Monday, April 30, 2012

A Gift Idea for 50% Off!

About three years ago, the words "can't do cancer without God" came into my mind soon after my diagnosis.  And once those words landed in my brain, I couldn't get them out.  
So I had a t-shirt made. 

I made several for me and have given several away as gifts.  I had asked a talented girlfriend of mine to make the image for me (thanks, Bethany!) and then I put it on Zazzle (an on-line company that makes personalized items).  I just recently added the Zazzle link back on the home page of my blog and saw that a t-shirt sold this morning.

Once on their site, I saw that Zazzle is offering a 50% discount in honor of Mother's Day.  But it expires today.  I just ordered a tank top and with shipping, it cost me $14.  And if your order is over $50, your shipping is free too (use their shipping code).

So if your sweet mom is living with cancer or you've been trying to think of a way to bless a girlfriend or sister with the same diagnosis, maybe consider getting them a t-shirt or tote bag for Mother's Day.  Click here to order by today to receive the discount:

In addition, please remember that my Mom and I make the "can't do cancer without God" bottle cap necklaces and send them (for free) to anyone who would like one (see the photo to the left?).  Just email me your friend or relative's name and address and a necklace will be in the mail for them asap.  

In case you don't know (because I don't), Mother's Day is May 13th (I just had to look on my calendar).   And I just noticed something -- how nice of my son's baseball league to schedule a game on Mother's Day at 8:30 am.  8:30 A.M.!  Clearly, Dads run this league, not Moms.  Guess I won't be sleeping in 'til noon that day!  Wait, when have I ever done that?  1985 I think.  

Happy early Mother's Day!

Friday, April 20, 2012


When I began speaking after my first cancer diagnosis, I never spoke to rooms filled with cancer patients.  But rather, I spoke to rooms filled with moms.   And I told them that God had given me peace throughout this journey.   That He extended His hand out to mine.  That he carried me in His arms.   That I wasn't doing this thing called cancer alone.   And they got it.  Not because they had cancer, but because they too were on their own journey.  Maybe a divorce.  Maybe a tough marriage.  Maybe the loss of a job.  Maybe the loss of a child.  
A journey's a journey.  Cancer or not.

I have a friend named Amy who has cancer.   God introduced us last year in the parking lot of our church.  I never, repeat never, park in a particular section of the parking lot.  But I did on this day.  Coincidence?  I think not.

She too emails her family and friends about her journey.   And right now, it's up hill.   And though her body may be frail from fighting this fight, her spirit is not.  I wanted you to read the last paragraph of her most recent email to all of us.

"You know me, I must preach a little.  Jesus is worthy of all praise, glory and honor.  I am 'mad as a hornet' at cancer, but I still know He will use it for more than I ask or imagine.  In the midst of the pain, He comforts.  In the midst of confusion, He guides.  When I can not, He can.  When doctors are powerless, He heals.  When all seems hopeless, my hope is in the LORD!  Cancer is cruel, but God is not.  He IS my life, and I am thankful He is giving me this opportunity to know Him more."


She's not focusing on her circumstances.  Though she could.  She's focused on Him.  Despite everything.

I share this email with all of you knowing most of you don't have cancer.  But maybe, right now, you're battling something else.
 Regardless, Amy's words apply.  
Despite our storm, He is our umbrella.  

Amy lives in Newbury Park and has two little ones under the age of 4.   If you ever find yourself wanting to reach out to someone, but don't know who or how, I encourage you to bless this mom with yourself.   Remember, you are a gift to others!  Your time, your talents, your mercy.   Her last email spoke of needing rides and household help.  And prayer.  Amy loves prayer.   Her email can be found at under Amy's Village.   Or email me, and I'll forward it on to her.

I bought a picture frame today.  
Amy's words are going in it.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

12 Down, 0 To Go...

Well, the day has finally arrived.
  I'm having my last treatment as I write this post.   I've had a total of 12 treatments over five months.  It's gone by incredibly fast.  You wouldn't think it would, but it does.  And it's funny, I think my family and friends are more excited than I am.   
I don't terribly mind treatment.  Weird, I know.

