Cancer Part 2

We are waiting….yet again. Cancer is not only a life altering experience in the life of the patient and their loved ones, but it’s a game of waiting….always. Waiting for diagnosis. Waiting for tests to be done. Waiting for diagnosis. Waiting for a treatment plan. Waiting for results. Today we are waiting for yet another CT scan so the radiologist can them create a formula of treatment for radiation. In theory, we think this will be easier than the last eight months, but we are no longer hanging our hopes on unrealistic expectations. It will take a week for them to do their thing and program the monster radiation machine that will shoot pin pointed radiation into my big guys body. Then, according to the consultation…a month ago….he will take 20-23 treatments that last 15 minutes (I find this hard to believe) and will happen Monday through Friday until he reaches the prescribed number between twenty and twenty-three.

Sometimes it feels like this cancer journey started yesterday and other times it feels like it has been going on forever. I wonder if we’ll ever get past life with cancer. Will we be able to walk through each day without the “what if” of cancer imprinted on our subconscious? Will the affects of the last year of life’s storms ever slip away and return to normal? I hope so.

The Armstrong Saga Continues

So the Armstrong saga continues. Today I sit here in our recliner, right leg propped up and iced down while watching Alabama beat Ole Miss. Yes, I am recovering from partial knee replacement…..and just so you know, it’s no joke. I had unrealistic expectations of walking unassisted and already returning to my regular routine. No. The bandage is off, I can see the approximate four inch incision with pieces of tape on each end mocking me. The knee is still pretty stiff and I haven’t achieved a 90 degree knee bend yet. My right hip is complaining, so while I ice down the knee, I heating pad the hip😳😭.

I have discovered a few things about myself: I am not a patient patient. Not necessarily with others, but with my own progress. I really expected to be moving more freely at this point (9 days in). I do not handle pain meds very well. I tend to get weepy and depressed. Not a good combo with my lack of patience with myself. And I have an amazing family who takes care of me and puts up with my issues (I hope), and great friends who sacrifice in their own lives to help us out! Shout out to Keith Bradley and his mad a/c skills and servant heart. And a special shout out to my dear friend of 37 years, Dottie Hartley, who stayed with me the night before surgery and got up at 3:45am to get ready to get me to surgery by 5:00am because Lynn was already in Springhill taking chemo. Speaking of Lynn, I love this man. Even though he’s in the first week after chemo, he’s been taking care of me, amazing. I do so much better when he’s babying me and holding my hand.Our lives are crazy, but the love of our family and friends is stronger!! I’ve said this repeatedly over the last few months, and I still shout it loudly, God is sovereign, God is faithful and He will walk us through this season.

Chasing Moles!

The last lazy days of summer have been filled with extreme heat along with the much anticipated wedding of Katherine’s son, Kade.  He is 27, holds two degrees and has travelled around the country and abroad, living on an allowance that has allowed him to sow his youthful oats.  In the process, he met an equally intelligent yuppy girl, who also holds some useless degree in Russian literature, or something like that.  They dropped in to see Mom & Dad six months ago to drop the bomb of an October wedding.  They, of course, have allowed Katherine to be the wedding planner.  The future Mrs. Weston is an orphan, and is clueless about the endless details of planning a proper wedding on The Hill.  Thus, future mother-in law, Katherine, as any true southern woman can, came to the rescue.  The last six months have been filled with endless phone calls, meetings with caterers, florists, printers, and on and on.

With the wedding only days away, I called Katherine today to inquire about details concerning one of her listings.  She answered the phone breathless and I could hear strange buzzing noises in the background.  After a few minutes, I asked what in the world was going on.  She answered my question with another question “Do you know anything about catching moles?”  “Moles?”  I answered, trying to grasp what she was talking about.  “Yes, dear, those little creatures that live underground and make havoc of your yard!”  The reception for the upcoming wedding was being held at her estate and it seems she was on the hunt for a pesky mole ruining the tranquility of her hydrangea filled yard!  I imagined this sweet, sturdy displaced Midwest woman in hunting garb, brandishing a twelve gauge shotgun and chasing down a small animal hiding just below the ground surface.  Scenes from Caddy Shack suddenly came to mind and I laughed.  “So you are on a hunting expedition, Katherine?”  She laughed, “Yes and I plan to end the destructive life of that little varmit before he destroys the yard!”  Her matter of fact attitude was evidence of both her Midwest upbringing and her years of living among southern women.   The innocent, yet nasty little mole eventually met his maker that day and all was well in the wedding planning world!

