I didn’t need to hear whatever point the priest was trying to make. Maybe I was simply meant to gain a new appreciation for what is already in my life.

I thank you deeply for always infusing me with positive thoughts, energy, and prayers through your presence, emails, actions, notes and countless other connections. What we say and do can move each other in one direction or another. I feel like I am here six years later by moving one day at a time, one moment at a time, one prayer at a time. I could not do it without you and all the positive power you share. I am living. I AM alive. Thank you.

Love and blessings and all that is good,
Marie

The Power of Prayer

Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. They make a world of difference. I will give you three examples from the past seven days.

#1
Years ago, when I initially (thought I) finished chemotherapy, I had a ring made in commemoration. Heavy and beautiful, it was meant to remind me not only how heavy the process was, but also how beautiful life became.

Over a year ago, we were going on vacation so I hid it somewhere in the house, then  promptly forgot where I put it. Since that time, I searched the everywhere. I would wake in the middle of the night with new ideas. But never found it.

As you may suspect, I pray to God and a myriad of saints. Among them is St. Anthony, to whom I pray for my healing and the healing of my friends (providing a long list of names and specific healings for each).

Last Friday morning, I suddenly remembered that somewhere I heard that St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost items. So, I threw in an extra prayer to help find the ring.

Less than 30 minutes later, I heard my husband call out, “Look what I found!”

#2
On Thursday, I had a CT scan and I appreciate your prayers for good results. The following Tuesday, I met with my doctor to get the results. These meetings make me feel like Alice in Wonderland: I walk into the office feeling my normal size, information is shared, and I leave the office feeling larger or smaller.I suspect that is why they take your weight before you see the doctor.

The good news is that, in spite of skipping two of my last three chemo treatments, I learned on Tuesday that all tumors are smaller. Woo hoo!!! Thank you for your prayers to this end!

#3
When I returned to Dana Farber today to get my pump disconnected (I’m connected to chemo from Tuesday – Thursday), everyone was very nice. I even saw my friend Chuck, which usually makes me happy. But I had just spent three days vomiting and was on the verge of more. So instead of talking with Chuck, I found a seat away from everyone and collapsed into silent tears.

“God, I just need to know that you are here.”

I felt a hand on my leg and looked up. I feared that it was Larry, a well-meaning man who visits each person in the waiting room asking if they need anything. I don’t mind him but didn’t want to see him right now.

Instead, I saw a young woman with dark skin and a kind face. I saw a tear falling from one of her large, beautiful eyes. She said that she could feel me in her heart, and she asked if she could pray for me.

She placed her hand on my leg for a long time and prayed outloud, certain of my healing, peace, grace and all good things through God. I felt calmer, more relaxed, and less like I was going to lose my insides.

At the end, I thanked her and she asked if she could hug me. I warned her that I had not bathed for three days but she laughed and said, “You are filled with the scent of God, more beautiful than the most beautiful flowers. Honestly, that is what I smell.”

God bless that amazing woman. God bless all of you. I am constantly in awe of the power of prayer, and thankful that you include me in yours. May your life be blessed, always.

Love,
Marie

Back in the saddle again

Thank you for your support, prayers and cheers along the way!

On Sunday, I returned home from Brazil.

On Monday, I had a CT scan.

While I would LOVE to report that the scan showed no tumors and only stitches from spiritual surgeries in Brazil, that was not the case.

It looks like everything grew. I’m not surprised, because I have some discomfort in spots on my abdomen and pelvis. My CEA is the highest it has been, and I am bloated.

I’m not excited about starting chemo again. In fact, I kept my doctor talking for over an hour, pathetically and desperately postponing the start of my infusion.

But that appointment ended and now I sit in the infusion waiting room. I am so grateful to have had the four months off, and now am very grateful for any prayers and positive energy that you can send my way for a smooth healing treatment.

Lots of love,
Marie

Shifting my focus

Week one passed so quickly.

During the prayer service this morning, a woman brought her guitar upfront to play and sing. None of us was familiar with the songs so we couldn’t sing along.

Last year, I LOVED the prayer service and was uplifted by the chance to belt out fun songs in a big group with guitar music. It bothered me that I couldn’t sing along. Her “performance” was cutting into my joyful song.

Throughout this trip, I have been trying not to compare it to my trip last year. I was thoughtful about making sure that I connected with others on this trip and that I participated in everything. I thought I had it covered.

But I suddenly realized that, because I was here before, I now had EXPECTATIONS and I wanted them to be met. Last year, I threw myself into each day and in fact, into each event. But now I had an idea of how things “should” be, and I liked them that way. I liked doing my own joyful singing during the prayer service last year. I wasn’t ready for someone else to take the stage and share her joyful singing.

As I considered this, I also noticed that I was spending time looking forward to events, which was fun but distracting me from fully immersing myself in the event happening right now. For example, when the prayer service was not making me happy, my mind wandered to think about our upcoming trip to the waterfall, which I loved last year and looked forward to again. Further, because I wasn’t really experiencing the present moment, the time was passing without my noticing. Hence, the quickly passing week.

So, I shifted my attention to be more present. This service didn’t have as much singing, but it was still lovely. And when another woman rose to sing, I decided to try and pay attention and not escape into some fun fantasy.

She launched into Ave Maria and I felt transported by her beautiful voice. I looked at her standing in the front of the room. She appeared to be very plain and almost timid so the voice was a surprise. As I continued to look at her, I saw a white shadow around her head.

I blinked to refocus my eyes, and it slowly formed again. It was close around her head but not symmetrical. As she sang and I watched, the white shadow pulsed and grew around her head and expanded to include her right shoulder. Soon, a small rainbow of colors appeared close to her head, but the white was still the largest and had the strongest pulsating life.

If I had escaped into my little fantasyland, I would have completely missed that.

I hope you are fully enjoying whatever moment you are in, and then as it passes, fully enjoying the next one.

Love and light,
Marie