After I passed out little bouquets of flowers to my nurses and a baking book to my nurse who is a master cake pop maker (and who's skilled at giving pain-free shots and drawing and getting blood when no one else can), I settled into my big chemo recliner and decided to write this post now rather than later.

In anticipation of completing my treatment, I have found myself asking the question,  "What have I learned during this diagnosis that I didn't already learn during my first diagnosis?"  The answer?  Nothing.  
Nothing new, that is.

What I continue to know is that God is with me on this road called cancer.  I am so not walking it alone.   I've faired quite well on this leg of treatment and I owe it all to Him.  

Again, I'm a wimp.  
Not strong.  
Not courageous.  
Hate roller coasters.  
You know the drill.  

However, He has provided me with strength, peace and hope.  Three things so necessary to fair well on this road called cancer.  And this road called life.  
Three things one doesn't often have without Him.  
He is my everything.

Just yesterday, I heard something that hit home.  When I heard it, I just knew it was a nugget of wisdom.  I was having lunch to celebrate a friend's birthday and sat next to a woman I had just met.  (By the way, all who attended the lunch were cancer survivors).  As the discussion turned to, 
"If you could, would you choose to go through this again?" 
she said something I will never forget.   (Well, knowing me, I may forget so remind me if I have to ask you!)
  She said, "I tell people we don't go through it.  
We grow through it."  
I loved that.  
We grow through it.

I talk to God every day, all day.  Pretty much always have.  And the one thing I am thanking Him for lately is my growth.  In these last two years, I have grown.  Not a ton, but a tad.   I see myself as a little baby sprout.  A baby sprout that has big ambitions of one day turning into a little ol' bush.  And then, just maybe, into a tree.  Can't imagine ever becoming an oak. 
 Just a little ficus tree would do.  
But for right now, I relish just being a sprout.  
With really green leaves.

But more important than that question is this question.  
What have I taught others through this second diagnosis? 
 It's not all about me, you know!

I do my best, wherever I go, to sprinkle seeds of faith.  Maybe I give someone a necklace.  Maybe I strike up a conversation.  Maybe I wear my "can't do cancer without God" t-shirt to treatment.  
God has specifically placed me in the Westlake office near my home instead of down at Cedars this time.  And I've met some really wonderful people who I can visit with so easily.  I hope many wonderful friendships are a result from being so close to home.  
 With God at the very heart of all of them.

But one thing I know for sure is that I want to try and keep my treatment schedule as my new Thursday schedule.  
I relish the six hours of relaxation at chemo.  
Legs kicked up in a recliner, writing, reading, listening to music.  Connecting with others.  That's good stuff.  I plan on continuing that every other Thursday in my house from 8 to 2.
With no guilt.  And no laundry!

So again, I take this time to thank all of you for all of your help over these last five months.  So many tears are floating in my eyes right now just typing these words that I can't even see to type any more.  

I thank you for your thoughtfulness and for remembering me.  And my family.  For taking my kids and occupying them so they don't sit with me all weekend following my treatments while I gorge on watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  
Thank you for the encouraging emails.  And the cards.  And the flower arrangements left on my front porch (just like the one I found today and used in the above photo.) 
You'll never know how very much your kindness touches me.  

I'm trying to duplicate your random acts of kindness for others.
Just a few days ago, I offered to do a Costco run for a friend of mine who has cancer.  I then asked my kids to join me to deliver her 80-pound bottle of Spray 'n Wash and bags of organic carrots.  

When Jake was saying his prayers last night, he added, "And thank you that we could help Mom's friend today.  And thank you that we'll be able to help more people who need our help."

Hello?  Why don't I keep a box of Kleenex on Jake's nightstand?  For me!