Who am I? Who are you?

Who am I?  Or who do people think I am?  I ask myself that sometimes and ponder deeply who I am and what I am here for, or I wonder what people really think of me.  I wonder myself sometimes about other people.  Who are they really?  Have I just determined who I think they are because of their actions or their relationship to me or what they tell me?  Do I look beyond the chatter and actions and see the person behind the mask.  Because believe me, people wear masks!   I am beginning to believe that I do not really know anyone!  I only know the person they want me to see, the person they present to me. Which brings me back to my to my first two questions of who am I or who do people think I am.  Better yet, who is the person I let people think I am.  Complicated, huh!  We seem to present a different persona to different people, depending on the environment and situation.  It’s true!  We want people to like us.  We want people to respect us. There are those rare individuals who are the same, whether at work, home, church or at play.  But, I think they are rare.  I want to be that person.  And I think I am that person.  But I can’t be certain.

Among believers, the people who I worship with, the people who I see several times a week at church whether in worship or in service, the people who have been walking this walk of faith with me for years, these people are the people I seem to be most susceptible to believe they are who they say they are.  But, I am wrong.  It has a deeply disturbing effect on me when it turns out they aren’t who they say they are!  I chew on it for days!  I lay awake at night searching through memories trying to figure out how I could be so gullible!  I ponder on how they could go in a direction that is so contrary to the words I heard from their mouths over the years and I try to figure out a plan of action to bring them to their senses!  I waver between getting them alone and talking sense into them or throwing a bag over their heads, taking them to a secluded location and beating some sense into them!  But, sadly, that is not my job.  How do I know that, God told me so!  I can’t fix everything.  He can use me but I can’t make them change their path.  That stinkin’ free will thing always gets in the way!!!  But God knew what He was doing when He created us this way, and I don’t want to go second guessing the Creator!

But seriously brothers and sister in the faith, be who you really are!  Quit trying to fake people out!  Quit trying to play some stinking Shell Game where we have to pick the right shell to see the real you!!!  Life is hard enough in this world without having to be suspicious of every person calling themselves a Christian.  If you are a Christian, you should walk, talk, act and make decisions like a person who believes the ENTIRE Word of God, not just the parts that are convenient.

Who am I?  I hope when you answer that question you would say “Dana is a woman who believes every Word in the Bible.  She loves the Lord with all her heart.  And she tries as hard as she can to live a life that honors Him.  She is loyal.  She is compassionate.  She is merciful. (no snickers from anyone!).  She speaks her mind sometimes when she should be quiet and ponder. If you don’t want her real opinion, don’t ask her.  She is fierce when it comes to her family, her children, her friends and the students she teaches.  She tends to be self-condemning, but she knows it and is working on that.  She believes people can turn around and do great things for God.  She believes people can make a difference in other’s lives and in this dark world.  She tries to see the positive, but is sometimes anxious and overwhelmed by the ugliness of this world, but likes to reclaim the truth that GOD IS IN CONTROL!  She wants to make a difference in this world but is not always certain as to how that looks for her.  She is sometimes unrealistic. (but thanks to her loving husband of 23 yrs she has learned to overcome some of that) She believes in marriage between one man and one woman (it’s in the BOOK people, read it).  She believes there is a positive side to everything (except sin).  She loves family vacations with her hubby & 3 girls with no fussing!  She believes we are all called by God to do something specific.  She gets more frustrated with believers who know right and do wrong than she does with lost people who do wrong.  She struggles with wanting everyone to like her and believing that most people don’t.  She struggles with feeling like she is invisible.  She gets mad at herself when she does the right thing even when she doesn’t want to do the right thing. (what is that about!)  She hates being overweight, and hates that as hard as she tries she just can’t lose the weight.  She wants to be a published writer, but thinks it will never happen.  She does not struggle with “gray areas” contrary to some peoples opinion (because you guys, there aren’t really that many gray areas).  But I hope people would mostly say, she is not a fake.

