I have cancer. Three little words no one thinks they’ll say. You hear of others that have cancer and you think, “Oh God, that’s terrible, “ and you know it’s scary thing to go through. But you never see it coming when those three little words sneak up on you, and you are the one that says them.
I was diagnosed on March 20, 2013. One week after my 44th birthday. The past year was spent “getting healthier” ironically. My husband Jon and I had decided the previous spring to get in shape instead of just talking about it. We joined a gym, and more importantly, found an amazing trainer. That was the best thing for both of us. We got stronger and lost weight. It felt good to get my body back in shape. Although we tried eating healthier too (I must admit my husband is much better at it than I), we didn’t really stick to anything specifically – trying to cut back, watch our ratios, cut out the junk. In 6 months I lost 23 pounds and was so proud of myself, and beginning to be in the best shape since college days. The holidays came and went, we lost our trainer (to a greater cause – he became a police officer), so we toughed it out on our own. By my birthday in March, I was feeling pretty good about myself, even though 44 was a tough number.
When the diagnosis came, my life came to a screeching halt. If I ever needed my Savior, it was then. Already having a relationship with Christ was such a blessing – my world didn’t end. I immediately turned to Him and cried out for His help. I know nothing sneaks up on God. I don’t know the reason for why this happened, but I can certainly do my best to be the person Christ would want me to be. And that certainly isn’t a whimpering, negative, pile of sorrow. I don’t have time for that. From the second my prayer left my lips, I felt better. God knew what it was I was saying before I formed the words. “Help me, Father.” From Him I draw my strength with every breath.
Jon, always the “glass half full” kinda guy, wouldn’t let me fall apart. He allowed me to cry, but assured me we’d get through it. He has been so amazing. My friends and family have humbled me with the outpouring of love and prayers. I posted the news on Facebook soon afterwards, and immediately I got responses from friends I haven’t even seen in years, who reached out with love and support.
Jon and I continue to work out every week and will do so up until my surgery. My first real break down was at the gym in the steam room. I let myself get caught up in “what if’s” and the waterfall of tears flowed. But it was good to get them out and I’m sure it will happen again. There’s a long road of recovery ahead of me. I am a strong, and when I’m not, I have strong loving arms to support me.
If you want more information, or to stay up to date on my progress, check out my Caring Bridge website.
My husband has recently introduced me to DogHouseDiaries. He and I usually don’t “get” the same comics. It’s always a source of contention. He enjoys Dilbert, XKCD and other comics that I just don’t understand. And sadly, I don’t even get them when explained to me. Give me Snoopy any day. However, we’ve found the exception. The Dog House Diaries have breached the void and kept peace in the house by its subject alone. A typical example is below. These comics are often so close to home between Jon and I, that I wonder who’s been peeping in our windows. For more great comics such as these check out www.thedoghousediaries.com.
Jon and I have been talking about getting into a workout routine for years, and although we’ve tried, our bad habits always win the battle. Recently, we joined Brick City Health & Fitness in Ocala and started working out again. Oh, the pain. And that pain has just begun.
Jon decided we needed a trainer, and not that I didn’t agree with him, but I never figured we’d have the money for it. But, with our membership at the gym, we received a free orientation with a trainer. Jon’s plan was to sign us up for some serious “butt-kicking” so our lazy butts would be motivated. Well, it worked.
I have to admit I was nervous about the first time meeting our trainer. After all, my forty-something body is not what it used to be. And, looking around the gym at all the young, slim bodies made me yearn for mine even more, and at the same time, want to hide in the shadows. But I kept telling myself, “you gotta start somewhere!”
Our trainer was very friendly and listened to our needs and hopes. He sized us up and off we went. Now, I have to say, I’m not a stranger to a gym. I used to be a blackbelt in another life (many moons ago). But I’ve never worked with a personal trainer before and it was exciting to have someone show me the proper way of working out and how to work around my limitations.
Jon and I took turns doing the same routines, working with free weights and gym equipment. We’d watch the trainer first, then I would go, and then Jon. Each exercise worked a different muscle group. Some were easier than others. Some made me feel like my little twitching muscles were going to pop right out of my skin. At one point, the lactic acids built up so much that I looked down at my biceps expecting to see flames shooting out of my arm. I felt every wee ounce of muscle screaming at me to quit, but I didn’t. It was very cool to have someone giving you words of encouragement, rooting you on, pushing you to the brink. And I did push through. It was awesome!
