Monthly Archives: October 2013

In honor – live louder… love harder… dream bigger….

I have been blessed to be a nurse for over twenty-years of my life.  As I type that very sentence I actually am crying over the lives that I have taken care of.  Many of my years were in bedside nursing with cancer patients.  They were always so grateful for the care you provided them, but in reality the gratitude was from me.  They touched my life in ways I could never explain.  Their courage, their strength, their resolve is second to none.  They opened their hearts completely, because when you know your diagnosis can lead to death, you really have NOTHING to loose.  However, we are all going to die with or without a cancer diagnosis.

I mentioned in my last blog about the four women I know fighting cancer, and one lost that fight just a day after my blog.  It truly breaks my heart.  I didn’t really know her well, but I know that she had an amazing family and children that she left behind as she walked through the gates of heaven. She was a nurse and I am sure she will be met not just by family and friends, but all the lives she cared for that preceded her to heaven.  I know how hard loosing a mom is and cry at just the thought of the pain.  I know how hard my mom’s death was on her mother (Grandma Frazee) and my dad.  But, I cling to the many memories of my mom and the life she lived and taught me.

I held the hands of many patients and their families through diagnosis, through treatment, and death.  In fact, I can close my eyes and see the room number and give you names.  When I worked at the bedside it was easy to remember how fragile life was, as I had the daily reminder.   I still see some patients that I cared for in the community or recently when someone was visiting a family member.  I saw him and knew his face and even his room number.  He laughed.  Those I don’t see physically I can close my eyes and see I could honestly name hundreds and the memories we shared.  Maybe I need to close my eyes a little more often to remember them and to honor them.

As I mentioned, we are all guaranteed death.   Most patients would say how the diagnosis was the wake up call for priorities.  I have also taken care of trauma patients who never got the “Wake up call’ but were still faced with a life altering event.  The hardest were probably the ones who did not survive an unexpected event (trauma, heart attack, stroke, etc..) and never had the chance to say everything, do everything, reprioritize, etc.   I think of even my mom, whose life was taken early. But prior to her life being taken, so was her walking and ability to care for her family and herself.

I see death many days still in my nursing career.  I also have 3 close friends/family diagnosed with breast cancer just this year.  However, so many days of my life I live like it cannot happen to me.  I don’t live to the fullest.  I hold back on dreams and desires.  I waste hours each week on things that will not matter.  I get wrapped up in drama that is not necessary.  I let too much time pass before I reach out to family / friends.  I let my heath go because of course obesity and diabetes won’t kill me.  I let my life and home be cluttered by things that hold no value. I hold back on my hugs, love, and laughter.  I don’t slow down as much as I need to.  I get absorbed into the daily news and let it depress me.  I don’t make the memories because I don’t have time (really I don’t make time).  My priorities are often out of order.  The list continues…

Why is it I often need the BIG events to wake me up and re-evaluate.  I have many in my memory bank.   But, unfortunately, I quickly get back into the daily rhythm of life and go back to living my daily life and throwing away many precious moments.  I have always felt I should not let someone’s diagnosis or death be in vain.  I love seeing fundraisers for a great cause, scholarships established in honor of a loved one, etc.    Their life, their fight, their battle should be my wake up call.   For my mom, I should walk everyday and praise God that I can.  For those who are no longer here, I should hug more, love more, and make sure my words and actions count.   I have watched my friends with breast cancer continue to praise God through the storm while being honest of how tough the battle.  I should let their battle permanently stamp an imprint on my heart to LIVE LOUDER, LOVE HARDER, HUG TIGHTER, DREAM BIGGER, DO BETTER, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

My prayer, Dear Lord, is first you comfort those who has a loved one who now resides with you.  Wrap your loving arms around them so tight they can feel your breath.  May their life and those who continue the battles, the struggles, be a daily/constant lesson and reminder to me that life on this earth and in this body is temporary.  Help me honor them by living my life  intentionally to the fullest without excuses.  May the close of every day I reflect and know I honored them, my family, my friends.  That I was in fact a good and faithful servant.  And anytime I slack into my old ways, may I be (gently) reminded of the preciousness of every moment.  Thank you for new mercies everyday. 

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A spark.. some lessons.. a finish line…

So when your teenage daughter tells you she misses your blogs.. you better get writing.  Mary and I were talking on how I missed writing and had several ideas and started several blogs and why I haven’t written (you know the list of excuses) and she said she really missed them.  So here it is from my long blog break – lessons from a 5K

On Saturday, as I walked in the 5K something started to change and then reminders through the last few days just added to that.  On Sunday, my BFF from childhood was at the Steelers Breast Cancer Survivor game, because she is a survivor and still undergoing chemo to beat breast cancer (along with my friend at church who just finished the treatments and my cousin who is still in phases of treatment).  In the past couple of days extra prayers have been requested for Paige who is fighting for her life, not just for herself, but for her children I am sure.  Four amazing women, just this year, whose lives have been completely changed.  I have a choice in life (my favorite word for Mary – choice), to use all of these events to change me (and then their suffering and battle is in vain) or sit back and pretend it can’t happen to me.  LESSON – important lessons are around us everyday, often experienced by people we love — I should NOT let their battles be in vain, but learn from them and make my life better in HONOR of them.