So, friends, if you are still with me and still reading, ask yourself the same questions.  And if you are really brave, and want to know what other people think about you, ask me, I’ll probably tell you.

Life on The Hill – a series of short stories to be posted periodically – purely fiction ;)

“ARTY”
I sat listening to the ladies of The Hill yesterday as they sat around in comfortable chairs in the common area discussing the events of a funeral of a relative of one of the younger agents, a descendent of one of the well known families on The Hill. The laughed and discussed the unusual eulogies and awkwardness of ex-in-laws in attendance. I honestly would love to attend one of these normally somber events, for it seems that characters abound and strange situations always occur. Three eulogies were given, each one more peculiar than the previous according to young descendant of a very old family who had resided on The Hill for many generations. During the eulogy given by the only daughter of the deceased, a voice interrupted saying “We need a doctor over here!” Considering the attendees, six doctors of various ages responded simultaneously! The daughter hesitated for a moment, and in those uncomfortable moments, a voice of an elderly women in a beautiful silk suit near the front, obviously hard of hearing because of the loudness with which she asked those sitting next to her, “Who’s gone down? “ The eulogy continued as the doctors worked at stabilizing the older gentleman and 911 was called. Out of respect, the Ambulance refrained from flashing lights or sounding sirens as they left the graveside service. It was sketchy as to whether the old gentlemen who had died would be buried or not because of the endless rain that had been occurring for that last few weeks. The graveyard was a soggy mess and the ground was quite saturated. The refined southern women were having to remove their designer shoes and stomp, just like the rest of us, through the mud puddles to honor the dead!

But I digress, the ladies continued to laugh and talk about strangely named individuals and how they were distantly related to the young woman. Then Kay-baby (as she is affectionately called at 75 years of age), began to tell about another agent’s uncle who had died some ten or so years earlier. Art Townshire was a self-made millionaire in the lumber business. He had acquired his wealth through some questionable deals that involved southern handshake trading and the lives of several million trees. He lived in a sprawling mansion that hugged the bend of Dog River and had raised eight sons. They all were southern gentlemen who loved duck hunting, fishing, golfing and were prone to acting socially unacceptable when they had indulged themselves in the liquid spirits. Art died one Saturday afternoon unexpectedly. The sons quickly gathered and like any true southern gentlemen raised their glasses of brandy to their father. They promptly sat him in a chair in the main living room and proceeded to take pictures with him. As if that wasn’t eccentric enough, they decided to take him on one last ride. Their mother sat quietly on the front porch in a rocking chair, slowing waving a fan to calm her nerves. She knew these boys were truly grieving for their father and these antics were their attempt to honor the man who had raised them. They came out the screened door carrying Arty sitting stiffly in a wing back chair in a hunting jacket, a cigar in his mouth and a glass of brandy in his hand. I stopped the story for a moment and asked “How did they get the glass to stay in his hand?” “Duct tape, dear, duct tape!” was the response. I was mortified! I had lived in Marston a good portion of my life, but outside the social status of being a descendant of “The Hill”. My family was not wealthy and our idea of a good time was boiling the crabs we had caught off the pier, then sitting around the table laughing and cracking crab legs, while the children ran in and out of the screened door while playing in the sprinkler outside! I tried to imagine a wealthy social figure like Art Townshire, dead as a doornail, riding around in the back of a pick-up truck. I couldn’t understand the reasoning at all! Skeeter interrupted my thoughts, “You should have seen the gas station attendant’s face when they stopped for gas!” Laughter exploded. This was just strange to me! I asked “Did they ride him around The Hill?” “Oh no, honey, up and down the riv-a” she replied! These high society people from The Hill are quite strange, I thought to myself, but I love them! Then I laughed right along with them!