By the end of the workout, Jon and I both knew that the next morning, we wouldn’t be able to hold our toothbrushes, but we gave it all we had.
So how did we do the “day after”? I have to admit, I didn’t want to leave the bed that morning, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Well, at least until the next day, then the pain really started. Did I whine? Yes, yes I did. My little twiggy arms could barely hold up my water bottle. I squeaked and squawked like I was being tortured. But the good news is, the pain meant I did a good job. I’ve heard it said,
“pain is only weakness leaving the body.”
So between eating healthier and working out, I have a plan, I can do it. We both can. Jon’s a good supporter and we’ll help motivate each other.
Our hope is to continue to train. Coming up with the money is another story. I suggested ebaying things around the house. When we run out of things to sell, I’ll be looking around for more (kids… better be nice and be productive…just kidding). Stay tuned for more details. I’m sure this adventure will give me plenty of material for my blog.
Sky Miles are the big thing now. The more money you spend, the more Sky Miles you get, and that means you can fly anywhere! You want to know what I want to spend my Sky Miles on? An Airplane. I’m not picky – anything that can get me where I’m going. I’ll even let others fly on it. But there are going to be some conditions. Because after all, “flying the friendly skies” aren’t all it’s cracked up to be. So to fly Sonya-air, you’ll have to meet these requirements:
1. No children below the age of 12. If your children are not at an age where they can sit still and be quiet, they don’t deserve to fly with me. Parents wanting to fly my airline must pack small children in their luggage if they insist on them being in the airplane. I don’t want to hear a screaming baby for 6 hours. Nor do I want to hear a mother saying “Stop it Johnnie, sit down Johnnie, don’t pull that lady’s hair Johnnie, quit banging on that nice gentlemen’s chair, Johnnie.” The list goes on.
2. Shoes. I don’t have to have to take my shoes off to fly in my airplane. I get the whole security thing – although I’m not convinced it’s really helping with anything other than aggravating your typical passengers that fly all the time. Last time I traveled, I wore my cute new sandals. They were a great idea right up until the time that I got in the TSA line and realized I had to take them off, without socks. The idea of walking barefoot where a thousand people have walked, today alone, made me want to throw up. Come to think of it, walking through vomit might be more appealing than that bare floor. And the smell – all those bare feet walking around, feet from all over the world. Some of those feet, I don’t think even Jesus would have washed. Ugh! How those TSA agents don’t pass out after a while, is beyond me. Maybe that’s why they make the big bucks (did you know they can make up to $172K? see: pay scale. But that’s another story).
3. Conversation. There will be no talking unless consent is given by all of the immediate people surrounding you. I don’t want to hear about your family reunion, how horrible your business trip was or the color of your poop this morning. These are things a stranger really doesn’t care to know. I don’t mind doing a “good morning, how are you?” thing, but beyond the normal niceties, I really don’t want to converse. I bring a book for a reason. And that’s just it – why do people want to talk to you when they SEE you trying to read. Or worse yet, when you’re trying to sleep…the two women next to you want to gab a blue streak that would make a goat bleat! Airplanes are confined spaces for quiet. Think of it like nap time in preschool. Bring your “blankie” and hush!
4. Connecting Flights/Be Ready to Move! There are two things that drive me crazy when its time to leave the airplane. First- trying to get off the plane to catch a connecting flight is like waiting to get the last drop of water in the dessert. I rode an airline (wish I could remember which one) that suggested that anyone with a connecting flight be allowed to disembark first. What a great idea! Those of us needing to get to another flight before it leaves us behind should have the right-of-way. Second thing… it should come as no surprise when its time to leave the plane. It amazes me when the plane taxis up to the gate, stops, and you have people towards the front of the plane that all the sudden realize it’s their turn to get up and move. All the other passengers have been unbuckling, putting away their things, and collecting their bags so that when their row files out – they are ready. But, no. You get grandma that’s collecting her knitting and trying to remember where her bags are stored that’s standing in the middle of the isle, while murderous passengers are looking at her trying to figure out if she’ll fit in the overhead compartment with her cute little suitcase. Be considerate of others – stay out of the way if you can’t keep up with the flow of traffic.
So, that’s my basic requirements of Sonya-Air. I know it sounds harsh and I know I sound really bad. But for those that fly – you know you agree! Have you ridden on an airplane for 6 hours and listened to a screaming child? How about one of those flights overseas where you’re trying to sleep and the weirdo next to you will not shut up? I have. Don’t judge. Besides, these are just the rules for my little airline- there’s always the alternative. But if you want to get in on the ground floor – let me know. Taking investors now.
