Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Sally Murphy.

I have five friends currently battling breast cancer.  This daily battle is heart-wrenching and hard. They are sharing their journey with me and others. It seems all I can do for them is pray or cry or write a poem.

On Monday, Kim wrote this: “As you know, chemo wreaks havoc on the immune system.  It lowers red and white blood counts and one specific type of white blood cell–the neutrophil–is especially critical because it plays an important role in fighting infection. If a chemo patient develops a fever, it sounds the alarm that the neutrophil concentration has likely fallen below 1000 and spurs doctors to take immediate action. If not treated with a strong course of antibiotics, the patient could develop a potentially life threatening infection. So, chemo comes with a strong warning: take fevers very seriously.”

On Tuesday, Sarah wrote this: “Exposed, hurting, lying on what seems like a narrow mortician’s table in a cavernous room, alone, encapsulated by an enormous machine shooting me with targeted radiation all in the name of cancer — I am a science experiment.”

On Wednesday, Amy wrote this: “What do you wear to hear the results of your pet/ct scan? A crown of course. Well I got good news and not so go news. The not so good news is the cancer is growing and has shown up in two new places. We’ll be looking at new treatment options at MD Anderson. The good news is my doctor said I can ride roller coasters at Disney next week. Bring it!! Thanks to all who have shown their concern and who have prayed for me. Please continue – the road just got bumpy.”

In Laura Shovan’s Daily February Writing Challenge, the image of a beautiful ocean scene came up, but all I could see was the dirty sand and the crashing waves.  I released my growing worry and concern in a poem.

Low Tide by Andrea Lavoie


Low Tide

That sand is frozen brown grass
flowing like the folds of a blanket,
fluffed and tucked over
the patient’s bed.

Does it comfort or scratch?
Cover or annoy?

Skin is sensitive with fever.
Chemo burns through her veins,
poison that saves
even as the waves
of a raging ocean
recede with the tide.

It’s the pull of the moon
holding her in a glowing stare.
Where is the silver lining?

–Margaret Simon, (c) 2018 for Kim, Sarah, Amy, Kelley, and Sandy



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Slice of Losing a Life

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I put off going to visit.

I took my time finishing a prayer blanket. Then busy days kept me away. Until Sunday.  I knew I needed to go before it was too late.

I knocked tentatively on the door.  No answer.  Another knock. No answer.  I hung the bag with the blanket inside on the door handle and tip-toed back to my car.  I texted her daughter, “I left a package at the door.”

She responded, “No one answered the door?  I’m not home.  They must be on the back patio.”

I turned my car around.  Ok, here I go.  I walked around to the back and met her husband and her sister.  “I have the monitor, so I can hear her,” her husband said. “It’s time for her medicine. It’s a good time to visit.  She will be more alert.”

“You may be shocked to see her,” he added.  I remembered seeing my husband’s father near death.  I felt prepared.

I wasn’t prepared.

She lay in the bed. Her face pale, almost stone-like, but still soft and warm.  I lay next to her, placed the blanket over her, and cried.

When I spoke her name, she opened her eyes.  Did she see my tears?  She tried to reach out to hug me, but her arms had no direction.  I held her hand and rambled:

“You are beautiful.

You are a queen.

I love you.

God is with you.”

She mumbled.  I didn’t understand her words.

I think she said, “I’m sick.”

I think she said, “I love you.”

I think she smiled.

When her husband came in with her medicine, I saw true love.  He climbed onto the bed, raised her up, and said, “Breathe, breathe. I love you. Breathe.”

As I left, I hugged him.  A man I just met.  He was doing the best he could.  He’s holding on to a small thread and knows that it will soon break.  He will lose her.  She will die.  My eyes met his.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “I’m so sorry.”

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Discover. Play. Build.

To see more Celebration blog posts, go to Ruth’s site, Discover. Play. Build.

rainbow 1

A year ago there was a spot, small but noticeable, on the CAT scan. So appointments for continued monitoring were set at 3 month intervals. No significant change until two weeks before Christmas. Then the CAT scan became a PET scan, and the spot glowed like a red-faced crab…Cancer.

