Love deeply. Laugh. Cry. Talk to God. Be realistic about the to-do list. Stay in touch. Hug. Dream. Smile. Break Bread often with Family. Spend Time with your Girlfriends. Shop til you Drop! Extend Grace. Be Quick to Forgive and Slow to Anger. Walk. Breathe. Sing. Dance. Read. Eat Chocolate. Savor a Good Glass of Wine. Wiggle your Toes. Sleep well. Life is Good!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Grace, Courage and Faith

Someone sent me the image of this beautiful cross a while back. I don't know who the artist is but the rustic style seemed to echo today's post.

I found myself talking about my mom a lot today while waiting at the Mitchell Institute while my husband's aunt received chemo. Visiting with the now familiar faces in the waiting room is somewhat sobering and humbling. I met a couple today. She had been diagnosed this past June with Stage Four Breast cancer and it had spread to her brain. She was receiving the current phase of treatment in Houston and had come in this morning for bloodwork. We discussed the side effects she was having and I suggested a couple of things that might alleviate a few. She said the doctor didn't want her taking anything at all right now, especially live bacteria. Live cultures as in acidophilus to correct the imbalance of bacteria in her digestive system from the high dose antibiotics she's currently on for a lung infection. I told her she could get around those orders by eating yogurt with "active cultures" to which she agreed. I also suggested food enzymes for the reflux and indigestion which was a constant companion. She was also experiencing side effects from steroids. Turmeric, yes, the Indian spice, is a great substitute. It's anti-inflammatory without the side effects. I had the same experience with my mom. She asked me to get everything for her and then wouldn't take it because the doctor said not to. Makes no sense to me. When my mom passed away, my sister returned the unopened bottles to me. My mom suffered unendlessly with indigestion and digestive issues because of antibiotics. The prescriptions the doctor gave her did little to help, yet she refused to take the natural alternatives. I suppose when you are in a desperate situation as a cancer patient finds themselves you just have to focus on the doctor. That is, I suppose, where your hope lies. I knew it was healing she was hoping for. A cure. Relief. It's just frustrates me to no end when I know complimentary medicine is available yet the vast majority of physicians are not educated in alternative supports without side effects.

Having experienced cancer with my mother-in-law, my great-aunt, my mom, and now my husband's aunt, God forbid it affect my body or my family, I am informed and will first and foremost seek out a doctor who cares about the whole person, not just the disease. Perhaps that is harsh. I know insurance companies play a huge roll in a patient's care, or lack of care. That is another issue which should have us all jumping up and down and waving our arms at our government because if they take over health care we are all in trouble. That's my personal informed opinion.

Okay, I have vented. Back to the waiting room.

After my aunt went to the treatment room and the couple next to us went in for her bloodwork, I sat and watched the room, trying to imagine the hope, the hopelessness, the pain, the nausea, the sheer exhaustion of it all. It literally brought me to tears. I had to excuse myself for awhile from the waiting room and get a grip. As we left to go next door for my aunt's radiation phase of treatment, I thanked God there is a St. Jude's cause if there were children in the waiting room suffering like these adults are, I couldn't bear it. I simply couldn't.

Father, thank you for your blessings and your protective hand on my family. Thank you that the physical ailments I am experiencing are bearable. Thank you for opening my eyes these past several years to the suffering, as heartbreaking as it is. I know you have a plan for me and will use these experiences to share my faith. Thank you for equipping me with grace to offer myself as a servant to the sick, the courage to show up knowing I will leave with a heavy heart. And, the faith to know whatever the outcome, your presence will be felt in each of their lives and you will see them through to the end, whether it be the end of the disease or the end of life as we know it. I suppose the latter would cover yet both.

Be kind. You don't know what that person is going thru or has experienced. And, occasionally, give a caregiver a high five!

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