To remodel or not to remodel?
That was definitely our question, but for me, was easily answered. My husband however, wasn’t so convinced. Since moving into my husband Jon’s home when we got married, I’ve always hated… I mean “disliked” (sorry honey) our little master bathroom. From day one, the purple and white tile of the 60′s bathroom made me want to yak. The fact that the tiny shower stall was being used as a closet, was not encouraging either. And did I mention small? The word “master” and the size “8ft x 3ft” should not be used in the same sentence. Whoever built our house was either a midget or didn’t spend much time grooming.
After 9 years of dealing with our little closet bathroom, I finally convinced my husband we had to remodel it. I think the thing that finally tipped the scales was the black mold growing like claws from the shower stall. It also helped that I had my in-laws and my mother gang up on him. All is fair in love and bathroom space.
We started on a Saturday afternoon, a beautiful day that would have been better spent at the beach, but our project was waiting. Our son Brandt was a huge help – he and I grabbed hammers, crowbars, ear/nose/eye protection and started sweating. Out came the ugly purple tile (which was 5 ft high on the four walls), followed by the drywall, concrete board, razor-sharp lathe strips, the sink, the toilet, window casement, flooring and miscellaneous crap. While pulling the walls out we found old, rusted straight-edged razors, a comb, and Copenhagen can. Interesting, eh? The million dollars in cash that I was hoping to find stuffed in there (like in the movies), wasn’t. Bummer.
The look and smell of the mold from behind the shower was disgusting. I was grateful for my fogged up eye goggles and breathing mask. By the time the last of the debris was dragged into our utility trailer outside, we were half dead. We bled like pin cushions from the flying tiles and nails. I looked like a Band-aid commercial going to work the following week.
When we were done, the end result was a dark, dank pit waiting to be brought to life. Sadly, our plumbing was the worst of everything. Even now, in the midst of a hulled out shell, our plumbing pipes are so old, they start leaking if you look at them funny. Matter of fact, just now, as I went to check on the patch job that was done days ago on the recently busted sink pipe, I notice that the pipe for the toilet is now dripping. Great.
The next fun adventure was heading to our local Home Depot and Lowe’s Stores, where we tried to price what would go into the new bathroom. I say “tried” simply because we rarely found anything in stock that was usable. Thanks to our great economy, these poor stores can barely keep the lights on apparently, much less provide the selection they once had. The trip to Home Depot included 3 short isles of bathroom materials. Lowe’s was better, but still lacked a good comparison for us to look at. So, back online we go, realizing whatever we buy is coming in from a warehouse in Taiwan anyway.
We’re currently at a stand still. Because our bathroom shower was tiled to a specific size, there is no “cookie cutter” shower stall we can just pop in the empty space. Figures, eh? Now we’re looking at options, scratching our heads and getting into a few arguments now and then. Stay tuned… if all else fails, there’s C-4 in the closet (wink).
Recently my family and I had the opportunity to spend a day on the Ocklawaha River. We loaded up the pontoon boat with fishing rods and tackle, lunch fixin to graze through and the family.
We launched the boat at the ramp and started to cruise down the river. I’m sitting in my usual seat, the front chair of the pontoon boat. The wind is blowing through my hair, the sun is shinning on my face, and the water is gurgling along side, it’s a happy day.
I love water. I was born under the sign of pisces, if you believe in that sort of thing. And although I don’t put much stock in the horoscope business, I must admit that I am at my happiest when I’m around water. You can ask my husband, I can get down right cranky if I don’t get to a lake or ocean ever so often. When that happens, he knows to go dunk me in somewhere in the closest watering hole to keep peace in the family.
As we’re cruising along, we met another boat travel towards us. It’s a young couple with a small child cinched up tight in a life jacket. The couple waves as we pass each other. We raise our hands in mutual greeting, as is the custom, and it strikes me that I cant think of another place where you get such friendliness with total strangers anymore. I wonder where this unspoken tradition comes from. Sadly, it probably used to be that way everywhere. Walking along your neighborhood or perhaps on a busy sidewalk, you’d pass an unfamiliar face and say hello. But today it seems, we don’t have time for a smile and wave. We’re all too busy getting where we’re going to be bothered with friendliness. We’ve got a schedule, places to be, people to see. When did we get so busy that we forgot to be a neighbor to our neighbor?