I call my mother-in-law Minga. That is the grandmother name my oldest daughter gave her when she began to speak. She said words backwards, “Book” was “Koo” and “Grandma” became “Minga.” Anne embraced the name.

Minga has become my closest friend. My father-in-law died in 2004. The next year, Minga got a dog, Petey. Charlie joined our family in 2007. We spend many Saturday mornings walking our dogs together. There is nothing that brings two people closer than walking and talking, talking and walking.

This morning I am not walking with Charlie, Petey, and Minga, but I am celebrating nonetheless. My dear friend told us the Sunday after Christmas that she had a malignant tumor in her left lung. The next week, Jeff and I went with her to the surgeon. We scheduled surgery for this past Thursday to remove the upper lobe of her left lung. The procedure, as you may imagine, was complicated. We were surprised to see the surgeon only an hour after they took her in. He told us everything had gone well. The tumor was definitely cancer, so the surgery was necessary. She only had one tube, rather than two, draining her lung. In other words, the news was as good as bad can get.

I am celebrating today not only the successful surgery, but also her amazing recovery. People who know Minga already know she is in great shape. She eats right and exercises two times a day. She looks 62 and not 82. She travels to exotic countries; She had to cancel a trip to India to do this surgery. So why would you expect anything less than an amazing recovery? Yesterday, the first day following the surgery, she took three walks around the floor. She sat up for most of the day. She ate about a third of her dinner. And she did a Sudoku puzzle.

On Thursday morning, I drove alone to the hospital. (My sister-in-law was in charge of getting her to the hospital.) When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed people stopping and pointing up to the sky. Then I saw it…a rainbow. The promise, God’s promise that all will be well. I walked in with a lighter step, knowing all would be well. All is well!

rainbow 2

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Ms. G. sorts food donations at Solomon House.

Why do we do service work? I could probably go to the Bible and find some cool verses, such as “Love thy neighbor,” and “Whenever you do this for the least of these…” I’d like to be able to say that I do service work because the Bible tells me to, but that’s just not it. It’s the right thing to do. Yes, but that’s still not why. Someone once told me I had a heart for ministry. Not sure if that’s the reason either. What I am sure of, though, is every time I show up, I’m glad I did. My heart is filled with gladness and fulfillment.

Every Tuesday for the last five years, I have gone to Solomon House, a local food bank, a mission for my church, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. I took over the job of greeting each client and having them sign on the list. The list is for data-collecting purposes, but, for me, it provides a way to get to know each person who comes through the line, by name. These people have become people I recognize, people I know, people I care about.

I have also met volunteers at Solomon House. Yesterday morning, I went to the Monday morning packing day. I went for two reasons: 1) to take pictures for our new Facebook Page, and 2) as Board president, I felt it was about time. I was put to work immediately by Ms. G. She knows the ropes as she has been volunteering for four years. Miss Tony was working next to me. I started talking to her about her involvement. As someone who is constantly on the lookout for new volunteers, I was curious about how she became involved. Basically, I was looking for a formula to emulate.

Soon I discovered that there was no magic formula that I could duplicate to get more volunteers. Miss Tony came to Solomon House to deliver some canned goods. She simply asked the question, “Can I help in any way?” And of course, you know the answer.

Tony is a cancer survivor. She told me that God has always been in her life, but she never really took notice. She said she wasn’t really listening. Until she needed Him. “Cancer halted my life,” she said, “I turned to Him, and He worked wonders. I know it could’ve been worse for me. He’s been talking, and now I am listening.”

Now, Tony wants to put her hands into everything. She volunteers twice a week at Solomon House. She serves at St. Francis Diner. She is giving back. She does not want recognition or praise. She did not even let me take her picture. She says, “I am doing this for God.”

I don’t need a Bible verse to tell me to do service. I only need to talk to the people in the trenches, the needy and the volunteers. They are here to show me God’s love in a very real way.

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