Sunset or Sunrise?

In an instant, one’s life can take a turn.  Sometimes it takes only one word, one moment, one action, one frozen instant in time when everything that came afterward was different than what came before.  Sometimes joyous, other times not.

Almost six months ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  I had no symptoms, I had no suspicions that I might have cancer.  I had been diligent with physicals and chest X-rays every couple of years.  But lung cancer has no warning signs.  It hides and eventually reveals itself somehow in a different part of your body.

Late in August I got a cold, which developed into a cough.  After a few days, it hurt my side to cough.  Then I hurt my back just by bending over to pick up a towel.  Thinking that I might have pneumonia, I went to Cape Cod Hospital.  The staff at the ER whisked me right in, thinking I was having a heart attack.  Negative.  Then they took X-rays, which showed nothing in my lungs.  A CAT scan was done to search for a blood clot.   Shortly afterward I was told I had lung cancer with tumors in both lungs.  The pain from coughing was from a broken rib that had been compromised by the spread of the cancer.  The doctor was really nice (I pity them in this situation), but there was no way of sugar-coating this news.  He asked if there was anything else they could do for me.

I asked for more scans.  The diagnosis did not explain why my back hurt so much.  So another scan was done; the pain in my back was from a fractured vertebra, also compromised by the spread of cancer.  In fact, there were many bones that the cancer had spread to, as well as other organs.

I began the painful process of letting others know.  I cried, not for me, but for them and for their pain.

I am from a fairly large family of seven siblings.  My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in September, 1998.  I can remember the emotional shock when we found out.  She had one lung tumor and a couple of bone metastasis.  Her health declined quickly.  She suffered terribly and passed away early in March, 1999.  My husband is one of 6 siblings.  His mother died of lung cancer several years after my mother. She had lived several years with cancer, and also suffered terribly for months.  Could this be my fate?  Telling my siblings was hard; telling our sons was even harder.

I did not ask for a prognosis.  I was told there is no medical cure.  However, I believed that the disease could be managed.  And so I embarked on a new journey to learn to live with cancer.  Each person’s cancer is as individual as they themselves are, and each person’s treatment is unique as well.

Healing does not happen in a straight line.  The path dips and curves, sometimes it circles back.  It is all-encompassing:  body, mind, spirit.  One thing I have always known, though, is that no matter how dark a place may be, there is always promise of new light.  And so, with my signature style, I continued to move forward and to experience life as best I can.

I told some friends that I would share my story in a blog.  I have to admit that I do not consider myself to be good at writing, and that there may be lapses, both in content and timing, but I hope that my story will help someone else who is struggling to come to grips with an unexpected turn in their life.  So begins a new chapter.

Is this my sunset?  Or is it, perhaps, my sunrise.

Peace to you all.

Sarah

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Take A Stand

I am in the painful position of watching unhealthy cycles being repeated, over and over again. In some of these scenarios I am a spectator. Certainly I have attachments in one way or another to the individual players, but the existence of these cycles is totally out of my control. I am helpless as I watch. I practice detachment so my anguish does not consume me.

Now ever mindful, I see damaging cycles that I am in the position to stop. It started with a change in mindset, then small shifts in observance. The baby steps have led here, to now, to this day, this moment. The moment when one decides to take a stand. I am sure that every one of you has a cycle that you would like to change.

What does that really mean, “Take a Stand.” Certainly it means reacting in ways that are not part of the old pattern. So I have chosen to think it through this way: Stop, Deliberate, Decide. Or Stop, Challenge, Choose.

STOP reacting the same way. Be mindful of the old feelings, the triggers, the expectations. How do others expect you to react? Surprise them, first STOP.

DELIBERATE the way it used to be. Why have you reacted that way? What result did you expect or want? What you want now? What are your current motivations? Be mindful. Be thoughtful. Think of your end goal.

DECIDE. Make a choice based on your changed mindset and current motivation. Some choices are easier to make than others. Sometimes it is as easy as deciding whether or not to have another cookie, sometimes it is much more difficult. Even the difficult decisions will become easier when there is an end goal in mind.

“I am the product of my own determination.” SPC

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Wintery Comforts

Wintery Comforts.

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Wintery Comforts

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I see a batch of winter weather coming our way.  Winters comforts include food and friends!  Here is a soup recipe that will feed a gathering.  Enjoy!