It’s nice to see we haven’t lost that bond on the water. Maybe because it’s such a relaxing place. If you’re spending the day out on the water, you just feel better. Things are slower. Perhaps we can slip into a “nicer” version of ourselves.
By the end of the day, we had caught a few fish, laughed often and enjoyed the company of family. Part of me regretted having to head back in. It was so tranquil, so peaceful out among the cypress trees and lilly-pads, that it was easy to let go of the stress of every day life. I feared that once among the concrete, calendars and chores, I would loose my peace. I guess that’s up to me. I can choose to keep my peace and cherish the memories of a great day. I can also choose to take the river’s peacefulness and traditions with me… smile at a stranger, even take a chance and say, “Have a great day!” Who knows, fishing just might make the world a better place.
It’s late afternoon. Our journey starts in the Charleston Harbor. It’s a beautiful day. Our passage awaits.
Jon and I settle into a comfortable spot. Introductions are made, and without further delay, The Pride, ready to burst from her moorings, is released. The riggings are pulled and sails are cast to fly off into the gentle breezes. The Pride stretches out to find the ancient rhythm of the sea.
Adrift in the salty waters of the harbor, we watch the shoreline slowly recede from our view. As the land starts to fade, the stress rolls away like the waters that pass beneath us. For I am here with my love. He sits beside me and smiles. We drift along the careless wind, easily, happily, in love. Our day on the sea is a birthday present for both of us.
We have visitors. The dolphins are here to play. They glide through the waters catching the last rays of light, frolicking and singing their songs to us. I wonder if they are as curious about us as we are about them. How I long to reach out and touch their silky smooth bodies and let them know they’ve made a friend.
The clanking of the riggings against the mask seems to have made time stand still, the gentle ringing has suspended time as if in a dream, a dream that we never want to wake from. For this drifting paradise that my love and I share is so timeless. So wonderful.
The sun starts to slink down into the city, out of view. Charleston’s skyline is center stage. The sky becomes an explosion of color as the blues fade to purple, magenta, orange, and then a fiery red. Nature at it’s best. The clouds try to capture it’s magnificent beauty, holding on to the moment, attempting to steal one more glance of God’s awesome work. But the sun waits for no one, and slips away.
The breeze blows across my face, smoothing the lines of stress until they fade away like the sun. My lungs fill with the salty fresh air and are reborn. The gentle knocking of the waters on the bow sing to my heart. He feels it too. I can see the lightness it brings to his soul. His eyes dance with the rhythm of the waves.
We watch as our boat makes a turn and we start heading back. How we long to stay here with our new friends, adrift in paradise. For the wind has learned our names, and the sails have captured our hearts.
(Charleston, SC trip April 2006)
What an awful sounding number. It’s on the precipice of something bigger. That next number could sound even worse. If I let it.
I’m not going to let numbers bother me. I feel good. I am blessed.
I have a wonderful husband that is my handsome soulmate. He’s my guardian and protector, companion and friend. It amazes me how close we are, how easy the conversations, and sometimes even our thoughts and words come at the same time. He completes me. He balances my idiosyncrasies, and keeps my world from spinning out of control. The best, is that he walks the same path as me with Jesus. Our priorities are clear: God first, our relationship second, and then everything else. Every day with him is a blessing.
My family is awesome. Two beautiful children came into my life and changed it forever. They keep me young and silly. What more could I ask for? My sunshine, Kailey, is ever-giggling, ever-loving. My tall one, Brandt, is turning into a fine young man. I am blessed and enjoy each day I have with them.
My friends. They are savored like a fine wine. Some are sweet and crisp like a springtime breeze, others are robust and full of promise, some are sparkling, some have a lingering tenderness that warms my heart. All are loved beyond measure for the compassion and honesty they bring to the table. I am blessed.
My job amazes me every day. To be a part of such a wonderful team of fellow Christ-Followers, each striving to fulfill a desire to build a kingdom for God. Blessings abound each and every day, with every task, every co-worker, every opportunity to change a life. To become a blessing to others, is a blessing in itself.
Last but certainly not least. My Alpha and Omega. The Leader of my life. My life was forever changed the day Jesus came into my heart. My Savior walks with me every day. I grow closer to Him with each prayer. The time spent in His Word embellishes my life. The tug of His loving spirit, makes my heart overflow. His grace and love is beyond compare. My soul wants to sing of His righteousness and beauty. My Savior left the comforts of heaven, walked on this earth, spread His light into the world, and died for me. For me. I am truly blessed.
39 is just a number.