Look, cancer has been a good thing in my life.  
For so many reasons. 
And, initially, I hated to hear the words "chemo" and "cancer" come out of my kids' mouths.  (I now use the word "treatment" as often as I can - I like that one better.)  But I have seen growth in them as well as in me.  
A growth towards compassion.  
Towards kindness.  
Towards God.  
And I'll take that stuff all day long.  
I'm not sure how much we would have seen without this trial in our lives.  But by placing it in God's so very capable hands, we're able to give Him all the glory.  
And all the gratitude.

So to all of you, I thank you!
And to God, I couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Yesterday we received a beautiful bouquet of tulips from friends of ours wishing us all a happy Easter.   Bright yellow and purple tulips just screamed "Easter" when I saw them.  Well, I can rarely leave a large bouquet sitting in the vase it arrived in.  So I started making smaller arrangements and placing them throughout our home.

As I was cutting down the last group of tulips, there was a knock at our door.  There sat a container of petunias on my door step.  Behind them stood my neighbor.  His wife had recently passed away and these petunias were the last flowers she had planted.  

"I'm not real good at taking care of her flowers," he said.  "Although I think I've done ok so far.  But I thought maybe you would like them."

I assured him that I would take good care of them, and that I would put them somewhere in my front yard so he could always see them when he walks by.   

I wanted to share this story with you before Easter, not after.  Because Easter means redemption.  Foregiveness.  And this story does too.

You see, my neighbor and I didn't actually get off on the right foot soon after we moved in.  We've had a few exchanges over the years.  Exchanges which I am totally ashamed of.  

But soon after my cancer diagnosis, I felt such a need to apologize to a few of my neighbors.  Many years ago, I could speak my mind if pushed a little too far.  And when I did, I was mean and hurtful.  

But when I heard that his wife had recently passed away, I did something that surprised me.  Shocked me, even.  I found myself making him a plate of biscuits, bacon and fruit to bring over to him following her funeral.  He wasn't home, but I left it with his daughter.

The next day, I found a note in my mailbox from him.  He wrote some of the kindest words on it.  They brought tears to my eyes.  Since then, we wave to one another when passing each other's homes and even exchange a few words when I'm out gardening.  Good ones, that is!

I think we've both learned that life is too short to stay mad.   
And I certainly have learned that I need to offer forgiveness to others because Jesus offers forgiveness to me.  Sounds real corny, huh?    
But oh so true.

That's actually one of the first things I did when cancer entered my life.  I sat down and wrote apologies to a few people who needed to read my words. 
 Four to be exact.  
And it was one of the best things I've ever done. 
I try and live my life the way Jesus would have lived.   Try being the operative word.  And don't always succeed.   

As I brought the petunias into the house, I looked at my daughter who was standing by the door.  "I guess you're going to blog about this," she said. 
 "You got that right, sister!" I said as I headed over to the computer. 

She remembers the years when I didn't look in my neighbor's direction.  
Now maybe she can remember the years of two neighbors who may just become friends.

All because of forgiveness.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter...


I’ve been wondering how I was going to wish all of you a Happy Easter this year.  Well, after going to the doctor’s office this afternoon, now I know how.
While in the waiting room, I was reading an article about Jesus in Newsweek.  When I read this sentence, I knew I wanted all of you to read it too.
“Jesus never defended his innocence at trial, never resisted his crucifixion, and even turned to those nailing his hands to the wood on the cross and forgave them, and loved them.”
And loved them.
Loved them for forging nails into his body.  
And then into a cross.  
And loved them.
I want my kids to get that.  Really get that.  After breakfast tomorrow morning, I want to take them out into the backyard and talk about what Good Friday really means.   When I asked them today why they have tomorrow off from school, I got the standard, “because Jesus died on the cross and arose three days later.”  And then I got, “Are we having an Easter egg hunt this year?”
But before the Easter egg hunt, I want them to quietly think about the Jesus we love.  And serve.  And to think about what He did for us.  I want them to close their eyes.  And see Jesus there.   Looking at the men who were driving nails into his feet and hands.   And forgiving them.  And loving them.  
For us.  
For all of us.
May your Good Friday and Easter morning be filled with more than just Easter eggs and chocolate rabbits.
May it also be filled with immense gratitude.  
Happy Easter to all of you!