Sister Sarah’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

This is also known as Sarah’s Seriously Sinful Cream of Mushroom Soup.  The soup is full of delicious heart-stopping ingredients, but always a favorite in a crowd.  There are two sets of ingredients given below.  One is for a larger quantity, the other for 4 to 6 servings.  Serve with salad and fresh bread and you will have a feast!

2 cups butter

1 1/3 cup flour

8 cups milk, heated

20 cubes vegetable bullion, dissolved in

8 cups boiling water

2 pints whipping cream

2 lb. mushrooms, sliced

2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves (optional)

16 egg yolks (optional)

A pinch of salt if needed (bullion is usually salty enough!)

Pepper and nutmeg to taste

Saute the mushrooms and chopped onions in the butter.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Turn the heat to low, add the flour to the liquid that is remaining in the pan and mix to a paste.   Add the (hot) bullion water and stir well with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with a whisk.  While still beating, slowly pour in a large dipper-full of the hot liquid.  Then pour all of this into the pan while stirring what is in the pan.

Bruise the rosemary in your hand and add it to the mix.  Add the parsley.

Keeping the heat low, add the sautéed mushrooms and onions.  Add the milk.  Stir occasionally.  When the soup has thickened, add the cream.  Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

For 4 – 6 servings, use the following quantities and follow the above directions:

½ cup butter

1/3 cup flour

2 cups milk

5 cubes vegetable bullion, dissolved in

2 cups boiling water

½ pint whipping cream

½ pound mushrooms, sliced

½ cup sweet onions, finely chopped

1 TBS freshly chopped parsely

1 TBS fresh rosemary leaves

4 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Pepper and nutmeg to taste

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A New Day, A New Year

New Year's Eve sunset was very similar to this one.  The old year faded away with rich color and rich promise for a new day.

New Year’s Eve sunset was very similar to this one. The old year faded away with rich color and rich promise for a new day.

It is New Year’s Day.

I am thinking about connections.  Some people call them coincidences, but not me.

My mind has always been keen that way.  I might be typing a customer’s name and they will call on the phone.  Or be thinking of a friend and I will get a FB message from that very person at that very moment.  I might be thinking of a song and it will play next on the radio.  Today I was trying to remember the name of a band and the next song that came up on Pandora provided the answer.

It is important to listen to our minds/hearts/and silent messages that our body/selves are sending our way.  They can be sometimes subtle, but they are messages just the same.  Small seemingly insignificant events can be signs to something much larger.  Our psychic minds have been quelled by society, but still function at a very ancient level.

And so the universe responds to all of this.  It presents us with circumstances to observe, challenges to learn from, places that awaken sleeping senses, and people who can change the course of our lives.  Open yourself to the possibilities that are presented every day, and reflect on each day as if it were New Year’s Day.  Live your best life!

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Motivation

Foggy Day Droplets

Motivation: This is a word I have been contemplating lately. It comes from a Latin word that translates to “I move.” The translation alone indicates that motivation can only come from within oneself. Others might inspire you, but you alone are responsible for motivation.

What is it that motivates you? Each of us can be motivated on many different levels. For example, I am a mother, I am also a sister. Is what motivates me to be a good mother that much different that what motivates me to be a good sister?

A friend of mine once answered my question with “I like the magic that is around each corner.” This woman, like all of us, has her own personal life challenges. Her curiosity and excitement with life indicates that she is motivated not by shoulds, expectations, or guilts, but by all the interesting pieces that life has to offer.

As I go through my day, I will be mindful of the word motivation.

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Clarity

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It is easy to lose sight of your focus and to lose your stride.  Life has a way of presenting distractions, road blocks, and u-turns.  So it is important to have a clear vision of the life that you want, of the successes that you want.  Success means something different to each person, so forget about what others think and focus on what success means to you.  Keep that vision clear in some way:  write it down, keep pictures, record your own personal message to listen to, or any other form to help you keep your vision clear.  Refer to that daily to help maintain clarity.  Even though you may still have road blocks and detours, consider that to be part of the plan.  Because once you do have clarity and focus on your vision, the energies of the world will align to help you realize your goals.

“What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.” — Alexander Graham Bell 

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