So the 5K… first of all it is for Autism and to help local children.  Many of you know that Autism has touched our family.  When you have your child, most do not think it can happen to them.  It is the assumption that you will have a perfectly healthy baby and live happily ever after – playing sports, playing video games or Barbies, boy scouts or girl scouts.  I even had the big SUV to haul all of us and their friends everywhere.  But, there are no friends, no sports; however… there are STILL BLESSINGS!  (This is a whole other blog).

Anyway, for MONTHS I have been “planning” to “prepare” for the 5K and get in shape and be “ready”.  Guess what… that didn’t happen.  Prior to the race, I had NEVER even walked that distance… do NOT exercise/walk on any consistent basis… and only exercise is mowing the grass and vacuuming on our home.  BUT, I was doing this is HONOR of Sam.  I had the perfect day planned and signed up our whole family. Well, we didn’t all participate, just Mary and I.  I imagined many friends/family doing the event, and at first disappointed more didn’t offer (just being honest).   FYI – This is why I try to not expect anything and it saves me from disappointment.   I quickly let go of the expectation and realized that just because people didn’t participate didn’t mean the cause wasn’t important (and even deeper Sam wasn’t important).  This walk for ME was about Honoring Sam, but he can be honored so many other ways (a smile by Sam who cuts his hair, Katie remembering his favorite cookies, Bev always seeing little things for him, understanding when he is playing games in church, Andrea swimming and playing with him, etc… the list goes on of people who honor him every day).  We had several friends there who walked and had I focused on the ones not attending, I would have missed out on those that did!  LESSON: Honor is defined differently by each individual person.  Their way is NOT my way, but it does not diminish the intent.

So, Saturday arrives and off we go, with NO IDEA of what was ahead.  Remember, I had never done a 5K and did NOT prepare for this.  I heard people talking about stretching and I was thinking, stretching – what is that (lol)? I go down a hill and then see the hill I have to go up and think “what was I thinking?… I can’t do this!… this is too hard!… why is the trail not FLAT?”  Negative, negative, negative.  I paused on the hill and said to myself “why am I doing this?!?.. FOR SAM!”  and kept thinking of one of his most recent favorite phrases – JUST KEEP FOCUSED.  For example, at the zoo I kept saying we were going to here and then there.  He just wanted to get to the tigers or penguins and said now “JUST KEEP FOCUS”. And I climbed the hill – slowly but not crawling ( =  LESSON: Just keep focus!

All along the route there were young runners from the Uniontown Cross Country team cheering us on.  A golf cart ready to pick up the weary, and since I was one of the one bringing up the rear, I got the offer for a lift often (lol).  After climbing the BIG hill then the many small hills didn’t look so bad.  LESSON – It is important to put things into perspective.  When I think of my friends fighting cancer, my little things really are just little things.    

I was determined to finish the 5K.  Even if last… even if crawling… even if I couldn’t get out of bed the next day…  But as I walked, I had lots of time to think (to help mask the pain).  When I would start to sink into the ‘I can’t do this” I would look at the button I had Sam make that said “I WALK4SAM”.  LESSON – Remember my purpose – sometimes I just need the little reminders of why I do what I do.  

I finished in a little over an hour… The time wasn’t what was important to me, it was FINISHING THE RACE.  In fact, I made a wrong turn and thought I had finished and then I saw Laura and she said you beat me.  I knew I didn’t and realized that I had made a wrong turn.  At first I was oh well, wrong turn.  But then I knew I had to finish the race exactly as I was meant to. So I saw the people who were behind me (only because they were walking very leisurely) and I caught up with them and finished the race the correct way.  It was important to me.  And so I did (so I finished #54 – not #41).  LESSON – it is not about how long it takes for anything that’s important – all that matters is I finish.

I was feeling good that day I wore my orange pin, orange shirt, bright pink scarf – all Sam’s favorite colors.   I was going to do this walk no matter what!  Pure determination! I am so glad I didn’t know about the route, the hills, and how far 3.5 miles really is.  I probably wouldn’t have done it!   But still I carried 100 extra pounds on my body, and I am sure it made the walk that much harder.  There were people that RAN that distance, people that were much older than me that did that same distance – all in less time.  Very humbling.  Then I saw the pictures today, you know the saying a picture speaks a thousand words! Yes, I finished and I did it to honor Sam, but that was just one race, one day, one moment… WHAT can I do everyday to honor Sam, Mary, my husband, God, MYSELF?  I can take care of MYSELF.   I have no excuse now, I walked a 5K with 100 extra pounds and it didn’t kill me.  If I really want to honor them, that has to be the beginning.  LESSON – the finish line can really become a new starting line!

Thank you Mary for the spark that got me to write again… Thank you Sam for being you and inspiring me to walk a 5K…Amazing the things I can do if I JUST KEEP FOCUS!  On my mark, get ready, get set… GO!!!